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Visual Reports

Visual Reports

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Hello everybody.  I’m Heather O’Cull and I’m also a program manager on the Project team.  This week I decided to lock Lidiane out of her office and take over control of the blog to write about a new feature that I think is pretty cool – Visual Reports.


Visual Reports is a new feature in Project Standard and Professional that allows you to report on your project’s data in Excel using PivotTables and PivotCharts, and in Visio using a new feature called PivotDiagrams (think fancy WBS charts).  Using Visual Reports you can now easily create eye-catching reports that are also informative off data from your project using formats that are familiar to your target audience.  To help get you started we are shipping Excel and Visio templates.  You can also create your own templates that you can share out to others to provide a consistency across everyone’s reports.


Some background information for the technical people (non-techies feel free to scroll to the pretty pictures), Visual Reports works by first creating a local database (.mdb file) that contains data from your project.  From there we build a local cube (.cub file) and then hook the cube up to a PivotChart in Excel or a PivotDiagram in Visio.  These cubes are completely separate from the server cubes.  There are six different cubes to create reports off of – resource, task, and assignment in both summary and usage (time phased) flavors.  You can even save cubes or the database to then create reports off of in the future.


And now for the pictures…
(Click to enlarge)


Pictured here is the main Visual Report dialog.  All of the templates you see listed in the dialog are templates that we are shipping to help get you started.  If I create a new template and save it in my templates folder it will also show up here.  You can even choose to include templates from another location such as a public share.  When you create or edit a template you can specify which project fields and custom fields to include in the template.


Here is an example of an Excel template we’re shipping, the Resource Work Summary Report:


(Click to enlarge)



And the corresponding PivotTable:


(Click to enlarge)



Note, how using this chart you can easily see that Resource3 is over allocated and that Resource1 and Resource2 could potentially take over some of its work since they both have remaining availability.  If I wanted, I could customize this report to only show the data for a certain time period.  I’ve also customized the look of the chart a bit to help show off Excel’s new charting capabilities.  For more information on new Excel features check out the Excel 2007 blog.


As I mentioned earlier Visual Reports works with a new feature in Visio called PivotDiagrams.  These diagrams are good for hierarchical data such as work breakdown structures.  You can customize the look of the nodes in the diagram by adding text fields, data bars, indicators, and background colors that are based off a value.  You can even use formulas to create calculated fields in Visio.  To learn more about this feature check out the Visio 2007 blog.  Here is an example of the task status report:


(Click to enlarge)



From here I could drill into Phase3 to see which tasks are causing it to slip.


And for a little more background information, Visual Reports works with Excel 2003 or later and Visio Professional 2007.  You don't need to have .Net 2.0 installed to use this feature.  That was only a requirement for the Beta. 

  • Hi Heather,

    is there any chance to analyze data with visual reports beyond the running project? This means could a project manager see data from his projects without seeing all data from all projects in the company? It would be great to use this feature as a workaround for the problem, that the PWA Data Analysis enables access to corporate project data.

    I am looking forward to hear your response!

  • The reports you create through Visual Reports contain data from the project you are currently reporting off of in the Project client.  So if you want to create a report off of Project A, B, and D, but not Project C, you could insert A, B, and D into a single project and then create a report off this project.  The report would contain data from projects A, B, and D.

    Let me know if this doesn't make sense or if you have additional questions.

  • I'm a developer who being using Visual Reports for year now.  Is this the same Visual Reports that Sparrow Technologies offers?
  • I saw that you offer Visual Reports within MS Project.  Is this the same Visual Reports I use in my VB and Excel application?

    I've started using Visual Reports for .NET, will my report definitions work in the MSProject version of Visual Reports?

    I'm hoping it will so I can build one set of reports that work in my .NET application as well as in my Excel applications.

  • I almost forgot, the version I'm also using is from Sparrow Technologies, not sure if there the same.

  • Visual Reports is the name of the new reporting feature we added to Project 2007.  It is completely separate from the Visual Reports feature you are referring to.

  • Hi Heather,

    This is confusing isn't it.  I can currently generate reports in my VB and Excel applications using Visual Reports and now you have a report writer with the same name?

    How is the new version of Visual Reports different or better from the one Sparrow Technologies offers?

  • The Visual Reports feature in Project is completely different from the Visual Reports feature that Sparrow Technologies offers.  The Visual Reports feature in Project allows you to report on data from your project file in Excel or Visio.  Prior to this feature there wasn't an easy way to get your data from Project to Excel or Visio.

  • Visual Reports are not working in Project Pro 2007 Beta II.  do you hear about this problem ? or i am missing some thing.  Please tell me the system requirements for visual reports.  i think VR uses Excel and Visio.  What else?

  • To use Visual Reports you must have .Net 2.0 and either Excel 2007 or Visio Pro 2007 installed (Visual Reports doesn't work with Excel 2003 in Beta2).

    If you installed .Net 2.0 after installing Project, you'll need to do the following - go to Control Panel - Add or Remove Programs - select Project and click Change.  Select Add or Remove Features, expand Microsoft Office Project and set the install state of Visual Reports to "Run from My Computer".  Click continue to install the feature.  

    If you installed .Net 2.0 after installing Excel and Visio you may need to do the following.  Follow the steps above to get to Add or Remove Programs and select your Excel or Visio installation and click Change.  Select Add or Remove features and expand Microsoft Office Excel/Visio.  Verify that .Net Programmability Support is set to "Run from My Computer".  Restart Project if it was open while completed the above steps.

    Let me know if you are still having issues.

  • Hi Heather,
    Is this expanded reporting capability going to be offered with Project Server or only with Project.  This type of reporting is what we have been looking for to apply to our entire portfolio of projects.

    Marty Biggs
  • Kind of.  On the server you can build cubes that contain all the data on the server and then report on this data using PivotTables in Excel, PivotDiagrams in Visio, and any other application which can connect to databases or cubes such as SQL Reporting Services.  

    The server cubes are completely separate from the cubes used in Visual Reports.  Also, you can't use the report templates you create in Visual Reports with the server cubes.  For more information on server cubes see Lidiane's post - Cube Building Services Overview.

  • Hi Heather-

    I use Project 2003 daily to produce Gantt chart visual reports for upper management.  It is very difficult and timeconsuming, and not at all user friendly to try to export snapshots to PowerPoint.

    To save my formatting, I have one huge unwieldy file than I filter rather than linking projects.  Will these issues be addressed in Project 2007?
  • Using Visual Reports, you can't create a Gantt view but you can create a bunch of other charts that upper management may be interested in.

    We haven't done any work around exporting snapshots of the Gantt chart to PowerPoint this release.  I'm curious though if we could figure out a way to make this process easier for you using the existing features.  What part do you find difficult?  Have you tried using Copy Picture (on the Edit menu in Project 2003 and on the Report menu in Project 2007) or Copy Picture to Office Wizard (on the analysis toolbar)?

  • yes--that is my work around,  I think this is an area worth developing-  I have chatted with some people at Tufte' lectures, and the use of time phase data in Visual presentations is essdential--I will send you some examples if you give me your e-mail.

    it is amazing how much data can be presented by modifying the basic Gantt view in Project--I realize that Project is not designed for this use, but it could be a fantasticadvantage if it could be user friendly to do so.
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