This week I continue my tour of new features in Project 2013. For an introduction to this subject, and especially an explanation of what's different between the Standard and Professional editions of Project 2013, check out this prior post. This week: UI fit and finish.
Before I jump into the details of the new features, let's walk around the Project UI and check out all the shiny new bits. To begin, here's a typical data file opened in Project 2013:
(Tip Click image for larger view)
If you're still running Project 2007 or earlier, you may notice the Fluent interface ("the ribbon") in place of pull-down menus and toolbars. This was introduced in most Office applications in 2007, and Project in 2010. In 2013, the ribbon is, to my eye, somewhat flatter and makes better use of visual feedback as you move the mouse over commands. Gone is the gradation background fill in the ribbon--this was a subtle effect in 2010 but one I don't miss at all in the cleaner 2013 ribbon.
Reach out and touch someone
As with other Office applications, Project can adjust its UI to better accommodate touch input:
Switching to touch-optimized input adds more space between commands on the ribbon, and gives your finger a larger target to aim for. Here's the same Task tab as shown above, but this time with touch input selected:
I've used Project 2013 in touch input mode on a variety of touchscreen devices, and this mode works fine for touch input. Making data selections with touch works fine too--it's really a personal preference, and likely will vary with the quality of touchscreen hardware you have.
Meet me backstage
Another redesigned area of the UI is the Backstage view--these are the commands and features revealed when you select the File tab. The Open, Recent Projects view is particularly well suited to Project users who tend to work with just a small number of data files. My favorite new capability in the Backstage view is to pin MPP files I frequently work with to my Recent Projects list.
If you're logged into your Skydrive and you're running Windows 8, you'll find Skydrive integration throughout the File Open, Save and Save As screens in Project. If you're running Windows 7, you can still access your Skydrive via its UNC path, but it's a little more work to do so.Easy on the eyes
Here's a nice effect in Gantt chart views--horizontal lines across the chart portion of the view for the selected task. Here for example you can easily identify the Gantt bar for the selected task 12:
In earlier versions of Project Step by Step we included instructions to turn on gridlines to help visually associate Gantt bars with their task names (on the Format tab, in the Format group, click Gridlines, and then click Gridlines, then apply a line to Gantt Rows). I still find the gridlines visually helpful, and they actually compliment the active task's horizontal lines:
There are many small, incremental improvements throughout the Project 2013 UI. This release is really Project's second time at bat with the Fluent UI, and Project has been able to take advantage of the lessons learned with other Office applications going back to 2007.
In the next post I'll dive into the new and substantially changed features in Project 2013.
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.
The Backstage view
- Project 2013 Step by Step: "The Backstage: Managing files and setting options," pg. 17
- Project 2010 Step by Step: "The Backstage: Managing files and setting options," pg. 7
The Fluent UI ("the ribbon")
- Project 2013 Step by Step: "The ribbon and tabs: Finding the features you want," pg. 21
- Project 2010 Step by Step: "The ribbon and tabs: Finding the features you want," pg. 10
Gantt chart gridlines
- Project 2013 Step by Step: "Customizing the Gantt Chart view," pg. 126
- Project 2010 Step by Step: "Customizing the Gantt Chart view," pg. 94