Wednesday, September 29, 2010

SharePoint Task Assignments and Permissions

SharePoint Lists are highly configurable, which is great. The reason they are so flexibile is that Microsoft wanted to apply them to any business problem that might come up, which is also great. But wouldn't it be nice to have a few configurations options available based on the type of list being used-- like a Task or Project List?

For example, a SharePoint Task List adheres to the basic permissions model which lets anyone with Contributor privileges or above edit a list item. As a result, this usually means anyone can edit any task in your list. So what about the 'Assigned To' field? It makes sense to be there because this is a Task List after all. But in addition to conveying basic information we think it should also signal who is able to update the task. That way the project manager can know that if the task has been updated, it was updated by a person assigned to it.

We're happy to introduce exactly this feature with our IntelliGantt Web Part. It's something we call 'Enforce Assignments'.

This is an optional setting the IntelliGantt Web Part provides that spares the project manager from mucking with permissions again and again for every task list they work with.

Here's how it works. Let's say you drop in the IntelliGantt Web Part into a site page.

We see there are no assignments in this task list. But, because the current user is at least a Contributor, they have edit options available-- like the little thumbs on each task for percent complete information.

Which means the current user can change lots of percent complete information.

Which may be fine for your needs. However, if you'd prefer that only folks assigned to a task can update it, then we can flip a single switch. First, put the web part into edit mode.

The IntelliGantt Web Part introduces its own section in the web part settings page. There are a couple others properties we can set (and more coming in the future), but we're focusing on 'Enforce Assignments'.

By default this is 'off' so that we match SharePoint's default behavior. However, if we click it 'on', then users must be assigned to a task in order to update it.

Back on the Gantt chart, the most obvious indicator is the percent complete thumb again-- it's no longer available.

In this case, nobody can update anything as there are no task assignments. The thumbs in the task are gone and in-place editing is disabled for all tasks. So let's give the administrator something to do.

Notice that the thumb has returned for the administrator's newly assigned task. He or she can now update this task, but no others.

With this feature, IntelliGantt enhances your task list so that not only can it communicate the current state of a project, it can do so with confidence.

Finally, this feature is a simple checkbox in the web part editor page if you choose to install the IntelliGantt.wsp solution. If you are working with the IntelliGantt.xap file, then you will need to edit the initParams value like so:

<param name="initParams" value="MS.SP.url=<your server url>,EnforceAssignments=true" />

Friday, September 24, 2010

It Gets Worse

Ah, the Karma Gods were in fact enjoying my plight and had one more twist for me. After I had thrown up my hands and said out loud 'I give up', I put my right hand back on the mouse to click the cancel button that, having finally came to terms with, would never turn into an 'OK' button no matter how much I wished for it to happen.

A dialog box popped up saying (and I should've taken the picture) 'The installer will finish installing the current package and then exit'. Great!, I thought, that's just what I want! It's on the last package so this magical backdoor has provided for me.

Er... not quite:

Notice it's still on step 14-- still the very last step. Only now the cancel button is greyed out, as is the 'Exit Window' button at the upper right.

I wonder what will happen if I try to kill the process? Dare I?

The Agony of the Installer That Can't Quite Finish

So I'm installing the new Windows Mobile 7 SDK looking forward to seeing what it can do. I waited until the 'final' release so that most of the issues would be worked out. The first time I tried to install it, it got stuck on step 10.

So I tried it again.

This time it went through 14 steps, and it looks like its almost there. I'm just waiting for that Cancel button to turn into an OK button I can click. It just looks sooooo cloooose:

So far I've been waiting for two hours. I'm hoping that the act of posting this blog entry piques the karma gods so that the install completes.

UPDATE - Nope, even posting to the internet couldn't get the attention of the Karma Gods today. They must be too busy.

SharePoint Gantt Chart Showing Multiple Predecessors

The IntelliGantt Web Part can show all the tasks in your hierarchy AND multiple predecessors. We had a couple users ask about this and I'm happy to reply unequivocally 'Yes'.

The IntelliGantt Web Part uses a SharePoint LookupMulti column, parses through the values, resolves the values to actual predecessor items and then computes the visible line drawing. It looks like this:

If your predecessor SharePoint column only holds a single value ('Lookup'), IntelliGantt handles that just fine.

Same thing for Assigned To and any other Lookup or LookupMulti columns in your SharePoint list.

Keep the questions coming, we're happy to answer them.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Publish MS Project 2010 Tasks to SharePoint 2007

Continuing on in our feature matrix, now we'd like to show how the IntelliGantt Add In for MS Project can publish tasks from MS Project 2010 to SharePoint 2007 task lists-- or to SharePoint 2010 task lists for that matter.

As you know, MS Project 2010 Professional now has the ability to synchronize project columns with SharePoint 2010 columns. But what about SharePoint 2007? Not supported. But we're happy to let you know that our IntelliGantt Add In for MS Project 2007 works just fine with MS Project 2010, Standard or Professional, which means you can still use those ancient SharePoint 2007 sites everyone has bookmarked in their web browsers.

You can install the IntelliGantt Add In for MS Project 2007 or for MS Project 2010. You can even start with MS Project 2007, install our Add In and then migrate to MS Project 2010 and still be connected to your SharePoint 2007 servers.

Let's see it in action.

First we will create a project with our 'compass' theme, this time focusing on the South.

When you install add ins with MS Project 2010, you get an 'Add-Ins' tab on the ribbon. The IntelliGantt Add In can be found here.

Just as you normally would, you use the 'Share Wizard' to select a SharePoint site and a task list.

This particlar task list is from one of the 'Fabulous Forty' templates that were available with SharePoint 2007 and contains tons of great features. (Note: I'm not sure if SharePoint 2010 has a Fabulous Forty as well. It seems like it should.) As you would expect, the tasks are in the Gantt view of this templates task list.

Of course, this view is still just as restrictive as all the SharePoint task views in that it doesn't really show you a full hierarchy and its dependencies. For that, we've created the IntelliGantt Web Part, which displays the full hierarchy and task predecessor links. This time, though, I'm going to show another feature-- our Explorer capability. Just click on the pith helmet and you'll see: Our SharePoint Explorer.

In this scenario we have a parent site called 'Demo' and four subsites named North, East, West and South. We've placed the IntelliGantt Web Part within the 'Demo' site, which is the parent site of both 'North' and 'South', in order to get a bigger view of the world. The SharePoint Explorer begins at the 'Demo' site, discovers all the sub sites with task lists and presents them. We simply mark the checkboxes we wish to see in our view, click 'OK' and...

... see the North and South united together. Talk about a powerful feature!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Publish MS Project 2007 Tasks to SharePoint 2010

Continuing to illustrate the combinations available to IntelliGantt, Microsoft Project and SharePoint users, today we will focus on publishing the full task hierarchy of a Microsoft Project 2007 plan to a SharePoint 2010 server. This is accomplished by the IntelliGantt Add In for MS Project, which actually works with both MS Project 2007 and MS Project 2010 (32-bit) versions and with SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010. But in the interest of a shorter, more concise post we will focus on MS Project 2007, SharePoint 2010's improved task list and the powerful IntelliGantt Web Part.

First off is a simple project focusing on a few Eastern tasks created in MS Project 2007.

This is very similar to the 'North' project of the previous post in IntelliGantt, but we did add a new twist. Notice that in addition to predecessor links within a grouping we also have predecessor links spanning groups. For example, Trumbull is a predecessor of Boston. (Yes, I know this is not historically accurate. Boston was founded in 1630 and Trumbull was founded in 1797. Its just for demonstration purposes).

Next up we perform the standard IntelliGantt->Share steps to send our tasks in MS Project to a selected SharePoint list. As before, we will change the projects Workspace Settings to take advantage of new features in IntelliGantt and in SharePoint.

When we demonstrated IntelliGantt working with SharePoint 2007 we mentioned that IntelliGantt, during the Share operation, would create the 'Predecessors' column. With SharePoint 2010, this column is available to you out of the box and IntelliGantt will integrate with it. We also make sure to change the filter to 'Full Hierarchy', as before.

After IntelliGantt has sent the tasks to SharePoint, we see tasks in the improved gantt chart that comes with SharePoint 2010.

Here it is a little easier to distinguish the summary tasks from normal tasks because the visuals are a little better. However, you will still need to dive into each summary task to see its sub tasks, just as with SharePoint 2007.

Again, the task visuals have improved a bit as you can see the predecessors when both tasks are in the same group. However, remember the predecessors that spanned groups? For example, Trumbull being a predecessor to Boston? It's not viewable with the SharePoint 2010 task list.

This is where the IntelliGantt Web Part shines as it provides a full hierarchical view, which of course means it shows all predecessor links. The IntelliGantt Web Part brings all your project pieces into view.

Rest assured that this is just tip of the iceberg for what the IntelliGantt Web Part can do. Other features, such as the ability to add additional SharePoint task lists to the view will be demonstrated in a very near future blog post.

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.