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How to Use Assembla to Collaborate on Client Projects

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What You'll Be Creating

Introducing Assembla

Assembla provides an extensive and comprehensive cloud-based collaboration platform for technology teams, especially in a world in which so many of us are using globally distributed programmers and related technology experts.

In this tutorial, I'll guide you through Assembla's extensive feature set and walk you through getting started with its 30 day free trial. 

Assembla Home PageAssembla Home PageAssembla Home Page

Assembla's capabilities are massive in scope and thus difficult even to outline in an introductory tutorial, but I'll do my best to help you get started. 

Its major features are as follows:

  • Task & Issue Management: Help your team efficiently organize releases, squash bugs, and manage your development process. Assembla's task management tools will help you work smarter and faster.
  • Team Collaboration: Eliminate the need for lengthy email chains and centralize all communication with classic collaboration tools like wikis, message boards and file sharing.
  • Project Management: Put your complete project into a workspace and deliver code, tasks and documentation. Collaborate with clients, track time expenditures for billing and control permissions.
  • Subversion & Git Hosting: Effortlessly browse files online, compare revisions, merge code and maintain a sustainable codebase across your team.

When Envato Tuts+ asked me to write this, I'd actually not heard of Assembla before, but it hosts over 100,000 commercial and open-source projects and is used by over 800,000 users in more than 100 countries. I find it's often helpful for readers to write about something from the position of being a newbie. Still, as I explored its breadth and scope, I was a bit embarrassed for not knowing more about it until now. 

Assembla Muhammad Atif Pure LogicsAssembla Muhammad Atif Pure LogicsAssembla Muhammad Atif Pure Logics

How Much Does It Cost?

When you sign up, you are automatically enrolled in a 7-day free trial that gives you unrestricted access to all the great features Assembla has to offer. During your trial, you have the option to cancel at any time. Personal plans begin at $24 per month.

Assembla Pricing and PlansAssembla Pricing and PlansAssembla Pricing and Plans

Free, open-source community projects can use Assembla for free if they keep everything open to the public.

Assembla PlansAssembla PlansAssembla Plans

Before I dive in to the walk-through, please let me know if you have any requests for future Assembla tutorials or questions and comments on today's story. You can post them in the comments or reach me on Twitter @reifman or email.

Getting Started

Sign Up With Assembla

To get started, visit the Assembla website and click Create my Home Base. You'll be asked to register:

Assembla Sign UpAssembla Sign UpAssembla Sign Up

There's a simple four-step wizard that will ask for your name and type of project:

Assembla Registration WizardAssembla Registration WizardAssembla Registration Wizard

Then, you get to name your first project space. For my example, I created a sample space for my Envato Tuts+ open-source series on building your own startup with PHP, around my Meeting Planner concept:

Assembla Assembla Registration Wizard - Create a Project SpaceAssembla Assembla Registration Wizard - Create a Project SpaceAssembla Assembla Registration Wizard - Create a Project Space

Then, you choose a repository. Which service you wish to use is up to you. Assembla supports Subversion, Git and Perforce:

Assembla Add a Code RepositoryAssembla Add a Code RepositoryAssembla Add a Code Repository

When you're done, click Go To My Space:

Assembla Registration CompleteAssembla Registration CompleteAssembla Registration Complete

Your Meeting Space

Here's what your initial space will look like. As you dive in to Assembla, you'll notice its broad feature set throughout. It's an incredibly broad and sophisticated service.

Check out the installed tools on your first space: Tickets, Messages, StandUp reports, File Sharing, Wiki pages and source code sharing:

Assembla My Project SpaceAssembla My Project SpaceAssembla My Project Space

Initializing Your Source Code Repository

To synchronize your code tree, you'll need to copy your public key up to your profile on Assembla:

$cd ~/.ssh
$ cat
ssh-rsa AAAAB3NzaC1yc2EAAAABIwAAAQEAtDEeDtUHZyRwj1BDL/iI18E6IP7ZxqRVBxyeJyv8PZ6gt8XMfbhntpeWvwxzTFOA1p7kyCiwQPBQFM+F9MUK6BrmeczV9GCsiCbYwu6DW1Pcke6xh/xUZFrrHwQUCWvl0MaTDtUs8ZGv7uyuXFnmb10QAhDUBAI5gUBu12Mr5c1tn2LeiNdo8RE+KecwqScebOEMO8mY2NsOh67HgwDhAPvv30T8OrXmT29sN3VejfxGRmCJh/pPm1FmkHWAgnXrRG5MOywGdEOjC3MlEUnlkoeZfLCviZlcUAexcZuQi/vWH3TfXsX75LuzxcHibORQL0kNnWsoKyTTf8HQdahV1Q==

Once you've pasted it in, you'll see it reflected in the SSH Public Keys list:

Assembla Manage SSH KeysAssembla Manage SSH KeysAssembla Manage SSH Keys

Then you can use Assembla to initialize your code repository there:

$ cd meeting-planner/
$ git init
Initialized empty Git repository in /Users/Jeff/Sites/meeting-planner/.git/
$ echo "# My Space" >>
$ git add
$ git commit -m "first commit"
[master (root-commit) 58427bf] first commit
 1 file changed, 1 insertion(+)
 create mode 100644
$ git remote add origin
$git push origin master
Counting objects: 3, done.
Writing objects: 100% (3/3), 224 bytes | 0 bytes/s, done.
Total 3 (delta 0), reused 0 (delta 0)
 * [new branch]      master -> master

For the purposes of this tutorial, I just created a sample readme for my new repo above.

Inviting Team Members

Next, I invited one of the editorial gods at Envato Tuts+, Tom McFarlin, to join my workspace.

Assembla Add Team MembersAssembla Add Team MembersAssembla Add Team Members

Of course, Assembla allows you to control access permissions and other aspects of their involvement in your projects:

Assembla Invite New Team MembersAssembla Invite New Team MembersAssembla Invite New Team Members

Adding team members is easy:

Assembla Add a Team MemberAssembla Add a Team MemberAssembla Add a Team Member

Here's the member list when you're done:

Assembla Team Member ListAssembla Team Member ListAssembla Team Member List

Assembla Updates

Assembla is a big tool to come up to speed on. As you go, you'll be presented with regular blog posts that help you learn more quickly and keep up with new features:

Assembla Updates and BlogAssembla Updates and BlogAssembla Updates and Blog

Let's continue into Assembla's depths to learn about more of its features.

Ticket Management

As a project manager, ticket management is one of the most important tools for any collaboration tool. Issues come up, you log them and then you track them through investigation, development and resolution:

Assembla Create Your First TicketAssembla Create Your First TicketAssembla Create Your First Ticket

Assembla offers a rich array of features that support ticket management.

Assembla Tim Lock FeedHenryAssembla Tim Lock FeedHenryAssembla Tim Lock FeedHenry

The ticket management area has a wide variety of related views and features to help you manage your projects. Here's the tickets navigation menu:

Assembla Ticket MenuAssembla Ticket MenuAssembla Ticket Menu

Creating a New Ticket

Whenever there is a new issue, team members can create new tickets to track them:

Assembla New Ticket CreationAssembla New Ticket CreationAssembla New Ticket Creation

Here's an example view of ticket lists in Assembla:

Assembla Ticket with Example ListAssembla Ticket with Example ListAssembla Ticket with Example List

Kanban Cardwalls

Assembla also supports Kanban Cardwalls, which Wikipedia reports is a scheduling system for lean and just-in-time (JIT) production. Envato Tuts+ uses them for internal writing and editing processes.

Assembla CardwallAssembla CardwallAssembla Cardwall


You can create Milestones for key stages of your project such as requirements complete, code complete, launch, etc.

Assembla Milestone TrackingAssembla Milestone TrackingAssembla Milestone Tracking


As your project migrates through various stages, as tickets are added, resolved and closed, Assembla offers a variety of metrics and reports to help you assess progress:  

Assembla MetricsAssembla MetricsAssembla Metrics


You can watch the activity on your projects across your team on the Streams page. It's akin to an automated Twitter page for all the activity between team members on your project:

Assembla Streams pageAssembla Streams pageAssembla Streams page


Assembla helps you manage team communication as well. You can easily send messages to team members:

Assembla Post MessagesAssembla Post MessagesAssembla Post Messages

Creating a new message is easy:

Assembla Create a New MessageAssembla Create a New MessageAssembla Create a New Message

File Sharing

You can also upload files and share them as you need:

Assembla Upload FilesAssembla Upload FilesAssembla Upload Files

Managing uploaded files is easy as well:

Assembla File ListingsAssembla File ListingsAssembla File Listings

Wiki Pages

In workplace collaboration services, it's easy to lose track of where key information is. The Wiki tool helps you build pages to assemble project information in easy-to-browse pages:

Assembla Create a Wiki PageAssembla Create a Wiki PageAssembla Create a Wiki Page

StandUp Reports

StandUp reports let team members report what they're working on and highlight any challenges that they need to discuss. And they help simplify the complexity behind reporting progress.

Assembla Stand Up ReportsAssembla Stand Up ReportsAssembla Stand Up Reports

Here's an example StandUp report showing what you did, what you'll be working on and what roadblocks exist:

Assembla Stand Up ReportsAssembla Stand Up ReportsAssembla Stand Up Reports

The Dashboard

As you use Assembla more with multiple project spaces, the Dashboard will give you a bird's eye view of what's happening across your network:

Assembla DashboardAssembla DashboardAssembla Dashboard

Assembla Portfolio

In addition to all these features that help you run your projects, Assembla also offers an advanced Workspace Portfolio which helps you directly interact and share your progress with clients.

Engaging clients with more visibility into your processes creates a partnership relationship, in which clients, agencies, service providers, and individual collaborators are all invested in the quality and speed of the assets produced.

Assembla Workspaces Messaging and CardwallAssembla Workspaces Messaging and CardwallAssembla Workspaces Messaging and Cardwall

Collaborate with clients to select the important tasks for each day or week, accept requests, and communicate to get the right details about each task so that the team always focuses on what is important to the client.

Client relationships fraught with frustration become partnerships laden with satisfaction:

Assembla Increase customer referrals and billable hours Assembla Increase customer referrals and billable hours Assembla Increase customer referrals and billable hours

Overall, Portfolio provides all the tools you need to be more transparent and responsive when developing for clients.

In Closing

I hope you've found this broad-based overview of Assembla's workspace tools intriguing. To recap, Assembla offers a comprehensive set of collaborative project management tools for technology teams to be successful:

  • Spaces to manage individual projects
  • Integrate team membership 
  • Source code and revision control
  • Ticket management and metrics
  • Messaging
  • File Sharing
  • Wiki Pages
  • StandUp Reports
  • And more...

After reading this article, you should everything you need to know in order to give Assembla a try. Once done, please let us know and post your questions and comments below. 

You can also reach me on Twitter @reifman or email me directly. Browse my Envato Tuts+ instructor page to see the other tutorials I've written.

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