March 15th, 2008
I’ve been writing a bit about Trac and Redmine lately. For approximately the 1/3 of the publically-available software that I’ve written, I maintain a Trac site for it at software.complete.org. This 1/3 is generally the third that has the most interest from others, and there’s a bug tracker, wiki, download area, etc.
Trac is nice, and much nicer than one of the *Forge systems for a setup of this scale. But it has long bugged me that Trac has no integration between projects. To see what open bugs are out there on my software, I have to check — yes — 17 individual bug trackers.
To keep track on the wikis to make sure that nobody is adding spam, I have to subscribe to 17 different RSS feeds.
It took me some time just to hack up a way so I didn’t have to have 17 different accounts to log in to…
So, mainly, my use case for Trac isn’t what it was intended for.
Enter Redmine. It’s similar in concept to Trac — a lightweight project management system. But unlike Trac, Redmine allows you to have separate projects, but still manage them all as one if you please.
Redmine didn’t have Git support in its latest release, but there was a patch in Redmine’s BTS for it. I discussed why it wasn’t being applied with Redmine’s author, and then went in and fixed it up myself. (I used Git to make a branch off the Redmine SVN repo — very slick.) Unlike Trac’s Git support, Redmine’s is *fast*. I tested it against a clone of the Linux kernel repo on my local machine.
There are a few things about Redmine I don’t like, but I have learned that they mainly have to do with Ruby on Rails. As someone pointed out on Planet Debian lately (sorry, can’t find the link), the very nature of Rails makes it almost impossible for OS developers like Debian to include Rails apps in the distribution.
Not only that, but it seems like Rails assumes that even if you are just going to *use* an app, you know how to *write* one. For instance, this is pretty much the extent of documentation on how to set up a Rails app to be able to send out mail:
# See Rails::Configuration for more options
And of course, googling that turns up nothing useful.
Redmine is a rails app, so it cannot escape some of this. It seems to be a solid piece of work, but Rails seems to make things unnecessarily complex. That, and I’ve found some bugs in the underlying Rails infrastructure (like activerecord not quoting the schema name when talking to PostgreSQL) that make me nervous about the stack.
But the site is up and running well now, so I’m happy, and am planning to keep working with Redmine for quite some time.