Tell Microsoft to fully support custom fields in Project for the web

If you use OnePager with Microsoft Project Online, take note: Project Online’s days are numbered. Although Microsoft has not committed to a firm date, it intends at some point to sunset Project Online in favor of Project for the web, a fully cloud-resident PPM offering that is built on the Microsoft Dataverse rather than on SharePoint.

OnePager will introduce an integration with Project for the web in its 7.2 release in 2023. Theoretically, when Microsoft flips the switch, OnePager users who previously brought in their data from Project Online will be able to instead bring in their data from Project for the web.

I say “theoretically” because Project for the web is far from a finished product, as I wrote in a recent MPUG article. That article detailed numerous deficiencies of Project for the web — the most important of which, for OnePager users, is the lack of third-party application support for custom fields.

Project Online has over 400 predefined fields; at last count, Project for the web has 16. That means a project of any complexity will require heavy use of custom fields to get the same information across. The good news is, Project for the web has a custom field capability that will look familiar to Project Online users. For instance, you can define a Yes/No field named “Flag20” and put “Yes” and “No” values in the column.

The bad news is, custom fields from Project for the web cannot be read by third-party applications like OnePager, and we need your help asking Microsoft to make these fields available.

This is because Microsoft has not made these custom fields a part of their public API. We confirmed this recently in a series of escalating interactions with Microsoft Developer Support. That means, at present, when you bring your Project for the web data into OnePager, you will be limited to the 16 predefined fields that OnePager can read: items like Name, Start, Finish, and Percent Complete, but without baselines, deadlines, or flag fields.

If this concerns you, you’re not alone. Microsoft has a User Voice forum for Project for the web that is full of complaints about the bare-bones nature of the product and its inadequacy as a replacement for Project Online.

You’re also not powerless. We have created our own User Voice post in this forum expressing our concern that third party applications like OnePager cannot see custom fields. I encourage you to vote for it (just sign into your Microsoft account first, so Microsoft knows you’re a valued customer of theirs). And please add comments as well, describing your use case and your concerns.

Click Here to Vote for Custom Fields in Project for the web

In 2016 we rallied OnePager’s user base to pressure Microsoft to fix a similar issue with local custom fields in Project Online. Four months after we asked for your help in this blog, Microsoft fixed the problem, making local custom fields visible to third party applications. It took nearly 300 votes and comments to convince Microsoft to change course, but it worked! The OnePager user community can be a powerful constituency when it speaks with one voice. We hope you’ll rise to the challenge again. Thank you!

This entry was posted in OnePager News, Project for the web (P4W), Project Online by Nathan. Bookmark the permalink.

About Nathan

Nathan Black was on the founding team of OnePager, joining as a beta tester in 2005. The product was exciting — the lack of paycheck, exciting in a different way. So he went out into the world, working as a project manager, management consultant, and academic (he was most recently a research fellow in the Government Department at Harvard University). Everywhere he went, he saw a need for more and better project management, particularly by people who don’t call themselves project managers but end up filling that role on teams and ventures large and small. In 2014, he returned to OnePager as Vice President of Solutions. His primary roles are (1) helping customers use OnePager more effectively and (2) developing new versions of the software. He is passionate about getting project visualization and reporting right, and eager to hear from project managers (in title or in reality) who feel the same way! Nathan lives in Kansas City, Missouri with his wife Whitney and sons Ethan and Adam. They enjoy classical music, the outdoors, and politics. E-mail him at [email protected].

2 thoughts on “Tell Microsoft to fully support custom fields in Project for the web

  1. It’s not actually documented, but you actually can transfer up to 10 custom fields from Microsoft project through an MPP file Import to Project for the web. And that includes Choice fields.

    • Hi Bill, thanks for pointing this out! This is true, and enables users to import their custom fields from Microsoft Project Professional to Project for the web. What users cannot do, however, is see those same custom fields in OnePager. This is because the custom fields are not available to OnePager via the Project for the web API.

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