Synchronising PWA schedules to the appropriate SharePoint Task List when dealing with multiple Task Lists

Posted By Posted by: Eremo Zanye on July 15, 2019

Background

You may be required to develop a project site with the need for custom lists to be added to existing default lists – Risk, Issues, etc. If the custom list is using the out-of-the-box task type, then a problem may arise. Before discussing the issue, I’ll briefly explain the feature of synchronising a project schedule to the associated project site’s Tasks List.

The SharePoint site and its associated Tasks Lists are where users, who have access to the project site, can view the project tasks. This is an alternate method for users who don’t have permissions to view the schedule via the schedule PDP or via MS Project. For example, an external user may not have permission to view the schedule but is granted access to the project site task list.

There is a synchronisation job that updates the project site each time a project schedule is published. To facilitate this behaviour please read the Appendix section at the end of this blog.

Having the project schedule tasks appear on the project site also allows for the Timeline feature to function.

Synchronisation Issue

When you create a project from your site template on that SharePoint site with the custom task lists, for some reason PWA tends to synchronise that project based on the lexicographical order of the names of lists that are of the task type.

If a task list “Actions” is created, then the synchronisation job will add items to this list instead of updating the list “Tasks”. This is highly undesirable and occurs because A precedes T. See screenshot below.

Resolution

In this case, a simple ‘trick’ fix could be applied; when creating your custom task lists, include the letter ‘z’ before the name of the custom task list(i.e “Actions” = “zActions”). Once created, go to the custom task list and remove the letter ‘z’ to rename it with the proper name (Actions). This ensures that the internal name “zActions” will be recognised after the internal name “Tasks”. After renaming your custom Task List(s), you also need to rename your default Task List called “Tasks” by adding a hard space (alt + 0160) before the first letter. This ensures the display name ” Tasks” is recognised after “Actions” because of the hard space.

For a more detailed instruction, see visual description below:

Note: This post is on the premise that the reader is familiar with navigation of MS Project Online, creating sub sites, site templates, custom lists, and their uses.

  1. Go to Site Contents and create a new list of the Task type (as below). Lists of the Task type can often be easily identified by an icon resembling a clipboard and check mark on it.
  1. Create a custom task list called “Actions” and add a letter ‘z’ at the beginning of the name.
  1. You may notice that the z is reflected in the web address as the internal name.
  1. Now, go to List name, description and navigation under General Settings. And remove the “z” from the Task name (the internal name doesn’t change at this point).
  1. Go to Site Contents and click on the default task list’s Settings
  1. Under General Settings go to List name, description and navigation.
  1. Now rename Tasks by adding a hard space (alt+0160) before the “T”
  1. At this point, you may save your site as a template and associate it to an EPT. When you create a new project, it would synchronise with the default task list (ensure ‘Sync SharePoint Task Lists’ is selected).

You may be wondering why a ‘z’ AND a hard space had to be added, and why not one or the other. Previously, that seemed to work for a few moments, but after a while it stops working for no known cause. But we came up with an explanation that it may not be all that logical; and it’s that PWA syncs the internal name and afterwards it starts syncing using the display name and possibly alternates between both, so basically the idea behind this method is to curb the possibility of it being synced to the wrong list on both internal and display name levels.

Appendix

This sync feature, to ensure when a schedule is edited it automatically sync the project with the SharePoint Task List called ‘Tasks’, can be enabled on Project Online by going to PWA Settings and selecting Enterprise Project Types.

Then select or create the EPT that you want associated to the Project Site.

Make sure to tick the Sync SharePoint Task Lists option (see below).

For Project On-Premise, the procedure is slightly different (see below);

  1. Go to PWA Settings and select Manage User Sync Settings.
  1. Tick the option that says Enable Project Site Sync for SharePoint Tasks List Projects and save.

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