Getting (re)organised…

Dull post warning – no dev work!

I’ve taken the New Year ‘fresh’ to do some house keeping. To date, I’ve used a fair number of Project Management tools in my career, and I’ve yet to land on one to use for my own purposes. Jira is ‘ok’ but has some woeful gaps with time management IMHO, besides, it costs money 🙂

I have a Redmine server (which is great, and free!) for as long as I’ve been running Mak Studios, but never really kicked off in full production because I can’t use it offline. Then I got stuck with doing upgrades to it (I use the Bitnami stack for ease of deployment) and kind of trundled away from it to Trello, which also is great, but also has no offline capacity.

My wayward journey left me with Google Keep, which is great, simple, works offline, but of course is no PM tool, and there’s no workflow…

Harumph. So after some considerable ‘umm’-ing, I decided to grab the latest Windows Redmine Bitnami stack, go through the process of upgrading the Mac OSX Redmine database into the Windows one, and run it locally on my Mac Air. What is this madness you ask?

Well, it was a test to do the upgrade path (from Redmine 2.1.x to 3.x) and helpfully the internal database (MySQL) is platform agnostic as far as the data goes, so after some jiggery pokery and lessons learned, I finally managed to get the upgrade done in Windows. I then realised, ‘Now I have an offline Redmine server…’

I still need to upgrade the Mac OSX Redmine I run on the web, but that’s now a doddle (Install the 3.x Bitnami stack, import this MySQL database, job done). And that now gives me a very rudimentary ‘sync’ option… no one (other than me) at present needs to access the external Redmine, so I could shut it down. Or I could periodically backup the local Redmine from the laptop, and drop it into the external Redmine. Clunky, but ‘synced’.

So that done, I now have to get my tasks from Trello and Google Keep into Redmine!

Exporting from Trello is interesting, it does provide an Export to JSON option… but it’s not hierarchical. You can’t export a board, and all the details of every ticket within it. You can export the board. You can then export each ticket as an individual item. Ouch.

There are various plugins that go from Redmine to Trello, but not much that goes the other way. Zapier works (I believe) but I wasn’t happy signing up to the service (no specific reason, other than ‘Not Another Web Service Handling My Data Syndrome), and when I did it required a web based Redmine to talk to, which of course is a path I no longer want to go down. Fortunately, this Little Blue Monkey – Trello Backups has gone through the pains of providing a backup solution for Trello boards, via a neat Google Spreadsheet that goes through the pain of exporting for us, which works a treat. After testing it (in a new sandbox Google Account) and checking the scripts out which (as of this version) _only_ do what they promise, it ran superbly and I’ve left it on a scheduled run to keep backing up my Trello boards forever. The result is a Google Spreadsheet, with a worksheet for each Trello board containing all that boards items. I then grabbed this as an Excel document so I can do some tweaking offline.

Now I’m going through the pain of mapping the Trello fields, labels and data to Redmine, so I can import all the cards into the relevant Projects and tasks. This isn’t as bad as it sounds as I only need a handful of the fields mapped to Redmine’s own issue fields. Dealing with my Trello labels and list names is more the chore. Once I’ve figured out all the mappings, I can then produce a series of CSV files to import into Redmine directly.

Of course, this was all made slightly harder by the AMD RAMDrive failing me for the first time everCaptain Hindsight helpfully tells me that storing the Excel spreadsheets on a RAMDrive was of course, foolish. Sadly after years of using it, I’ve come to trust it. My mistake. It lost the last stages of the Excel mapping fields and values – involving some interesting formula’s to translate field values, meaning I had to recreate them all from my memory, instead of the laptops. Lesson learned. RAMDrive’s are volatile, and not to be trusted, even when they save on shutdown to an image, and create backup copies. Because of course, it’s obvious the backup copy should also lose the files? *Fume!* I suspect Excel tbh… it’s a bit too suspicious…

I then have to do a similar exercise with the Google Keep items.

Once done, I’ll have a single, offline Redmine server with everything in, which I can then (at some point) make available online, and even snapshot to work offline (in some capacity).

There are thousands of PM tools out there, for differing scales of development and management, so YMMV, but for me, just for me, this will work. I hope 😉

Redmine

Redmine is a project management system that runs wiki’s, forums, documentation repo’s, issue tracking, calendars, releases and so on. Everything a budding Project Manager needs. It’s free (donate-ware) and has been pretty darned stable for years. I highly recommend looking into it if your scouting out options and are on a restricted budget.

Bitnami

Bitnami are super guys who provide ‘installable’ service stacks for various systems, which just work and require a minimal config. They are great to set up a complex service which has a lot of dependencies, and they run in a sandbox which can be shutdown easiy via a control manager UI panel. I run a Redmine stack, and a Jenkins stack from them and they both saved me a lot of setup time!

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Author: Mak View all posts by

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