Tutorial

By Ashish Mishra, Lead Developer of BluePrint 2.
©1998 Sine of the Times. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Introduction

Congratulations on choosing BluePrint 2, the Project Manager for those on the go.

BluePrint is now more powerful and easier to use than ever before. Special features include a highly intuitive interface, grayscale graphics, a sophisticated scheduling system, automatic recalculations, one-touch access for many operations, integration with built-in Newton applications, and more.

This tutorial will provide you with an introduction to using BluePrint 2. The intended audience is new and familiar users of BluePrint. Consult the users manual for full details on any particular subject.

 

Making your first Project

When you first run BluePrint 2, it creates several blank project with tasks in them. It's easy to build your own projects. We are going to create a project to track the building of a simple Newsletter.

To build our newsletter, we organize the project as follows:

Newsletter Project
Preliminary
  • Find sponsors
  • Find volunteers
Development
  • Design the Newsletter
  • Write Articles
  • Gather artwork & photographs
  • Layout the newsletter
Production
  • Publish newsletter
  • Advertise newsletter

 

Open BluePrint 2, by tapping on it.
 
Click the Action button in the lower right corner, and choose New Project to open the New Project Slip.
 
First we have to select the starting date for the tasks we initially create in the Project. Choose Wednesday, July 1st, 1998 as the starting date for the tasks. Don't worry about the time.

Note: the Starting date is not for the project, it is only for tasks because BluePrint 2 does not let you specify a Projects Start and Finish date directly - since these are dynamically calculated from the projects tasks.
 
Next we choose the number of tasks BluePrint 2 should add when it creates the project. This is only a initial number of tasks, and can be approximate - since we can add or delete tasks as needed later. Lets choose 8 tasks. Drag the slider until you get around 8 tasks.
 
The Daily Start and Daily Finish times decide the working hours for your project. When your initial tasks are created, they are scheduled within these working hours. You can change the hours later through the Project Calendar. For now, we'll leave the hours at 8 am and 4 pm.
 
Closing the New Project slip causes the project to be created.
 
The Project will be added to the project list as "New Project #". Double tap on the name of the project to edit and change it's name: Newsletter Project.
 

Creating the Task Structure

Once we have the project setup, we now modify the task structure to match our outline as previously defined above.

To switch to the Tasks view, click on the Tasks tab at the top of the screen. This will bring up a view similar to the one below:

The first thing we will notice, is that there isn't enough tasks to match our project structure. Let's add more tasks. To do so, hilite the last task (in our case New Task 8) and tap the New Task button located on the bottom of the screen until we have 12 tasks total.

Now we can create the project hiearchy. Use the outline buttons located in the lower right side to change the outline levels of the tasks so that they look as shown on the right. Don't worry about the schedule at this time.

Now let's edit each of the task names so that they match our project outline as previously defined.

Hilite New Task 1 by tapping on it. To edit the Name, tap again on the text New Task 1.

Repeat for all remaining tasks, until the view appears as on the right:

There, now our task outline in BluePrint, matches our task outline on paper.

 

Creating the Schedule

The next thing we need to do, is define the schedule of the project. This means identifying simple things such as approximate durations, as well as how tasks interact with each other.

So, let's make some notes on our project regarding effort and time:

 

Now that we have an approximate schedule for, we set the project up to follow it.

The basic procedure we are going to follow is as follows:

  1. Select the task whose schedule we are going to change
  2. Press the Edit Task button located in the lower left
  3. Choose the relevant definition (ie. specify a Start date and Finish date, or a Start date and duration, etc.)
  4. Set the defined fields (ie. a start date and/or duration, etc.)

Let's start with the first task: Find Sponsors with the above procedure.

1. First, we hilite the task

2. Next press the Edit Task button.

3. According to our notes above, our project starts the 1st of July, and will run for 2 weeks. This suggest we have to define the Start date and the duration for this task.

4. Now we fill in the correct start date and duration for the task. The Start date should already be July 1st, 1998. We modify the duration, by scrubbing out the value, and entering in 10 days (ie. 2 weeks), and pressing the accept button.

If everything is correct, your Start date will be 8:00 am, July 1st, and the finish date will be 4:00 PM, July 14th. The modified task will appear as shown in the figure.

 

Understanding Define & Relationships

Likely one of the most important parts of BluePrint 2 is the Define picker in the Edit Task slip. When you are creating a schedule, you will have some information about the schedule, and require calculation of the other parts. That's where BluePrint 2 comes in handy.

BluePrint's scheduling system is composed of 5 fields:

  1. Start Date: the start date of the task
  2. Finish Date: the finish date of the task
  3. Duration: the duration of the task in days
  4. Effort: the total number of hours required to complete the task
  5. Load: the number of hours/day required to complete the task

You can specify several of the fields, and have BluePrint calculate the rest. To do so, you choose the files you wish to define, in the Define picker in the Edit Task slip.

 

Relationships are another important part of BluePrint.

You can set one task to be dependent on another task by specifying one task as a parent, and the other as a dependent. The parent can override a dependents field only if it is defined in the dependent. Example: if the dependent defines the start and finish date, the dependent can have a parent which sets the start date for the task.

Once a relationship is created, it is automatically maintained by BluePrint. If you change the schedule of the parent, it automatically notifies the dependent, and modifies the dependents schedule.

Complete the project in the following section, to see an example.

For full information on both these important scheduling features, see the users manual.

Completing the Schedule

Let's complete the schedule of our project: For all these tasks we specify the start and finish time to be 8 AM and 4 PM respectively.

Repeat the same procedure as above for the Find Volunteers task, but specify a duration of 15 days (ie. 3 weeks)

For the Publish Newsletter task, our finish date is August 3rd, and the duration is about 3 days. So set the Define to Finish, Duration, and set the date and duration.

The next newsletter we publish will be in September. So Advertising starts in August (the 3rd) and runs untill September (the 1st). In this case, our dates are absolute, and we Define the Start date and Finish date directly.

Next, we schedule the Design Newsletter task. It begins July 1st, and has a duration of 3 days. Define the Start and Duration of the task and fill in the values.

The Write Articles task is our first task with a relationship and more than 2 defines. We know we can begin writing articles July 1st, and finish on the first date of publishing. We are also estimating that we need only 4 hours a day of work. In this case, we define the Start, Finish dates and the Load of the task.

So to begin, set the Start date to July 1st, and the Load to 4 hours/day.

Next, we want the Publish Newsletter tasks start date to override the Write Articles task Finish date. So we click on the text lablled: "Parents: 0" in the Edit Task slip. This will bring up the Parents slip for the Write Articles task as shown below.

Select the Publish Newsletters task from the list (you might have to scroll), and tap on the text where it says F>S. The relationship we want is S>F or Start sets Finish - so select that from the list. Press the close box to exit the Parents slip.

Notice that the Finish date of the Write Articles task has now changed respective to the start date of the Publish Newsletters task. In addtion, BluePrint calculates the duration and total effort according to the load of the task. According to the calculated schedule, we are writing articles 4 hours/day for 21 days.

If the Publishing date changes in the future (say we need to publish earlier), then the finish date of this task will also be updated by BluePrint.

Our next task, Gather Artwork & Photographs, requires us to define the start date, the load, and the finish date. Lets make the Start date, the second week of July (6th), and the load is 2 hours/day.

For the Finish date of this task, let's create a parent. Tap on the "Parents: 0" text, and select the Write Articles task. Choose F>F or Finish sets Finish as the relation. Click the close box to exit the Parents slip. The finish date updates accordingly.

Finally, for our last task, Layout the Newsletter, we specify a start date of July 13th, and set a Parent to Publish Newsletter, of type S>F (start sets finish).

 

Your final schedule should appear as follows: (I modified the table setup and task font size to show more data on the screen):

Observations

If you haven't noticed already, summary tasks, such as Newsletter Project, Preliminary, Development, & Production, have their schedules automatically calculated from the tasks in their group.

Understanding the numbers

Duration is the number of days the task will take.

Effort is the total number of hours required for the task, or for a summary task, the total of the groups effort.

Load is the number of hours worked per day, or for a summary task, the number of hours required per day to complete the tasks in the group. This is a useful number that you can use to help allocate resources by.

 

Creating a Team

An important part in managing our project, is co-ordinating the people who work on the project. BluePrint gives you the ability to assign specific people to tasks. It also allows you to allocate how many hours they work on each task, their fixed cost, and their variable cost.

To assign a team to our Newsletter project, click on the Team folder tab. The people in your team are going to be different than the one's shown here, but that doesn't matter.

Select three initial team members:

then click on the Tasks tab to go back to our project outline.

Hilite the Write Articles task, and Scroll right until you see the column that is labelled Resources (hrs/days) as shown below:

Tap on the hilitied resource cell, to open the resource editor:

The three columns next to the name are as follows:

Resource Load: the number of hours per day, this resource works on this task. This value will be different for other tasks.

Fixed Cost: The fixed cost of the resource (ie. a one time usage fee) in dollars. This is a value that is global for the resource, and the same for all tasks.

Variable Cost: The variable cost of the resource (ie. the cost per/hour to use the resource) in dollars. This is also global, and used for all tasks.

Select the three members, and assign the following values to them:

Person 1: Load of 2 hours/day, fixed cost is $0, variable cost is $15
Person 2: Load of 3 hours/day, fixed cost is $125, variable cost is $10
Person 3: Load of 4 hours/day, fixed cost is $500, variable cost is $8

These are our paid writers.

Your final screen should look like this (with different names of course):

Click the close box to continue.

BluePrint uses the assigned resources to calculate the total number of resources available for the task, as well as the cost of the task, as shown in the figure. Note how the cost is accumulated into the summary tasks.

Note also the Resources value of 9 hours/day. According to our Load, we only need 8 hours/day. (It's always best to overallocate).

 

 

Making your own Column

With BluePrint you can turn columns on/off, reorder them in any order, resize them, and also create your own columns.

The first step, is to choose Table Setup from the Action button in the Tasks view. You should see a view similar to the one below:

All of this is detailed in the Users manual, so we will just go through creating a new column.

Click on the New button underneath the Critical column, to bring up the Edit Field slip.

Change the name of the field to Contact, and the Editor to PersonSelect. When done, click on the close box. The new task setup view should appear as follows:

Now, tap on Table Edit under the Action button to return to the data view, to get the following screen:

Assign a contact to the Write Articles task, by tapping on the hilited Contact cell, and choose a person from the resource picker, to set the contact like the one below:

This concludes making a custom column and using it.

 

Viewing the Chart

One of the best ways to track your project is by using a gantt chart. To see the chart, tap on the Chart tab.

The initial chart only shows you bars for the month of July. Click on the button labelled Timescale located in the lower right to edit the chart's timescale. (This is necessary to ensure that your chart does not exceed your Newton's available heap).

Change the Timescale so that it matches the picture below:

Then press the Timescale button again, to return to the chart. Your chart should appear as follows:

 

You can edit task information directly by tapping on a bar and choosing what to edit. The chart will update automatically.

This concludes the introduction to using BluePrint 2. Please consult the manual for full details.