Conditionally Displaying Baselines

OnePager’s baseline display is a great way to compare your original project plan to the way things are now. But what if you want to only show baselines where there has actually been a change in the underlying schedule? This blog article will show you how to conditionally display Baseline Markers when there is variance between Start/Finish and Baseline Start/Baseline Finish.

To display Baseline Markers conditionally, we first need to have our data set up correctly in our Microsoft Project file. We assume you already have a Task Name with Start/Finish dates. You will also need to have Baseline Start and Baseline Finish entries.

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Timeline without Dates

With a Gantt chart, you can display Start/Finish dates that show exactly when a task starts and finishes. However, in this blog, we will be creating a dateless chart to show a graphical representation of your schedule without any specific dates displayed. 

We will start at the top of the chart with the Time Axis representing different tic units. In the example, we utilize the Month and Week units of the Time Axis.

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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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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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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.

Big Charts: How much is too much?

Photo Credit: Gabby K from Pexels

If you’ve taken a OnePager training class, you’ve probably heard us say “less is more” — which, despite sounding trite, really is true when it comes to building charts. A chart with only 50 tasks is many times more readable, and therefore more valuable, than a chart with 500 tasks, even when your manager thinks otherwise.

This article is dedicated to the people who’ve already told their manager that big charts are a bad idea and end up having to create one anyway.

When creating a large chart in OnePager, think of it like a balloon: you can keep filling it with air for a long time, but eventually, you’re going to exceed the physical limitations and pop that balloon. This begs the question: What is the size limit of a OnePager chart?

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Color-Coding by a Custom Status field in Microsoft Project

Many of you already use OnePager’s conditional formatting to automatically assign colors to your charts based on Microsoft Project’s Status field. But what if you need status calculated differently than how Microsoft Project does it out of the box?

In this article, I’ll show you how to create your own custom status field in Microsoft Project, and then bring that into OnePager to drive the color-coding of your timeline.

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Using Separate Fields for Task vs. Milestone Text

When creating a chart in OnePager, we want to make sure that the audience knows what the tasks and milestones represent. This is why the labels in a chart are so important.

Most of the time, using the same text field from MS Project will suffice for both your tasks and your milestones, but there are situations where you need to label tasks one way and milestones another. In this article, we are going to discuss how you can import data from two different Microsoft Project fields so that you can use the first field to label your tasks and the second field to label your milestones.

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Endpoints: How to not lose track of dates on a timeline

Endpoints are a little-known feature of OnePager that allow you to assign special symbols to different dates in your schedule and have those symbols appear near your main task bar. Endpoints are especially useful if you have several tasks left-to-right in a timeline layout and are worried that the overlap between those tasks will mask the true start and finish dates.

Let’s start with this simple project, which is initially in a Gantt chart layout. You can see that some of the tasks are scheduled back-to-back, but that other tasks are at least partially concurrent:

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