Project management software, wikis, and other technical infrastructure for small startups

Crucial infrastructure for small projects

My latest project is a web application, which is currently in closed beta. I will blog about that more in the coming weeks, but today I’d like to discuss my project’s infrastructure. Infrastructure is one of those topics that you usually just learn about from the companies that you work with. I hope that the information here will be useful to individual developers and small startups. It is difficult to know what has to be done when you’ve never been part of a real-world development team before.

My project’s team is made up of three people. For a project of that size, there are three resources that I consider to be absolutely crucial:

  1. A project wiki – For storing project information like budgets, marketing plans, etc. The wiki should replace most emails between team members. The point of a wiki is to establish one place to look for the latest information, so that you don’t need to search through old email threads to find something.
  2. A project management site – For creating roadmaps, planning new features, reporting bugs, and assigning work to each team member. If you’re going to ignore everything else I write in this post then just setup a project management site. You wont be able to go back and live without it.
  3. A code repository (aka version control system) – For keeping track of changes to your codebase. Also useful for storing all of your source code in one central and backed-up location. (Yes, that explanation is slightly simplified, but using a version control system should be a given.)

Depending on the nature of your project, you may also need a build-bot or continuous integration server. I don’t have any experience in that area. However, I hear good things about  Jenkins (formerly Hudson)Chef, and Integrity. (Edit: As Tollef Fog Heen pointed out, Chef is a configuration management tool and not a CI server.)

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Protect Your git Repository’s .htpasswd

Update 2: WebFaction fixed their installer. You still need to fix this yourself if the repository was created before Jan 13, 2011. (Details here.)

Update: Git repositories created with WebFaction’s git installer are insecure, even when they’re password protected. Some Apache installations are configured out-of-the-box to protect .htpasswd files. That is not the case with WebFaction.

If you’re running a .git repository on WebFaction that was created by following their documentation, then you must:

  1. Remove the file’s default world-readable permissions, by running chmod o-r .htpasswd
  2. OR: Prevent the file from being downloaded, by adding the following to .htaccess:
<files ~ "^\.ht">
 Order allow,deny
 Deny from all

Of course, the same applies to any .htpasswd file.


Snowy Database Schema

Django - The Web framework for perfectionists with deadlines

For GCI (Google Code In) I’m working on Snowy, the Django-based application to view and synchronize Tomboy notes online. My task is to add support for multiple OpenID accounts.

To get started, I used django_extensions to generate a graph of the database schema.

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Web Developers Wanted

We’re looking for web developers to help out with Zeitgeist’s website. If you have some experience with web development (of any kind) and don’t mind volunteering some time then let me know.



Zeitgeist Hackfest- User Experience Team

Here’s a quick mockup from the Zeitgeist Hackfest. The code for this should be online later today.

Mini GNOME Activity Journal

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