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 16, "Customizing Project."
This chapter describes some of the ways that you can customize Microsoft Project 2010 to suit your own preferences. Project 2010 adopted the ribbon interface, which offers new customization options. Project has other customization features, such as the Organizer and global template, that are unique to it. (pg. 345)
Most of the Office applications deplyed the Ribbon interface in 2007, but Project didn't get the Ribbon until the 2010 version. Personally I really like Project's Ribbon UI. I had the benefit of using the Ribbon in other Office 2007 apps, so I was familiar in general with the conventions and affordances of this interface design approach by the time I saw it in Project 2010. There are some big changes (I'd say improvements) between the 2007 and 2010 Ribbon interfaces in Office, especially in the Backstage.
Project uses a feature called the global template, named Global.mpt, to provide the default views, tables, and other elements that you see in Project. The very first time you display a view, table, or similar element in a project plan, it is copied automatically from the global template to that project plan. Thereafter, the element resides in the project plan. (pg. 346)
Project's global template is somewhat similar to Word's normal.dot in functionality. The global template is just one of those Project features that most people don't know about but once they learn about it other features and Project behaviors make more sense.
You could use Project extensively and never need to touch the global template. However, when you do work with the global template, you normally do so through the Organizer. (pg. 347)
In this chapter of the book we show the utility of the global template and the primary means of directly using it in Project, the Organizer. Use of the Organizer is key to sharing highly customized elements like views between MPP files.
Many activities that you perform in Project can be repetitive. To save time, you can record a macro that captures keystrokes and mouse actions for later playback. The macro is recorded in Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), the built-in macro programming language of the Microsoft Office system. (pg. 351)
This section of the chapter introduces VBA and simple macro recording. Later in the chapter we introduce the VBA editing environment and VBA code. I regard VBA as one of those features that gave the individual Office apps their cohesion and helped reframe them as part of a system rather than a product bundle. Our coverage of VBA in the book is introductory but for the reader who wants to really invest in this area there are many good sources of additional information available.
The default option, Global File, refers to the global template. When a macro is stored in the global template, the macro can be used by any project at any time because the global template is open whenever Project is running. (pg. 352)
This excerpt is from a hands-on activity that illustrates the utility of the global template as your centralized repository of Project customizations, including macros.
As with other Office applications, you have several choices concerning how to work with Project. Some of the many customization settings include the following: Add frequently used commands to the Quick Access toolbar; Customize an existing ribbon or create a new ribbon that includes any commands that you want. (pg. 362)
One of the nice benefits of the Ribbon interface is that it can be customized in ways that the old pull-down menu interface could not. I especially like the Quick Access toolbar, which is unique to each Office application. In my Office apps I've customized my Quick Access toolbars with the commands I use most often. Since Quick Access toolbar is always visible, I then shrink the Ribbon UI out of the way (one way to do this is double-click on any Ribbon name) and still have one-click access to my most frequently used commands. There was no easy way to do something comparable with pull-down menus.
Previous posts in the "Detailed Commentary" series:
Part 1, Simple Scheduling
- Chapter 4, "Assigning Resources to Tasks"
- Chapter 5, "Formatting and Sharing Your Plan"
- Chapter 6, "Tracking Progress on Tasks"
Part 2, Advanced Scheduling
- Chapter 8, "Fine-Tuning Resource Details"
- Chapter 9, "Fine-Tuning Assignment Details"
- Chapter 10, "Fine-Tuning the Project Plan"
- Chapter 11, "Organizing Project Details"
- Chapter 12, Tracking Progress on Tasks and Assignments"