Project Web App empowers a mobile workforce by bringing the power of Microsoft Project Professional to the browser with web-based project scheduling via the Schedule WebPart. Web-based scheduling provides occasional and certified project managers with the flexibility to quickly build simple and complex schedules online, and conveniently edit the plan via the browser from anywhere in the world. Today we’ll discuss some of the improvements to the Schedule WebPart and the new server scheduling engine in Project Web App (PWA) 2013.
Automatic Scheduling and Calculation
The biggest change to the Schedule WebPart is that it supports automatic calculation like Project Professional. You no longer have to press the Calculate button on the ribbon (which has been removed) or hit F9 on the keyboard to schedule your project. Now the whole project plan is scheduled after every edit, instead of only the current task.
Take for example the Contoso Launch project in the screenshot below. It’s using a hybrid of manually scheduled and auto scheduled tasks. It also has a number of tasks linked, starting with ‘Reserve Venue’.
If I change the duration of ‘Reserve Venue’ from 3 days to 13 days, you’ll notice that my project is instantly scheduled to reflect the change and the affected cells have been highlighted.
Pro tip: When editing in the Schedule WebPart, it’s often helpful to have the project take up the full width of your browser. As demonstrated above, SharePoint makes it really easy to accomplish this by hiding the quick launch and stretching the content of the page to fit the window. Simply click the ‘Focus on Content’ button next to ‘Follow’ in the quick actions. You can easily toggle back, whenever you’re done editing.
Enabling automatic scheduling in the Schedule Webpart was made possible by bringing Project Professional’s scheduling engine to the server. In previous versions of PWA, the web scheduling engine was a clone of Project Professional’s scheduling engine. Now, it’s the exact same calculation engine, guaranteeing consistent, high fidelity scheduling whether you edit in the Project client or on the web through PWA. To accomplish this engineering feat, we made a ton of investments into the performance and scalability of the scheduling engine, which greatly improved the speed of the editing experience in both Project Professional and PWA 2013.
When your boss asks how your project is doing compared to your original plan, the last thing you want to say is “I don’t know.” You can avoid that fate by setting and saving a baseline as a snapshot of your original schedule before your project gets rolling.
In previous releases, the ability to set and clear a baseline was only available in Microsoft Project Professional. Now that the Schedule Webpart is powered by the same scheduling engine as the client, setting and clearing Baselines are supported on the web as well.
To set a baseline, click on ‘Set Baseline’ on the Task tab of the ribbon. From here, select ‘Set Baseline’ and then choose which baseline you want to set.
Similarly, to clear a baseline, click on ‘Set Baseline’ on the Task tab of the ribbon. From here, select ‘Clear Baseline’ and then choose which baseline you want to clear.
You can only set and clear baselines for the entire project. Setting baselines for selected tasks or for an interim plan is not supported in the Schedule WebPart.
Other New Scheduling and Calculation Functionality
In addition to supporting automatic scheduling and calculation and baselines, the Schedule WebPart exposes other scheduling functionality that was limited previously. This includes but isn’t limited to:
· Cost and material resource assignments can be assigned to tasks
· Deadlines can be created on tasks
· Projects with all task types can be created/edited. This includes fixed work tasks.
· Certain fields in assignment views can be edited. Assignment units is one of these editable fields that was commonly requested in the previous release. Now, project managers can change the percentage units for each resource on the web from an assignment.