Unique IDs in Project Online and Project Server

In our previous post, we covered the ins and outs of unique IDs with Microsoft Project locally on the desktop. This article discusses some of the differences in how unique IDs work when you are using Project Server or Project Online.

When you launch OnePager as an add-in to MS Project, you have the option to connect directly to Project Server/Online or to let MS Project connect to the server and then funnel the information back to OnePager through the desktop client. When you’re using OnePager as a standalone application outside of MS Project, all connections to Project Online and Project Server are direct and do not involve MS Project.

Why does this matter?

It matters because Project Server and Project Online have two different methods of tracking unique IDs depending on how you’re connecting:

  • Unique ID: When you are using Microsoft Project to connect to the server, the traditional Unique ID field still works if you want to use it.
  • GUID: When you are connecting directly to the server outside of MS Project, the Unique ID field no longer exists, and Microsoft requires that you use the GUID field instead. Of course, even if you’re using MS Project to log into Project Server/Online, there’s nothing stopping you from using the GUID instead of the Unique ID field.

When you build a OnePager chart from Project Online/Server and use Microsoft Project as the go-between, OnePager will continue to use Unique ID unless you explicitly change it to something else. When you connect OnePager directly to your server, we’ll switch to using the GUID, because the Unique ID no longer exists, period.

Curious as to whether you’re connecting to your server directly or not? If you are using OnePager standalone, you’re definitely connecting directly. If you are using OnePager as an add-in, you can check your connection method by going to Home > Project View Properties > Advanced. The Server Method drop down will let you choose between the two server connection options:

Server connection method aside, there are some pros and cons to the old Unique ID field compared to the GUID. The Unique ID is much easier to read, since it’s an integer instead of a long mishmash of letters and numbers. However, as noted in the previous post, integer Unique IDs have a tendency to repeat across different projects, whereas GUIDs by definition will not. So, if you are doing multi-project reporting and are worried about keeping your project summary tasks straight, GUIDs are a good way to avoid that concern altogether.

One downside to GUIDs is that they have a propensity to change when you migrate environments. For example, if you start off working in Project Server 2013 and then upgrade to Project Online a few years later, there are cases where your old GUIDs will go away and be replaced by a new set in Project Online. This is something to watch out for if you ever change environments, but isn’t the end of the world for your OnePager charts. This article describes OnePager’s ability to automatically re-match GUIDs when it detects a change in environments so that you can migrate your OnePager charts safely from one server environment to another.

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About Safford

Safford is a versatile technology professional with a solid history of empowering emerging growth companies in a broad array of industries. His employment history includes energy industry consulting at Quorum Software, Senior Manager of Client Services and Technical Sales at telecom service aggregator GetConnected, and Vice President of Strategic Partner Management at electronic payment processor IP Commerce. Prior to his tenure as OnePager's COO, Safford was the company's Vice President of Marketing and Alliances. Safford holds a BA in Psychology and management from Rice University.

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