Using Microsoft Project Flag Fields with OnePager Pro’s Conditional Formatting Rules

Conditional formatting was introduced in OnePager Pro version 5.0. This feature lets you tailor your project views and snapshots based on rules that control the shape, color, borders, fonts, and height of tasks and milestones. OnePager Pro’s conditional formatting rules work with Microsoft Project text, number, and date fields, in addition to flag fields (Yes/No).

As an example, suppose we have the Microsoft Project plan shown below which consists of three phases and four teams.

In the example, Flag1 is “Team Available” and will eventually be used to distinguish tasks in the OnePager Pro chart. For starters, though, we’ll create a view without conditional formatting to produce something like this:

Now, suppose you want to change the color of tasks to green when a team is available. You can create this conditional formatting rule by going to Project View Properties->Task Bars->Manage Rules:

When the conditional formatting rules are in place and the project view is created, it will look like this:

Notice that the legend now shows a green entry, indicating that Flag 1 is true. We’ve adjusted the verbiage to make it more meaningful.

That’s it! No more changing colors by hand to show something that you’re already tracking in Microsoft Project. OnePager Pro’s conditional formatting rules are the most powerful way to build meaningful project reports and timelines without the fuss.

Transparent Fills and Borders in OnePager Pro

We’ve added a couple of new transparent color options to OnePager Pro – the no-fill and the no-borders options. The no-fill option is available for task/milestone markers, comment boxes, text boxes, curtains, and links. The no-borders option is available for task/milestone markers.

Let’s talk about the no-fill option in the context of task/milestone markers first. This option makes the task/milestone marker colorless, instead taking on the color of the chart background while retaining the task/milestone marker’s border. The example below shows the “Project A” task with no fill and a blue border, making the task itself transparent:

It’s easy to set this up. Just select the desired task/milestone marker and click the Format button on the Home tab. Click on the color drop down to see the color chooser, and check the No Fill check box shown here:

The same technique applies to the other objects in a project view that have color options (e.g. comment boxes, text boxes, curtains, etc.).

Making the border of a task/milestone marker disappear follows the same techniques as the fill, but uses the Border Color control as shown here:

When you make the border transparent, the marker will look like this:

The no-borders option only applies to task/milestone markers. You may want to apply no-fill and no-borders at the same time in the case where you only want the task name to appear, or when you want the other marker decorations like baselines or percent complete to appear without the task/milestone itself.

The no-fill and no-border features are another great OnePager Pro tool in the Gantt Artist’s kit to offer you the most flexibility as you are creating dynamic, easy-to-understand project presentations.

Horizontal (Zebra) Stripes in OnePager Pro

Did you know that OnePager Pro can put horizontal (zebra) stripes in the background of your project view? With OnePager Pro 5.0, you can further decorate your project view with horizontal stripes for rows or for swimlanes.

Get started by going to Home->Project View Properties->Advanced. Look for the Chart Background section in the upper right. Notice the two color choosers, Color 1 and Color 2 and the two radio buttons marked Row stripes and Swimlane stripes.

There are just two things to do: (1) decide whether you are doing row stripes or swimlane stripes, and (2) selecting the two alternating colors for your stripes from the color choosers. That’s all there is to it.

Let’s do an example, taking this boring project view and spicing it up with swimlane stripes:

Now go to Project View Properties as described above and set it up for swimlane stripes by setting the controls shown in the Chart Background section shown below:

When you click the OK button, your project view will look like this:

If you want to put stripes on rows just click the Row stripes radio button instead of the Swimlane stripes button and your view will look like this:

Using zebra stripes for either rows or swimlanes is a way to separate out views that may have a lot of information in rows or swimlanes. It’s a great way to help your audience’s eyes focus on what is taking place in a particular section of your project plan. And, it’s Gantt Art.

A few items you should keep in mind:

  • Zebra stripes include the swimlane or row label areas. Of course, with swimlane striping, the row label is also included in the background stripes.
  • OnePager builds the row or swimlanes stripes from the bottom of the view up starting with Color 2, then Color 1 and back to Color 2 until it reaches the top row or swimlane depending on the striping mode.
  • OnePager keeps the stripes alternating between colors 1 and 2 even when you move rows or swimlanes up or down since the stripes are part of the background and not strictly associated with the row or swimlane itself.
  • Horizontal stripes are layered at the back of your document so that they don’t obscure other things like curtains and comment boxes.
  • If you don’t want the row or swimlane titles included in the zebra stripes, just use the paint bucket on the Home tab ribbon to change their background colors by hand.

OnePager’s zebra striping feature is another tool in the Gantt Artist’s kit for preparing concise, focused, and colorful schedule charts for presentation to project team members, executives, and customers.

What’s new in OnePager Pro 5.0 (Part 6/6)

Column Splitting for Complex Resourcing

Our previous post covered conditional formatting, a very powerful feature, a time saver, and a way to make your project reports really sizzle. Our final post covers a new way to manage reporting on projects that have complicated resource assignments.

In OnePager Pro 5.0, we’ve created a feature called column splitting. Recall that Microsoft Project can associate multiple resources to an individual task. Typically, in your Microsoft Project plan these are represented as Resource Names separated by commas. In the Gantt view we typically see this “string” of Resource Names associated with the single task. This may make it difficult to see how individual resources are scheduled and what their activities are across a number of other tasks where they may be assigned.

OnePager Pro 5.0’s column splitting allows you to represent each resource as a unique task in the view.  So, a task with two resource assigned can be automatically duplicated so that one task appears for each resource. From there, you can group, sort, and color-code by resources very easily.

Let’s look at a simple example. Suppose we have a portion of a Microsoft Project plan that looks like the one shown below. There are several resources represented among these tasks with one task having three resources assigned.

When column splitting is not turned on, OnePager Pro will produce a Project View that resembles the graphic shown below:

If you look in the legend, each combination of resources generates a unique color, which can be confusion, since Team 1 is now assigned three different colors.
With column splitting turned on, OnePager will give each resource a copy of its assigned task, making for a much cleaner assignment of colors:

Note what happened in the project view above:

  1. There are now several more task markers on the screen than there were before. The task “Centrifugal barrier” has now been split into three separate task markers: one for each of the three resources that was assigned to this task.
  2. Each of the resources has a unique color assigned, instead of the confusing multi-resource color assignment that we saw earlier.
  3. Each of the resources appears by itself in the legend, instead of a part of a larger
    conglomeration of resources.
  4. The square brackets enclosing the percentage figures [%] are removed from the legend.

Once you have column splitting turned on, it’s really easy to see potential resource conflicts. Just group your swimlanes by the split resource column, to get a resource-by-resource view like the one below:

Even in this simple case, you can see with tasks close together, now in the same swimlane, that there is no apparent schedule conflict for Team 1.

While most people will use column splitting for resource assignments, it’s important to understand that column splitting will work for any Microsoft Project column!

In this blog series, we’ve seen most of the new features in OnePager Pro 5.0. Please feel free to contact us with questions or comments. We are committed to responding directly and sharing your interesting comments and thoughts with other readers, where appropriate.