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Friday, July 16, 2010

Microsoft Project Server 2010


Overview

Microsoft Project Server 2010 is a project management application that sits within Microsoft's SharePoint Server 2010.

You can connect to Project Server 2010 using Project Professional or your Internet Explorer browser.

You can only use Internet Explorer to connect to Project Server 2010. If you try a different browser you will see a page indicating that you have been denied access. Another thing to note is that you must be using Internet Explorer 7.0 or higher.

The following screen shot is what you see if you use a non-Internet Explorer browser to connect to Project Server 2010. In this case Firefox was used.

(click to view the image full size)


Project 2007 Compatibility Mode

When connecting to Project Server using Project Professional it is usually the case that you would need to use the same version of Project Professional as the instance of Project Server that you are connecting to.

For Project Server 2010, if you upgraded from Project Server 2007, you can use Project Professional 2007 to connect by default. This is because when you upgrade from Project Server 2007 to Project Server 2010 a compatibility mode flag is turned on by default.

While the Project 2007 Compatibility Mode setting is on none of the new features of Project Server 2010 will be available.

Once all of your managers are using Project Server 2010 and all of your applications, that run on top of Project Server, are Project Server 2010 compliant, you can turn off the Project 2007 Compatibility Mode setting in order to enable the new Project Server 2010 features.

To turn off the Project 2007 Compatibility Mode setting, log into Project Server 2010 and click the 'Server Settings' link which is on the left-hand menu. Under the Operational Policies section click the 'Additional Server Settings' link. You will want to uncheck the checkbox for the 'Enable Project 2007 Compatibility Mode' item to turn off Project 2007 Compatibility Mode.


In previous versions of Project Server you could do some tasks using the browser but for the most part you needed to use Project Professional. This is no longer the case in Project Server 2010 as many tasks can be done using only the browser. In fact, this entire discussion will use only the browser.

When you first log into Project Server 2010, you will see a page similar to the following screen shot:

(click to view the image full size)


Resource Center

One of the things that you will need in your Project Server database is resources.

To add a resource, click the 'Resource Center' link in the left-hand menu.

When you arrive in the Resource Center you will have a ribbon bar at the top of the view. On the ribbon bar is a 'New Resource' button. Clicking the 'New Resource' button will bring you to a view allowing you to specify details about the resource.

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If you simply wish to edit a resource, check the checkbox next to the item in the grid and then click the Edit Resource button.

Resources do not have to be employees but, in this case, we want employees. A resource can be set up to have the ability to log into Project Server and the security access, for each resource, can be configured to only the items that resource should have access to.


Project Center

To create a project, navigate to the Project Center by clicking on the 'Project Center' link in the left-hand menu. When you arrive to the Project Center you will see a ribbon bar as well as a grid of existing projects.

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To create a new project using only the browser (there is an option to create the project using Project Professional if you would prefer that approach), click New and from the drop-down select 'Basic Project Plan'.

(click to view the image full size)

When you create a new project you are first brought to a view where you enter the project's name, an optional description, the project's start date, and the project's owner. Click the 'Save' button on the ribbon bar when you're satisfied with the project's information.

(click to view the image full size)


Editing the project information for an existing project...

The project information can be changed later, if need be, by selecting the project row in the grid of the Project Center, clicking the 'Open' button on the ribbon bar and selecting the 'In Project Web App for Editing' menu item.

If you simply click on the project's link in the grid of the Project Center, the project will be opened read-only and you will need to click the 'Edit' button on the Ribbon bar in order to edit the details.

Once the project is open, you can click on the 'Project Information' link on the left-hand menu to edit the project's details.

(click to view the image full size)

Once the project has saved, you will be taken to the 'Schedule Tools' portion of the project

(click to view the image full size)

To create tasks it's just a matter of clicking in the Task Name cell, of a blank row, and type in the task's name. When done press Enter, Tab or click off the row.

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Once you have all the task rows created you can indent one or more of the rows if you would like some tasks to be sub-tasks of a previous task.

To create a sub task, simply select one or more rows and click the Indent button (or press Alt + Shift + Right arrow).

(click to view the image full size)

Now that we have the basic structure of the project, we need to specify how much work each task is expected to take in order to complete it. This is simply a matter of typing in an hour value in the Work column of each row.

By default each task is set to Manually Schedule mode. It is generally easier to let Project Server handle determining the start and finish dates by using the Auto Schedule mode.

To switch to the Auto Schedule mode, select all rows that you wish to be auto scheduled and then click the Auto Schedule button on the ribbon bar.

(click to view the image full size)


Changing the default scheduling behavior of new tasks...

Rather than having to adjust each row of each project you create to do Auto Scheduling rather than the default Manual Scheduling, you can actually change the default scheduling setting for new tasks.

To change the default scheduling setting for new tasks, click on the 'Server Settings' link on the left-hand menu.

Under the Operational Policies section click on the 'Additional Server Settings' link. There will be a section on the page called 'Task Mode Settings' that allows the default to be changed for new tasks from 'Manually Scheduled' to 'Automatically Scheduled'.


Now that we have the list of tasks created, it is generally a good idea to specify if a task is dependent on another task (to only start when the previous task finishes).

This way, if one task finishes earlier than expected or takes longer than expected, the start date of the tasks that follow will be adjusted accordingly.

To cause a task to be dependent on another task, you link them together by selecting the task rows in the order you want the tasks to be linked and then you click the link button on the ribbon bar.

(click to view the image full size)

One thing you may notice when using Internet Explorer compared to Project Professional is that some changes only show themselves after a save (things are not automatic in some cases which might simply be a bug in the implementation of the web based solution).

Now that we have our project and tasks created, it would be nice to assign some resources to the tasks. Clicking in the Resource Names cell, however, has no effect at this point.

Even though we do have resources in the system, the reason why they don't show up in the Resource Names cell, when we click in the cell, is because we don't yet have a team built.


If you've been following along building your own project, save your changes before we go any further.


Teams

Each project maintains a team of resources that will be working on the tasks within the project.

If a resource is not part of the team, for the project, the resource will not show up when assigning resources to the project's tasks.

To create a team click on the Project tab of the ribbon bar and then click the 'Build Team' button.

(click to view the image full size)

The Team view allows you to assign resources to the team that will be working on the current project.

Select the resources from the list on the left and click the 'Add' button to assign them to the project's team.

When you're satisfied with the changes to the team, click 'Save & Close' on the ribbon bar to be taken back to the Schedule Tools section of the project.

(click to view the image full size)

Once we're back in the Schedule Tools section of the project, we can go to the Resource Name column and click in the cells of the grid.

Now a drop-down of all resources, that are part of this project's team list, will be displayed and we can choose one or more resources per task.

(click to view the image full size)

Now that we have our project created and resources assigned we need to make the project public by publishing it.

To publish the project all you have to do is click the 'Publish' button (next to the Save button) on the ribbon bar.


Close the Project

When dealing with Project Professional, closing a project comes naturally when you close the application. With the web based Project Server solution, that is not an obvious need.

If you don't close the project, the project will remain checked out to you. An administrator could force the check in but that's a lot more hassle than it's worth. It's better to just close and check in the project when you finish working with it.

To close and check in the project switch over to the Project tab of the ribbon bar and click the Close button. When prompted you can choose if the project is to be checked in or not.

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In Closing

So that gives a basic run through the process of creating resources and projects within Project Server 2010 using nothing but the Internet Explorer browser.

There is much more to Project Server 2010 than what I went over in this post but I hope this helps you get started.

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