BLUF: what open source online tools will help a group list and sort tasks?

I finally have a great team assembled, and we'd like to have an online tool where we can share what we are working on, and prioritize.

Because we are a non-profit, purchasing software is out of the question. I thought about something along the lines of Nozbe or Vitalist.

Has anyone used those, or have others to suggest?


marax's picture


I can just recommend what I use for year - Very versatile task management tool with many features but which you can adjust to your needs. You can even switch off some features if you do not use them (e.g. due time, folders, priority, context). So you can get rid of any clutter in your system.

Toodledo has many features for free which are paid in other tools. Check it out here

The best is in companion with iPhone application.




amasur's picture
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If you're looking for something simple, yet effective to manage group projects, I'd suggest looking at Basecamp from 37 Signals. There are plans that are only $49 per month for your entire team. That get's you unlimited users and up to 30 or so active projects.

Here's my Basecamp top-ten list (no, I'm not getting anything from them for saying this):

  1. Completely web-based.
  2. Unlimited users that can be inside your organization or in other companies/departments
  3. Multiple ToDo lists per project
  4. ToDos are not date driven, and you can put ToDos in whatever order you want.
  5. Milestones are date driven.
  6. ToDo Lists can be tied to milestones if you like.
  7. Good file sharing with basic "versioning"
  8. Basic Wiki-like functionality (called Writeboards) for group collaboration
  9. Several good iPhone apps (I use Outpost)
  10. Robust permissions

My team of 8 marketing people within a company of about 45 use it every day. We're even now getting some folks outside the team to start putting things in there as well. Happy to share/discuss more if you'd like.

-Adam Masur

Peter.westley's picture
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I've used the free version of Vitalist.

It's does help implement the GTD methodology however I've found it somewhat clunky.

I think a tool like this has to be very easy and quick to use. While Vitalist has the features, it's not as slick as I think it need to be.

-- Peter

DISC: 2564

bug_girl's picture

Unfortunately, we can't afford $49/month. Either it's free or we look for a donated white board :)

Thanks for your comments, everyone!

jrumple's picture
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While not directly task management tools, there are some other options that I've used for online collaboration, which could be manipulated as task lists.
I'm a big fan of Adobe Buzzword. With free accounts at you can create online documents, share documents, and even conduct online meetings. The online meetings is hampered by the number of people who can connect in hopes that you'll pay for the professional version of Adobe ConnectNow, but it is a start. Buzzword is more of a word processor, but you can build tables in your documents for the task lists.

This is another free site. It's focus is on building wiki pages and has gotten a lot of traction in the education world. You can still upload documents and create wiki pages that can track tasks. The wiki pages have a WYSIWYG editor so you don't have to be very technically savvy to use it. They advertise as being as easy as a Peanut Butter sandwich, hence PBWiki.

Google Calc
I don't know how many task lists I've seen built in a spreadsheet even when more complex tools are available. Something as simple as Google's Calc could be used for creating the task list.

I haven't used it much, but in my Master's class we talked about the open source tool Open Bench. It is a scheduling and planning tool similar to Microsoft Project. Again I haven't used it much, but the website claims to handle project execution better than Microsoft Project, which is more of a planning tool. I don't know about using it with a virtual team in an online environment.

A friend of mine was telling me about Moodle, which is an open source tool for online learning management. I could see building assignments, like homework, into Moodle to work with a task list. Moodle also has wikis, blogs, and online storage. I have seen in the GoDaddy ads that you can add Moodle if you have a GoDaddy website. From the Moodle website, you can add it to any online environment. I just don't know how much technical ability you would need for different hosting services.

Microsoft SharePoint
While not open source and not free, if you have a Microsoft SharePoint server already configured, it offers a lot of these services: wikis, blogs, document libraries, and task lists. In SharePoint 3.0 you can view your task list in a Gantt Chart view. It isn't as complete as something like Microsoft Project, but it can get through some semi-complex projects.

These are a few of the ideas I had when I read through your question. I guess it boils down to how complex will the task lists become. Some of these options may not be the most efficient tools, but given budget, time, and technical experience constraints, they could prove to be just as effective.

San Diego

amasur's picture
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A quick follow-up. If your budget is truly $0, then I'd suggest the spreadsheet in Google Docs ( You can create spreadsheets for each project and share it, so those on the project can collaborate. There is also capability that allows you to create your own custom forms, but I haven't played with that at all.

If you go the Nozbe route, I do like the tool, and I'm sure it would work well for you. You may be limited by the fact that you can only have 5 projects in the free version. If that's not an issue for you, Nozbe is very good.

Best regards,



bug_girl's picture

In fact, we will have a 40% budget reduction this year. And projections of 20% next year.

I had forgotten about moodle and google docs!  Thanks!

Kimlaing's picture

Hi all

Another alternative <a href="">online task tool </a> is Dooster.  I find it really user friendly and great for collaborating with colleagues online and storing docs etc.

Well worth a look.


Crinks's picture

 All of these are free web services. I have used most of them in an exploratory fashion... it seems to be a simple matter of personal preference.



lmoorhead's picture
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I am a fan of Remember the Milk - - for task management. I like the fact that I can tag stuff based on customer AND project name, etc. I used to use Outlook Tasks, but went off it because I hated firing up my laptop all the time. RTM has a client for everything plus you can email or text tasks to yourself as well. I am very deadline driven so I also like that I can easily set the due date, even on recurring tasks, without needing a bunch of data entry. ("File TPS report every Tuesday" will get you what you need.)

If nobody has pointed you to it yet - you may also like Lifehacker - They are fans of the free :) I have uncovered all kinds of great free stuff through their recommendations.

cjp147's picture

I have used RTM (Remember the Milk) and Gubb (  I started using Gubb first, then tried RTM and went back to Gubb.  I am using Gubb for my GTD (Getting Things Done) system and grocery lists, etc.  I am not using it for project work.  However, I do share lists with my wife.  I like Gubb b/c it is easy to update and retreive lists.  I found RTM to be pretty nice to, but I it was a little more feature rich (and technical) than I needed.  


Good luck!

Christineblack's picture


My response would be    My boss decided to use an online task manager (he has about twenty of us working for him) and gave us a couple to look at.  At first he had been taken with idea of BAseCamp and then quite liked some of those mentioned above when he was researching and finally he decided on   We all love it. 

naraa's picture
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 I used for a while  It is very good but it costs US$10 or US$20 per month per user allowed to create tasks and tread on the discussion list (viewers cost US$10 per month unlimited number of viewers).  It is good if you don´t want the hassle to have your own server and cheap if you have lots of viewers for which you assign tasks but only few creating tasks.  The gant chart on which you can create tasks on is fantastic.  We moved away from it because of the cost structure (we couldn´t justify US$20 per month for everyone).

We then moved to activecollab, for around US$500 total for the software it is really good value and an excellent product.  If you looking for prioritization it is excellent as it allows milestones to be created and then specific tasks associated to the milestones.  Also you can attached documents and discussion lists very easily to the tasks, milestones or project and document and revision control on it.  The ones of us at the company that use the software cannot understand why the others don´t!  It is really great stuff and very user friendly.   You can go specifically to the project you are interested and see what´s up or you can go to check what a person has been doing (it is great when you have people on the field uploading and requesting information).  I call it the facebook of projects and to me it is really the step up from what email is!  


nathaliecane's picture


I think Dooster is good.  We have had it for some months.  It's affordable, secure and the customer service put you at ease.  You should try it.

manxomfoe's picture

 My recommendation is Trello. Made by the ppl who do fogbugz. Here's a short and incomplete list of features

Online, free, mobile/tablet/desktop

Multi user and real time 

Super flexible, and approximates a whiteboard covered in postits. 

anderson's picture

I just found Worklowy and love it.

WorkFlowy is an organizational tool that makes life easier. It's a surprisingly powerful way to take notes, make lists, collaborate, brainstorm, plan and generally ...

or a summary can be found here .


William27's picture

 Some new ones:   (owned by SalesForce)  (Free, right now)  ($)

gdc2579's picture


ToodleDo is a good application for projects and tasks. It has an online interface as well as a mobile application. You can categorize and tag activities to track them and establish priorities. Tasks can also be shared by email, but the app seems tailored more to the individual than to a team. My favorite aspect was the ability to print out a to-do list with tasks grouped by project. The printout is folded to a pocket-size booklet that literally becomes your portable checklist. While I don't use that application any longer, it wasn't a bad choice. My biggest dislike with the app was the inability (at the time) to make journal-like entries for a specific task. This may have changed, but I needed to be able to note that I "received voice mail" when attempting to complete the task of "follow up with vendor about X," without having to enter the date/time or close the task.

I also checked out, after seeing the post by MMorgensen. It was painfully slow working through the wizard, but the actual program isn't bad. You can make entries related to Tasks, Projects, and Notes. Tasks can be shared and assigned, but activity is logged in a sidebar to show you who has viewed or changed the entry. It also integrates with Google Docs and Chrome has an App. Overall, it seems a decent option for you to explore. 

Both applications would allow you to share. seems really simply and easy to use, but does not have an obvious way to prioritize (which you listed as important). With a little creativity, you could design folder structures to establish priorities. ToodleDo does allow prioritization and has more options overall, but may be more difficult for tracking team activity. 

Good luck with your search, 


arlenmark0987's picture

I'd like to suggest you to try your hands on proofhub. Though this is not open source but provides 20% discount to non-profits. Helps a lot in managing team as well as clients. It's worth checking out. 

amanchauhan's picture




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Best options are unlimited users that can be inside your organization or in other companies/departments. To do Lists can be tied to milestones if you like.

paulAxonGarside's picture

I would give a go.  You get a free trial then an active user pricing model so it's very cost effective.