Open Source Musings The thoughts, ideas, and opinions of an open source guy

Using WeKan to manage your work

Sticky notes on a kanban board

Managing your work — figuring out which tasks to carry out and scheduling them — can be difficult. Not only are there other things competing for our attention, there’s only so much time in the day.

There are any number of tools that you can use to help you manage your work. You’ve probably used or test driven as many (or maybe even more) than I have. One tool that I find effective in helping me manage some of my work is WeKan.

WeKan (formerly known as LibreBoard) is an online tool that represents tasks visually. It’s essentially an open source version of a popular tool called Trello.

WeKan is based on an idea known as kanban. Kanban was originally used to schedule tasks in factories by representing tasks on cards and then moving those cards through production process.

The idea behind kanban was adopted by software development shops that use a method of creating software called Agile. Instead of cards, those shops used sticky notes which they move across a whiteboard divided into the phases of the software development cycle.

WeKan takes kanban and puts it on the web, in a graphical and easy-to-use format.

Let’s take a look at using WeKan to manage your work.

Learning the Language

There’s a little terminology that you’ll need to learn before you can effectively use WeKan. Those terms are boards, lists, and cards which are:

  • A board is the container for your project
  • A list represents a stage of project — for example, In Progress or Done
  • A card represents a task

That wasn’t too difficult, was it? Let’s dive into using WeKan.

Getting to Work

You’ll need to get a hold of WeKan. You can either download and install it on your own server, or use Sandstorm Oasis. Sandstorm Oasis is a hosted version of Sandstorm, which is an open source operating system for personal and private clouds.

I backed the crowdfunding campaign for Sandstorm, and use WeKan with my Sandstorm Oasis account. All of the screen captures in this post are from there — if you self host WeKan, the screens may look a bit different.

(Note: An upcoming post in this space will look at Sandstorm Oasis.)

Anyway, back to our regularly-scheduled blog post.

When you log in to WeKan, you’re taken to a a list of boards.

The main screen in WeKan

Click Create new board. You wind up with an empty board, that looks something like this:

Empty WeKan board

The board is a blank canvas, onto which you’ll need to put some lists. Type a name for the list in the Add a list and then click Save. Repeat that for all the lists you want to add to your board.

Next, add some cards your first list. Think of that first list, the one on the far left, as the staging area for your cards. Click Add a card, then describe the task — for example Write blog post announcing book. When you’re done, click Add.

Adding a task to WeKan

Again, repeat that until you’ve created all the cards you need. You can, if necessary, add more cards later.

Now that all set up, what next? As you start to carry out tasks, move your cards from one list to another. Just click and drag the card with your mouse. Keep doing that until all your cards are in your Completed list (or whatever you named it).

While a project is in progress, your board should look something like this:

In progress board

Cards in WeKan are quite flexible. Click a card to open a properties pane.

Adding details to a task in WeKan

In that pane, you can add a label or a comment to the card. Click the hamburger menu in the top-right corner of the properties pane, you can add an attachment (like and image or document) to the card.

That’s a pretty simple use of WeKan for managing work. But it works well for me. I don’t always use WeKan to manage my work, but when I have a fairly hefty project, WeKan helps me stay on top of what I need to do.

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