Identifying Late and Very Late Tasks with Finish Variance

In Microsoft Project, a field called Finish Variance shows how many days there are between the Finish and the Baseline Finish fields. Using this data can be helpful when trying to determine if your tasks are finishing on, before, or after their planned finish dates.

If you want to use the Finish Variance field in your OnePager Conditional Formatting Rules to show visually if your tasks are late, you’ll run into an issue: Microsoft Project treats Finish Variance as a string field instead of a number.

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OnePager 7.1: Seeking Beta Testers

We are excited to announce that we’ll be releasing a beta of our new OnePager version 7.1 in the next few weeks. A lot of users have already reached out and asked to be a part of our beta program for version 7.1, but if this is the first that you’re hearing about it, there is still room for you to join.

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Highlighting Estimated Tasks

The Estimated field in Microsoft Project lets you identify tasks for which dates aren’t yet set in stone:

Simply place a “Yes” next to tasks that are estimated, and leave everything else alone. If you want to make a distinction between estimated and firm tasks in your OnePager chart, you can do so with conditional formatting.

To launch conditional formatting, go to Home > Chart Properties > Task Bars, and then click the Manage Rules button in the bottom. We’re starting out with some conditional formatting rules that assign different colors based on the Status field:

A lot of beginner OnePager users assume that conditional formatting can only used for color, or that conditional formatting can only look at one Microsoft Project field at a time. Both of these assumptions are incorrect. Even though we already have a set of rules that assign color based on status, we can add a separate rule that looks for tasks where the Estimated flag field is true:
Once you’ve set up the condition, scroll to the right and assign a dotted border, like this:
Click OK on the border selector, and you’ll see the dotted border appear in the conditional formatting grid:

Click OK to close the Conditional Formatting Rules screen, and then click OK again to close Chart Properties. Your chart will update so that all estimated tasks appear with a dotted black border, while still retaining their main colors that are based on status:

Displaying Only Deadlines in a Chart

Those of you who are seasoned users of OnePager know that you can show deadline markers in your OnePager chart, which appear (hopefully) to the right of your main task bars:

Traditionally, deadline symbols don’t appear without their associated task, and even if they did, their formatting options are pretty limited, since they’re not something that is controlled by conditional formatting, or even really very easy to edit by hand.

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Are you still on 32-bit Project?

Microsoft began releasing 64-bit versions of Office, including Project, back in 2010. Eleven years later, we still see that a lot of our users still haven’t switched from 32-bit Project to 64-bit Project, even though they’re continuing to upgrade their Microsoft Project versions from 2010 to 2016, then to 2019 and onward.

Believe it or not, 66% of OnePager Pro users are still using 32-bit Project. The vast majority of these 32-bit users are running a relatively modern version of Microsoft Project like Project 2016 or Project 2019. On top of that, almost all of these users are on 64-bit Windows 10.

You read that correctly: people who have a blazing-fast computer with the highest-powered version of Windows available are still running a lower-horsepower version of Microsoft Project. It’s a common misconception that if you have 64-bit Windows that you will automatically have 64-bit Project, but the reality is that most 64-bit Windows users are still on 32-bit Project.

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OnePager Supports Windows 11

A few weeks ago, we confirmed OnePager’s support for Office 2021 and Project 2021. Now, on the heels of that certification, we are pleased to announce that OnePager also supports Windows 11.

As you are probably aware, Microsoft announced the pre-release of Windows 11 in late June and begin shipping preview builds on June 28th. We immediately commenced our testing efforts to ensure that any of our users who take an early release of Windows 11 will be in good shape when it comes to OnePager.

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Phases in Excel Project Plans

If you manage projects in Excel, you’ve probably come across the need to assign tasks to different phases, especially if your project is somewhat complex. There is a right way and a wrong way to set up phases in Excel, and structuring your phases correctly will make it easier to format your charts in OnePager Express.

Many people think that the relationship between a task and a phase in Excel should look like it does in Microsoft Project, with the phase on top, and the tasks indented underneath:

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Microsoft Project 2021 and Office LTSC Certification

We are pleased to report that OnePager has certified that the latest versions of Project and Office, due out in late 2021, are compatible with the latest versions of OnePager. As a Microsoft Certified Partner, we always get early access to the latest updates from Microsoft to ensure that we test OnePager well in advance of those same updates being pushed to you, our end users.

Our certification process involved testing OnePager 7.0 against the following upcoming releases from Microsoft:

  • Microsoft Project Professional 2021 has been certified for use with OnePager Pro 7.0.
  • Microsoft Office 2021 has been certified for use with OnePager Express 7.0.
  • Microsoft Office LTSC (Long Term Servicing Channel) has been certified for use with OnePager Express 7.0. Office LTSC is a new version of Office designed for highly-regulated devices or devices in secure or classified environments (SCIFs).

If you use Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365), you may soon receive the same updates from Microsoft that are covered under these perpetual license releases, and can expect similar results with respect to OnePager compatibility.

OnePager issued patent for Smart Text Optimization

We’re excited to announce OnePager was issued its seventh U.S. patent today, for Smart Text Optimization, a new feature available in version 7.0.

Numerous users of pre-7.0 versions of OnePager told us that their initial charts were full of text collisions, which required manual repositioning of labels to make them suitable for presentations. We honed an algorithm that sequentially applies a series of strategies to avoid these collisions, seeking to produce the best-looking output with the minimum user effort.

Our users’ feedback helped us refine this new technology, so thank you! Let us know how you’re using Smart Text Optimization and what improvements remain to be made.

Fixing Individual Text Collisions

If you’re using OnePager 7.0, you probably know that there is a new set of algorithms that automatically optimize the text in your chart to minimize text collisions.

These algorithms work very well, but every so often, you may find a text collision that sneaks through. In other cases, you might have moved text or shapes around by hand and created a text collision that wasn’t there originally.

If your chart looks good overall, but you have a couple of lingering text collisions, you don’t have to re-optimize your entire chart to fix it. Instead, you can select the pieces of text that are in trouble and re-apply the optimization just to the area of your chart that needs it. In this example, we have three pieces of text that are hard to read. So we can select all three with a Ctrl+Left-Click, and then right-click on any one of the three selections to choose the Re-Optimize Text Collisions option from the context menu:

OnePager will re-run the optimization algorithm only for the selected tasks. So if you’re happy with the layout of the rest of your chart, you don’t have to worry about messing it up while you’re fixing a collision elsewhere.