Goodbye activeCollab, hello ProjectPier


The project management application I use extensively for some of my tasks has turned its back on the open source beginnings that attracted me and, I’m sure, many others to it during its initial versions.

ActiveCollab is a clone of the popular Basecamp project management application. The main difference is that while Basecamp is a hosted service with various account levels, activeCollab is something you install in your own server and on which you have full control.

ProjectPier PROJECTPIER. The ProjectPier installation that replaced activeCollab in my webserver. I’m using the goCollab monochrome theme that came it.

The project management application appealed to do-it-yourself type geeks who wanted to host the data on their own and deal with less restrictions on accounts. Plus, it was free.

When it was first released, activeCollab came with an open source license and that was what attracted me to the project. I thought it held promise of being a very powerful and useful project management application if developed by an active community of users.

But the developer has decided to stop open source development on the project. Development will now be closed source, at least on the core features. The next release, version 1.0 due out next week, will also not have a free version. Your only options for activeCollab 1.0 are SmallBiz ($199) and Corporate ($399).

I do not begrudge the developer of his choice in taking the closed source path and releasing the product on a commercial license. It is within his rights and I hope he makes a lot of money out of it.

But for those who can’t or don’t want to pay for the new activeCollab version, a new group has forked the project’s last open source release, version 0.7.1. The group, ProjectPier, already has a release and development, based on activities in its site, seems to be already starting.

I’ve long been waiting for an activeCollab fork ever since the announcement on the change of license. When I spotted the link to ProjectPier, I immediately downloaded its release and installed it in my server—replacing the activeCollab 0.7.1 running in it.

Since ProjectPier is still basically a rebranded activeCollab, the installation is just the same. After you upload the files, an online installer will guide you into setting up your account. What’s good about ProjectPier is that it comes with several themes that you can use to customize your site’s design.

ProjectPier offers you a way to upgrade from activeCollab to its first release but I chose to start fresh, copying the remaining pending tasks in the system and then deleting my old installation.

I have high hopes for ProjectPier. I hope more people will start using it and getting involved in the development process. I also hope that web hosting companies like Dreamhost will replace their one-click activeCollab installs with that of ProjectPier.

Loading Facebook Comments ...


  1. I’ve heard of activeCollab and it seems they will lose a lot of users because of closing the free version. I personally use Wrike. They were free in beta, now they have different pricing plans, but still let to use the service for free. They have a free basic version. What’s cool you can subscribe an unlimited number of people and still collaborate for free.

  2. I was surprised of the move of ActiveCollab to a commercial license. I am planning to use it for my projects but when I went to its web site, it is now charging. Its new interface looks polished and professional though.

  3. Take a look at the V4 of Vertabase which is another alternative.

    Vertabase 4 is written in Adobe ColdFusion and utilizes AJAX, Javascript and Flash Video in its interface. It is compatible with Internet Explorer, Safari, Mozilla Firefox and runs on both Windows and Mac OS. Vertabase 4 is available as offer on a Software as a Service basis or installable on customer’s servers, running Microsoft IIS or Apache on Windows servers. Vertabase 4 uses a Microsoft SQL database.

  4. Thank you for an information. I wasn’t aware that activeCollab continued as open source project. I wasn’t really happy when they decided to close source and make it commercial.
    I will install ProjectPier and give a try.

  5. Thanks a million for the info, I was shocked to see that ActiveCollab had gone closed source. In my humble opinion the developer has set the price point way to high to allow for an exmpanding business but thank god for ProjectPier 🙂

  6. Useful post. I was just about to sign up with Basecamp. They lack one feature that most ProjectMS seem to miss: client billing. I see that Pier doesn’t have it either, but the same features as Basecamp and no monthly fee? It will be downloaded and installed today so I can compare it.

  7. thank heavens somebody forked it. I tried activecollab and recommended them to friends when it was still new.

  8. I am also dissapointed about this change with activeCollab. I raved about it and am saddened by this. Thanks for the link though and I guess we’ll have to either change projects or stick with old versions. Lets hope Dreamhost catches on.

  9. I recently started working with a company that was using Basecamp. After about 2 month of going crazy because of the limited ability of this tool I finally talked management into changing
    Clarizen online project management software
    . Since then we have had the best of both worlds, great collaboration features and the ability to actually manage your projects efficiently.

  10. […] When money becomes involved it isn’t uncommon for a project to move from open source to closed source.  Activecollab was one such project,  originally released under an open source license, it has since moved to a closed source commercial project. “When it was first released, activeCollab came with an open source license and that was what a… […]

  11. You can also try Manymoon, it’s free:

    With Manymoon you can:
    * Managed private and shared To Do Lists and Projects.
    * Upload documents and add them to tasks and projects.
    * Integrate with Google Docs and Google Calendar.
    * Automatically convert emails into tasks.
    * Twitter-like feature to let people know what you are working on.

  12. I thought you couldn’t use GPL code in a closed source release? Even if you’re the developer for both.

  13. good review, i learnt about project pier sometime ago and gave it a try, seems very promising.

    Gonna try to implement it for a project im working on

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No Trackbacks.