3. Customize the application

3.1. Introduction

When you start the application for the first time, the main components that can be noticed are:

  • Menu (on its usual upper position)

  • Main Toolbar, Project Toolbar (only for Multi Project version) and Mail Toolbar (right below Menu)

  • Button Toolbar (in the upper right side)

  • Project Guide (in the left side)

  • Project Guide Details (in the middle right side)

  • Active Window (in the lower right side) - currently set on Info (highlighted in the Project Guide)

For other views, the Active Window might be split in two components (a table and a graph).

In later project steps you will notice a View Toolbar (changing with the current view) below Main Toolbar. It comprises only the commands needed for the associated view.

Also, at a later stage of your project a Details Window is available for task, resources and risks (it appears below active window when is activated).

3.2. Show/Hide Application Components

Some of the previously presented components can be hidden/shown:


In Settings menu, Toolbar ... can be selected visible toolbars.

Project Guide panel

a) to hide Guide panel click on the red-circled button below (or in the View menu click Guide)

b) click on the red-circled button below to Show Guide panel (or in the View menu click Guide once again)

Project Guide Details panel

It can be hidden by clicking on the corresponding Close button as described before for the Project Guide or open View menu and click on Guide Details. To activate Guide Details open View menu and click on Guide Details.

Active Window

For some views, the Active Window is split in two components (a table and a graph), each of them might be extended or collapsed by hitting the small arrows on the panes separating line.

If the current view contains tables with risks, tasks or resources, a Details Window is available for them on right-click menu (on the table and graph area) or from the icon in the View Toolbar. Information contained in this panel is about the selected element in the table.

3.3. General settings

In Settings menu, Options, Schedule tab you can change the settings for the current project:

a) Date format

The easiest way to set a different date format is to select the appropriate one from the Date format: combo box.

If none of the predefined ones is suitable for your needs, the date format can be typed directly, as the combo box is editable. In this case the following rules has to be respected.

Date and time formats are specified by strings. The most important letters are:

  • y - year (yy - '09; yyyy - 2009)

  • M - month in year (MM - 03, MMM - Mar, MMMM - March)

  • w - week in year (number)

  • W - week in month (number)

  • D - day in year (number)

  • d - day in month (number)

  • E - day in week (E to EEE - Wed, EEEE - Wednesday)

  • a - AM/PM marker

  • H - hour in day (0-23)

  • k - hour in day (1-24)

  • K - hour in am/pm (0-11)

  • h - hour in am/pm (1-12)

  • m - minute in hour (number)

  • s - second in minute (number)

  • z - timezone

For a better understanding see examples below:

yyyy.MM.dd (2009.03.01)

yyyy.MMMM.dd (2009.March.01)

EEE, MMM d (Sun, Mar 01)

b) Hours per day, Hours per week and Days per month

The working hours considered to calculate dates for every 1 day duration declared for a task in the table (e.g. if set 10 hours, a task with 1 day in the Duration column of the Gantt table and a calendar with 8 working hours, like Standard calendar, will appear in the Gantt Graph as 1 day and another 2 hours in the next day). That is because the working time of a task is calculated from duration and the values set for Hours per day, Hours per week and Days per monthparameters. Graphic duration (in the Gantt Graph) will result from the calculated working time and the task calendar.

Conclusion: the working hours in the task calendar have to be correlated with the values set for Hours per day, Hours per week and Days per month.

c) Slack for critical tasks - a task is marked as critical if a delay with more than the slack value will change the Project finish date.

Increase this parameter value if you want to see "in advance" the tasks that may influence the end of the project.

By default, the slack value is set to zero.

d) Duration units (y = years, mo = months, w = weeks, d = days, h = hours, m = minutes)

e) Currency units - in this field you can edit any string to define the currency used in the application

f) Force resources to use task calendar as default

Marking this option the resources will work following task calendar instead its own calendar for every new task by default. In this case, if the task calendar have working hours which are non-working in resource calendar, then the resource will accumulate overtime hours (which are usually paid at a higher rate than standard hours).

g) New tasks as fixed-units

Use this option if you want all newly created tasks to have by default the fixed-units property set.

h) New tasks as work-driven

Use this option if you want all newly created tasks to have by default the work-driven property set.

i) Define custom program

Predefine here a working program that will be used as Custom program when setting special days in a calendar.

In Settings menu, Options, Startup tab you can select:

a) to see/hide the Welcome dialog when starting the application

b) to check for updates when starting the application (for this option you need a proper Internet connection)

c) to lock or leave unlocked a file when open it (if a file is locked by one user, it still can be opened by another user, but without the saving option)

In Settings menu, Options, Print tab you can change the printing settings related to company brand. More exactly you can change the company name and logo that will be present on printed reports. Supported logo types are restricted to .png images. Plus users will also be able to customize the dimensions for the top and bottom margins.

3.4. Tables settings

Click on the button in the upper right side of the table to customize it.

Select in the drop down panel the columns you need to be visible. The selection made here is also applicable for printing and the reports that can be generated in PDF format.

Below column titles there are three more options:

  • Horizontal scroll (extends columns width to fit to window size)

  • Pack All Columns (reduce all visible columns width to a minimum size)

  • Pack Selected Column (reduce current column width to a minimum size)

Drag horizontally and drop the column header to change column position. While dragging you can see its landing position.

Columns can be also inserted (if not already visible) or hidden by right-clicking on table header and choosing the appropriate command.

There are three custom columns available for users. After making them visible as explained above, to change their default names (Data1, Data2, Data3) right-click on the column header and select Edit name... command (available only for those custom columns).

3.5. Graphic settings

In Settings menu, Options, View tab select whether to view or not some graphic elements:

  • vertical lines (project start - green color, project estimated start - yellow color, project finish - red color, current date - blue color)

  • gantt selection (extends the table row selection in the Gantt Chart)

  • horizontal and vertical gridlines corresponding to table rows and bottom units

  • non-working time marked with vertical grey stripes

  • focus point marker (a blue indicator on the chart header showing the fixed point when zoom in/out)

  • text on the right side of the taskbar (project code, task name, task duration, task work, task completion, task start date, task end date, assigned resources' name, assigned resources' code)

Customize how the taskbars and non-working time are drawn with the Round/Normal view command found on right-click menu or double-click in graph area (available for Gantt Chart, Task Sheet, Resource Sheet). Round view is the default selection and it extends taskbars length to the beginning of its first day if task start date correspond with the working time start date (according to the Project Calendar) and similar for the task end date. A correction is made for the vertical stripes marking non-working time, too. Normal view shows taskbars and non-working time approximately as they are.

In Settings menu, Options, Colors tab (or right-click in graph area of Gantt Chart, Bar colors command), the default colors for taskbars and completion bar can be customized. Select the element which color has to be changed (activities, phases, milestones, projects, critical, baseline or completion) and pick a color in Swatches tab or define its basic color values in RGB tab. As you set new colors, the modifications are made in the Gantt Chart, so you can see the results without closing the dialog window. The default colors can be set back by pressing the Restore default button for one element at a time, or Restore defaults for all elements at once. In Swatches view, recently used colors are stored.

To change colors for specific tasks, see Details window, Colors tab. If the current task is a phase, that mean it has subtasks (activities, milestones, subphases), the selected color can be used for them too, by marking the corresponding checkboxes. To quickly get back to default colors for the entire subtree including the phase, click on Default Subtree Colors button.

3.6. Other settings

In Settings menu, Options, View tab are also available:

  • Show project task - view project as a summary task with grey color instead of black in all task-oriented views (WBS, Gantt Chart, Task Sheet)

  • task outline (WBS code) - this option automatically introduce outline numbers to tasks (in Multi Project version, first outline level is project level)

In Settings menu, Options, Startup tab are also available

  • Welcome dialog - makes the welcome dialog visible when starting the application

  • Check for updates - allows the application to check for available updates (if the computer has an Internet access)

  • Network file locking - prevents a file from opening by a second user over a network

In Settings menu, Options, Server tab, define the URL where the server is installed. This address is used by RationalPlan Multi Project when is exchanging information with the server.

3.7. Main Toolbar

New (file) - create a new file

Open - open existing file

Save - save current file/save modifications in server (when connected)

Print - open print dialog

Print preview - open Print preview window

Undo - revert the latest action

Redo - revert the latest undo action

3.8. Project Toolbar

Current project: - select a current project from the combo box

New (project) - create a new project

3.9. Mail Toolbar

Email assignments - send assignment information to resources

3.10. Button Toolbar

Project Portfolio - an overview of all projects and projects' data

WBS View - designed to create outlined (tree) work breakdown structures

Gantt Chart - a bar chart illustrating tasks' evolution in time

Resource View - a view comprising two tabs: one for human end equipment resources, the other for material resources

Task Sheet - a task-oriented view showing work and cost distribution in time

Resource Sheet - a resource-oriented view showing work and cost distribution in time

Client Table - here is the place to define clients and their associated data (address, mail, phone, contacts etc.)

3.11. View Toolbar

For each View (Project Portfolio, WBS View, Gantt Chart etc.) only the applicable commands are visible, from the following:

Insert line - insert a line above the selected task/resource/client

Insert subtask - insert a subtask (a task indented one level below the current one) = a subdeliverable for the current deliverable

Insert recurrent task - insert a recurrent task (a repetitive task)

Indent task - move a task to a lower outline level; this task will become a subtask for the preceding task that was on the same outline level.

Outdent task - move a task to a higher outline level.

Move up - move a task one row up on the same outline level (among subtasks of the same phase)

Move down - move a task one row down on the same outline level (among subtasks of the same phase)

Expand all - expand all collapsed phases and projects down to the last level

Collapse all - collapse all expanded phases and projects up to the first level

Link tasks - create a finish to start link between selected tasks (when multiple tasks are selected, the tasks will be chained by links)

Unlink tasks - break the link between selected tasks (when multiple tasks selected, all the links inside the selection will be broken)

Go to selected task - start date of the selected task will be moved to the focus point

Critical path - show/hide critical path

Assign resources - open Details window

Zoom in - change the timescale to see a plan in more detail

Zoom out - change the timescale to see a plan in less detail

Break task - split a task at the indicated point with the tip of the cursor's arrow( )

Update completion - complete automatically all or selected tasks of the current project to the indicated date (by default is selected current date)

Filter - filter the task structure based on certain criteria

Show/Hide leveling panel - toggle between view/hide Resource Sheet window below Gantt Chart (in this mode the resource leveling is a lot more easier)

Set as current project - set the selected project as current

Show/Hide details - toggle between view/hide Details window

Work button - show work information in the right pane

Cost button - show cost information in the right pane

Load button - show resource work load in the right pane

Tasks button - show the distribution of work for resources and assignments as bars in the right pane

Projects button - show assigned project information in the right pane

3.12. Shortcuts

Ctrl-N - open a new file

Ctrl-O - open an existing file

Ctrl-W - close current file

Ctrl-S - save current file

Ctrl-E - export data (in an .xls file)

Ctrl-P - open print dialog

Ctrl-Z - undo last command

Ctrl-Y - redo last command

Ctrl-Right - indent current task

Ctrl-Left - outdent current task

Ctrl-Up - move up current task one row (on the same level)

Ctrl-Down - move down current task one row (on the same level)

Ctrl-NumPad + - expand all

Ctrl-NumPad - - collapse all

Ctrl-X - cut (entire row if selected, or selected text in editing mode)

Ctrl-C - copy (entire row if selected, or selected text in editing mode)

Ctrl-V - paste

Ctrl-L - link selected tasks

Ctrl-U - unlink selected tasks

Ctrl-G - go to selected task

Ctrl-mouse wheel forward - zoom in

Ctrl-mouse wheel backward - zoom out