Improving the dotProject User Interface – Part II of N

As someone pointed out yesterday, I did not clearly define the problem statement. So here, let me do that first of all.

Creating and editing a series of tasks can be a bit tedious.

If you're creating them from nothing, you have to click “new task”, fill in the relevant information, hit “save”, and repeat as necessary. If you're working on a small project ( < 10 tasks), this isn't too bad. If you are working on a project with dozens or even hundreds of tasks, this becomes a fulltime job. And God save you if you begin the project and then things have to shift.

Compare this with the simplicity of Microsoft Project. Ouch. CaseySoftware has been able to mitigate this a bit by creating the MS Project to dotProject Importer. That will allow you to use things created in MS Project, but I believe there needs to be a shift in the core system in order to improve the situation. We need to convince people to not bother using MS Project in the first place by making dotProject just as simple and smooth in usage and modification.

Have you seen the JavaScript Drag and Drop Demo [link dead]? By most standards, it's amazing. The video shows a user reordering links around a simple navigation menu with a few simple clicks. Furthermore, it shows simple editing of the underlying links.

From the main Project Overview screen, the ability to change the dates and duration of the tasking would be a massive improvement. This will allow for users to modify numerous tasks quickly without having to delve into each task individually. This will reduce the overall clicks involved and provide an interface more similar to Excel or Microsoft Project.

More importantly, when the project manager is sitting with their team scoping out the work for a project, they can continue to see the rest of the project's structure without having to open multiple windows or tabs. A few simple clicks and then a big refresh and you have the existing tasks all rearranged and cleaned up as necessary.

Unfortunately, this would involve some modification and expansion of how pieces of the underlying system work. This will be some work, but I believe the users would appreciate the power and ideas this could offer.

Is this the only option for improvement? Not a chance. I believe it's the first option of many.