Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Using SharePoint Views to do a Simple Workflow

We just posted a couple screencasts to show how IntelliGantt can take advantage of two things:

1) The ability to work with any SharePoint view
2) Applying views to automatic refreshes

That's a little abstract so let me run through the scenario because the result is quite useful.

SharePoint 2010 introduces a new column in the task list called 'Predecessor'. (SharePoint 2007 doesn't have this by default, but IntelliGantt can add it for you). The idea here is to capture more schedule information in SharePoint. But other than drawing a pretty line from the finish date of one task to the start of the next, what is done with this data?

Well, IntelliGantt makes use of it to flip the Status of a task when its predecessor is marked as 'Completed'. Turns out computers are very adept at traversing dependencies and updating them when things change. So, IntelliGantt finds all the successors of a completed task and changes their status to 'In Progress'.

This in and of itself is interesting, but combined with a new SharePoint view and IntelliGantt's refresh logic the feature becomes dynamic.

That is to say, we create a view called 'My Tasks In Progress'. A SharePoint team member can then select this view in IntelliGantt and remove their hands from the keyboard and mouse. When predecessors to their tasks are completed, their own tasks will pop into view automatically. Team members don't have to click 'Refresh' constantly to see the latest. IntelliGantt keeps them up to date.

The result is the handoff between dependent tasks becomes that much more efficient. Even better, the team members don't have to change a thing-- IntelliGantt will do the handoff from one task to the next for them.

This is quite a bit to explain so please do see the 'SharePoint View' and 'Workflow Tasks' screencasts.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Searching SharePoint Task Lists

It's one thing to be able to view all your tasks in one spot, it's another to find the tasks most important to you. Given that SharePoint 2010 can now support millions of potential tasks at every level of a task hierarchy, a robust search solution is now critical to help users make sense of it all.

The IntelliGantt Web Part was designed with this exact scenario in mind. We just posted a new screencast highlighting the new 'Search' feature within the web part and, even after developing it, the coolness factor is at eleven!

Basically, it uses the one tried and true search metaphor the world has come to love-- a text box. OK, that in itself may seem underwhelming, but another design goal for the IntelliGantt Web Part was to make it as accessible as possible. Since everyone knows how to add keywords to a text box and search, it seemed like a natural.

Text based keywords, dates and date ranges are all supported. The date fields are parsed according to the locale on your system so folks in the US and folks in the EU both get their date formats exactly as they want them.

Searches are done using generated CAML queries so IntelliGantt never inundates the network with a huge volume of web services data just to iterate over all the SharePoint list items locally.

The coolest thing, though? After seeing the screencast, I think its the ability to 'splice' the search with a selected list view on the fly. For example, you can easily combine a 'My Tasks' view with a keyword value of 'In Progress', 'Behind' or a date range. This makes it easy for SharePoint users to create specific views for their needs, and a deviously clever way for users to add the extra bits they need to personalize things for them.

We're just begun with our search text box and look forward to adding more features and cleverness.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

TeamDirection Site Updated for Web Part

Just a quick note to mention we have a landing page, screencast and demo page available that loads the IntelliGantt Web Part in your web browser for you to get look at.