In our previous post, we talked about OnePager’s new ability to import and filter links directly from Project or Excel. This is a powerful capability, but it’s only useful if the links look good and don’t overpower the rest of your project timeline.
In this article, we are covering OnePager 6.1’s new improvements to how links actually look. These upgrades fall into two categories:
- Link Formatting covers things like the line color, thickness, dash style, corner radius, and arrowhead shapes.
- Link Geometry applies to the path that a link takes to get from the predecessor to the successor. Does the link attach to the top of bottom of the task? Does it go in a straight line, or does it have to zig and zag to get from A to B? All of this is now configurable.
Like everything else in OnePager, the best place to start with link formatting is to define your defaults. You can find these under Home > Project View Properties > Task Links. In the screenshot highlighted below, you’ll see the formatting options you have:
Here’s what all of these settings mean:
- Color is the default color of all link lines in your chart.
- Width is the thickness of all link lines in your chart.
- Dash Type is the style of all link lines in your chart. Examples include solid, dashed, dotted, etc.
- Corner Radius defines how smoothly or abruptly lines will turn corners when they zig and zag. If you want a hard 90-degree corner, set this to zero. If you want a softer, gentler turn, set it to a higher number. The higher this radius goes, the softer and wider the turn, so it’s also a good idea to determine if your chart has enough room for broad, sweeping turns, or if the corner radius needs to be kept smaller to make it through tight spaces. If you’ve ever played with toy trains, this one’s for you.
- Arrow Type defines the arrow shape for both the beginning (predecessor) and ending (successor) of your link line. Examples include arrowheads, circles, diamonds, or nothing. Most users prefer to have a “one way” arrow from the predecessor to the successor, which means defining an ending arrow shape, while leaving the beginning arrow as “None” to achieve this effect.
- Arrow Size lets you increase or decrease the size of the arrowhead itself.
Again, the settings in Project View Properties define the default formatting for all of your links. If you want to vary your formatting, you can do that as well. You can format one link at a time, or you can select several links by using Ctrl+Left-Click. Once selected, right-click on any of the selected links and choose Properties from the context menu. You’ll get an identical set of formatting options, but these pertain to only the selected links, and won’t change your defaults:
We’ve invested quite a bit of effort in taking the thinking out of link geometry–unless you want to think about it. OnePager supports over 40 different types of link paths, meaning that there are 40 different routes for a line to get from predecessor to successor. Based on the position of the predecessor and successor tasks relative to each other, OnePager will pick the path that looks best.
This automatic link routing is defined under Home > Project View Properties > Task Links. Notice that the vertical attachment point for both predecessor and successor are set to Auto:
This Auto setting gives OnePager free reign to decide what looks best. For example, if you have a finish-to-start dependency where the predecessor is above the successor, the line will come out of the bottom of the predecessor and then attach to the top of the successor. On the other hand, if the predecessor and successor are in the same row left-to-right, the line will come out of the middle of the predecessor and will attach to the middle of the successor. If there is not any white space between the two tasks, OnePager will find a more roundabout way to draw the line.
If you know for a fact that you would always like your lines to exit the top of the predecessor and enter the top of the successor, and you don’t want OnePager trying to optimize or reroute things beyond that, go ahead and change your default anchor points accordingly.
Making Manual Adjustments to Geometry
Of course, routing links is more of an art than a science. There will always be situations where the shortest path two points still doesn’t look quite right. Just like link formatting, you can always fine-tune the geometry of your links by right-clicking on one or more lines and choosing Properties:
In the screen above, you can change the vertical attachment points for selected links without having to change the default settings for everything else in your chart.
If changing where links attach still doesn’t get you what you want, OnePager 6.1 also supports full drag-and-drop editing of link geometry. Not only can you drag and drop attachment points, but you can reroute the entire line if you want to:
In the video above, you’ll see two kinds of dots to guide your drag and drop editing:
- Green Dots let you change the vertical attachment (top, middle, or bottom) of where the line starts and finishes on the predecessor and successor.
- Yellow Dots let you adjust the overall path of the line, making intermediate bends longer or shorter to avoid other obstacles in your chart.
By default, links are always z-ordered below the tasks and milestones in your chart. This way, even if a link does intersect with an unrelated task, it’ll cleanly go behind it instead of sitting on top and making it unreadable. If you ever do want a link to pass on top of a task, right-click on the link and order it to front, just like any other shape in OnePager.