This is a sponsored article and was made possible by Backlog. The actual contents and opinions are the sole views of the author who maintains editorial independence, even when a post is sponsored.
What if you could put version control, task management, and workflow management that works across multiple teams in one single platform? This is exactly what Backlog aims to do, ending the hassle of attempting to create a proper workflow with multiple applications that sometimes have to be used outside their intended purpose. The platform itself boasts a suite of tools specifically targeting developers at several different stages.
What Backlog Offers
In a nutshell, almost everything Backlog offers is entirely focused on managing development projects, with various plans that scale according to a developer’s needs. It all comes down to storage, team size, and how many projects are managed in one go.
What We’re Reviewing
For this review we decided to pretend to be an absolutely brand new team of college kids trying to work on creating an app, using code that comes from a real open-source application and mimicking its development process. This allows us to get a feel for what the platform is like for newer teams that likely don’t have large budgets.
Pricing and Offerings
Backlog’s plans are straightforward: Want more storage, more users, and more project spaces? Pay more. Offers scale according to what each developer needs. The free option looks ideal for a small team project. However, with a meager 100 MB storage, you’ll find that any complex development work that requires graphical assets might fill up that quota quickly.
For businesses that have large offices with a plethora of teams working on several different projects, there’s always the Enterprise option that allows on-premise hosting so that organizations can scale their storage needs independently.
It’s also worth mentioning that you do not gain access to Gantt or “Burndown” charts in the first two plans. That’s only available in the Standard offering and above.
Exploring the Interface
At the very beginning, you’re greeted by a wizard that allows you to add a project. The creation process was simple, and adding files to it was straightforward. However, we came across a snag in the process when trying to upload entire directory trees. The interface sees folders as zero-byte files, which are ignored completely. To add all of our files we had to manually recreate the folder tree and add the corresponding files to each folder. In a large and complex project, importing in this manner could be a bit cumbersome, but it shouldn’t be too much of an issue, as it’s a process you’ll only be going through one time.
If you’re starting a project from scratch, you don’t have to worry about this.
Of course, developers that want to make full use of Backlog should use the integrated subversioning (SVN) repository system, which provides an archive of changes made to code that can be undone at any moment. This can be enabled through Project Settings under the Subversion tab.
Alternatively, if your project does not include lots of large binaries, you could use the Git repository integration that Backlog provides in any account. The synchronizing process in both was relatively smooth and didn’t cause any trouble beyond the typical issues we had to work out configuring our clients’ applications.
Beyond the repositories, there’s a ticket system that allows project administrators to create issues and assign them to team members rapidly. They can be updated according to input from the team member as well as given due dates so everyone’s aware of deadlines. Integration with Slack, Typetalk, and various other applications improves this workflow process considerably.
Assigning a task to someone and setting up small milestones along the way is such a simple task in Backlog that it’s easy to take for granted. Some of the integrated applications (such as Slack) can be set up in a way that they’ll display notifications whenever something comes up, making workflow even easier to manage.
Anyone with privileges to do so can just click on “Add Issue” within a project’s dashboard, type up a subject, provide a more specific summary, and quickly assign it to a specific team member.
For broader details, each project gets its own Wiki that could include an organized outline of deadlines, instructions, and even attachments. Upon visiting our own project’s Wiki section, we found a ready-made page that provides helpful instructions on how to manage it, making the process simple for those without experience in editing Wikis.
When synchronizing data through SVN, we experienced agonizing upload speeds below 100 KB per second, despite doing so from a 1 Gbit upstream and downstream connection. It’s hardly an issue, however, as this tends to happen a lot with SVN synchronizations. Updating the Git repository was, as expected, much smoother.
All in all, nothing really happened out of the ordinary that warrants any negative mention. Backlog’s service gave us no hiccups and was a pleasure to use. Without the ability to work with Gantt charts, it still appears simple to manage a small-scale project with all of the other tools at our disposal. It’s hard to imagine a scenario where a team of fewer than 10 people actually needs any of the advanced features offered by the paid plans.
However, it goes without saying that 100 MB is very scant even for smaller projects, especially if there are many assets involved. It’s easy to find ways around this by compartmentalizing the project and keeping data-heavy assets such as images, graphics, tables, and other things in a separate location, bringing them together only in the moment that the project is compiled for testing.
We found the ease of assigning tasks, of providing a “main bulletin” for important information, and the interconnection with different applications to be capable of handling the needs of multiple types of teams and organizations. This solution works especially well with teams that have to solve the issue of distance (i.e., everyone involved in the project lives and works far away from one another).
After using this platform for some time, it started to feel as if though it would be difficult to coordinate another project without it. Backlog can quickly slip into becoming an integral part of any team’s management process.
There’s no such thing as a perfect solution for a project’s development cycle, but it seems that Backlog provides something pretty close to it. Its integrations with popular productivity applications and suite of tools that offer flexibility when managing projects makes it one of the most powerful platforms of its kind that we’ve encountered so far.
- The low-tier plan is free!
- Many ways to manage a project, making it adaptable to the needs of each team.
- Top-notch version management system.
- Easy to coordinate the team through various third-party applications that integrate seamlessly with Backlog.
- Simple, minimalist interface that doesn’t get in the way.
- Any step-up requires a pretty steep jump in pricing. The Standard plan seems to provide the best ROI for most use cases for growing businesses.
- The amount of storage offered by the lowest and second-lowest-tier plan is lacking for some types of projects.
It was hard to actually find anything wrong with Backlog. If it works, it works. If you want it to do something, it has multiple ways of accomplishing that for you.