Open Workbench


Open Workbench

An open-source application offers project planning, scheduling, resource management, project review and more.


Our rating: 

License: Free (Open source)
Review & Alternatives: Best Free Project Manager

Pros & Cons:

Feature-rich and powerful effort-based so it best suited to groups that estimate total work effort.
Note: Vulnerabilities in Java Runtime are regularly discovered. It also seems that Sun (owner of Java) is losing interest in maintaining Java and Java Runtime. This product is not recommended if security is a concern. Resource-driven (effort-based) rather than task driven (duration-based) like Microsoft Project.

Our Review:

Open Workbench, which is a free tool so feature-rich and powerful that it should at least be considered before any decision is made to purchase a commercial project management package.

Open Workbench notes

  1. Requires Java Runtime. Note: A persistent stream of new vulnerabilities is being discovered in Java Runtime. It seems Oracle (who owns Java) has lost interest in maintaining Java and Java Runtime as well. You may want to reconsider using Open Workbency.
  2. No longer supported or updated. Not a problem per se, but I suggest that you archive a copy or three of the installation file if you are going to be committed to using Open Workbench.

Like the commercial products of the same class, it takes time to get your head around and if you have been using Microsoft Project or another task-based manager you'll have to re-orient your thinking because Open Workbench is resource-driven not task-driven.

According to the developers, "an Open Workbench plan is built up from estimates for the tasks of work. Estimates are tied to the resource assigned to the tasks. Duration is then driven by the number of hours each resource will work per week to cover the total number of hours required for the tasks. Open Workbench is best suited to groups that estimate total work effort based on the estimates for all the tasks associated with a project and then create a staffing plan and schedule for those estimates."

The key features of the application include project planning, scheduling, resource management, project review and more.

The program can also read Microsoft project files and this possibly makes Open Workbench the most appealing. Many products–even commercial offerings–are great project management tools but sooner or later someone is going to want to view or edit your plan with the ubiquitous MS Project, and without compatibility the best you are going to be able to offer is an exported spreadsheet or graphical equivalent.

Open Workbench is the real thing, not some amateurish, half baked effort. Like Microsoft Project, it is best suited to large scale projects that can justify the considerable time it takes to learn the product.

Open Workbench was reviewed by on based on version 1.1.6 as of 2015-08-05.