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Managing Open Source Projects for Free with Zenhub

Managing Open Source Projects for Free with Zenhub

Do you run an open source project? Get the visibility and organization you need with Zenhub – the only tool that lets you centrally see and manage private and public repositories in GitHub in one place.

Open source is the predominant model for software development today, powering transformative technologies such as cloud, edge, IoT, AI, Web3, and many others. By some estimates, over 90% of software applications contain open source libraries.

But while open source software (OSS) fuels modern software innovation, the tools that many project leads and maintainers use to plan, coordinate, and track software development efforts haven’t kept pace with the needs of the OSS collaboration model. Better project and productivity management tools are needed to empower open source maintainers and contributors to efficiently deliver OSS with more community visibility and involvement, less process friction, and higher quality.

High-growth companies rely on open source

At its best, open source software development is transparent, open, and predictable. Ideally, project activities, communications, roadmaps, and release plans are easily accessible and visible to stakeholders. That way, committers, contributors, users, and industry adopters can participate effectively and reliably build on top of open source components.

We know from recent research on disruptive software teams that open source code is now critical to the future of high-growth companies. In fact, 83% of executives, team leads, project managers, developers, and other key decision-makers surveyed see open source software as “very” or “somewhat” important to their team’s success.

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Close the coordination loop with Zenhub for open source

Remote and asynchronous collaboration has long been the norm for open source project teams. Having a diverse, globally distributed team of maintainers and contributors is a desired feature — not a bug — in the open source world. Traditional project management tools and spreadsheets are not built for coordinating and optimizing open source collaborative software development.

Open source project leads, maintainers, contributors, and community members need developer-friendly tools that:

  • Provide an open, welcoming, and central environment for collaboration and communication
  • Deliver a frictionless onboarding experience for all
  • Ensure an up-to-date and accurate view of progress based on the code base
  • Enable people to easily find, create, and share documentation
  • Guide and automate processes and repetitive tasks, so participants can focus on contributing, not process busywork
  • Allow teams to measure, analyze, and improve productivity
  • Support agile project management processes

With the Zenhub browser extension for GitHub, open source teams get a powerful, power-assisted layer of project planning, tracking, reporting, and coordination capabilities on top of GitHub to dramatically simplify and streamline the management of open source projects. They get continuous clarity and visibility to the roadmap for strategic projects that downstream consumers rely on. And they get automation, epics, sprints, productivity insights, and rich reporting features that make boring spreadsheets look like, well, boring spreadsheets.

Learn more about managing open source projects with Zenhub

Zenhub boards help track progress

Zenhub boards simplify collaboration by displaying what's being done now, what should be done next, and who's doing it. This heightened visibility means new contributors can gauge priorities at a glance – and understand where their contributions will be most valuable to the project.

Swagger-api’s Java Development open source project board view
Swagger-api’s Java Development open source project board view

Many teams find the simple New issues/Backlog/To-Do/In Progress setup works well, but you can fully customize the pipelines on your board to suit your processes and ways of working.

You can also view multiple repos, both private and public, in one centralized board view. Anyone with Zenhub installed can view task boards on public repos. Download the Zenhub extension to view Swagger-api's board.

Estimate tasks and track velocity for your open source development

Open-source projects can be an invaluable learning resource. But for new contributors, understanding the difficulty or scope of a task can be difficult.

ZenHub's planning poker feature

Zenhub's estimation and planning poker features enable you or members of your team to assign a story point to issues in GitHub. Collaborators can choose tasks more confidently knowing they've chosen something they have the time and ability to tackle.

Burndown Chart created through ZenHub

After tasks have been assigned an estimate, they'll appear in Zenhub's burndown charts. Like boards, anyone with Zenhub installed can track project velocity by viewing the burndown chart report.

Get a high-level view of where you're headed with Zenhub Epics and Roadmaps for open source

Managing an open source project with team members and contributors across the globe can be tricky. It can be especially difficult to keep everyone aligned and working towards a common goal. Zenhub Epics let you categorize Issues into logical groups, providing much-needed hierarchy on your board.

You can add epics to Zenhub’s roadmap feature to get a high-level view of all the epics and projects in flight, predictive completion times, and more.

ZenHub's Roadmap Feature

Integrate Slack into Zenhub for better open source visibility

Once you have set up on Zenhub in GitHub, you'll want to stay updated on project activity across any device.

ZenHub and Slack integration example

Zenhub's Slack integration notifies your team of issue progress, estimates, Task Board updates, and more.

Let others know you use Zenhub

Zenhub is built for teams – and becomes more powerful with each new user. Make sure to add the Zenhub badge to your readme so others know to download the extension or login through the app and can collaborate with you.

You're in good company

Zenhub is trusted by over 5,500 open source projects and public organizations — including over half of the top 100 most starred organizations in GitHub — to help centralize collaboration and information-sharing, improve coordination and engagement, and provide valuable insights into project progress and release plans.

Open source industry leaders such as the Apache Software Foundation, Grafana, IBM, New Relic, Red Hat, and many others use Zenhub to improve open source project planning, coordination, tracking, and productivity. With the Zenhub browser extension for GitHub, open source teams can:

  • maintain a unified source of truth across multiple repositories, making development easier and more efficient
  • enable better remote and async communication and coordination, allowing them to set goals and plan with more transparency and participation
  • standardize processes and automate workflows, so they can ship higher-quality releases on time

Examples of successful open source projects and organizations powered by Zenhub include:

  • OpenSSL, an open source cryptographic software library that secures hundreds of thousands of web servers and many products sold by multi-billion-dollar companies
  • Swagger API, a set of tools used by millions to design, document, build, and test APIs used by millions of developers
  • O3DE, a 3D engine that enables developers to build AAA games, cinema-quality 3D worlds for video production, and simulations for non-gaming use cases
  • Eclipse Adoptium, the successor to AdoptOpenJDK, which collectively have been downloaded over 300 million times

How to use Zenhub free for open source

No license is required to use Zenhub on public or open-source repositories: simply download Zenhub and sign in to GitHub.

Learn more about getting started with open source project management here.

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