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Tools2023-08-10

Plane- The Open Source Project Management Tool

Read on our guide to know about Plane, the open source project management tool with features, performance, and cost analyzed.
Plane open source tool

It is not uncommon for project managers, product managers, and even seasoned developers to face a dilemma while deciding on the right project management tool. Each tool offers unique features, with Jira being a common go-to for many. However, for some, Jira's complexity and licensing costs might prove to be an obstacle. Enter Plane, an open-source alternative that could provide a feasible solution. In this article, we'll delve into the details of Plane, providing an honest review to help you determine whether it could be a suitable option for your team.

Plane is an open-source software development tool aimed at offering a simpler and more flexible alternative to Jira. It’s designed to handle issues, sprints, and product roadmaps seamlessly, enabling you to manage your projects with peace of mind. Despite its early days in the software market, Plane has garnered attention for its intuitive and customizable user interface and extensibility.

Its vibrant community makes it a breeding ground for innovative features. Whether you're a Tech Leader overseeing multiple projects, a project manager planning sprints, or a developer wanting to keep track of assigned issues, Plane might just be the tool for you.

What is Plane?

At its core, Plane is an issue tracking tool. It allows you to quickly create issues, add details using a rich text editor that supports file uploads, and even add sub-properties and references to issues for better organization and tracking. The editor also supports issue attachments, allowing for better collaboration by centralizing important project-related documents.

Plane tool for project management

Unlike many project management tools that restrict you to a single view, Plane allows you to choose your preferred layout. You can opt for a List, Kanban, or Calendar view to visualize your project in a way that makes sense to you and your team.

Sprint Planning with Cycles

With Cycles, Plane enables you to plan sprints effectively. It offers insights into your project's progress with burn-down charts and other useful features. It's like having your own agile coach embedded in your project management tool.

Breaking Projects into Modules

For large projects, Plane offers the ability to break them down into smaller, manageable modules. This division can simplify tracking and planning, especially for large teams where different teams may be responsible for different aspects of the project.

Pages for AI-Powered Notes

Plane pages function as an AI-powered notepad, enabling you to easily document issues, cycle plans, and module details, and then synchronize them with your issues.

Getting Started with Plane

To get started with Plane, you can either sign up for a Plane Cloud account or self-host Plane using Docker.

1. Plane Cloud

The Plane Cloud is a hosted solution offered by Plane. After signing up, you can quickly create your workspace and get started with managing your projects. The setup process is straightforward and user-friendly, making it easy even for beginners to get started.

2. Plane Self-Hosted

For those who prefer to have more control over their data and resources, Plane offers the option to self-host using Docker. However, it's worth noting that this option requires additional configurations for email, authentication, and storage services. Detailed instructions are provided in the self-hosting section of their documentation.

3. Setting Up Workspaces and Projects

Plane's organizational structure revolves around workspaces and projects. A workspace can be considered as an umbrella for your content, similar to an organization or a company. You can create individual projects within these workspaces, and invite collaborators to join and contribute.

Workspaces and Projects in Plane

Projects are where the actual work happens. After creating your workspace, you will need to create a new project. If you want to invite other members to a project, you'll need to first add them to a workspace and then give them access directly under Project settings after they have been invited.

Plane project template

4. Creating and Managing Issues

In Plane, an issue is a task or piece of work, which could range from a simple update to a major new feature. The flexibility of Plane allows you and your team to decide how you want to break down your work into issues. You can create issues by clicking on the New Issue button in your project, or by using the C shortcut.

5. Cycles and Modules

Plane incorporates the concepts of Cycles and Modules to help teams manage their work effectively. Cycles, akin to Sprints in Agile methodology, are custom time periods in which a team works to complete items on their backlog. At the end of a cycle, the team would have ideally completed and implemented a new version of their project or product.

Modules, similar to Epics in Agile, are smaller, focused projects that help group and organize issues within a specific time frame. They allow you to break down your work into manageable chunks and track progress towards specific goals or objectives.

Plane workplace settings

Documenting with Pages

Pages function as an AI-powered notepad, allowing you to quickly jot down issues during meetings or at the start of the day. You can then directly push these notes to the respective projects, converting them into issues.

Plane Vs. JIRA: Quick Comparison

In terms of features, Plane and Jira share similarities such as issue tracking, analytics, and integrations, but there are notable differences too. While Jira offers advanced roadmaps, data residency, and user roles & permissions, Plane boasts unlimited members even in the free version, and an AI feature (GPT unlimited) in the Pro version. 

1. User Interface and Experience

Plane offers a simple, minimalistic, and intuitive design that encourages ease of use, especially for tech enthusiasts and startups exploring project management tools. Jira, on the other hand, has a more comprehensive interface suitable for larger, more complex projects, although it might have a steeper learning curve for beginners.

2. Performance: Speed and Reliability

In terms of performance, both Plane and Jira demonstrate solid speed and reliability. Jira, with its mature platform, offers guaranteed uptime SLA in its Premium and Enterprise plans, providing reliability for large-scale businesses. Plane, being newer and less complex, is highly responsive and fast.

3. Customizability and Flexibility

Customizability and flexibility is where Plane really shines, thanks to its open source nature. Users can tweak it to their needs, whereas Jira, though offering a broad range of customizable options, lacks the open source flexibility Plane provides.

4. The Migration Journey

Embarking on the migration journey from Jira to Plane, or vice versa, is largely dependent on your project complexity and the tool’s capability to export/import data. Both tools offer migration options, but the experience may vary depending on your specific circumstances.

5. Reporting and Analytics

When it comes to reporting and analytics, Jira offers detailed insights and reports, especially in its paid plans, while Plane provides basic analytics, with the promise of more advanced analytics in its upcoming Pro version.

6. Integration with Other Tools and Platforms

Both Plane and Jira provide integration with other tools and platforms, with Jira integrating with an extensive list of Atlassian and third-party apps. Plane, however, champions in providing all integrations even in its free version. But as of now only Slack and Github are available for integration option.

7. Cost

Jira's pricing starts with a free tier for up to 10 users and scales up to enterprise-level pricing. Plane, meanwhile, offers unlimited members in its free tier, with the Pro version details still under wraps. For more insights on Jira, we recommend checking out our other article "Jira Myths Debunked". It further expands your understanding of the tool, addressing common misconceptions about its usage and features.

The value proposition lies in your specific needs. If you seek a tool with comprehensive features, data residency, and 24/7 support, Jira might be for you. However, if your focus is on cost-effectiveness, ease of use, and open-source flexibility, Plane makes a compelling argument.

Why Plane Should Be On Your List?

While Jira has become a staple in project management, this Hacker News thread sheds light on several issues that often leave users frustrated and seeking alternatives. One such contender is Plane, which aims to streamline the project management process. 

Here is why Plane can be a viable alternative to Jira:

1. Versatility

One significant drawback of Jira mentioned is its attempt to cater to everyone equally, leading to a mediocre experience for most. Jira tries to serve developers, coaches, project owners, business people, customers, and more. In contrast, Plane could focus on creating a niche experience, making it a tool that offers a more consistent experience, better suited for specific team structures and workflows.

2. Performance

Numerous users expressed frustration with Jira's performance, citing long load times and slow response rates. This is an area where Plane can shine by providing a lightweight, fast, and responsive tool that outperforms Jira. This improvement in performance can significantly enhance the overall user experience, making Plane a more attractive option.

3. User Experience (UX) 

Jira's UI is sometimes overly complex. Plane could provide a simple, intuitive user interface that makes navigation easy, quick, and user-friendly. It can focus on delivering a streamlined user experience that is less overwhelming and more efficient.

However, Plane isn't without its potential drawbacks. The level of customization that Jira offers, although potentially overwhelming, can be a strength for teams requiring a high degree of complexity. 

Plane would need to strike a balance between simplicity and functionality to avoid falling into the same pitfalls as Jira. Improve your Agile project management skills by exploring this comprehensive guide on Jira User Stories from Hatica's blog, designed to help you create effective and focused user stories.

Bottom Line: Let The Plane Land In Your Project Management Checklist

In a landscape dominated by comprehensive & complex project management tools, Plane stands out with its simplicity, flexibility, and open-source nature. 

While it's still in the early stages of development, the strong community support, active development, and commitment to addressing user feedback make Plane a promising tool for teams of all sizes. Before committing, you should experiment with Plane's features and workflows to see if they align with your team's requirements. If they do, you might just have found your new go-to project management tool.

Follow Hatica Blog for more amazing insights on effective project development strategies and tools that make your engineering teams more efficient, productive, and future-ready!

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Table of Contents
  • What is Plane?
  • Sprint Planning with Cycles
  • Breaking Projects into Modules
  • Pages for AI-Powered Notes
  • Getting Started with Plane
  • 1. Plane Cloud
  • 2. Plane Self-Hosted
  • 3. Setting Up Workspaces and Projects
  • 4. Creating and Managing Issues
  • 5. Cycles and Modules
  • Documenting with Pages
  • Plane Vs. JIRA: Quick Comparison
  • 1. User Interface and Experience
  • 2. Performance: Speed and Reliability
  • 3. Customizability and Flexibility
  • 4. The Migration Journey
  • 5. Reporting and Analytics
  • 6. Integration with Other Tools and Platforms
  • 7. Cost
  • Why Plane Should Be On Your List?
  • 1. Versatility
  • 2. Performance
  • 3. User Experience (UX)¬†
  • Bottom Line: Let The Plane Land In Your Project Management Checklist

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