Merlin (software)

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Merlin Project
Developer(s) ProjectWizards
Stable release
4.2.2 / April 10th, 2017
Operating system macOS, iOS
Type Project management software
License EULA
Website projectwizards.net

Merlin Project (originally called Merlin in versions 1.x and 2.x) is a commercial project management software application for macOS, developed by ProjectWizards GmbH in Germany. It focuses on project plan creation, tracking the status of activities, assignment of resources, and managing budgets. It includes creation and visualization of Gantt chart activity timelines, work breakdown structure (WBS), net maps (project networks), mind maps, and resource workload in bar diagrams, histograms or time boxes.

Features[edit]

Merlin Project can be used for traditionally phased project management (Waterfall model) in software development, construction, event planning or similar. Merlin Project calculates costs based on estimated work, resource assignment and resource rates, estimates start and end dates, calculates resource overall utilization, critical path and performs earned value analysis on task or project level complying with standard project management methods. The application can be used by single users or in teams.

Interoperability with Merlin Server

Merlin Project's capabilities were extended with the introduction of Merlin Server. Merlin Server was implemented for teams working with Merlin Project. Merlin Server is the central database which allows simultaneous access of the same project information by more than one users using multiple devices (macOS, iOS or a web browser).

Once subscribed to a shared project, the users work with their local files in offline or online connection to the Merlin Server. The vendor patented the sync function included in Merlin. Changes from any user on any device with online connection to the Merlin Server are immediately integrated and distributed to all other users and devices currently accessing the same project documents.

Changes from users not having currently an online connection to Merlin Server are saved locally into the files and synced to the server next time the online connection exists. Conflicts between the changes are automatically resolved by the patented sync function.

Sync without Merlin Server

Local files or such on cloud services like iCloud Drive, Box.com, Dropbox can be also edited in multi-user-mode. Merlin Project can resolve conflicts automatically and forward changes as they get saved.

Work areas

Public or private work areas can be used when users plan to make a major change without it being automatically pushed to other users before it is actually cleared. Once switched to the Private Work Area all changes to the project document are kept local, other users do not see those local changes. Also all public changes from other users are saved into the source document but are not automatically integrated in the local copy of the user in Private Work Area. When a user switches back to the Public Work Area, it is possible to choose to publish or delete the local changes.

Import / Export

Merlin Project supports import of and export[1] to various project management file formats including .mpp, .mpx and .xml (MS Project), NovaMind, MindManager, and Freemind (mind mapping software). Merlin also integrates with macOS: It can publish project activities or resource assignments to Calendar or todos in Reminders, access the Contacts or Outlook for resource (staff) management,[2] and create email messages to project stakeholders from current view. It may also send other configured views. Merlin reports can be printed or exported as image (PDF, PNG, JPEG, TIFF, BMP or GIF).

Targets for files with exported content can be local paths, connected network drives, FTP, WebDAV or SMTP mail servers. Latter requires configured accounts with login data to the server accounts. Automated and unattended exports for reporting reasons can be configured for projects shared by Merlin Server.

iOS app In April 2009, Merlin was released for the iPhone. It integrated with Merlin 2 and/or Merlin 2 Server. With the release of Merlin Project Go Version 4.0.0 on June 2016, the iOS app supports the Merlin Project file format. It can be used as companion to Merlin Server or as a standalone app creating and editing project files on the iOS device.

Even though the iOS version maintains general feature parity with the desktop version, not included are reports, net maps, mind maps, and resource workload in bar diagrams, histograms or time boxes.

Version history and awards[edit]

ProjectWizards originally created Merlin 1.0 for its own internal project management. It contained a very basic set of features. Merlin 1.0 was officially released in November 2004. Public betas[3] of Merlin 2 were available in June 2006 and Merlin 2.0 was released in November 2006. It included several new features including an extended calculation function, Entourage support, multiple project linking, an improved interface, and more. It also supported import from Microsoft Project, NovaMind, OmniOutliner, and MindManager, and synchronized with iCal. Version 2.0.3 was reviewed and scored 4 mice by MacWorld (April 2007):[4]

"Merlin 2.0.3, from Project Wizards, is project management software that is not only as good as its Windows competition, Microsoft Project, but much better. Merlin 2 takes the excellent foundation provided by the initial version of the software ( ) and evolves it into the kind of intuitive program that leverages the best features the Mac has to offer."[5]

On December 2007 it received a MacWorld 2007 Editor's Choice Award.[6]

Merlin 2.5 was released in January 2008 and added project publishing functionality: Merlin users could now work simultaneously with others on the same project over the network.

Merlin 2.6 was released in July 2008 and added publishing for the web. Merlin users could now publish projects that they and their team members could view and edit over the network through a supported web browser.

On Oct 2008 it received a MacUser 2008 editorial award.[7]

ProjectWizards released Merlin 2.7 in April 2009, along with a new Merlin iPhone app. In its review by the German Website 'Heise online' Merlin 2.7 scored 5 out of 6 stars.[8] Customer reviews of the App Store criticize configuration difficulties and syncing concept of the iPhone app.[9]

Merlin Server was first released in May 2009.

2.7.4 was the first version supporting Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard.

2.7.9 supported better collaboration to Things and MS Project.[10]

2.8 was the first version supporting Mac OS X 10.7 Lion.[11] It was reviewed by Macworld and received 5 out of 5 mice.

"Merlin 2 is a best-of-breed project management application that is capable, versatile, and powerful. It offers a compelling set of project management tools that give project managers who want to use a Mac an excellent reason to forgo Windows virtualization, drop MS Project, and manage everything they do using a Mac."[12]

Merlin 2.9 and Merlin Server 2.9.1 supported Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion).[13]

Merlin and Merlin Server version 2.9.2 supported Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks).

Merlin Project public beta started in October 2014.[14]

Upon release of the first public Merlin Project beta, Merlin Project Go[15] and Merlin Server for Merlin Project[16] were named as successor products for the iOS and server apps.

Merlin Project 3.0.0 was released on January 22, 2015.[17] There are various free maintenance updates ever since.

With the release of version 3.1,[18] Merlin Project supported scripting in AppleScript and Javascript dialects.

Merlin Project 3.1.2[19] was the first version supporting OS X El Capitan.

In May 31, 2016 Merlin Project 4, Merlin Server 4 and Merlin Project Go betas[20] were released. Key features: multiuser edit, sync and the use of Merlin Server for Merlin Project.

Merlin Project 4, Merlin Server 4 and Merlin Project Go were released in June 2016.

Merlin Project Express 4 was released in March 2017.

Merlin products[edit]

Merlin Project (macOS)[edit]

Merlin Project runs on macOS 10.10.5 (Yosemite) or newer.

Merlin Project's internationalization supports English, German, French and Spanish. It is the main desktop application creating and editing the Merlin Project files on mac and following a feature set similar to Microsoft Project. Merlin Project files are Bundle (macOS) files. Their file ending is .mproject

Merlin Project Go (iOS)[edit]

Merlin Project Go is an iOS app, which runs on iPhone or iPad and supports the latest iOS versions on those devices. The iOS app covers all core features of the macOS native application except of reports, net maps, mind maps, and resource workload in bar diagrams, histograms or time boxes. It was designed as a companion to Merlin Server but also as a stand alone app.

As stand alone app, can be used to create and edit Merlin Project documents. New files are saved locally on the device. If required, the user can publish them to the iCloud Drive or a Dropbox account, where from the iOS app can also read new files.

As a companion to Merlin Server, it can be used to access and edit Merlin Project files shared by Merlin Server.

Online or offline work? Offline work can take place when working with local files, or the iCloud Drive. Online connection is required, when accessing a shared file for the first time from a Merlin Server or a Dropbox account, and/or whenever syncing changes back to the server.

The iOS app performs autosave, this action does not require online connection to the internet or Merlin Server.

When the device goes online again, the iOS app, iCloud Drive or the Dropbox account syncs the changes automatically.

Merlin Project Go is not supporting previous Merlin Server 2.x versions, it can however import Merlin 2.x files.

Merlin Server[edit]

Merlin Server runs on macOS 10.10.5 (Yosemite) or newer. Merlin Server's internationalization supports English, German, French and Spanish.

Merlin Server is the application for sharing and publishing of Merlin Project documents. It keeps all files in a central database, offers them for concurrent access to users of Merlin Project on a Mac or Merlin Project Go on iOS devices and syncs changes by the various users. Merlin Server can also provide Web sharing. This allows users of a supported web browser to have read access to the shared documents. The publishing option of Merlin Server, allows automated and unattended exports of project information for reporting purposes.

Merlin Server is not supporting files of previous Merlin 2.x versions. Merlin 2 files need to be converted first into Merlin Project files by the use of a Merlin Project desktop application or Merlin Project Go.

Merlin Project Express[edit]

Merlin Project Express runs on macOS 10.11 or newer. It is a slick version of Merlin Project and as such supports a subset of its feature set. It is available over the appStore or Setapp in a subscription model only.

Merlin 2 (macOS)[edit]

Merlin 2.x was the former version or Merlin Project running on Mac OS X 10.10.x or OS X 10.4.11 minimal.

It offered just four views for Activities, Resources, Utilization and Netplan. Was not as customizable as Merlin Project and some import or report features required a Java Runtime SE 6 installation. It supported a different set of AppleScript commands than this of Merlin Project.

Merlin 2 file ending was .merlin

Merlin 2 integrated to the former Merlin Merlin 2 iOS app.

Additions for Merlin[edit]

Existing additions for Merlin include:

  • MerlinDaylite-Link is a tool connecting Merlin Project and the CRM system Daylite. It is sold separately and created by a third party company, called Lgo Consulting Ltd.[21]
  • Various Applescripts provided for free in the internet, allow Merlin to integrate to more applications that it would normally connect to over standard exporting procedures. Some of these apps are Daylite,[22] Evernote, OmniFocus, Things, and Timeline 3D, TaskPaper.

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ ProjectWizards GmbH. "ProjectWizards - Which import and export formats can Merlin handle?". projectwizards.net. 
  2. ^ ProjectWizards GmbH. "Merlin Project - Project management for macOS and iOS - ProjectWizards". projectwizards.net. 
  3. ^ "Merlin 2 Beta Available". The Mac Observer. 15 June 2010. 
  4. ^ "Merlin 2.0.3". MacWorld. Retrieved 9 June 2010. 
  5. ^ Teague, J.C. (April 23, 2007). "Merlin 2.0.3", Macworld.com
  6. ^ "MACWORLD UNVEILS THE 2007 EDDY AWARD WINNERS" (PDF). MacWorld. Retrieved 15 June 2010. 
  7. ^ "MacUser names 2008 Awards winners". MacUser. Retrieved 15 June 2010. 
  8. ^ "Merlin 2.7". Heise Online. Retrieved 9 June 2010. 
  9. ^ "Merlin‚ Project Management". AppStore. Retrieved 9 June 2010. 
  10. ^ "MERLIN 2.7.9: CONNECTING TO THINGS, BETTER COLLABORATION TO MS PROJECT". ProjectWizards. 19 April 2011. 
  11. ^ "MERLIN 2.8 is released". ProjectWizards. 19 August 2011. 
  12. ^ Battersby, J. (March 22, 2012) "Merlin 2.8 is a top-tier project management application", http://www.macworld.com/article/1165834/merlin_2_8_is_a_top_tier_project_management_application.html
  13. ^ "MERLIN 2.9 UPDATE WITH SUPPORT FOR OS X 10.8". 12 July 2012. 
  14. ^ "Merlin Project: The best Merlin ever. Test now for free!". 28 October 2014. 
  15. ^ "Merlin Project Go for iOS". 28 October 2014. 
  16. ^ "Merlin Server". 28 October 2014. 
  17. ^ "ProjectWizards released Merlin Project for OS X". 3 February 2015. 
  18. ^ "The new Merlin Project 3.1 works perfectly with your programs". 23 July 2015. 
  19. ^ "Version 3.1.2 (release notes)". 
  20. ^ "Preview of Version 4". 
  21. ^ [1]
  22. ^ Other products that work great with Daylite

Further reading[edit]

  • Blome, Frank and Cherif, Antoni Nadir (2009): Projektmanagement mit Merlin:  Das offizielle Handbuch. Hanser Verlag, ISBN 978-3446419278

External links[edit]