GitHub launches built-in project management boards for its code repos

Don't expect it to kill Trello anytime soon, though

GitHub, the popular site for managing software development projects, is now also a lightweight project management service, thanks to a new feature.

The company launched Projects on Wednesday, which is a feature to help with all the work that springs up around a code repository.

It lets teams organize tasks into a board interface, where Pull Requests, Issues, and Notes from a repo can each be represented by a card. Those cards can then be rearranged into custom columns, so users can track how different project components are moving through a workflow.

It's a move that expands the code repository management service's functionality to compete with the likes of Asana and Trello, in a very lightweight way. Businesses that have built up massive workflows using existing tools likely won't rip those out to use GitHub's functionality. But it could be helpful to the sort of groups that are currently cobbling together a project management system. 

According to Todd Berman, the company's vice president of product engineering, users were already building messy, bare-bones versions of project tracking inside GitHub. He mentioned that one GitHub engineer used the service's issue tracking feature to create a list of tasks, which she then divided them up into different categories. Essentially, it was a project board implemented using GitHub-flavored Markdown.

Gartner analyst Tom Murphy said in an email that he expected the new functionality to be useful for open source projects and small teams, but isn't likely to unseat big players in the development workflow management market like Jira.

"It will appeal to new startups and digital teams that are isolated from the rest of enterprise IT," he wrote. "I don’t think it will change the market at this point in the enterprise."

Looking forward, Github plans to expand the scope of Projects, according to Senior Director of Product Design Connor Sears. Users should expect GitHub to launch future versions of Projects that support the creation of organization- and team-wide boards, along with personal boards for tracking personal to-do lists. 

All that expansion makes the Projects feature seem more and more like a a dedicated work tracking and task management system, but even then, the company says it isn't out to kill dedicated work tracking and management software. 

The Projects launch is backed by an API that should allow outside companies to easily integrate with GitHub Projects. So companies that have developed detailed systems for project management could work on building an integration that connects with GitHub's.

That said, the feature is competing with the likes of Microsoft's Visual Studio Team Services, which offers project management features in addition to code repositories. 

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Blair Hanley Frank

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