The project management tool for hackers

Latest on Hackage:0.3.1

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MIT licensed by Rodrigo Setti


Build Status

Master Plan is a text based project management tool that implements an algebra of projects.

These are the values propositions of master plan:

  • Simplicity: keep project management into a single text file. Under version control, close to your code.
  • Agility: embrace change, by allowing projects to specify uncertainty and allow for refinement anytime.
  • Freedom: master plan is a open specification, not dependent on tools or hosting. There is this current open-source implementation, but anyone can implement tools or visualizations on top of it.

See the wiki for details and examples.

Algebra of Projects

In the algebra of projects, a project is an expression of sub-projects combined using dependency operators. These operators define how sub-projects relate to the higher-level projects in terms of execution and structural dependency, that is, in which order (if any) the sub-projects must be executed, and also whether all or some of the sub-projects must be executed at all.

At some level, sub-projects will be small enough that they don’t break down further, in this case, they consist of a unit of execution.

There is also the notion cost estimation and risk. Cost may mean different things depending on the domain, but most usually it’s time.

Given all these constraints and structure, master plan will build an optimum prioritization of projects and sub-projects for execution.

The entire definition of a project is defined into a single .plan file using a simple language. There are defaults for most constrains and properties such that things can be less verbose if using the defaults.

The tool is able to build visualizations from the plan file.

Ideally, the plan file should be kept in version control so that execution and planning progress can be recorded.

Command line Arguments

master-plan - project management tool for hackers

Usage: master-plan [FILENAME] [-o|--output FILENAME] [-r|--root NAME]
                   [--progress-below N] [--render-parse-error] [--strict]
                   [-c|--color] [-w|--width NUMBER] [--height NUMBER]
                   [--hide title|description|url|owner|cost|trust|progress]
  See documentation on how to write project plan files

Available options:
  FILENAME                 plan file to read from (default from stdin)
  -o,--output FILENAME     output file name (.png, .tif, .bmp, .jpg and .pdf
  -r,--root NAME           name of the root project definition (default: "root")
  --progress-below N       only display projects which progress is < N%
  --render-parse-error     instead of printing parsing errors, render as an
  --strict                 strict parsing: every project has to be defined
  -c,--color               color each project by progress
  -w,--width NUMBER        width of the output image
  --height NUMBER          height of the output image
  --hide title|description|url|owner|cost|trust|progress
                           hide a particular property
  -h,--help                Show this help text


Comments are C/C++/Java style: line comments start with //, and block comments are in between /* and */.

Everything else are definitions, in the form name [attributes] [expression] ;.

A project name should be unique. Definitions end with semicolon.

Project expressions are expressions where project identifiers are combined via binary operators. Parenthesis can be used to enforce operator precedence. There are three operators:

  • p = a + b - Sum: p is executed when a or b is executed.
  • p = a x b - Product: p is executed when a and b is executed.
  • p = a -> b - Sequence: p is executed when a and b is executed, in order.

Please note that a equal sign (=) can be placed optionally just before the definition of the expression.


Following is a list of supported attributes of projects:

Property name Expected Type Description
title text title of the project
description text longer description of what the project is
url URL reference in the web for more context about the project
owner username name of the person responsible for execution
progress percentage how much progress has been made so far (default 0%)
cost number estimated cost (default 0)
trust percentage probability of success (default 100%)

Attributes can be specified between brackets, like, e.g.:

b {
  title "build"
  description "our technology can be built and scale"
} phase1 -> phase2 -> phase3;

Or, optionally, if only “title” is define, as a single string literal, as e.g.:

approvalProcess "approval process" legal -> budget -> executive;

There are “atomic” attributes that should be defined only for projects without expressions: “cost”, “trust”, and “progress”. Defining them and also expressions is an error.

Example of atomic project:

sb {
  title "supplier B"
  trust 60%
  cost 5
  url ""
  owner "partnerships"



All notable changes to this project will be documented in this file.

The format is based on Keep a Changelog and this project adheres to Semantic Versioning.


[0.3.1] - 2017-08-18

  • New option flag: --strict that will instruct the parser to reject plans with undefined projects (i.e. used in expressions but never defined).
  • Fix: make cost and trust value rendering consistent for leaf and non-leaf projects - now they are partial everywhere.

[0.3.0] - 2017-08-17

New option flag: --render-parse-error which will render the image with the parsing error text, instead of printing to standard output. Also, the exit code will be normal.

[0.2.0] - 2017-08-15

Changed completely the language syntax. This change breaks compatibility with all existing .plan file, but I’m releasing as a minor version because this project’s API is still experimental (under version 1.x.x).

[0.1.0] - 2017-08-13

Initial release.

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