This month we’ll have a look at the basics of customizing
fields. The concept of customization was introduced in version 2000,
so, sorry, those of you that have Project 98 are out of luck! The same
fields can be inserted and used manually, but only in 2000 and later
versions can you apply a formula. Nevertheless, I’ve chosen an example, which,
although complicated, does give the essence of what customization is
capable of and shows some application for Project 98 users as well ( and
maybe encourage you to upgrade!).
If you want to display specific information about your
project, tailor-made to your needs, then Project provides a variety of
fields that are customizable to your requirements. Custom
fields can be inserted and displayed in any sheet view. Project‘s customizable
fields and the sort of data that can be used are:
- Cost1 to Cost10 fields can contain
- Date1 to Date10 fields can contain
- Duration1 to Duration10 fields can
contain duration or work values.
- Finish1 to Finish10 fields can contain
finish dates or other dates.
- Flag1 to Flag20 fields can contain
- Number1 to Number20 fields can contain
- Start1 to Start10 fields can contain
start dates or other dates.
- Text1 to Text30 fields can contain
- Outline Code1 to Outline Code10 fields (introduced in Project 2002) can contain
an alphanumeric code you define to represent a hierarchical structure
of tasks or resources.
Note that if you save Interim Plans, then Project uses the Start and Finish custom fields to store the data as shown below for Project 2000 (2002
and 2003 also allow up to 10 Baselines) – so beware of adding your own
customization to these fields.
Note also that Project
has three sets of Custom fields: one for Task tables, one
for Resource tables and one for Assignment tables. Each
one is unique and cannot be read or seen in the other. Data entered in
custom fields like the Text1 to Text30 or Number1 to Number 20 fields
any one cannot be seen in the other two. For example, if a Text1 field
is created for a particular use in the Entry table in the Gantt Chart view,
details of that field cannot be seen in any Resource views or Assignment views.
Inserting a Custom Field
Create an outline project for the building of a new garden
as can be seen below, or download it in Project 98 format (19Kb) which
can be read in all versions to 2003, from this site: http://www.mousetrax.com/pub/garden14.zip .
Now let’s suppose you wanted all the task bars assigned to Fred to show up in a green
Inserting the Column
First we need to identify tasks assigned to Fred
by using a Flag field - click on the Resource Names column
heading to highlight it, then Insert/Column…
In the Column Definition dialog, you will
see all the fields that can be applied to the Gantt Chart view – whilst
you are there, scroll through to see all the customizable fields e.g. Text1 to Text30,
etc. Then select the Flag1 field.
In the Title field call it “Fred” and OK
Project will inset that Flag1 field, now
called “Fred” into a column. If you make an error, double click on the
column heading to bring up the Column Definition dialog again.
For those of you using Project 98, you will have
to manually change the Flag from No to Yes for each
task to which Fred is assigned (you can simplify this by filtering for
Fred, changing the No to Yes and fill down). Then ignore the next few paragraphs
which allow Project 2000+ users to customize the field using a formula
which will automatically detect all the tasks assigned to Fred.
Customizing a Field
Now right click the Fred column heading and select Customize
The Customize Fields dialog opens up showing
the Custom Fields tab. The Field is selected as a Task field
(because we started from a task table as opposed to a resource table) and
the Field Type is a Flag. Notice that all the Flag fields
are shown with Flag1 pre-selected. Click on the Formula… button
to reveal the Formula for ‘Flag1’ dialog, with the cursor
flashing in the editing box waiting for you to enter a formula.
We can see that we can enter text and numbers,
and we can apply arithmetical symbols as well as Boolean symbols, just
by clicking the appropriate button, We can also select an appropriate Field
- have a look at all the Fields on offer from the pick list: the
example shown is the expanded Cost Field.
And we can also select Function: again,
have a look through all the functions to get a feel for their contents
In the example setting, we want Project to identify
which tasks are assigned to Fred. To do this we need a formula that says ”if
the resource name is Fred, then mark the Flag1 Field as Yes, otherwise
mark it No”. This is a pretty common need when customizing fields, and
is possibly one of the most useful of the formulae. Hence, I’ve shown the Function/General formula IIf(
expression, truepart, falsepart ). Now you could, of course, type all
of the formula in if you wish, but you will be more confident of getting
the formula correct by selecting what you can from the dialog boxes. So
select Function/General/IIf( expression, truepart, falsepart ) and
that will now appear in the edit box. Double click ‘expression’ to
highlight it, then Field/Text/Resource Names. Type in the
condition: = “Fred” Enter Yes in place of truepart and No in place
of falsepart until it looks like this:
Then OK your way out of the dialogs. You
should now see a Yes for Fred's tasks.
Changing the Gantt Chart
Project 98 users can now continue! To finish,
from the Gantt Chart view, Format/Bar Styles… make
a copy of the Task bar (Do this by clicking “Task” and then Cut
Row to put a copy on the clipboard, and Paste Row to
put it back again.
Now scroll to the bottom and in the next blank
space click Paste Row again.
Change the task name to Fred, then change its
colour to Green and a solid pattern. Click in the Show For… Tasks cell,
click the drop-down arrow and select Flag1, OK.
All bars for Fred will now show the selected
Try adding a new task and assigning Fred: it should
have a green bar. (Project 98 users will need to set the Flag to Yes.)
Next Issue (September)
This has been an introduction to customization
of the data for your use in Project. It should have given you some idea
of the potential within Project to tailor make the data to show just what
you want. Try experimentation with the other features and have fun!
In the next issue scheduled for September, I plan
to continue looking at fields and creating stop lights to highlight tendencies.