I downloaded a Trial version of Project Professional, used the Team Planner for a day and then bought it. For me the Team Planner view was worth the cost of admission and is absolutely fantastic... the missing functionality I've been looking for that's
finally been added.
So after using Project 2010 for a few weeks I have compiled a few notes on "Nice-to-Have" features, as well as a few bugs which occur for me on a semi-regular basis (I will post the bugs to one or more separate threads at another time).
I also realize that for the list below, there may be possible workarounds. Not being a heavy Project user, any suggestions or workarounds are helpful, but I would also point out that they were not apparent to me as a new user of Project 2010.
Nice-to-Have #1) An easy way to keep a task in view when navigating between Gantt Chart and Team Planner views
I often switch between Gantt Chart view and Team Planner view, and most of the time when I am switching between the two, I am examining a particular task. It seemed very intuitive to me that this would be a right-click menu option, but it is not.
In other words, if it were implemented as a right click option on a task:
In the Team Planner view it would say something like: "Navigate to to this task on the Gantt chart"
In the Gantt chart it would say something like: "Navigate to this task on the Team Planner"
Selection of this option from Team Planner would:
Open the Gantt Chart view Scroll the list of tasks on the left to the appropriate task, expand any collapsed trees as necessary, and highlight it
It might even execute "scroll to task" option to bring it into view on the Gantt Chart calendar on the right
Selection of this option from Gantt Chart view would:
Open the Team Planner view Scroll the calendar such that the task or start of the task is in view, and highlight it
This is a huge missing feature in my opinion... in a project with lots of tasks I want to be able to easily flip back and forth without having to mentally take notes on a task from one view just to be able to find it in the other view.
Nice-to-Have #2) A "Mark on Track" icon when right clicking a task in Team Planner
When right clicking a task there is a bar with icons for: Fill, Border, 0%, 25%, 50%, 75%, 100%
This would be rounded out nicely with an icon to mark an item on track.
It's intuitive that they are grouped together, and this was done in the ribbon, but was not carried through to the right-click options.
Nice-to-Have #3) A lockable timescale in Team Planner for zooming in
I have a preferred view for the timescale in Team Planner:
Top Tier: None Middle Tier: Units of weeks (Jan 25, '09 format) Bottom Tier: Units of Days in (| S | M | T | W | T | F | S | Format)
I would like to 'lock' this format for viewing, regardless of zoom-in operations (I understand that if you zoom out for example, this view won't fit, and the format would need to change, but that is not the case for zoom-in operations).
Zooming in causes two things to happen...
(using either the bottom right +/- buttons to zoom, or adjusting the the timescale selection with the mouse to adjust what is visible)
The middle and bottom tiers automatically change formats If the zoom is re-adjusted to the previous size, the formats do not necessarily revert back to what they were previously (| S | M | T | W | in my case)
Item 1 is simply a personal preference: I find the zoomed-in format (beyond the | S | M | T | W | format) to be difficult to understand (for example, the middle tier now shows every other day, and the bottom tier shows two columns that say '12' for
each day listed in the middle tier, such that the entire bottom tier is a row of cells that say '12').
Having the zoom operations cause inconsistent changes to the timescale settings however is not just personal preference, but is operationally confusing, annoying and not intuitive--if I were to zoom in and find the new timescale format confusing, I cannot
just zoom back out to get back to the format I was viewing momentarily ago.
After much consternation with the zooming in and out, it appears to me that there is "hysteresis" in some of the zooming operations. In other words, it is not necessarily the current view or scale that determines the automatically-set timescale
options (ie, how zoomed in or how zoomed out you are), but it is also dependent on the previous view, or perhaps on the timescale settings of the previous view.
In some cases this is very repeatable using the +/- buttons at the bottom right to set the zoom to three distinct levels. Let's define three spots on the zoom slider that we can navigate between using the +/- buttons:
Level 1: Zoomed Out Level 2: Normal Level 3: Zoomed In
(In my case, Level 1 is at the center of the zoom slider, Level 2 is one notch right, and Level 3 is two notches right)
And let's define two different sets of timescale settings (the one I like and the one I don't), where the bottom tier of the timescale shows:
Bottom Tier = | S | M | T | W | T | F | S | (we'll call this TS1) Bottom Tier = | 12 | 12 | 12 | 12 | 12 | 12 | (we'll call this TS2)
So here's what happens:
At Level 2 with TS1, Zoom-In to Level 3 --> We get Bottom Tier = TS2 At Level 3 with TS2, Zoom-Out to Level 2 --> We get Bottom Tier = TS2 At Level 2 with TS2, Zoom-Out to Level 1 --> We get Bottom Tier = TS1 At Level 1 with TS1, Zoom-In to Level 2 --> We get Bottom Tier = TS1
This same kind of hysteresis behavior extends to the zoom operations that occur when dragging the zoom box on the Timeline view.
It makes sense that there may be multiple zoom levels with a bottom tier that doesn't change--for example transitioning from one level to another and having the bottom tier remain the same might still remain a very clear way to interpret the timeline--but
having the bottom tier change inconsistently depending on whether you're zooming in or zooming out is confusing.
Regardless of whether this a 'feature' or a bug that gets fixed or not fixed, the "nice-to-have" would be a way to lock the timescale settings in some form or fashion. Maybe if the software absolutely has to adjust between different settings
for different zoom levels, it would at least be possible to save the settings for each of these zoom level adjustments, such that zooming in or out does not cause an unpleasant surprise, but is simply transitioning between different timescale settings that
have been adjusted and saved by the user.
Many times I would like to zoom in on the Team Planner to have a more detailed view the tasks, but find myself then trying to back out of that zoom level because I can no longer interpret the timescale clearly. Sometimes this happens on the Gantt chart
too, but I notice it much more in the Team Planner.
Nice-to-Have #4) A nicer horizontal scroll bar for the Team Planner
1) In the Team Planner view, the horizontal scroll bar at the bottom of the page extends all the way to the left side of the Microsoft Project window, but the calendar area that is being scrolled does not extend past the vertical splitter bar for scheduled/unscheduled
This discrepancy is counter intuitive when you go to navigate the calendar with the horizontal scroll bar.
The vertical scroll bars on the right however do not have this problem, and are sized within the window being scrolled.
2) The scroll bar block is 'small' (fixed size) and 'hard to grab' with the mouse, instead of being larger and/or proportional (proportionally-sized scroll bar blocks are are just generally larger and more intuitive object to 'grab' with the mouse, which
perhaps is why they're so widespread).
These two aspects of the scroll bar--as well as issues with the zoom feature--are perhaps somewhat nit-picky, but they have had a significant impact on my ability to seamlessly navigate and use the Team Planner. This is true especially when the tasks
are of short duration, because to see these tasks effectively in the Team Planner view, the most natural thing to do is to zoom in (such that the boxes are larger and display more text), scroll week-to-week perhaps at that zoom level to examine surrounding
content, then zoom back out for the big picture view. This simple sequence of tasks should flow seamlessly (zoom-in, examine, scroll, scroll, zoom-out), but in my case it feels like the GUI disrupts that flow and makes it difficult.
These "nice-to-haves" are just that however--I personally think they would be nice to have, but not having them isn't critical. By and large I would like to express my personal opinion that the development team did an absolutely fantastic
job with this feature. I have found the Team Planner to be an amazingly helpful tool, super easy to use and very intuitive--obviously well-thought-out and implemented.Read more...