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Absorbing Tasks and Creating Virtual Summary Tasks

Dr. Robert S. Feingold

Often we hear from OnePager users that they need to show more information in their project view, but don’t want things to get too cluttered.

OnePager has a couple of features that are useful in saving space in the view while still showing important information. The first is the technique of absorbing some tasks into another, while still making reference to each individual task. Another is the concept of the virtual summary task which creates a pseudo-summary task out of tasks imported from Microsoft Project or Excel.

Let’s talk about absorbing tasks first.

Absorbing one event into another in OnePager requires that the absorbed task fit inside the absorbing task's start and finish dates. When you drag one task on top of another, OnePager will ask you if you want the absorbed task to be represented as a comment box at the start date, the end date, or both. The absorbed task will turn into a comment box with the absorbed task name, start, and finish date. Here is an example:

Beginning project view:
Sample OnePager chart.


Drag and drop the "Merlin Subcontractor Selection" task onto the "Adonis Subcontractor Selection" task:
Absorb one task into another at the end date.


OnePager will prompt you about absorbing because the absorbed task fits inside the start and finish dates of the absorbing task. Now just select where you want the comment box to be connected to the absorbing event and you are done. After clicking OK you get this result:
Absorbed task in OnePager.


The comment box created by OnePager is connected at the end date of the absorbed task, and shows the end date and task name.

Should you want to un-absorb the task, just right-click on the absorbed task and select Unabsorb tasks from the context menu that appears as shown below:
Easily unabsorb tasks to return them to their original layout.


When you select Unabsorb tasks, OnePager removes the comment box and restores the absorbed event on top of the absorbing event. From there, you can drag and drop it anywhere else on the chart.

Absorbing tasks is useful when you’re trying to save space in your view, and you want to represent minor tasks as comment boxes instead of full tasks.

On other occasions, is useful to create a summary task out of several related events. If the summary task was not included in the original Microsoft Project or Excel file, OnePager’s virtual summary task feature can do this quite easily. When you identify the two or more events that you want to represent as a virtual summary task, OnePager will create a rolled-up task containing the selected events. Here’s how to do it:

Beginning project view:
Sample OnePager chart.


Let’s create a virtual summary task out of these first four tasks. Select the first milestone or task. Hold down the Ctrl key and select the second (and third, fourth, etc.) milestones or tasks. You can also lasso multiple tasks with the selection rectangle. Right-click on any of the selected tasks or milestones and choose the Make into virtual summary task command in the context menu.
Select several tasks and collapse them into a virtual summary task.


When you click on the Make into virtual summary task, the tasks are collapsed and summarized like this:
OnePager chart showing a virtual summary task.

The new virtual summary task is positioned in the middle of the vacated space and a summary name is generated by OnePager which may be edited as needed.

To undo this action, right-click on the new virtual summary task and choose Unmake virtual summary task to restore the events as they originally were.

The virtual summary task inherits its color, title, text positioning, and font size from one of the source tasks that you summarized. You can always adjust these properties by right-clicking on the virtual summary task.

One more thing. When creating a virtual summary task, by default, OnePager sets the percent complete such that the progress bar touches the time cursor. If this value is not appropriate, you can override this default and set the percent-complete value manually. To do this:

Right-click on the virtual summary task to bring up the context menu shown below:
Change the progress bar on a virtual summary task.


Select the Set % complete of virtual summary task command and then enter the new value of the percent complete in the dialog box shown below:
Change the progress bar on a virtual summary task.

That’s all there is to it.

These two techniques are powerful tools within OnePager to help you concisely tell your project story. 15-Day
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