This month we’ll look into ways of customizing Tables.
Back in October 2003, I introduced the main built-in Views, Tables and Filters. If you want to refresh your memories, click here: Microsoft Project: 6 - Working With Views, Tables and Filters. A View is a single pane or combination of panes with related information and data. For example, the Gantt Chart view consists of a Table on the left and a Gantt Chart on the right. If we use Windows/Split, the lower pane holds further data about the task selected in the table above, giving us yet another View.
Hopefully, by now, you will also have tried inserting and customizing columns. However, you may have noticed that once you have inserted or removed columns from a table, this seems to set that table in that layout for the future. If you are just inserting/deleting columns from a view for a quick look at the data, never save the project without reverting back to the original view. In such instances, close the project without saving; then, when you open it again, it will still have the default Tables. Thus, I always recommend that when you need to change the look of a table, make a copy of it or create a new one. As the process of copying or creating a new table is similar, I would suggest you copy the nearest looking table, rename it and then make the changes. Let’s have a go.
As usual, we need something to work with, so download my Bridge file that I introduced in Project - 15 by clicking here: http://www.mousetrax.com/pub/Bridge15.zip .
Creating a New Table
Instead of just inserting columns in the table, which will change the default Entry table, go to View/Table: Entry/More Tables…
This will open the More Tables dialog; note that we are after a Task table (we cannot apply a Resource table to a Task view) and click the New… button.
This will open the Table Definition dialog, which is empty of any data, and it defaults to give it a Table1 name. This is fine when we know what we want, so to make it easier for ourselves, click the Cancel button, which will take us back to the More Tables dialog.
Copying a Table
In Project – 15 we added a column to show the Department responsible for each task. Supposing we want a Table to show just these columns:
ID, Task, Work, Department, and Resources.
From the More Tables dialog, note that the Entry table is already selected, so we can now click the Copy… button.
The Name: of the table is already highlighted to be Copy of &Entry, so just type in a new name, say, Department and then click on the box to select Show in menu, which will list this new view in the View menu for easy selection in the future.
Now for the meat of the Table: under the Field Name column we can see all the fields that create the Entry table. So, we’ll leave the ID label and the Name (which is the field name for the Task Name column as we can see in the Title column), but click on the Duration field and then the Delete Row button. Notice that the field is removed and the highlight goes to the next field: Start. As we don’t want that either, Delete Row again and once more to remove the Finish field. Finally, Delete Row Predecessors.
Now we need to add in Work and Department. As we want Work to come after Task Name, click on Resource Names and then the Insert Row button. Use the drop down arrow to select Work from the pick list (try typing in a W to take you to the first of the Ws).
To enter the field, click the tiny green tick in the editing bar or press Enter. (If you clicked OK, the Table Definition form will be accepted and you’ll need to click the Edit button again in the More Tables dialog.)
Now Project doesn’t have a Department field – we created this in Project 15, but the data is available in the Bridge 15 Indicators.mpp file that we’re playing with. So, repeat Insert Row and select the Text1 field.
Having entered the new fields, it would be useful if we could change the order of the columns, but this facility isn’t directly available. However, we can use the other buttons. Suppose we wanted to swap the Resource Names field for the Department. Click on Resource Names and then the Cut Row button, click on the Text1 field and click the Paste Row button. We can see that by using these buttons we can set up the column order as we wish.
We need now to display the name of Text1 as Department by clicking in the Title column for Text1 and typing in Department. Before we finish with this dialog, note that we can Align Data, change the Width of the columns (based on the number of characters we want to appear), change the Column name by giving it a new Title which can also be aligned, and, introduced in 2002 - allow for Header Wrapping.
Header Wrapping will only appear if the corresponding selection is made at the bottom to Auto-adjust header row heights. We also have the ability to Lock first column, which means that the ID column (the first in our table) will always appear at the left of the screen when we scroll horizontally to read other data. The Date format: is set to Default, which is the setting seen in Tools/Options/View tab. If we want something different for this table, we could select it here. Finally, we can select a different Row height: which would be necessary if we want text wrapping in the rows.
Let’s assume we now have the settings we want, so click the OK button. Then note that our new view: Department, is included in the More Tables dialog, so let’s Apply it.
We can now see our new table in the Gantt Chart view. Have a look at View/Table: which should now be the Department table.
To finish off, we now need to enter data in the Department column, so click in the cell for the first task: Survey, then using the drop-down arrow, select Sur – Surveying Company from the pick list.
So we have created a new table called Department. If we save the file, this new table will be saved with it. For future use, you might like to take a minute or two filling in the Department data as per this table:
Well, there we have it: a new table filled with useful management data.
Next month we’ll have a look at Filters, which we’ll use with Tables to create customized Views.