5 open source alternatives to Trello

5 open source alternatives to Trello

Posted 27 Aug 2015 by 

Jason Baker (Red Hat)
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5 open source alternatives to Trello
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Jeff Lasovski. Modified by Opensource.com. CC BY-SA 3.0.

I have to admit, I've fallen in love with Trello as a productivity tool. If you like keeping lists as a way to organize your work, it's a very good tool. For me, it serves two primary purposes: keeping a GTD framework, and managing certain projects with a kanban-like schedule.

But Trello is a closed source SaaS product, and I wanted to know whether I could find an open source alternative to meet my needs. As much as I love Trello, it lacks a few features that I'd really like to have in a list/task manager, and I wanted to explore my other options.

If you're not familiar with Trello or the concept of a kanban board, it's pretty simple. Items on a list are each treated as "cards." Offline versions often use Post-It Notes moved across a series of bins. It's based on a process developed for manufacturing, but widely adopted by the lean software development community. Cards might represent a feature, which is moved across a board to represent its flow through development, review, testing, and deployment. Digital tools often allow attachments to these cards: images, links, additional lists, a person assigned to the task, etc., and many have additional tools for giving you a fuller picture of how tasks are moving across a workflow. For people with a lot of production-oriented work, they also work well outside of the software development world. I use kanban boards for tracking everything from articles being written to home repairs.

But most kanban board tools are multi-purpose, and you can also use them to track next actions, someday/maybe lists, or even just what groceries you need to pick up. The killer feature of almost all of them is the ability to share your boards with a team, allowing group collaboration and keeping everyone on the same page. When looking for an open source tool to fit my needs, I came across five open source, free Trello alternatives and wanted to share a little bit from my experience with each.

Taiga

First up is Taiga.io. We've reviewed Taiga before, and it's one of our top project management tools. Whereas some project management tools seem to focus too much on including a kitchen sink of features, one of the things that I liked about Taiga when I first learned about it was its focus on simplicity and a clean interface. Taiga is also highly customizable and includes integration with a lot of other features and external tools, as well as a number of community-created tools.

Taiga does more than kanban boards, but since that's what I am primarily interested in, that's most of what I explored. I liked the ability to add custom fields, and the points system is something that teams might find interesting; reporting was also super easy. In addition to being an open source project you can download and run yourself, Taiga features an online hosted version. Public project boards are free, while private boards can be hosted for small fee.

Taiga is written in Python with Django and on top of AngularJS, and is open source under a GNU Affero GPL.


Kanban board

Taiga screenshot by Jason Baker. CC BY-SA 2.0.

Kanboard

Kanboard is a fairly minimalist entry into the world of open source kanban boards. But don't let the minimal interface fool you, it still hosts a number of features including task searching and filtering, subtasks, attachments, commenting, and more, as well as some decent analytics and reporting options. You can also easily export your cards in a variety of formats. Kanboard is easy to install, uses few resources (you can run it on a Raspberry Pi, for example), and has been translated to quite a number of different languages. It also has an online demo you can try out.

Kanboard is written in PHP and is made available under an MIT license.


Kanban board

Kanboard screenshot by Jason Baker. CC BY-SA 2.0.

Libreboard

The next contender I looked at was Libreboard. Libreboard's website had less information than some of the other projects I looked at, but it's also fairly easy to jump in and try it out yourself. They have a free hosted demo site, or you can download and install it yourself. They make this especially easy, providing a Dockerfile for anyone interested in running it safely inside of a container, and it's the only one of the projects that is integrated into Sandstorm.io if you're already using that platform for hosting a personal cloud server. 

Of all the kanban board tools I looked at, Libreboard is the one that most closely resembled the Trello interface. Both the front-end and the back-end are written in JavaScript, based on the Meteor framework. If you're interested in following updates on the project, their own roadmap is done in a self-hosted Libreboard anyone can view.


Kanban board

LibreBoard screenshot by Jason Baker. CC BY-SA 2.0.

Restyaboard

Restyaboard attempts to pick up where Trello stops and extend the feature set a bit; they've got a handy comparison chart on their website which lays out their additional features pretty well. Their online demo shows off many of these features. If you're already using Trello, you'll appreciate the ability to import your tasks directly from Trello's default format so you can get up and going quickly.

What I appreciated about Restyaboard was the templating feature (something my currently solution is lacking). They also have a handy API explorer, which makes custom integrations with other tools a breeze, assuming you're willing to do a little bit of coding.

Restyaboard is written in PHP and is freely distributed under an Open Software License.


Kanban board

RestyaBoard screenshot by Jason Baker. CC BY-SA 2.0.

TaskBoard

The final tool I looked at was TaskBoard. Like the others, TaskBoard also has an online demo you can try out for yourself before you download and install it.

I found TaskBoard to have many of the same features of other tools I looked at, and that's certainly not a fault. It's a reasonably full-featured solution with filtering, comments, attachments, and most of the standard features of a kanban board I've come to expect. What I liked most about TaskBoard was its inline support for MarkDown, which has become my go-to format for writing.

TaskBoard is MIT licensed and written in PHP.

Kanban board

TaskBoard screenshot by Jason Baker. CC BY-SA 2.0.


Do you have another favorite that I missed? Let us know in the comments below, and if you've tried any of these out, tell us what you think!

8 Comments

pjharper

If you are an Emacs user there is Org-Trello. Of course you would still be using the cloud platform. But that is handy on the mobile phone.: https://org-trello.github.io/

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Bhumika

Trello and all the other tools are good for organization looking for kanban model. But surely they lack in many other features required for sound project management like gantt, reports, templates etc. Well, we're using ProofHub into our organization and it is my favorite tool. It is really helping in increasing productivity at work and also has proven to be the best collaboration tool for us.

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Buckets.co

Hello,

This is Mike Smutka. My colleagues and I started a new Kanban Board based system @ buckets.co

It is free, and we'd love to have any lovers of Kanban-Style project management systems give it a try!

Call me crazy, but I'm leaving my email for anyone who wants to provide feedback and be involved with the product. Thanks everyone! m at buckets dot co

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Tim K

We've been trying out buckets.co for a few weeks. It definitely has similarities to some of these platforms, but I'd call it more "polished" with a few more bells and whistles

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Stefano

I don't think it's appropriate here to advertise for closed source alternatives to trello. Or at least, mention that they are closed so I don't waste my time checking the website.
Thank you :)

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Kees

I love Taiga.io, the way it looks and how it works and will be doing a Scrumproject with it shortly.
There are also Docker-versions of Taiga available!!

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urkomasse

I noticed that Kanboard can autocreate tasks from emails. That is just awesome.
Does anyone know of any open source, Kanban helpdesk application?
I keep dreaming about something where I can manage helpdesk requests and longer projects, together, using Kanban, for my IT department...

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Jeff Robards

I looked for one for ages, didn't find anything to match my expectations. I settled for http://kanbantool.com, which is free in the primary version, which suits me fine. I'm loving their clean design.

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Jason is passionate about using technology to make the world more open, from software development to bringing sunlight to local governments. He is particularly interested in data visualization/analysis, DIY/maker culture, simulations/modeling, geospatial technologies, and cloud computing, especially OpenStack. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.