ActiveProject is a web-collaboration tool that aims to capture, link, and update all of a project's components.
ActiveProject Builder, the core of the two-part package, helps you organize and publish project information, and translate it into HTML. The Builder screen is structured into five frames. The "new project" wizard walks you through a nine-step process to create the first frame, which is for project aspects such as mechanical, manufacturing, scheduling, etc. The layout under each aspect is constructed in the graphic frame. Graphic information (photographs, drawings, or the ActiveProject's own primitive shapes) creates a visual reference to each project aspect.
For example, you can use an actual aerial site photograph as the background for a project for a new engineering facility. Using ActiveProject's drawing tools, you overlay the outline of the buildings that will be the elements of the project aspect "facility." These overlays, called "hot spots," contain pertinent information that can be accessed through a click. Each element under the aspect "facility" has different information available, such as documents, spreadsheets, Gantt charts, or even animation files. These files can be dragged to each element's folder and stored in the information frame.
Once the site's structure is complete, the software will translate it into HTML for you. This View-only site can be viewed with your web browser software over a network or intranet, or it can be published on the Web as a dynamic web site.
ActiveProject Server handles administration for dynamic updates or controlling access to different parts of the web site. As the owner of the site, the project leader assigns various access rights to all members of the team as well as outside viewers, enabling them to be reviewers, publishers, or authors, as appropriate.
The dynamic web site is the core of the ActiveProject concept. Its users can add, remove, change properties, and ownership of any information published. If your involvement is limited to a part of the web site, you can subscribe to e-mail and messages for that part only. If the decisions that are made affect your part of the project, you are automatically notified by e-mail.
Records of all requests for information and responses are maintained by the web site so that the project administrator is aware that there are open issues and someone is responding. This is especially useful for a new feature in this version of ActiveProject: on-line design review. In ActiveProject, all project information can be made available and the on-line design review keeps track of all associated comments, so any decision can be traced back.
ActiveProject supports several graphics formats, including DWG, DWF, DXF, BMP, WMF, AVI, TIFF, and CALS for graphics and drawing viewing and manipulation. Drawings can be previewed on line before being downloaded, and the Preview frame area has e-mail links to the owner for these documents. You can leave comments with graphic attachments or view comments made by other users.
ActiveProject only comes with one user's guide for each module; the bulk of the documentation is on-line. The interactive tutorial can make you productive within hours, and you will probably not need the paper documentation at all.
Frameworks' ActiveProject is one of the best tools in the market for project collaboration over the Web. Considering the price, I couldn't help thinking "Are tools like ActiveProject a must-have in order to run my projects?" Before you base your answer on the high price of ActiveProject, think of how many hours, days, or weeks your team has lost or wasted transmitting, exchanging, and updating project aspects with your colleagues, business partners, customers, and vendors.
The ActiveProject web-collaboration tool comprises Builder and Server modules. Requirements for Builder: Pentium PC, Windows 95, 16 Mbytes RAM, 180 Mbytes hard disk space. Requirements for Server: Pentium II 200 or better, Windows NT Server 4.0, 64 Mbytes RAM, Microsoft Internet Information Server 4.0, 200 Mbytes hard disk space.
List Price: $2,995 for one license of Builder, $9,995 for a 10-user license of Server with one license of Builder
Framework Technologies Corp., 23 Third Ave., Burlington, MA 01803; Tel: (800) 644-1002; www.frametech.com. Product Code 4691
A similar product: ProjectQuest -- Inquest Technologies Inc., 460 Totten Pond Rd., Waltham, MA 02451; Tel: (800) 254-4050; www.projectquest.com. Product Code 4692