Gemini vs XPlanner

Agile or not, if you’re working in a team and are doing anything other than the simplest hack, you’ll need a tool to help you keep track of your development cycle.  My ideal tool would integrate the whole cycle from requirements to deployment.  Hard as we look, we’ve not yet found the tool, so we keep looking at different options.  Here’s my take on the latest ones, Gemini and XPlanner.

Gemini vs XPlanner

I’ve been comparing Gemini and XPlanner to find out which of these tools better fits our needs.  The comparison is going to be based on features, cost support for Agile methodologies, user experience and time tracking.  So far, my vote is for Gemini.

Features

In terms of features, Gemini has a clear advantage over XPlanner.  Gemini has several very nice features like integration with MS Visual Studio and the ability to add issues from MSN Messenger.  It also has a customize dashboard, workflow customization, issue voting, flexible support for Agile methodologies and several other.

To be fair, Gemini is actively supported while the latest release for XPlanner was on May 23, 2006.  That’s more than three years ago.  I can’t stop thinking where would XPlanner be if they had kept working on it.

Costs

In terms of cost, XPlanner is the clear winner.  XPlanner is free (as in “beer”) while Gemini goes for somewhere between $1,200 and $2,100.

Gemini’s price depends whether you want source files, add-ons etc.  Gemini also offers a hosted version for about $20,000 per year.  Both options include free upgrades for one year and unlimited projects and users.

Agile Support

Both applications support Agile methologies. XPlanner was created to support Extreme Programming (XP), so you can use it with Scrum perfectly.

Gemini supports Agile and non-Agile methodologies—in fact, you can modify the work flow to fit your own process.  As much as we prefer to go Agile, some clients are not ready for that and we need to support more traditional methodologies (read: waterfall).

Gemini is based on issues which can be turned into tickets, requirements, features, bugs or whatever you need them to be.

User Experienc

With Gemini you can get to the information you need in three clicks or less.  The downside is that it is a bit hard to get used to all that information popping at once.  It reminded me of the first time I opened Photoshop with all the bars, buttons and all the rest of it.

XPlanner’s UI is very plain and simpler, but you need to drill down to get to a task. It might take you up to clicks to enter any information for a specific task.

Neither app. does very well in this category: XPlanner has a very bland UI design, while Gemini’s isn’t very friendly.

I have a slight preference for Gemini on this one because, at least, I can adapt my dashboard to display what I consider important.

Time Tracking

Both applications handle timesheets.  The difference is that Gemini supports assigning one task to several resources while XPlanner only supports two resources per task.  As you can imagine, this could create a lot of extra rework.

In Gemini, you can get to your timesheet in one click.  In XPlanner to get a list of all your tasks and enter your time you still need to click three times and then add the time for each task.

Conclusion

In my opinion XPlanner is too limited for our needs because it lacks support for anything other than development.  Gemini is not perfect but it is more flexible and covers more of the software development life cycle, not just development.

For my money, I’d go with Gemini.  For now Laughing

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