Project 2007 Archives

November 17, 2006

MS Project 2007 Change Highlighting and the Interim Plan

Microsoft Project 2007 has a new feature called "Change Highlighting". It shows how a change to one task affects others which have dependencies on it. For example, the screenshot below shows how changing Task A from one day to two days affects the start and finish dates for all the other tasks:


The blue highlighting shows the fields which have changed due to the first change. This is certainly very useful, but it is missing a few things.

  • First, we don't know whether the change was a good change or a bad change.
  • Second, as soon as we make another change, the highlighting will change to tasks affected by the second change.
  • Third, we don't know the magnitude of the change. This is a very simple project and all the changes are one for one, but in some cases a major change to one task may change another by only a very small amount. Perhaps an insignificant amount. But we have no way of knowing from this feature.

Fortunately Project has had the ability to show the effects of changes in a robust and persistant way. That is through the use of an Interim Plan. An interim plan is really a very simple baseline. It stores the start and finish dates of tasks into the user defined start and finish fields (Start1-Start10 and Finish1-Finish10). If you add a couple barstyles to your view you can easily see all changes that were made in an editing session.

The first step is to save an interim plan. To do this go to the Tools menu, select Tracking, then Set Baseline. The following dialog box should appear:


In this example we are using Start1 and Finish1 to store the dates. When you are done click OK. Next we need to set up the barstyles to show three things. Formatting the barstyles is done by going to the Format menu and selecting Format Barstyles

  • First we show the interim plan. For this we are using a "silver" colored bar drawn from Start1 to Finish1. It represents the original task.
  • Next we create a bar to show if tasks have slipped later than originally planned. We use a red bar for this and set it to draw from Start1 to Start. Project will only draw this bar if the second date is later than the first date.
  • Then we create a bar to show if tasks have pulled in. We use a green bar for this and set it to draw from Finish1 to Finish.

When you are done, the barstyle dialog box should show the three bars as below. Note that order is important. The bars are drawn in list order, so if you put the silver bar last it will hide the red and green ones.


When this is set up, go and make some changes in your plan. Here I have made two changes. See if you can figure out what was changed. (hint: originally all durations were 1 day)


By saving this view and using it whenever you are editing your file you will have a much better indication of what you are doing to your file than you will get from the "Highlight Changes" feature in Project 2007. Not only that, but this technique can be used in Project 98, 2000, 2002 and 2003. I hope you will find it useful. Just remember to reset the interim plan at the start of your editing session.

November 30, 2006

MS Project 2007 - Changing Working Time

For the past few versions of Microsoft Project (Project 2000, Project 2002, Project 2003) the changes to the desktop application have been fairly minor. But Project 2007 shows that some attention is again being paid to the desktop user. One of the more subtle changes that has been made is to add more functionality to the "Change Working Time" feature. This is the way that a user sets and modifies calendars. Go to the tools menu, select "change working time" and the new dialog looks like this:


In this example I'm setting the first day of January to be non-working time. What is new about this is that you get to name the exceptions. See the list below? Type in a name for it and you can more easily keep track of it. I am guessing that the name of the exception is retrievable with some code so you could conceivably extract all the exceptions from a project using a bit of VBA and check them against some master list.

The other exciting thing about this is that you can set an exception to recur. Since Jan 1 comes once a year, I'm setting it to be an exception on a yearly basis in the following screenshot:


The options are pretty self-explanatory. You can set it to be the same calendar date or if you want it can be the first Monday of a month or the third Tuesday or whatever vacation vagaries your clever company decides to inflict upon you. These options are also available for monthly recurrences. Just knowing that you won't have to scroll through months and months just to set up standard holidays is a great help So is the ability to label the exceptions so you know that 5 days in December of next year are blocked out because the office is being painted rather than having to guess why no work is going on at that time.

I recommend you work through this as you start any new project. Official holidays and vacation time can easily eat up a month of time. If you haven't accounted for this in advance you will find yourself postponiing that vacation or eating Turkey and Pumpkin pie at work.

January 19, 2007

Microsoft Project 2007 Released

First thing this week the Microsoft Office Project 2007 was released, and already Dale Howard and Gary Chefetz at ProjectServer Experts have a book out. I'll post a review as soon as I get my hands on a copy, but if it is as good as their other books it is going to be worth reading. Amazon has it available to order, but it does not appear to be shipping yet. Congratulations Dale and Gary!

February 6, 2007

Microsoft Project 2007 Import Problems

There are a couple of problems importing data into Microsoft Project 2007.

The first one is that importing an Excel 2007 file (in the new .xlsx format) does not work. The import appears to get hung up on some of the header information and from there you are stuck. The work-around for this is simple. Save from Excel into Excel 2000-2003 format and open that file in Project.

The second relates to importing .MPX files from other applications. At least a couple versions back, Microsoft started walking away from the .mpx format in favor of using xml as a standard exchange format. However, there are still other tools using it to exchange data and Project 2007 can open but not write .mpx files. If there are some records specifying correct calendars in the file then it will crash. For an explanation of what is happening and how to fix it, the best source is the ever helpful Adrian Jenkins who writes:

What I've found that if the file you're importing doesn't have a record type 20 and if at least one of the record type 20's calendar name doesn't match what's in record type 30, then the crash happens. Here's an example of what you may find in your MPX file:

MPX,Integration Tool Name,4.0
30,Project Name,,,,,,,1/17/2007

Importing an MPX file where record type 20 is missing and where the project's calendar name isn't identified in record 30 will cause the crash.

With record type 20 added, it'll look like this:

MPX,Integration Tool Name,4.0
30,Project Name,,,,,,,1/17/2007

In addition to record type 20, record type 30 also needs to specify the project's base calendar name and it should match the name in at least one of the type 20 records. Therefore, the MPX with the addtional information in record type 30 will look like this:

MPX,Integration Tool Name,4.0
30,Project Name,,,Standard,,,,1/17/2007

If you add this information to your MPX file, it should stop the crash from happening. You *may* see an additional import error, but you can click No to prevent the error(s) from appearing and the file should open.

February 16, 2007

Microsoft Project 2007 Bugs - Project Server too...

So far there are a few bugs popping up in Project 2007 and Project Server 2007. Most are not showstoppers and wouldn't keep me from using it. If you run across one, Microsoft has set up a site for reporting bugs and issues. Just log in here:
and log your bug. The prize is that if there are enough of them filed we get a service pack sooner than later :-).

July 26, 2007

Project Professional 2007 File Lockout bug

Just a friendly warning that using the red X in the upper right corner to close a project professional plan which is on Project Server may lock you out of the project altogether. This bug was present in Project Professional 2003 but was fixed in a service release. Looks like it is back with this version. For now, be sure to use "File / Close" to close a project.

I usually don't post much about bugs, but since this one can be avoided it is worth noting.

November 8, 2007

Project Server 2007 Service Pack 1

So... the good news is when pushed for an answer in front of his boss, Mike Angiulo finally gave a date for the long awaited release of Microsoft Office Project Server 2007. The bad news is that the date is in March or April of 2008, more than a year after the release of Project Server.

Details and a critical (but I'm hearing accurate...) write up of the announcement and the Project Conference can be found here

I hope that Mr. Angiulo will exceed expectations and deliver early. It would be a celebration for applause.

December 8, 2007

Microsoft Project Server 2007 Service Pack 1 Release Date

How the tables have turned. At the Seattle Project Conference, Microsoft hemmed and hawed about the release of Service Pack 1 mumbling about March and April. At the Madrid Project Conference word is that they came out and stated it will be December 11... this year. One can only hope that this was hastened by the questions posed at the Seattle conference, but in any case it is good news for those who are suffering.

The snarky among us would say, "Install immediately, it CAN'T be any worse!" but I say, get those test cases ready.

December 11, 2007

Download Microsoft Office Project Server 2007 Service Pack 1 (SP1)

Microsoft has released Service Pack 1 for the Microsoft Office 2007 Suite.
Download it here:
The fixes cover a bunch of different applications and platforms, so it will take some consideration in rolling it out.

Good luck!

July 15, 2008

Microsoft Project Server Infrastructure Update

The long awaited fixes to Project Server 2007 and Project Professional 2007 have been released today (July 15, 2008). Microsoft is calling it an infrastructure update rather than a service pack. I suppose this is because it covers a things like sharepoint and other office server infrastructure rather than a specific application.

What ever it is called, Project Server and Project Professional users will find a lot to be happy about. Among the fixes for Project Server are:

  • Timesheets and My Tasks stability and usability improvements
  • Queue Management user interface improvements
  • Logging Tracing improvements
  • Project Server performance improvements
  • Project Server 2003 to Project Server 2007 migration fixes
  • Database performance improvements to enhance the cube building process and Project
  • Professional Save/Publish scenarios

Project Professional gets the following fixes:

  • Cost Resources calculation fixes
  • Improved Custom Fields stability
  • Improved local Project Cache stability
  • Fixed Excel Import problem

Many of these are quite welcome. A document with details can be found here:

Description of the update is here

Details on what is fixed are here

And the download...


Be careful about installation. There are a number of things to consider so read all the docs and of course, test before deploying to a critical installation.

November 25, 2008

Project Server OLAP Views Errors

Just a warning about special characters. Don't use them if you want your Project Server Analysis views to work correctly:

Avoid all of these:

Data source
: / \ * | ? " () [] {} <>
. , ; ' ` : / \ * | ? " & % $ ! - + = [] {}
, ; ' ` : / \ * | ? " & % $ ! - + = () [] {}
All other objects
. , ; ' ` : / \ * | ? " & % $ ! - + = () [] {}

About Project 2007

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Project in the Project 2007 category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Programming is the previous category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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