Brussels / 1 & 2 February 2020


EUgen: a European Project Proposal Generator

Whoever wrote a research project proposal knows how much unnerving it can be. The actual project description (made of work packages, tasks, deliverable items, ...) has lots of redundancies and cross-references that makes its coherency as frail as a house of cards. For example, if the duration of a task is changed most probably you'll need to update the effort in person-months of the task and of the including work package; you must update the start date of depending tasks and the deliver date of any deliverable items; most probably also the WP efforts and length need update too; not to mention the need of updating all the summary tables (summary of efforts, deliverable, ..) and the GANTT too. Any small changes is likely to start a ripple of updates and the probability of forgetting something and getting an incoherent project description is large. Given the harsh competition in project funding, if your project is incoherent the probability of getting funded is nil.

One day I got sick of this state of affair and I wrote my own project generator: 10k lines of Ada code that reads a non-redundant project description from a simple-format text file and produces a set of files ready to be imported in the proposal, GANNT chart included. The user can specify dependences between different items (e.g., this deliverable is produced at the end of this task, this milestone is reached when this deliverable is available, this task must begin after this other task...) and the program automatically computes all the dates.

Both input parser and output processors are implemented using a plugin structure that makes it easy to write new parsers to read different formats or new output processors to produce output in different formats. Currently a parser for a simple ad-hoc format and an output processor that produces LaTeX files are provided; a new processor based on the template expander protypo is currently being implemented.

Did I eat my own dog food? Well, yes, I did. I used it to write a proposal (still under evaluation) and it served me well.


Photo of Riccardo Bernardini Riccardo Bernardini