Creating Gantt charts

I've had this issue before and it annoyed me. It's still annoying me now!
Gantt charts are one of the types of chart that I have come to accept as a part of life that's not going away, and actually they're not all that bad. They are however difficult to draw.

I (like plenty of other people I've seen) have tried kludging together a Gantt chart in an Excel spreadsheet and it always seems to come out looking pretty horrific. I've also seen them drawn freehand in paint or Powerpoint or similar. Obviously these aren't really a proper solution, so I had a look round to try to find something that would let me manage a simple Gantt chart to plan and track my PhD progress.

Two options looked promising:
Gnome Planner - part of the gnome desktop but also usable under Windows
GanttProject - another open source cross platform piece of software

I started out with the latter and then switched to the former, but to be honest I don't find either that useful. I think the primary issue is that I'm not looking for a tool to perform PERT or CPM or do resource levelling for me. All I want is something that will accept all of my task details in a well contained format and produce a vector graphic of the chart that I can include in a LaTeX document. It's this last part where both of these tools fall down.

The output of these tools is much more of a formal report than it is a nice image. They also seem to really struggle with the multi-year duration of my work. With planner I've had to resort to taking screenshots of the window and including those in reports!

There are packages for LaTeX that support drawing of Gantt charts, but they're a bit too fiddly for the kind of quick changes that I'd like to be able to make. As Planner saves in XML format there must be a method of auto-converting to the LaTeX code...

Any solutions or alternatives out there that I'm missing?

UPDATE: In the end I went with drawing it out using one of the Latex packages. This used all the same data that the planner XML file had in it but in a different format - I was sorely tempted to put together a script to do the conversion for me but in the end I couldn't justify the time required and did it manually. I also had to meddle around a bit to get the gantt to fit on an A4 page - in the end I made it landscape and adjusted the page margins. I think the output from Latex looked a lot more professional and it would be really useful to have a conversion tool. If there is any interest in how I put the latex code together then leave a comment and I'll write a bit more about it...


  1. Yes, please. pretty please. I'm dying trying to get an illustrative gantt chart ready on time for my diss

  2. Thanx for sharing your experience. I am looking for a project management solution that integrates mind maps, process flows, timing schedules (gannt charts) and can be exported to MS Project and MS word.

    I'm now on my phd and i use programs which help me to keep structured all the information i should collect for my research. I've tested conceptdraw on the advice of teacher and I am very impressed with it. You may like to look at conceptdraw MindMap, because you can import it into conceptdraw Project as a WBS. However, my favourite non-Gantt tool is the simple Linear responsibility Chart – I use it to allocate and balance resources, calculate workpackage and workstream budgets, and communicate a whole project in an easy form.

  3. Have you looked at ProjectLibre?

  4. I only recently had to make a quick updated Gantt chart. Going back through and doing it with LaTeX was too much hassle so in the end I ended up using openproj, which ProjectLibre is forked from. I'll probably give ProjectLibre a go next time as it looks to have a few improvements over the abandoned openproj.
    Thanks for the recommendation!

  5. I think this manual tells everything required. Simple to follow. Please have a look at it. http://www.tex.ac.uk/ctan/graphics/pgf/contrib/pgfgantt/pgfgantt.pdf