Project 2010: Introducing the Timeline View


In Project 2010, we’ve added a new view called the Timeline view which allows you to easily create a high level view of your project plan that you can then share through other Office applications such as PowerPoint and Outlook.

The default view for Project 2010 is the Gantt with Timeline so you’ll see the Timeline view at the top of your window the first time you boot Project 2010 but it if isn’t there, you can display it by going to the View tab and checking Timeline in the Split View group.

Here is the Timeline view when you create a new project. I’ve also selected the Timeline view’s Format tab to show off the commands that go along with the Timeline view.

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I will demonstrate how in 4 simple steps you can create Timeline view that looks good enough for any status meeting or mail to executives, customers, partners, etc.

Step 1: Add Tasks to the Timeline

Simply right-click the tasks you want on the Timeline and select "Add to Timeline”.

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Step 2: Arrange the Tasks

Now that you have tasks on your the timeline, you can easily re-arrange them so it looks even better. You can drag tasks above or below the gray bar which represents the project to display the tasks as callouts or drag tasks up or down within the gray bar to display the tasks on different rows.

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Step 3: Format the Tasks

Now that the tasks are arranged nicely, you can make a few tweaks to make the timeline more readable. Through the Timeline’s Format tab, I’ve updated the date format to be more concise, set more text lines to show so you can read the tasks names, and highlighted some tasks with different colors to make them stand out (did I mention Project 2010 now has 32-bit color – yes that means we now have orange).

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Step 4: Share the Timeline

Finally, you can paste the Timeline into other Office applications such as PowerPoint and Outlook by clicking Copy Timeline on the Format tab and selecting the proper size. When you paste the Timeline view, the items are pasted as individual Office Art shapes, so you can do an optional step 5 like I have and further format the shapes using the graphics power of those applications. Here I have added reflection, a 3-d effect, and further edited the colors.

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That’s not all the Timeline view can do but I’ll have to save the rest for a video…

Comments (60)

  1. Mohan says:

    Can we see all tasks in the timeline view in one shot. Something like a network diagram view combined with the features of the timeline.

    The Gantt view is good, but I am not able to make out the complete view from it.

    This will add lot of value and give very good clarity to people.

  2. You can add all the tasks to the timeline view. Depending on your screen size, length and size of the project, it might be hard to manage but you can do it.

    To easily add all of your tasks, click the box in the top left corner of the grid (between ID numbers and the indicator icon). This selects all of the tasks. Then click Add to Timeline on the Task tab – Properties group.

  3. Steve T. says:

    Thanks for this walkthrough Heather.  Have you released a video yet?

  4. The only current videos of the timeline view are from the Project conference. The videos are about 60 minutes and include a section on the timeline view.

    Project Reporting: http://www.microsoft.com/showcase/en/us/details/cc8620d9-0600-41c8-9ef8-b6d8a8b9ed2b

    Project desktop overview: http://www.microsoft.com/video/en/us/details/0586e3e5-4ad8-400a-ba1e-0f0b254fc0bb

  5. Tony F says:

    I recently started using the Project 2010 beta and the timeline feature has quickly become one of my favorite additions. I frequently find myself preparing schedule summaries for different audiences and would like to be able to prepare multiple timeline based on the same project data. Is it possible to do this in the beta or are you considering a feature that allows you to create multiple timelines from the same data?

  6. Glad you like it! You can have multiple timeline views just the same way as you can have multiple Gantt charts, etc.

    To create a new Timeline view, go to the View tab, in the Split View group, click on the Timeline dropdown and select More Views. Click to create a new view, Single View, with the screen set to Timeline. Give it a name and you have now created a new timeline view.

    To switch between that view and your other timeline views, just use the Timeline dropdown. When you add tasks to the timeline, they are added to whichever timeline view is currently being displayed.

    Thanks.

  7. JaraDee says:

    I am very excited about timelines too!  They are great for my needs, now I don’t have to keep a manual Excel spreadsheet as well as a project file.

    Is it possible to view multiple time lines at one time.  

    For instance I have multiple small project within one large project.  They all use the same resources and I need to quickly see where I may have overlaping project tasks in the timeline view.  The only way I can think of to do that is with multiple time lines but if I can only view 1 at a time it won’t help me.

    Thanks.

  8. The only way to view multiple timelines at a time would be to create multiple windows. To do this, on the View tab, click New Window, and select to create a window with the view set to one of the timeline view’s. You now have a different "window" of the project. You can use the Switch Windows tab to go between them or arrange all to display them so you can view multiple windows at the same time.

    This help article is for Excel but the same window management applies to Project: http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/excel/HP012170431033.aspx?pid=CH100648381033

    For your scenario though, it sounds like it would be best for you to use the Team Planner. To get to this view, on the Resource tab, click Team Planner. This shows all your resources with the tasks that are assigned to them over time. This should help with your comparison.

    This post has more information on the Team Planner: http://blogs.msdn.com/project/archive/2009/10/08/project-2010-introducing-the-team-planner.aspx

    Hope this help!

  9. Bill Hubbs says:

    I watched the video and have been working with the timeline a bit now.  Thanks!  But, I can't find how to make the timeline view just the date range that I want.  It appears with the Start and Finish date of my schedule, and if I select three tasks (in the same week, in month two of the project) I want the timeline to only show me that week but it shows me the three tasks as tiny little bars in the lengthy timeline.  How do I only show the date range of the week for the tasks I want to show?

  10. Kurt says:

    I really like the Timeline View, but would like to make a feature request.  Since the Timeline View supports the ability to add multiple lines of text for all tasks, it would be great if you could have tasks in the timeline include other pieces of information about the task on those additional lines, such as Task Notes or Resource Names.  This would be very helpful, since the Notes can be freeform and include any information and update automatically as updated in the plan.

    In addition, it would be nice to have the ability to place milestones on any line of the timeline view (and not be restricted to only appearing at the top or the bottom).

    I really like Project 2010 and hope to see it continue to improve.

  11. Kurt says:

    Right now it appears that a task can only be represented on the timeline view as an in-line task, or as a callout.  However, due to limited visibility of the text because of short date ranges, it would also be nice to be able to have the Task Name or Task Notes represented as a callout to the in-line task.  An example would be a case where a task only lasts 1 or 2 days and you can't read the text. I want to keep the block on the timeline view as a block and then just have a callout from the block off of the timeline with the Task Name text or Task Notes text.  Can this be included as a feature request for Project 2010.1 ?

  12. Bill – unfortunately you can't set the date range of the timeline view. It will always go from the start date of the first task to the finish date of the last task. You can though, only copy/paste a subset of the timeline. To do this, click and hold in the timeline view to draw a box around the section you are interested in. Then click Copy on the Task tab. This will copy just the selected portion of the timeline view.

    Kurt – Thanks for the feedback! You can set the timeline view to display more than one line of text through the Format tab. This will help some with your second request. Or you can create a dummy task that is the same length as the real task so that way you can display a bar and callout.

  13. Tasks don't want to live on same line says:

    Hi Heather,

    I'm having problems with taskbars not wanting to exist on the same line within a multi-line timeline.  The tasks are not overlapping (separated by two months), but will not let me put them on the same line (about the 5th line down).  Instead, they keep jumping up to the 2nd line any time I try to put them together on the same line.  Oddly enough, when they jump up to the 2nd line, that actually puts them on the same line as another taskbar ! (which I couldn't make happen manually).  Funny stuff.   Any ideas on how to force two taskbars, which don't overlap, to exist on the same line of the timeline?  (other than flattening the entire timeline into a single line)

    Thx!

  14. I'm not sure why the tasks aren't staying put for you. If you explicitely drag a task into a spot – it should stay there.

    If you want to send the file to projrep@microsoft.com I can take a look.

  15. Valli says:

    I tried using timeline, it gives great view, but my understanding was that it would also indicate what is completed, based on Actual finish dates or completion percentage.

    Is there a way to indicate that in timeline?

  16. There isn't a way for Project to automatically color your tasks based on % complete but you can manually do this. You would just need to select the task that are done (or at whatever percentage point you want to call out) and set the background color to a different value.

  17. Display % Completes by Task says:

    This is a great feature for project!  One question we always get asked though is what is the % complete.  Right now we manually have a chart in PowerPoint that is this exact Timeline (the line vs. the bars) with diamonds, colored, and % complete as well as name.  Are you able to selectively choose which task columns you can show in the timeline?  That would help greatly to show % complete somehow.

  18. Courtney says:

    How do I save the current view (gantt + timeline) out as an image or PDF?

    I seem to recall this option was present in 2007.

    The current save as pdf options appear to be exceptionally limited and split out one selected view over however many pages it likes.

  19. You can't selectively choose which task columns you can show on the timeline.

    Courtney – You can't print/save a pdf of a combination view (ie, the Gantt plus Timeline). You can only do that for the active view as you have found.

  20. jack says:

    What about priinting. copy/past for presentation doesn't fit very well. Can I select a time window different from start/finish for the whole project? when Half of it is already completed, the views I need are forward looking

    Thanks

  21. Debbie says:

    Is there any way to add a pattern to the timeline?  I have a "master" project plan where I have multiple project plans where we just have the major phases listed and are showing the phases by color but I would like to give each project their own pattern behind the color so that we know oh we are building project A and project C at the same time and will have conflicting resource issues.

  22. Aerospace Analyst says:

    Hi Heater, this is a really cool feature and it's something our Aerospace customers really like having, simple non-Gantt chart views.  While it's a great feature, the cut/paste option doesn't seem to contain the text within the task boxes after pasting, so it's a bit jumbled.  It does the same for email or PowerPoint copies.  The only thing I've managed to keep it exactly as it appears in the SW is to printscreen and crop the timeline itself.  Is there plans to fix this so it's more of a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get)cut/paste?

  23. The best way to get a true WYSIWYG experience when you are copying the timeline into another app is to re-size the Project window so the timeline is close to the width you want. Then on the Copy Timeline menu select Full Size. This copies the timeline at the size it is currently on the screen which means that Project isn't doing any scaling behind the scenes that could cause the text not to fit the boxes.

    The text is always all there when you paste the timeline, you just aren't seeing it since it is white text on a white background. If you select the part of the text you can see and then hold to keep selecting, everything will get selected and you will be able to manually re-size the text to make it fit.

  24. Larry says:

    I love this feature for communicating to high level stakeholders, but would love it if I could embed %complete data as well.  I see that in the dropd down but don't want to get in cycle of copy/past to add that.  Is there a customization to the timeline such that each "bar" can display it's unique % complete status in a single static image ?  Thanks.

  25. Kevin says:

    I have lost the scroll view for the timeline. I have increased the date range to try & force it to return but no joy. Any ideas?

  26. Kevin says:

    Hi Heather

    I have reinstalled project as i had a time line issues with the Pan & Zoom bar Missing even thouugh the box was/is checked. I caused this by dragging the pan too far to the left

    could you tell me how to get it back

  27. Larry – You can't add percent complete to the timeline boxes. Your best option would be to manually color the tasks based of some criteria (not started, started, finished, etc).

    Keven – The pan and zoom control on the Timeline is connect to the main view, by default this is your Gantt chart. If you don't see the pan and zoom control in the Timeline view, it is probably because you have the Gantt chart scrolled to a point before the Project start date or after the finish date. To get the pan and zoom control back, try scrolling the Gantt chart (or whatever view you are in) to a date that is on the timeline.

  28. jacqnice says:

    This is a nice new feature as I feel like I'm always creating high level Excel charts of my detailed timelines in MS Project.  However, I'm disappointed you can't change the timescale.  Mine shows '1st half' '2nd half' etc. I would rather display Q1'11, Q2'11, etc.

    Also I wish you could display custom information just for the timeline view.  I.e. display a more descriptive task name on the timeline than what you have in the Gannt.

    Anyway to do these things?

  29. Houston Cropp says:

    Is it possible to control what information is included in the 'fly out' that appears when you hover over a task on the timeline view? Specifically, I would like to include information from the notes.

  30. Kai says:

    Hi Heather, great new feature! One question – is there any method to the way Tasks get re-arranged when I move one of them around? I am trying to achieve a view where sub-tasks are always below the corresponding parent activity. However, this is very challenging, because everytime I move one Task, the others are looking for a free spot around the Timline, which usually is above somewhere and thus my logical grouping is hard to achieve.

    Thanks!

  31. DJ says:

    Having a problem similar to that reported 14FEB11 by Kai. Want to have a stack of Task bars on Timeline. Some of them should appear alone on a row. Others will have 2 or 3 bars on the same row, but not overlapping. Want to specifically control the sequence from top to bottom. Timeline automatic layout seems to have a mind of it's own; moving one bar down causes others to jump up to an empty space. Also would like to show a blank row – with no Task bars. This would make Timeline even more appealing to use.

  32. Naveed says:

    I added few tasks and milestones but i cannot add anymore. once I clicke (either through the menue bar or by right clicking and selecting add to timeline). Anyone knows any trouble management tips around this issue?

  33. Unfortunately, you are hitting an issue where the timeline gets corrupted and tasks can no longer be added to it. To fix this issue you’ll have to re-create your timeline view, to do this: 

    1. Take a screenshot of your timeline view so you can remember how you had the tasks arranged.

    2. Remove the timeline view from the current view by going to the View tab, Split View group, and un-checking timeline.

    3. Go to File – Organizer and delete Timeline from the right side (the box that says the name of your project)

    4. Go to the View tab, Split View group, and check Timeline.

    Your timeline view should be working again and you will now be able to add tasks to it.

    We have fixed this issue in the Project 2010 June Cumulative Update. You can install that from here – support.microsoft.com/…/2075992  This update won’t fix any corrupted timeline’s but it will prevent future ones from getting corrupted.

  34. Kazmi says:

    Dear Heather

    I'm using Microsoft Project Professional 2010 on Windows 7.

    I want to print a timeline spanning multiple pages on a single page. As I understand the one way of doing it is to use "Fit to" option in the "Page Setup". But that actually reduces the image size and makes the timeline text quite unreadable.

    What I want is to print the timeline wrapped on a single page… meaning multiple timeline rows on a single page, hence conserving the image size as well as the number of pages.

    Is there any option available for that???

    Your urgent response will be much appreciated. Thanks in advance.

    -Kazmi

  35. Kazmi – your best bet for printing a timeline that fits on one page is to zoom out in the view so it fits on one screen (ie. you can see the entire timeline in the view without scrolling). The only way I was able to get the timeline to kind of wrap how you want is by setting my printer options to print multiple pages per sheet. Make sure you increase the font size if you do this so you can still read everything (Timeline Format tab – Text Styles).

    Another option is to use a plotter for printing a big timeline if you have access to one.

  36. Sam says:

    Can I use the timeline view as an active view (object) outside of Project?  Ie could I embed this view into my project site?  And it automatically update as the plan is published?

  37. Sam – That isn't supported. You can save an image of your timeline and post that to the project site.

  38. Ruthie says:

    Is there a certain number of lines when using the timeline view.  I am adding projects to the timeline. I have the projects stacked and staggard to show when different projects are starting and ending. it has stopped adding to the timeline after about 45 projects.

  39. Dan – There isn't an upper limit to the number of items you can add to the timeline other than at some point, it becomes too cluttered to be useful. It sounds like you are hitting a known bug though where the timeline gets corrupted and tasks can no longer be added to it. To fix this issue you’ll have to re-create your timeline view, to do this:

    1. Take a screenshot of your timeline view so you can remember how you had the tasks arranged.

    2. Remove the timeline view from the current view by going to the View tab, Split View group, and un-checking timeline.

    3. Go to File – Organizer and delete Timeline from the right side (the box that says the name of your project)

    4. Go to the View tab, Split View group, and check Timeline.

    Your timeline view should be working again and you will now be able to add tasks to it.

    We have fixed this issue in the Project 2010 June Cumulative Update. You can install that from here – support.microsoft.com/…/2075992  This update won’t fix any corrupted timeline’s but it will prevent future ones from getting corrupted.

  40. guillermo says:

    Why some task doesn't appear in the timeline? I select them to appear but they don't.. Any clue??

    Thank you very much!!

  41. Guilermo – for a task to be able to appear on the timeline it must have at least one date associated with it. If that's the case and you used to be able to add tasks to the timeline for the project and now you can't – see my comment right above yours. It sounds like your timeline got corrupted and you need to re-create it.

  42. kevin says:

    how can i get this to go further back in time, seems like there is a restriction, for example, 1977 won't show up on the timeline as a valid date?

  43. Project only supports dates from 1/1/1984 to 12/31/2049. If you need a timeline with dates outside that range, you can try using Visio.

  44. JW says:

    can you usethe time line to show progress?

  45. Sid Gilmore says:

    With the old MS Project, I used to be able to create a nice looking image of the Gantt chart for insertion into reports.  I guess that feature was just too simple for the MS clever programmers.  Now there is more bloat, more difficult user interface and less capability.  

  46. Sid – I believe you are looking for the copy picture command which is still available for the Gantt chart. It is on the Task tab – Copy dropdown.

    JW – The timeline won't automatically show progress but you can manually color the tasks based on their status.

  47. Wendy Morse says:

    Thanks this was very helpful

  48. Angi says:

    The timezone has been very helpful to me, especially on complicated projects. I ran into the bug Heather described, as I was trying to get out of the office at 5pm on Friday! Argh. Oh well, glad to find a fix for it, and that I wasn't going crazy. Try explaining "I know you like the pretty timeline with the colors, but it doesn't work anymore" to nontechnical execs, at the end of a looong Friday.

  49. Henny says:

    Hello Heather,

    Although I have selected all the tasks as per your instructions below, some of summary tasks will not show up on the timeline view.  And I do have overlapping tasks selected.  Any idea why?

    To easily add all of your tasks, click the box in the top left corner of the grid (between ID numbers and the indicator icon). This selects all of the tasks. Then click Add to Timeline on the Task tab – Properties group.

  50. Henny – Do the summary tasks that aren't showing up have dates? A task has to have a least one date for it to be displayed on the timeline.

    If it does have at least one date, then try right-clicking the task and selecting Add to Timeline. Does it get added? If not, your timeline may be corrupted. See my earlier comments to this blog post on how to fix that.

    Thanks,

    Heather

  51. Eric says:

    Is there a way to have the Timeline sort in to task id sequence?  When I select the task in the Timeline/Existing Tasks option or under the Gantt/Add to Timeline the result is a reordered timeline.  Looking to keep the timeline bars in the order of their task id.

  52. Kaushik says:

    I wish to benefit from your expertise.

    I see that, in my file, some summary taks could not be added to timeline. I check the "add to timeline" box, but it would uncheck itself after I close out the box and wont get displated on timeline.

    However some other summary tasks get displayed on timelines easily with this process.

    Can you let me know if there are some standard rules, every activity/summary task should meet in order to get included in timeline?

    thank you very much. your help is hugely appreciated !!

  53. Eric – the timeline view doesn't support sorting. When you add a task to the timeline, we try to place it in a manner that minimizes the number of rows you have. You can then move tasks up and down as you wish. If you move a task to a new row, we won't move that task automatically as you add new tasks to the timeline.

  54. Kyle says:

    Hi Heather,

    Is there a way to format the dates on the timeline itself?  I know how to format Milestones Names and Task Names.  However, the dates/timeframes that appear on the timeline depend entirely on the zoom level on the timeline (Qtr 1,'08 vs. Jan vs. Jan 20,2008, etc).  I tried to change the date format on all 3 tiers in the Timescale in the Gantt Chart to see if that had an effect but no luck.  Do you know if there's a way?  

  55. Kyle – You can't format the Timeline's timescale. It is automatically calculated based off the width of your window and the project's length. A workaround is to turn off the actual timescale and then make a timescale through tasks – ex. add a task for each week/month/year. In the following post I did this with generic weeks – blogs.msdn.com/…/share-a-schedule-without-revealing-actual-dates.aspx

  56. K2 says:

    office.microsoft.com/…/communicate-schedule-details-with-a-visio-2002-gantt-chart-HA001056325.aspx

    The instructions on this link indicate that I can perform this conversion in Project 2007, but I am unable to find the "Gannt Chart Menu"

    Any suggestions?

  57. K2 – they mean the Gantt Chart menu in Visio. In Visio, start a new drawing using the Gantt Chart or Timeline template depending on what you want. These tempaltes are in the Schedule category. Once you are in the drawing you will be able to import in your Project file to populate the drawing.

  58. RuthR says:

    Is there a way to filter the timeline dates to display.  We have an ongoing project portfolio that we are tracking however we only want to display the projects for the current year in the timeline.

  59. Rachael says:

    I want to use the timeline feature for a program of work and add milestones for each individual project for gated sections of individual projects to use for stakeholder meetings.  Is there a way to do this?

  60. Rachael – you can add tasks from multiple projects to the timeline by first creating a master project (a big project that contains other projects – go to the Project tab – Insert project to create this).