Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Heads Up! How to Combine Tasks with Announcments

One sign of a well engineered product is when customers call you and thank you for creating a feature that really helps them out. The other sign is when it never occurred to you the product could actually perform said feature. Invariably when this happens, the use case turns out to be a really good idea. So I thought I'd pass it along.

As you know, we created the IntelliGantt Web Part for SharePoint to look for Task Lists by default. Of course we also wanted to be able to include custom lists, specialized lists and heretofore unknown lists created by IT departments that could also serve as task lists.

But it never occurred to us to add the Announcements List into the mix. Thankfully it did to one customer.

They added an announcements list to the IntelliGantt Web Part so that folks could have an easy 'heads up' to the most important things of the day pertaining to a project. Our goal as always been to minimize the context switches as users work with the data. Including the announcements within the IntelliGantt Web Part is right inline with this philosophy.

Here's what it looks like:

As you can see the announcements list can be positioned right at the top. Also, the intrinsic nature of this list lends itself well to the day-to-day of projects as announcements are only visible for a specific amount of time. Once the announcement goes 'stale', it drops off the list and new announcements appear. The end result is the project manager has just increased the odds that team members will see important communications in context.

If you'd like to experiment with this a bit, you just need to know the server template id for the SharePoint Announcements List-- 104. Plug this value into our 'Include Template ID' property as shown below:

Finally, this same technique will work just as well with any SharePoint list. But we thought it was so neat to use a 'lowly' announcements list to accomplish something quite useful-- telling people the importing news of the day right within their project.

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