Saturday, February 19, 2011

IntelliGantt Web Part for SharePoint 2010 Sandbox

SharePoint 2010 introduces a 'Sandbox' mode that limits the scope of what a web part is able to do on the server. This is something of a curious feature for a Sliverlight-based web part such as the IntelliGantt Web Part because it doesn't do anything on the server-- it's only downloaded from the server and then runs on the client. In fact, here is the source code in its entirety for the IntelliGantt Web Part when built for sandbox mode:

public class IntelliGanttWebPartInstance : WebPart
protected override void CreateChildControls()

That's it. The only difference between the IntelliGantt Web Part in sandbox mode and the 'normal' IntelliGantt Web Part is the latter is able to plug into the web part editor forms to make it easy to configure all the IntelliGantt Web Part options. In sandbox mode, you'll have to supply all the options yourself in the 'Custom Initialization Parameters' field.

However, we realize that sometimes policy will dicate that the IntelliGantt Web Part is deployed to the SharePoint 2010 sandbox. Here's how to do it.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Filtering SharePoint Task Lists by People and Choices

In the previous blog post we looked about how the IntelliGantt Web Part can dynamically build pie charts when the user selects a choice field. IntelliGantt finds all the choice values and cross references them against every users task assignments. The result is a nice display of everyone's status (for example) across all their assigned tasks, across all the projects you have selected.

Something like this:

Wouldn't it be grand if you could select a user's pie chart and have the task list filtered so that only that user's tasks are shown?

We thought so too, so yes, you can select one or more users and the task list and gantt chart will filtered so that only those users tasks are displayed.

What about the choice values? It'd be nice if you could select those and have the task list filtered so you can quickly see everything that is 'Not Started' or 'In Progress'.

We agree, and you can. Click on any of the choice values and IntelliGantt will immediately filter the tasks.

Finally, the Pièce de résistance, what if you could mix and match the choices and the people so you could see all of Joe and Mary's tasks that are 'Not Started'.

Yes, you can absolutely do that too!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Charting SharePoint Choice Columns

Choice columns are a great feature in SharePoint in that they let the administrator constrain the 'anything is possible as long as its text' textbox to a predefined list of acceptable values. For a SharePoint task list, the 'status' choice column is a perfect example. Rather than let users type in 'Getting Close' or 'I think I just about got it', users must select from 'Not Started', 'In Progress', 'Completed', 'Deferred' and 'Waiting for someone else'. Of course, more values can be added to a choice column at any time by a site owner.

Here's how the IntelliGantt Web Part works with the choice columns defined in the list settings. As mentioned earlier, 'status' is a powerful choice field for relaying the basic state of a task. IntelliGantt works with the built in status choices to build pie charts for each person (comprised of that person's task assignments) and builds a pie slice for each choice value present.

The choice columns available in this section are controlled by the current view in use. In this example, the 'All Tasks' default view has both 'Status' and 'Priority' choice columns in its list, so these choice columns are available to select. (Note: the 'People' option is something the IntelliGantt Web Part adds if you just want to see people and not pie charts).

The choice columns themselves are defined in the list settings for the task list (or any list, for that matter).

IntelliGantt is completely dynamic in its presentation and pulls column information from SharePoint for its display. So let's add another choice column and see how it appears in IntelliGantt. After clicking on the 'create column' link in the list settings we can name and type our new column:

Next we will provide the values and add some formatting information:

Note that made 'North' the default choice and added this column to the default view. When we return to the IntelliGantt Web Part, once it has refreshed, we will see this choice available.

The 'Region' column is now available in the charting pane and has been added to the Task Grid as well. When we select the 'Region' column in the charting pane its values populate below it. Notice that North is in bold. This is because North is the default value.

The pie charts themselves are not very exciting at this point because, since this is a new choice column, none of the tasks have any region values. Let's add some.

Of course, choices aren't set in stone. Sometimes they need to be updated. Because IntelliGantt is so dynamic it handles this case as well. Let's go back to the region column definition in our list settings and add the most important region of all-- Northwest!

When IntelliGantt refreshes it will recognize the new value and add it to the option list for the 'Region' choice.

Thus, when we update a task with this new value, the other visuals will be updated as well.

The pie slices use IntelliGantt's default color palette, which starts out with similar colors so the Gantt chart doesn't look like a Christmas tree. You can change the default color palette, or you can designate a specific choice field to use a custom palette. How to change colors is covered in detail in our forum.

How to set the Initial Timescale of the Gantt Chart

January 2015 Update for IntelliGantt for SharePoint 2013.

A customer requested that the IntelliGantt Web Part's initial timescale be adjustable when it first appears. It's just a bit of math to generate the time scale so we were happy to oblige. We introduce the 'Zoom Factor'.

It's the ultimate in precision, especially for you engineering types, as it literally is the zoom factor being used to display the Gantt Chart. By default, the zoom factor is 1.0. If you moved the slider, it will range between 0.075 and 1.925. (the range wasn't always so wide-- another user requested we make it wider, so we did).

Now when you set the zoom factor the gantt will compress or expand time appropriately (what a feature!), and the slider will change to the correct position.

More Gantt and Task Status Color Options

We updated the custom color system for the IntelliGantt Web Part to help our users in three ways:

1) An easy way to change Status specific colors.
2) A way to define your own custom palette.
3) A way to define a custom palette to be used with a Choice field of your choosing.

Here's a shot of the custom colors in action with the KPI pie charts:

Here is our forum post with all the details.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Filter Basecamp Todo Items by Person and by Status

As of build 1.0.70 the IntelliGantt Web Part for Basecamp offers an easy way to quickly filter your Basecamp Todo Items by who is assigned and its current status. This also means we've introduced a 'Status' field to Basecamp Todo Items with the following choices: Not Started, In Progress, Completed, Deferred and Waiting for someone else.

I know when I first start explaining this feature to folks it run a little dry. Thankfully, 37 Signals provided an extra bit of data to make it fun. Every Basecamp user has information about themselves they can provide, including an avatar url. We thought this such a great idea we incorporated it into the product:

At the bottom of the picture is our new 'People' pane. You can see that three people have actual photos in their avatar uri and two people do not, so they get the general stock image. Because 'Unassigned' is much more a concept than a person, it gets a special generic, non-descript bulbous person icon.

The idea here is not only to show who is involved with what project, but also to enable quick filtering of a persons tasks. How to do this? Click on the person (or the 'Unassigned). The task grid and gantt instantly filter the list so that only tasks assigned to the selected person are displayed. You can select addition people and their assigned tasks will pop into view as well. Unselect everyone to return to the full list.

The other thing to notice in this pane is the dropdown control at the left. This let's you select either the default view of people (with pictures) or two additional fields: Status and Priority.

When you select Status or Priority, the pane changes a bit. Instead of people with the number of tasks assigned to them, you will see a pie chart reflecting a breakdown of that persons Status or Priority choices for all their assigned tasks:

Similar to selecting people, when you select one of the choices in the list (like 'Not Started'), the task list and gantt chart immediately update so that only items matching the choice selection are in the view. You can select multiple choices (ie. 'Not Started' and 'In Progress') to apply at once. Futhermore, you can still select a person or two by clicking on a pie chart to get really granular. As before, simply unselect everything to go back to the default view.

We have detailed examples of these steps for filtering by people and by choices on our site. Better yet, we have a fully functional 15 evaluation available so you can try our IntelliGantt Web Part for Basecamp today.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

One Challenge for SharePoint? Inadequate Interfaces

CMSWire recently posted an interesting article about SharePoint adoption and the five biggest challenges to further growth. The first interesting nugget is SharePoint 2010 deployment is roughly equal to SharePoint 2007 deployment. As a someone building solutions for SharePoint 2010 and 2007, a growing market is a good thing.

More directly important for us, however, is one of the issues facing SharePoint (as cited by the article):
76% of those surveyed said that the interfaces were only adequate or even inadequate for their needs

We firmly believe one of those areas is Project Management and specifically the Task List. So it's not too surprising that the response to our IntelliGantt Web Part technology for SharePoint has been particularly strong. We've taken many years of experience, volumes of customer feedback and the latest technology and distilled these ingredients into a Gantt chart that at least 76% of SharePoint users will appreciate.

Things like:

Two Clicks to install the product
Feedback from every clickable image
Clickable arrows that bring off-the-screen tasks quickly into view
Native Drag and Drop for attaching files to tasks
Changing the Gantt timescale with a simple slider
Dynamic refreshing for up to the minute data
One click Item or Summary task creation and removal
Rich printing with user defined start and end dates
Explorers for combining multiple task lists into one view

and even more features to be available this week!

I can't see we knew exactly how many folks would benefit from our improved interfaces when we started down the SharePoint road. It's nice to see there's more than a few.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Key Performance Indicators - People and Choices

Folks have been asking about Key Performance Indicator (KPI) enhancements within the IntelliGantt Web Part since its inception and we're happy to report it's almost here.

Here's a 'thousand word picture':

Basically we are introducing an expandable region at the bottom of the Task Grid and Gantt Chart that shows choice fields and people. What task you select determines the list of choices and people you see.

For example, if you select the topmost 'task', which can contain multiple projects, you see all the people across all the projects. This is a nice way to see a global rollup.

If you select a particular project, then the number of visible people is narrowed to just those within the project. This can be helpful if you want to drill down on a single project.

Similarly, the available choices change depending on your task selection. At the broadest selection only Status and Priority are available. However, when you click on a task or summary task within a project, then all the choice fields from the current view become available.

As you can see, all that information can then be distilled into useful pie charts reflecting each persons allocation choice values (ie. Not Started, In Progress or Completed for the Status choice).

The coolest part? Watching the pie charts dynamically refresh as new data automatically is retrieved.

Lot's more information coming. We're so excited we just had to share a peek.