This week I continue the “highlights of highlights” series: I include some excerpts from the Project 2010 Step by Step chapters and elaborate on them. This week: Chapter 5, "Formatting and Sharing Your Plan."
A project plan is really a database of information, not unlike a Microsoft Access database file. (pg. 93)
I make the database comparison because it helps to explain why Project has such a strong UI focus on views and tables. Unlike, say, a Word document or a simple Excel worksheet, you can never really see all the details of a Project plan all in one sweep. The various views (and their subordinate tables, filters, and so on) are each optimized for focusing on particular types of data. Most views begin by focusing in on tasks, resources, or assignment details.
For many people, a Gantt chart is synonymous with a project plan. (pg. 94)
I have been interested to see that in the world of Agile, I have not yet come across anything that looks like a traditional Gantt chart, but I have found other equally peculiar schedule artifacts. I do not find the design of the burndown chart, for example, to be simpler than a Gantt chart, but the burndown chart does seem to convey schedule and work-in-progress information that resonates with teams in ways the venerable Gantt chart does not.
Project automatically generates the project summary task but doesn't display it by default. (pg. 95)
This snippet is from a procedure that covers displaying the project summary task (on the Format tab, in the Show/Hide group, click Project Summary Task). The Project summary task is especially useful when looking at roll-up values such as duration, work and cost. It's an easy way to see whatever roll-up values are present in the active table.
The Timeline view is best suited to display some tasks from the Gantt Chart view in a less complicated format. (pg. 101)
The Timeline view is a major new feature in Project 2010. Judging by the proliferation of timelines I now see in hallways, planning documents, and embedded in e-mail messages, I have to conclude that it's probably one of the most successful new features in Project 2010. I use it extensively myself.
Pan and Zoom the Gantt Chart View from the Timeline View (pg. 104)
Frankly I think the pan and zoom controls in the Timeline are a bit odd. They don't affect the Timeline view--they affect the Gantt Chart view. I find this odd, as panning and zooming in the Gantt was for me at least never really a problem looking for a new solution. I think adding these controls to the Timeline was a bit of UI design overreach in 2010, but they do their job if you want them and are easy enough to hide if you don't want them.
Previous posts in the "Detailed Commentary" series:
- Introduction of Project 2010 Step by Step
- Chapter 1, "A Guided Tour of Project"
- Chapter 2, "Creating a Task List"
- Chapter 3, "Setting Up Resources"