(Blog update: Hi ProjHuggers, I've got some special events this week and won't publish a new blog post until later this week or even next Monday. --Carl)
Recently a colleague at work impressed our team with a very nicely formatted Timeline view built in Project 2010. My colleague found that the pan and zoom controls partially obscured her Timeline view, however. I think the pan and zoom controls in the Timeline are a bit strange--they can partially cover the Timeline view (as my colleague experienced) but in fact the pan and zoom controls don't directly affect the Timeline view at all--they affect the timescale setting of the Gantt Chart view.
Way back in May 2010 I explored the Timeline view (here). As you may recall, the Timeline view was introduced in Project 2010 (both Standard and Pro!) and is a great view for generating a simplified "project at a glance" view to share with others. Here's what the Timeline view can look like:
Why and How
In my earlier introduction to the Timeline view, I avoided mention of the pan and zoom controls in the Timeline because, frankly, they're odd controls and as I said before they don't actually affect the display of the Timeline view at all. Here's another screenshot showing the pan and zoom controls overlaying the Timeline, as they do by default:
Now what this control does is actually pretty clever, but it's not (to my eye) an obvious or intuitive control. The pan and zoom control, as the name suggests, actually lets me affect the Gantt Chart timescale in two ways. First, I can pan the chart portion of the Gantt Chart view--in other words, I can horizontally scroll it. Note in this screenshot that I've selected the pan portion of the control in the Timeline, and dragged it a bit to the right. Note how the the Gantt Chart timescale has correspondingly moved to the right, that is to a later date range:
This panning technique is useful when you want to keep your visual focus on the Timeline and "focus in" on the Gantt Chart details around some specific item on the Timeline. For example in the screenshot above I'm focused on the "Pre-Production Complete" milestone task (task 12) and the Gantt Chart details immediately before and after it.
The other affordance of the pan and zoom control is to zoom the Gantt Chart timescale. If you look closely at the date ranges, you'll see that the date range visible in the Gantt Chart view (in the screenshot above, from around August 15, 2010 through October 24, 2010) corresponds to the date range in the unshaded portion of the Timeline view. Subtle! I can adjust the size of the unshaded area of the Timeline view to show more or less of a date range in the Gantt Chart view.
To accomplish this, I click and drag either the left or right edge (but not the top) of the pan and zoom control. Here for example I've dragged the right edge of the pan and zoom control to the right to zoom out the Gantt Chart's timescale.
I began this post by mentioning that my colleague found the shading of the Timeline to be distracting. One common remedy I've seen is to drag the left and right edges of the pan and zoom control out to the outer edges of the Project window:
This does indeed remove the shading from the Timeline view, but also zooms out the Gantt Chart's timescale to an extreme degree. This may not be the effect you want. It also leave you with no visible means of getting the pan and zoom control back (this is really not obvious--to redisplay the pan and zoom control on the Timeline, you need to zoom in the timescale...of the Gantt Chart view!).
If you want to leave your Gantt Chart view's timescale zoomed in to a pretty detailed level (say, at individual days) and you don't want the pan and zoom control's shading to partially obscure the Timeline view, here's what to do. First, put focus (that is, click on) the Timeline view. Then, on the Format tab, in the Show/Hide group, clear the Pan & Zoom box.
I'm not sure the visual overhead of the pan and zoom control in the Timeline view is really worth the benefit. It's not particularly difficult to horizontally scroll the Gantt Chart view, or adjust its timescale using the controls that Project has provided for many versions. However, once you know how to hide the pan and zoom control when you don't want to see it, then it's worth using when you want it.
Hands-on with Project Step by Step
To read more about this blog entry's subjects in the two most recent editions of Tim Johnson's and my Project Step by Step books, see the following cross-references.
Using the Timeline view
- Project 2010 Step by Step: "Customizing the Timeline View," pg.101 and specifically "Pan and Zoom the Gantt Chart View from the Timeline View" on page 104.
- Project 2007 Step by Step: None! New feature in Project 2010.