How do I fix the sort order for external dependencies?


S

Shawn Pollack

I don't understand how the sorting of external dependencies works.

I use a number of external depenencies in my workplans. (Predecessors and
successors linked to other workplans.) Project shows these tasks as a new
line (I call them "ghost tasks") in the originating file - you can see them,
but they are grayed out - you can't change them.

My question/issue has to do with the the placement of these tasks. Most of
the time, the "ghost tasks" are right next to the task that links to the
external dependency, but not always. When it works as I expect, the
predecessor ghost task is shown immediately above the linked task and the
sucessor ghost task is shown immediately below. But sometimes the ghost task
is several lines away from the linked task. I've not been able to figure out
any rule that is being followed for this apparent random placement of the
ghost task.

Is there something I can do so that the ghost task is always sorted right
next to (before for predecessors and after for successors) the originating
task? I regularly need to trace the predecessor/successor chain through my
files and it would be much easier to do if the ghost tasks were not
distibuted randomly.
 
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J

John

Shawn Pollack said:
I don't understand how the sorting of external dependencies works.

I use a number of external depenencies in my workplans. (Predecessors and
successors linked to other workplans.) Project shows these tasks as a new
line (I call them "ghost tasks") in the originating file - you can see them,
but they are grayed out - you can't change them.

My question/issue has to do with the the placement of these tasks. Most of
the time, the "ghost tasks" are right next to the task that links to the
external dependency, but not always. When it works as I expect, the
predecessor ghost task is shown immediately above the linked task and the
sucessor ghost task is shown immediately below. But sometimes the ghost task
is several lines away from the linked task. I've not been able to figure out
any rule that is being followed for this apparent random placement of the
ghost task.

Is there something I can do so that the ghost task is always sorted right
next to (before for predecessors and after for successors) the originating
task? I regularly need to trace the predecessor/successor chain through my
files and it would be much easier to do if the ghost tasks were not
distibuted randomly.

Shawn,
Wow, thanks for a very nice description of your issue. Unfortunately
with many posts, I have to spend half my time figuring out what the
issue/question is. You have described your problem very well - it's
refreshing and I just wanted to tell you so.

Although I haven't tried sorting files that included ghost tasks, a
simple test of one of my linked sample files tells me that ghost tasks
are sorted in the same sequence as active tasks. In other words, if I
sort on Start Date for example, the ghost tasks are sorted by Start Date
in sequence along with the active tasks. So, no mystery to the sorting
process.

However, that obviously doesn't help with what you want to do (i.e.
trace predecessors/successors). Fellow MVP, Jack Dahlgren has a trace
macro on his website (http://masamiki.com/project/macros.htm), however
it does not work with external dependencies - although it could be
modified to do so. But here's a suggestion. Build a master file
(Insert/Project) of all your files or just those in the link chain you
want to trace. Then set up your sort and see if that helps. If not, post
back with your sort criteria and maybe we can come up with another
process.

John
Project MVP
 
S

Shawn Pollack

John - Thanks for the compliment and suggestion. I really appreciate your
help.

I do use a master file as the main technique for tracing the link chain.
This does work, but it is not as convenient as having the tasks right next to
each other - particularly when there are thousands of tasks in the combined
master file.

I realize the sorting works as expected using the task ID as a default.
This is close to what I need. When Project inserts the the ghost task for
the external dependency, it automatically assigns a new task ID. Many times
the task ID it assigns is reasonable (just before or after the externally
linked task), but sometimes the task ID assigned is no where near the
externally linked task.

Is there some explanation of how the ghosts tasks are assigned IDs? I can't
see what it is - at times it appears random. I'm hoping that if I understand
that better, I can modify my approach.
 
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J

John

Shawn Pollack said:
John - Thanks for the compliment and suggestion. I really appreciate your
help.

I do use a master file as the main technique for tracing the link chain.
This does work, but it is not as convenient as having the tasks right next to
each other - particularly when there are thousands of tasks in the combined
master file.

I realize the sorting works as expected using the task ID as a default.
This is close to what I need. When Project inserts the the ghost task for
the external dependency, it automatically assigns a new task ID. Many times
the task ID it assigns is reasonable (just before or after the externally
linked task), but sometimes the task ID assigned is no where near the
externally linked task.

Is there some explanation of how the ghosts tasks are assigned IDs? I can't
see what it is - at times it appears random. I'm hoping that if I understand
that better, I can modify my approach.

Shawn,
Actually I haven't seen very good consistency with viewing ghost tasks
in a master file. I have seen some ghost task displayed and some not,
irregardless of the setting of Tools/Options/View tab ("show external
xxxx"). However when viewing the individual subproject files I don't
think I've ever seen a case where ghost tasks are not adjacent to the
active linked task.

One thing I have found is that if new tasks are added to an existing
file that is sorted by something other than ID, those new tasks may not
always be placed where expected. That's because Project really sets up
its structure by the Unique ID. Whether this also impacts external
tasks, I don't know.

If you have a limited set of ghost tasks that are out of sequence, you
might try breaking those links and re-establishing them. Just be sure to
do it with both source and destination files unsorted (i.e. normal ID
sequence).

By the way, after you break the links, it is always a good idea to save
both the source and destination files using "Save As". This insures both
ends of the link are properly broken. Not doing so can create link
fragments which can lead to eventual file corruption. At least that's
the process I use and I've never had file corruption.

John
Project MVP
 

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