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Wekan: An open-source Trello-like kanban (wekan.github.io)
306 points by mcone on Aug 17, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 92 comments



If you want to do Kanban right, double down on making it possible to design actual Kanban workflows. Pretty ticket UI with checklists and GIFs must be secondary to this goal.

Things that most actual Kanban flows have that no one has built into a decent product[0]:

    - Nested columns in lanes
    - Rows for class-of-service
    - WIP limits (per lane, per column, and per class-of-service)
    - Sub-boards for meta issues
The actual content of each work item is the least important part of Kanban; it could be a hyperlink for all I care. Kanban is about managing the flow, not managing the work.

[0] Please prove me wrong if there is such a product out there!


KanbanFlow, https://kanbanflow.com/ , is pretty serious about their Kanban implementation. Worth a look!


I really like kanbanflow as a product. For example they also have a pretty nice integrated pomodoro timer with interruption logging.

However the reason I moved back to Trello was the interface was a bit old-fashioned, and I found it hard to get my team on-board on kanbanflow wheras it was really easy to get them going on Trello.


I think that's the first Kanban interface I've seen that actually looks enticing. There's something very satisfying about the spacing.


Not open source though (from a quick glance)


I agree that this is important. Optimizing and integrating the tools is a fairly significant part of my work, when I am leading a small team. Webhooks and a plugin framework are decent compromises, but there are so many times when I just want to dive into the code to increment a constant, or subclass and extend a method that doesn't have an externally accessible hook.


You just got them a customer :)


A million upvotes if I could.

It’s always surprising to me how many “lean” and “agile” productivity tools completely focus on the artifacts and seem to have skipped the core concepts entirely.


To be honest, Wekan is a pretty weak implementation of Kanban: - No Search (https://github.com/wekan/wekan/issues/552) - No WIP limits (https://github.com/wekan/wekan/issues/783) - No Swimlanes (https://github.com/wekan/wekan/issues/955)

It's a bummer because in the current state, Wekan doesn't really provide much real management value. I really wanted to use it for Kanban, because it's one of the flagship applications of the fantastic Sandstorm cloud platform (https://sandstorm.io), to introduce some colleagues to both concepts at the same time... but I guess I will only show them about the later.

Well at least it implements subtasks (checklists)!


Hi, I'm current maintainer of Wekan.

Yes, Wekan does not have those features yet. Anyway, Wekan is being actively developed and features added. Wekan is friendly community driven project and welcomes all contributions.

Some have commented on Wekan GitHub issues that they prefer to use Wekan, because some others project management tools are overkill, or don't have the same usability as Wekan. It depends on use case.


Thing is, it's specifically labeled a kanban board. WiP limits are fundamental to kanban. They're why kanban works. People may prefer it to other tools; that's fine, but it doesn't mean it's not missing the point by not being an actual kanban board implementation.


Yes, Wekan has Kanban Board, but not full Kanban Method yet.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanban_board


Have you tried LeanKit[0]?

[0] https://leankit.com


I find rows counterproductive; they make it less obvious how full the board is, and don't help make better decisions. By all means sort each column in priority order so that people picking up a new task know which to pick up first; that's a lot less intrusive and covers the important use case.

Likewise sub-boards and meta-issues. If we're doing agile properly then each card represents a user-facing deliverable. Allowing meta-issues encourages doing the wrong thing.

Limiting work in progress I've achieved by having people assign themselves to cards, and questioning those who are on multiple cards. In the cases where we're violating our work-in-progress limit, I'd rather have the board reflect reality than not.


Targetprocess.com had all these features - I loved swim lanes for projects - but the UI was unusably slow (clearly not designed with an app framework at the core) when we tried it two years ago. I've been looking for something better ever since.


It is faster now. Take a look at Fibery as well http://fibery.io/


Maybe YouTrack from JetBrains, these folks got some things right.


Apart from them taking 7+ years to not implement the tiniest of UI features https://youtrack.jetbrains.com/issue/JT-4526


Except UX as a whole.


Like most of their IDEs, it's not about UX but about features. And on that point, they have done a lot!

Having used it for some projects as an alternative to JIRA, Trello, GitLab boards, and a few others that I tried, I think it's not perfect, quite hard to use for non-tech users, but much better than most of the alternatives.

The number of details/settings available is great compared to Trello or GitLab. The pricing/hosting is great compared to JIRA. The non-tech usability is much better in JIRA and Trello, but for a tech team, it has many small things/shortcuts like ones you already use in their IDEs which is really great.

There are hundreds of tools like this, and I tried maybe 20 or 30 of them; the thing is, there is no perfect tool out there, and there won't be as use cases for such a tool can be extremely different! YouTrack gets a lot of points right for a tech team from my experience though.


The product I've been working on the last few months has all the things you listed, mostly: http://cwkanban.com/ . It's been a huge help to my own team's workflow.

But it's not general-purpose like Wekan or Trello; it's focused on workflow for managed IT and at the moment only pulls ticket data from ConnectWise, software for managed services providers.


> all the things you listed, mostly

Not trying to be a dick, but that sounds... kind of weasely.


I suppose- mostly I'm unsure to what extent "sub-boards for meta issues" makes sense when card data is drawn from an external source, as in our product.


Kanboard has it all


It has rows and WIP limits, but does it have the rest?


What is "class-of-service?" I'm not familiar with this term.


In Kanban boards are represented a swim lines (rows). They represent a type of work (urgent, fixed date, standard)

Or a set of policies (solve in 4hours or less)

For the different tickets... It's the most powerful tool of the Kanban Method


I thought for a second my touchpad just broke. Might want to make the landing page look less like there's content down the fold …


And actually there is... For me the image is cut at about one third down the way, and I can't scroll to see the rest.


You can also go into browser dev tools and untick "overflow: hidden" on the body element css


Hi, I'm maintainer for Wekan.

Sorry about that, making new website is still in progress, there will be better landing page.


No need for excuses didn't mean to belittle your project, was honestly baffled. Congrats on the release! :-)


Same on PC. However, if you zoom out you can see the entire image.


I read your comment first, but then when I got to the page it took me about ten seconds to figure it out. Ouch!


While I like the idea of having open source alternatives to the popular applications, this one is a pure and simple copy of Trello. This is a bit too much IMO.


Funny cause in the past wekan did get into trouble over the use of a similar logo and stylesheets taken from Trello (iirc).

They've come a long way since and I think with time they can really shape up to become a strong competitor to Trello.

Side note: When I was working in a corporate environment I was able to setup an instance myself to help organize my tasks. Had I used Trello it would've been against our policy if I potentially left sensitive data on there and hard(read: impossible for me alone) to get permission to use Trello officially.


Reinventing proprietary wheels is a proud Free Software tradition. Look at the GNU project for the largest example.


Hi, I'm maintainer of Wekan.

Trello related CSS was dropped in Wekan v0.9 2015-09-10, so after that Wekan does not use anything from Trello. UI and feature set is different.

https://github.com/wekan/wekan/wiki/FAQ#why-does-wekan-look-...

https://github.com/wekan/wekan/blob/devel/CHANGELOG.md#v09-2...

According to Open Hub, Wekan currently has about 9000 lines of code without counting Meteor.js framework and related packages.

https://www.openhub.net/p/wekan


What made you decide on meteor?


Hi, I'm current maintainer of Wekan.

I don't remember did Wekan original creator Maxime Quandalle mention why did he choose Meteor.js in his talk at YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3iMLwCNOro


xet7 is not the original creator of Wekan, so it would be hard for him to say. ;)


if it isn't free/libre software it doesn't really exist since i cannot self-host or modify the software to suit my needs.

trello is a nice prototype tho.


Why do you want to selfhost Trello? Are you afraid that somebody at Trello might steal your secret cards, todos, specs, etc. and sells them?

I know self hosting is actually better but it is also work and is the typical information which people put on Trello confidential enough to justify self hosting? IDK and again Trello is free.


There are legitimate reasons for wanting/needing to self-host. For example, in a regulatory environment, I could see managing PHI data (not for clinical treatment, but maybe tracking clinical research). In this case, Trello would either need to sign a BAA or you'd need to self host something.

There are many reasons why self-hosting is the only viable option for some use-cases.

And then there are also data longevity issues, where you'd need the ability to backup and restore your data. If Trello goes away (as a free service), then you have fewer options in the regard.


> For example, in a regulatory environment, I could see managing PHI data

This is exactly why I have a spare box running Wekan in my office at work. We run clinical applications for a hospital; sometimes project tracking+testing involves PHI that we have to be super careful about letting into the outside world.


who said anything about confidentiality? i'm talking about long-term viability. if i self-host, i don't have to worry about Trello's business model or changes to the product that i don't like/want. i have control. which is whole point.


Well...yeah. Trello is free, and the expectation is that if you're not paying, you're the product.


> the expectation is that if you're not paying, you're the product.

What are you talking about? In what way are Trello users 'the product'? Are you just repeating a catch phrase that people say about other companies or do you actually know this to be the case?

I don't use Trello myself, but unless something has changed there aren't ads being shown to users (the reasons for the 'you're the product' saying for services like Google or Facebook), I'm not sure what data they could sell that would be worthwhile for a to-do app. What else would make the users 'the product'?

AFAIK they make all their money from their premium services, and since being bought by Atlassian I doubt revenue is at the top of their priority list anyway. Atlassian is full of premium services and Trello seems like a way to introduce all of those users to Atlassian's suite.


It also allows them to sell your data for mining purposes. In the next year we are going to see many AI business buy access to many unique large datasets.


"It's hard to imagine that we would ever consider collecting, let alone sharing, sensitive information with a non-agent third party, but if such a day should come, we will first give you the opportunity to explicitly consent (opt-in) to such disclosure or to any use of the information for a purpose other than the one for which it was originally collected or previously authorized." https://trello.com/privacy


Trello is freemium https://trello.com/pricing, they make money from users upgrading


Trello has a free tier. They don't do data collection as far as I know.

The free tier is a cheap loss leader for the actual product which are the enterprise and team versions which are not free.


> I know self hosting is actually better but it is also work ...

Worth pointing out: they have a sandstorm version, which changes the amount of justification need rather a lot.


For some projects you need to self host because of the US protectionist and paranoid export laws for tech. Specially in aerospace, nuclear, some type of sensors, etc...

That or you need a contract that guarantees that the software is hosted outside the US, which Trello won't provide.


Integrations with third-party stuff perhaps? Plus Wekan's slight differences seem like improvements to me.


I couldn't implement trello in a few situations because of corporate paranoia


edit: Nevermind!


Nah, the tweet is about Twilio, not Trello


Argh! Not the first time that's tripped me up. Thanks.


Gitlab needs a better issue UI and perhaps this could be integrated.


Trello got so mature, has a great API, is well integrated with Zapier and hundreds of other services AND is free (I still don't know why one should get into the paid plan, even witn bigger teams, the free version is torally fine) that it must be super hard for any clone or competitor to win users.


Trello has been super stagnant for years. It's a dying product. No swim-lanes, no nested boards, No proper time-stamps. All basic features on several of the competitors.


Also recently bought by Atlassian.

Not sure about the other stuff, I love Trello, but that purchase gave me pause.


Yes that's another thing in the negative column. Confluence and JIRA are even worse in their own magnificent ways.


I used to hate JIRA until I worked with a company whose admins had taken the time to configure it properly to fit into their workflow - that was actually a very pleasant experience.


Dying product? This sounds like blatant propaganda sorry.

Most of the so called clones don't even have basic stuff like using Command-v to paste pictures right from the clipboard directly into some card and you tell us Trello is dying?

Trello is UI-wise the best kanban thing by far. All clones might look like Trello but their usability has so many glitches and is always inferior.

Besides, nobody needs nested boards, just make another board. Moreover, it is common that after a while a board should get archived and a new one should be created instead. Otherwise it gets too messy and I don't want to imagine how 'nested boards' look.

Edit: thanks for the downvotes, would love to hear your opinions instead


I thought you were doing OK until you said "nobody needs nested boards."


I think lack of an OSS alternative with a solid mobile app is the only thing keeping me on Trello at this point.


Has anyone here had success with a personal kanban board?

Considering it for myself, even if it isn't the intended use case.


Have a look at TasksInaBox ( https://tasksinabox.com/ ). What is nice is that besides the usual web and mobile apps, it also has a client living inside Outlook so you can create tasks from emails as they arrive in your inbox.


There's a book called "Personal Kanban" about using Kanban to organize your own work. I liked some of the principles it espoused, but ultimately found it awkward to manage returned to a more traditional set of GTD lists.


Yeah, I find myself starting new things all the time and never finishing most of them. I've used a WIP limit to try to force myself to finish or explicitly dump projects.


There was a thread not too long ago:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=14387329


Does it have Authentication yet? Last time I checked there were no users or administrations or any permissions


Hi, I'm maintainer of Wekan.

Wekan is available on many platforms: https://github.com/wekan/wekan/wiki/Platforms

a) In Wekan standalone version it's possible to disable self-registration in Admin Panel. There is inviting users, user permissions Admin/Normal/Comment only, but not user management yet:

https://github.com/wekan/wekan/wiki/Features#authentication-...

and in next version it's possible for user to change password: https://github.com/wekan/wekan/blob/devel/CHANGELOG.md

b) In https://sandstorm.io version there is already user management, Google/GitHub/LDAP/SAML authentication etc:

https://discourse.wekan.io/t/sso-passing-variables-through-u...

Newest version of Wekan is coming to Sandstorm in near future, progress is at:

https://github.com/wekan/wekan/issues/799


Is there a reason things like LDAP and SAML are Sandstorm only?


Hi, I'm current maintainer of Wekan.

There are issues for having LDAP/Saml/GitHub/Google etc auth for Standalone Wekan, but they are not implemented yet.

https://github.com/wekan/wekan/wiki/Integrations#authenticat...

Sandstorm platform brings LDAP, SAML etc authentication to all apps running on Sandstorm.

Sandstorm has long list of sandboxing and other high-end security features:

https://docs.sandstorm.io/en/latest/using/security-practices...

All of Sandstorm is now Open Source, including Blackrock clustering:

https://sandstorm.io/news/2017-02-06-sandstorm-returning-to-...


I suspect that the primary developers may be unfamiliar with AD/LDAP.

https://github.com/wekan/wekan/issues/119


Wekan is pretty much fully community contribution-driven. So the answer for it not having it's own AD/LDAP support at this point is that nobody has seemed interested in actually doing it and submitting a PR.


not the op, but I would guess because those are features of sandstorm, and they are just piggybacking on the authentication


It does have users, I'm running it on my own server. I've found that it's actually not trivial to disable registration (you have to patch the source, there's no configuration option for it).


Hi, I'm current maintainer of Wekan.

For Standalone Wekan, Teams/Organizations/User admin is currently at planning stage:

https://github.com/wekan/wekan/issues/802


what's the storage backed for this app ?

Also shout out to https://greggigon.github.io/my-personal-kanban/ that is a simple and offline board


Hi, I'm current maintainer of Wekan.

Wekan can be used locally on local network that is not connected to Internet. There is no offline sync yet.

Wekan is made with Meteor.js Javascript framework, using Node.js and MongoDB as backend currently.

There is possibility to use read-only mirroring to PostgreSQL using ToroDB:

https://github.com/wekan/wekan-postgresql

but currently there's this bug, please wait for it to be fixed:

https://github.com/torodb/stampede/issues/202

There is issue about directly using other backends than MongoDB, but that would require some code changes, so it's not implemented yet:

https://github.com/wekan/wekan/issues/787

Wekan can be installed on x64 operating systems where source/Docker/Ubuntu snap/VirtualBox installs work.

https://github.com/wekan/wekan/wiki/Platforms

There is no Raspberry Pi version yet:

https://github.com/wekan/wekan/issues/1053


Bug is now fixed, read-only mirroring to PostgreSQL using ToroDB works again:

https://github.com/wekan/wekan-postgresql


Thank you!


Thank you! Loved it!


Is it API-compatible with Trello? That would rock, being able to use Trello extensions.


Hi, I'm current maintainer of Wekan.

Wekan has API and Outgoing Webhooks, but they are different than Trello:

https://github.com/wekan/wekan/wiki/Features#api

Is it possible to use Trello extensions and integrate them with only Trello API ? And is it allowed to use Trello extensions outside Trello ? Or would they require separate integration to Wekan ?

For example on Trello templates can not be used outside Trello:

https://trello.com/inspiration

For general integration (similar to Zapier) there is plan to use Open Source tool Huginn:

https://github.com/wekan/wekan/issues/1160

https://github.com/huginn/huginn


what i only want to know is why a chinese-like name: kanban, ^_^


Kanban is the name of a well-known process management method. The word is Japanese - 看板 - literally meaning "signpost" or "billboard" (thanks Wikipedia).





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