Much Ado About Nothing

Build a project tracker with Drupal

Since Drupal has become part of my day-to-day life, I’m going to start blogging about it here. I’ve been thinking to create a separate development/project/code blog on, but I’d like to take the time to set things up properly over there. So, for now, let’s start here and see where I’ll end up.

So, what cool things can you do with Drupal besides building websites? Well, to manage my work on the Pandion project, I really needed some sort of case or issue tracker. Nothing fancy, just something were I can manage stuff – ideas, features, bugs, forget-ye-nots,… – without losing track. There are already some great tools out there. Standalone issue trackers like Mantis or Trac and on line services like Unfuddle are of great assistance for the intrepid developer or project team. Then again, those come with a lot of features which I, as a sole developer, don’t really need.

Enter: Drupal! actually hosts most of the projects – modules and themes – within the Drupal ecosystem. It provides a CVS code repository, packaging and, notably, an issue tracker per project. Take the Views module for intance. This is one of the largest projects within the Drupal community and without the issue tracker, it would be hard to coordinate the efforts. The best part is this: the tools to create such an environment are also open source! They’re Drupal modules that are actually very easy to set up. And so it took me about an hour to set up my own issue tracker  with Drupal.

So, how did I do it?

  1. Download and install Drupal 6. (Not 7! Not yet at least ;-))

  2. Download and install these modules: Views, Comment Upload, Project, Token, Pathauto and Project Issue

  3. Go to ‘admin/build/modules’ in your Drupal installation and enable these modules: Pathauto, Project and Project Issue Tracking. You’ll notice that there’s actually a whole range of submodules. The project module does also include i.e. Apache Solr support, packaging and much more which I didn’t need.

  4. Next go to ‘admin/build/path/pathauto’ and under the ‘Node paths’ fieldset enter ‘project/[title-raw]’ (without quotes) in the ‘Pattern for all project paths’ textfield.

  5. Now go to ‘admin/settings/site-information’ and set the default front page to ‘project/issues’ (no quotes!)

  6. Finally, go to ‘node/add/project-project’ and create your first project.

Congratulations, You’re set to track issues with you’re private issue tracker system! On the front page, click on ‘Create a new issue’ to start tracking. If you have multiple projects, Drupal will ask you to which project you want to add the issue. With the default configuration, you can add issues for components like ‘Code’, ‘Documentation’, ‘Miscellaneous’ and ‘User Interface’. You can give priorities to issues, assign them to particular Drupal users (if you work in a small team) and give issues a whole range of statuses.

And this is how my own project tracker looks like. Just what I needed, completely free and without cruft I don’t need.

Project Tracker