Customizing data entry

Suppose that your boss wants your best guess about whether you'll keep to the schedule on a task-by-task basis. You can set up a custom field and provide the information on any sheet view of Project. I'll show you this process in two phases. In the first phase, I create the custom field and, in the second phase, I show you how to use it.

To create a custom field, follow these steps:

1. Choose ToolsOCustomizeOFields. Project displays the Customize Fields dialog box, as shown in Figure 23-1.

Customize Tie Ids _Q

cnstwn Fields j Custom Outine codi? |

Eleli cnstwn Fields j Custom Outine codi? |

Eleli

Î* Task C Resource Type:

Cost

Hi-

Costl

cost

Cost2

Date

Cost3

Duration

Cost4

Finish

Cost5

Flag

Costé Cost?

Number

CostS

Start

Cost9

Text

CostlO

Custom ott/ihutes ffNohe C jfitueLlst... i f Fo-rnula.. |

Cefculabcn For task and group summary rows

Virtues to dsplay (? Data C Graphical In Jcata-s... |

Custom ott/ihutes ffNohe C jfitueLlst... i f Fo-rnula.. |

Cefculabcn For task and group summary rows

Virtues to dsplay (? Data C Graphical In Jcata-s... |

Figure 23-1: Select a custom field type.

2. Select either Task or Resource. Then, open the Type list box and choose the type of field that you want to customize. The type that you choose determines the values that you can include in the pick list. Choose Text to include only alphanumeric characters in the pick list. If you choose Date, Start, or Finish, you must include date-formatted numbers in the pick list. If you choose Number or Cost, you can include only numbers in the pick list. If you choose

Flag, you can include only Yes or No in the Value List dialog box. For this example, I chose Text because I want to set up a value list that contains Yes, No, and Maybe.

3. To provide a meaningful name for the code, click the Rename button and type the new name. You can't use any name that Project is already using. In this example, I named the field Best Guess. Then, click OK to redisplay the Customize Fields dialog box.

4. Click the Value List button to display the value list for Field Name dialog box, as shown in Figure 23-2.

Value Lisr for "Best Guess"

Enter values to display in dropdown list

Value Lisr for "Best Guess"

Enter values to display in dropdown list

Cut Row |

Copy Row | Easte Row Insert Row |

QaleteRow |

Yes

A

Row

Value Description

n|]

I |Ycs

¡Think so

2 No

¡Don't thrfc.$o

3 Maybe

jJust not sure

4

5

6j

I- Use a value from the list as the default entry for the field

Set-pygj- | (dldc button after- salactlns a valui-abpvc'i Data entry options

I- Use a value from the list as the default entry for the field

Set-pygj- | (dldc button after- salactlns a valui-abpvc'i Data entry options

Move

Restrict field (0 items in tjie value list y AlI n'/J ai}jtiring ieriii to be entered intD the field

I" Append ncv. envies Id the value list V Prflmpt L'-r'_rt cdJi iLj if.'i eiitles Display ctfijef fc dropdwn list

(* By row n inter C Sort flscendng f Sert descending

Figure 23-2: Use this dialog box to define the values that you want Project to display in the pick list during data entry.

5. In the Value column, type the first value that you want to appear in the list. The values that Project lets you include in the value list depend on the field type that you chose in Step 2. If you chose Text, you can include only combinations of letters and numbers. If you chose Date, Start, or Finish, you must include date-formatted entries. If you chose Number or Cost, you can include only numbers in the value list. If you chose Flag, you can include only Yes or No in the value list.

Note |f you chose Flag, you need to substitute Yes or No for standard flag choices, such

*""""' as True and False or On and Off.

6. (Optional) In the Description column, provide a description of the value.

7. Repeat Steps 5 and 6 for each list value that you want to define.

8. You can set a default value to appear as the entry for the field by selecting the Use a value from the list as the default entry for the field check box. If you choose this option, highlight a value in the list and click the Set Default button to select the value as the default.

9. In the Data Entry options panel of the dialog box, you can restrict data entry so that the user can enter only values in the value list, or you can permit the user to enter values other than those in the list and add those values to the value list.

When should you restrict entries to the list and when should you allow any value? Consider what you plan to do with the information the user enters. I suggest that you restrict list entries when you intend to use the entered information for grouping or integrating with other systems, where exact matches are important. Keep in mind that the intent of list values is to speed up data entry as well as make it more accurate.

10. You can specify the order for the value list in the last section of the dialog box.

11. Click OK to save the value list and redisplay the Customize Fields dialog box.

Note If you select the Restrict field to items in the value list option button as I did.

Project displays a message explaining that only the values that you created will be accepted during data entry.

12. Click OK again to redisplay your project.

Steps 1 through 12 comprise Phase 1. In Phase 2, you use the custom field that you defined. To use the custom field, you need to display it as a column in a sheet view. If you defined a task field, you can use any task sheet view; if you defined a resource field, use any resource sheet view.

To display the custom field in a column on a sheet view, right-click the title of the column that you want to appear to the right of the custom field. Project selects the column and displays a shortcut menu from which you can choose Insert Column. In the Column Definition dialog box, as shown in Figure 23-3, open the Field Name list box and select the custom field that you defined, using the name that you supplied when you defined the field. Optionally, change the rest of the information in the dialog box and click OK. The custom field appears on-screen.

When you click in the field, a list box arrow appears. When you open the list box, the value list that you established appears, as shown in Figure 23-4. Select values from the list, or simply type them. In my example, if you try to enter a value that doesn't exist in the list, Project displays an error message instructing you to use a value from the list.

Figure 23-3: Select the custom field that you created.
Figure 23-4: As you fill in the field, select from the pick list.

You can't use custom fields to create value lists for regular Project fields. For example, suppose that you've decided that you don't want to use all 1,000 of Project's priorities. In fact, you want your people to use only five possible priorities: 100, 200, 300, 400, and 500 (100 being the lowest priority and 500 being the highest priority). You can create a Number custom field (called Priority Lvl, for example) that only allows the entry of these five values in a sheet view. However, users can open the Task Information dialog box and assign any priority value in the Priority field —and Project permits the assignment. The custom field Priority Lvl is not substituting for the actual field Priority, and users can circumvent the custom value list.

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