Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Publishing Project Task Hierarchies to SharePoint

Two questions for you:

1) How can you publish full project hierarchy to a SharePoint 2007 or SharePoint 2010 Task List?

2) How can you view a full project heirarchy in a SharePoint 2007 or SharePoint 2010 Task List?

The answers to question number 1 are:

Microsoft Project 2007 (Standard or Professional) with the IntelliGantt Add In
Microsoft Project 2010 Professional

The answer to question number 2 is:

The IntelliGantt Web Part

TeamDirection has created the next generation of SharePoint integrated Gantt Charts using Silverlight to bring you automatic updates, high-fidelity printing, dynamic timescale changes, future Windows Mobile 7 support and....

the ability to view a full project hierarchy in either SharePoint 2007 or SharePoint 2010.

Over the next few blog posts I will take you through the permutations of publishing projects to SharePoint and using the IntelliGantt Web Part to view them in their entirety.

First up is our IntelliGantt rich client application.

Here we have a four projects spanning the compass and are currently working on 'North'. Within North we have three northern states as summary tasks, three cities within each state and a few predecessor links. (Does this mean Ann Arbor precedes Detroit? Only in the alphabetical sense for this post-- people from Michigan, I mean you no harm :) ).

IntelliGantt has a very powerful 'Workspace Settings' screen that lets you configure all sorts of things. As of build 173 there are two significant features:

1) The new 'Full Hierarchy' task filter. This filter tells IntelliGantt to send the entire project, including the parent/child relationships between summary tasks and sub tasks, to any SharePoint task list of your choice.

2) The 'Predecessors' field, which has been upgraded to use a SharePoint lookup column in order to enhance usability and match MS Project 2010 SharePoint support.

Note that neither of these features are 'on' by default. This is because many folks are used to the flat listing of tasks in SharePoint and because, in order to dynamically create the Predecessors field (for SharePoint 2007), the IntelliGantt user will need at least 'Designer' permissions.

If you would like to see all the steps to publish a project with IntelliGantt, here is a screencast for you.

Once the project has been published, we can see the results in SharePoint:

OK, its a little underwhelming in the native, out-of-the-box SharePoint Gantt View. Believe it or not, the three 'state' tasks are indeed summary tasks containing sub tasks-- you'd just never know it in this UI. For example, you can click on 'Michigan' down at the bottom to see its contents:

However, you lose the context of the project-- notice that Wisconsin and Minnesota have disappeared? Also, remember that we created two predecessor links among the tasks? The task list in SharePoint 2007 does not show them.

How about a task list that shows the entire project? Like the IntelliGantt Web Part. For example, if I drop the IntelliGantt xap file into this SharePoint site I can get a great view of everything:

Here we see the entire project hierarchy with visual distinction among site, list and task item elements. Basic Red/Green colors show what is behind versus what is on track. Simple scrolling takes you up and down ALL your tasks (and we've tested with 10,000+). Predecessor links between tasks. And of course many more features that we will be showcasing.

The last thing I want to point out is, because the IntelliGantt Web Part is in fact a Silverlight application, you don't need to install it as a web part. You can in fact drop it into any SharePoint site, be it on a server down the hall, a 3rd party hosting provider or even Microsoft's BPOS solutions. Because of this flexibility you can use IntelliGantt's rich features for your project in any SharePoint hosting scenario.

We have detailed instructions written up for you for both SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010.

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