Differences between project views, snapshots, and templates

OnePager lets you use the same underlying Microsoft Project plan or Excel schedule to present different Gantt charts to different audiences, and also lets you create a standard style to be used across different snapshots. Project views, snapshots, and templates are at the heart of these capabilities. First, some definitions:

  • Project View - A project view is a collection of tasks or milestones from your project plan(s) that you want to present to a specific audience. You might have one project view for your executive team and another project view for your clients. You can create multiple project views from the same underlying Microsoft Project or Excel schedule(s), and each project view can use a distinct filter to present different tasks. The initial settings in a project view are inhferited from a template.
  • Snapshot - A snapshot is a time-sensitive version of a project view. For example, if you present to executives each month, you can create a new snapshot of your executive summary project view on a monthly basis. Snapshots retain the overall format of your project view, but update important data like start and finish dates, percent complete, and other time-sensitive project data. Each project view has a different set of snapshots, which can be at any frequency you need (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.)
  • Template - A template is a general set of style rules that can be used to create different project views. For example, if you have several projects and need to create the same style of report for each one, a template will allow you to create a single style that can be applied across multiple project views.

How Snapshots Relate to Project Views

Every project view will contain at least one snapshot, but most project contain several snapshots. The hierarchy of project views and snapshots is shown below:

Hierarchy of Project Views and Snapshots as used in OnePager project presentation software.

In the example above, you see that a project manager has created three different project views from the same Microsoft Project (or Excel) plan. The first project view is for executives, the second project view is for team members, and the third project view is for regulators. These three project views will look completely different, except that they are based on the same project schedule.

Within each project view, there are multiple snapshots at different points in time. This means that the project manager has been versioning each one of the three project views over the last few months. OnePager stores all snapshots in historical order, so if someone needs to see what a project view looked like one or two months ago, it is easy for the project manager to pull up an earlier snapshot and compare it to the current project schedule.

There is no limit to the number of project views or snapshots you can create. You have complete control over the frequency of snapshots, whether you want to create a new snapshot each week, month, quarter, or even a snapshot each hour.

How Templates Relate to Project Views

Templates act like a stylesheet to define a common reporting format across many project views. They allow an organization to pick a standard color palette, fiscal year, grouping/sorting scheme, and even a common set of conditional formatting rules. Because templates are project-agnostic, they do not contain manual customizations that are made to individual tasks. These individual customizations are contained within the project view, not the template.

The following diagram shows how templates relate to project views, and the snapshots within them:

Diagram of Templates and Project Views.

In the example above, the project manager is now creating a total of six project views. We have the same three project views from Project A, and have added three new project views from Project B. Templates are used to create a common style across projects.

For example, the "Executive Template" can be applied to Project A, and then separately to Project B to create two separate project views called "Project A - Executive Summary" and "Project B - Executive Summary," respectively.

Even though these projects are separate, they will have similar formatting, layout, and other characteristics.