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Gantt Charts Made Easy – New Version 4.0

Gantt Chart Template Pro 4.0

We’ve just released a new (beta) version of Gantt Chart Template Pro that is designed to be a lot easier to use. It is available to both new and current customers. Existing customers can return to the download page to get the new version (no new purchase necessary).

When I first created the Gantt chart template for Excel, my goal was simplicity and ease-of-use. Over time it became more complex as people requested new features, capabilities, and different ways to define task durations and dependencies. With the added features, keeping it easy-to-use became more difficult.

The goal for version 4.0 was to maintain functionality while making it both easy and intuitive to use. In other words, we wanted to return to the idea of “Gantt Charts Made Easy!

There are two main changes in the new version that simplify the process of making a Gantt chart:

1. WBS Numbering Controlled with a Simple Drop-Down Selection

You don’t need to understand how the formula works for the work breakdown structure (WBS) numbering (2.4, 3.1, 3.1.1, 3.1.2, etc.). All you need to do is select the WBS Level from a drop-down box. The WBS numbering is automatic. Also, the task descriptions are automatically indented based on the chosen WBS level.

WBS Numbering in Version 4.0

WBS Numbering via Drop-Down

Unlike the free version (and older pro versions), you will not need to copy and paste different WBS formulas for different WBS levels.

For fellow Excel geeks: If you are curious about how the mega-formula for the WBS numbering works, you can learn some of the techniques via an article I wrote about various text manipulation formulas. Also, the indenting of the task description is controlled using Conditional Formatting and custom Number formats such as “_s_s_s_s@” to format the text with leading spaces.

2. No More Template Rows!

The biggest change in version 4.0 has to do with how you define each task’s start and end date. Instead of copying formulas from a set of template rows to define tasks in different ways, you just enter your data in the appropriate input columns.

Ultimately, a task needs to have a start date and an end date. You can arrive at those dates in a lot of different ways, depending on whether you want to enter dates manually, enter a duration instead of a date, or whether you want to create dependencies between tasks using Excel formulas.

In version 4.0, all you need to do is enter a combination of two inputs. For example, this could be the Start date and End date, or the Start date and number of Work Days. The start & end dates in columns M & N are calculated for you based upon what inputs you’ve entered. The screenshot below shows the possible combinations of input values for defining a task.

For each task, the green cells are inputs and everything else is calculated.

Ways to Define Tasks in Gantt Chart Pro V4

The downside to this new way of defining tasks is that there are a few more columns than there used to be (for example, a Start date column used as an input option in addition to the calculated Start date column). However, you can just hide the columns that you don’t want to see.

Tip: In addition to hiding columns to condense the input section of the worksheet, you can use the Arial Narrow font and then make the columns narrower. That is what I did to create the above screenshot.

Desktop vs. Mobile

With Version 4.0, there is no longer a separate version for U.S., International, and U.K. customers. There is now just a Desktop-only version and a Desktop/Mobile/Online version.

The Desktop-only version uses some features of Excel that are not available in Excel Online such as cross-hatching formats, vertically oriented text, etc. The desktop version also uses more columns for the display of the bars to provide greater precision in the Weekly and Monthly views.

If you want to access and edit your Gantt chart online, via your mobile devices, and on your desktop, then use the Desktop/Mobile/Web version.

Questions?

If you have questions about the new version, please comment below or email me.

Q. Is there any reason to use the older version(s)?

I don’t think so, unless you are using an old version of Excel, such as Excel 2008 or older.

Q. Are you going to create a version for Excel 2003 or Excel 2007?

No. The new version requires Excel 2010 or later. I’ve decided to stop updating the files for Excel 2003 and Excel 2007 because of the lack of features in those older versions of Excel. Customers can still download the gantt-chart.xls file which works in Excel 2003 or later, but it’s no longer supported.

Q. Why is the Video demo still based on the older version?

It may take me a while to update all of the videos and help content on the website, but the new version is so much more intuitive that I wanted to make it available now rather than waiting until I can get a new video created.

Q. What happens if I enter more than two values to define task durations?

Avoid doing that. If you enter a Start Date and an End Date AND the number of Work Days, then you won’t know which of the 3 values were used to calculate the Start and End dates used in the chart.

Q. Why isn’t Predecessor and End Date included as a possible input combination?

That isn’t a good way to define a task because if the project gets off schedule, the start date could end up being AFTER the end date, and that doesn’t work. When using the Predecessor column, it makes more logical sense to use the Work Days or Calendar Days to define the duration.

The Help worksheet provides some examples of using custom formulas to define task dependencies. The Predecessor column is just for the most common type of dependency (a task starting after the predecessor task is done).

Q. What is happening when I enter End Date and Work Days as the inputs?

The Start date is calculated to be the number of work days PRIOR to the End date you entered. You might use this for a task that needs to start 5 days prior to the completion of some other task. The End date could be a simple Excel formula that references the end date of the other task.

Q. What are the little green triangles in some of the cells?

The green triangles are due to the “Error Checking” feature in Excel. Most of the time they aren’t actually errors. They may be warnings such as “Number stored as text” or “Inconsistent Formula” or “Unprotected Formula,” all of which may be intentional on the part of the user or template designer (such as the WBS numbering purposefully entered as text).

To get rid of the green triangles, you can either choose the “Ignore Error” option every time they show up, or you can go to “Error Checking Options” to turn off some of the various types of warnings.

Q. Will the BONUS files be updated, too?

Yes and no. I’ve updated the Google Sheets version, the 3 sample project schedules, and the Time-based gantt chart. The bonus files that are not based on the Gantt chart template (like the timeline template and the tips workbook) have not been changed.

COMMENTS

28 comments… add one
  • Hi, I am thinking about purchasing this product. Is there any way i can put in a meeting in the same row of an existing task – showing up in the gantt chart area in a different color?

    Reply
    • @Morgan, That is not a built-in feature. However, I can’t say “no” because it IS technically possible to do that if you can figure out how to customize your own conditional formatting rules. Help customizing a spreadsheet is not included in the purchase price.

      Reply
  • Hi Jon
    I just purchased the GanttChart PRO few days ago.
    Thanks for the nice work.
    The weekend is defined as Saturday and Sunday, but I’m working in middle east and the weekend is Friday, and some times Friday and Saturday (office differ from the site).

    Please how to change the weekend to Friday or Friday and Saturday?
    Also, is there UK from v4.0 (dates formatted as d/m/yy)?
    thanks

    Reply
    • @Ahmed, in the version 4.0 files, the Help worksheet contains information about how to define the work week for weekends other than Sat/Sun. See the Help worksheet. Instead of a separate UK version for version 4.0, there is an option in the Help worksheet for switching from dmy/mdy formats.

      Reply
      • Thanks

        Reply
  • Hi Jon,
    First of all, thanks for a great product. I have the old version and love it. I bought it in 2010, customized it for my office needs and used it a lot. Question: is there a way to display the timeline view in month NOT in weeks?
    While customizing, I lost the red line for today’s date in one of the templates. is there a formula to put it back? Thanks so much!
    Also,

    Reply
    • @Tanya, I would recommend downloading the original version again and looking at how it works. The red line is created via conditional formatting. The new versions include “Monthly” as a display option. It would probably be easier to re-enter your data into a new worksheet than to figure out how to add a monthly option to an old file. If you are unable to return to the download page via the instructions on the Support Page then you will need to email me your receipt # so that I can give you access to the download page.

      Reply
  • Can you share the worksheet so multiple team members can update?

    Reply
    • @DanoRondo … Yes, the Google Sheets version is easier to collaborate on simultaneously, but with Excel files you can use DropBox or OneDrive or a shared network location to privately share files with your team.

      Reply
  • Okay. I think I figured it out. Those green cells are just for input. The White cells in columns O and P are the output. I was so used to the free version, that this kind of escaped me. I think I’m good. Sorry about any confusion I may have caused you.

    Sincerely,

    Scot Motzny

    Reply
  • Hi,
    I just downloaded version 4.0 and while your article says that you no longer need to copy and paste template formulas, that does not actually seem to be the case. For example, I entered the start date for the first task (1.1) as a formula (=$C$6) and then entered the number of work days to complete the task, but the end date does not calculate. There is no formula in the End Date cell. I noticed that below on the sheet, there appear to be template rows indicating formulas to enter based on the preferred method of calculating the end date. I’m okay with that although I thought this was what the update to 4 was for (Gannt Charts Made Easy!) Of course, because they are in the preformatted area in the top and not at the bottom as Templates, I guess I should just copy and paste them below as they use to be in the template area?

    Sorry. just confused on how to go about this right now.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Sincerely,

    Scot Motzny

    Reply
    • @Scot … Your second comment is the answer. In Version 4, the inputs are the green cells and the no-color columns O-P are the output cells that the gantt chart uses to format the chart. You CAN still enter formulas into the green cells if you want, such as entering =end_date+1 into the Start column where end_date refers to the end date of some other task. Using the Predecessor column(s) make the task start on the next WORK day, so starting on the next CALENDAR day after another task would require using the formula =end_date+1 in the Start column.

      Reply
  • Hi Jon,

    I tried emailing the e-mail address on the Contact list but it bounced back. I wanted to download the newer version of this since I purchased this awhile ago (btw, still using it after 4 yrs!). Can you please assist?

    thanks!

    Reply
    • @Norm, The nexus at vertex42.com email should be working. There may have been a temporary glitch at the time you emailed. You can try re-accessing the download page via your original receipt email or via instructions on the following page: https://www.vertex42.com/support.html#gantt If that doesn’t work, please try to email me again with your order # and I’ll send you the link.

      Reply
  • Hi Jon,

    I have a question about the WBS level. In the template you can pick from 5 different levels. What should I do if I need more than 5? I tried to type 6 but got the notification saying that the user has restricted the values can be entered to wbs section. Is there a way to increase the value amount so I don’t need to type wbs manually?

    Thanks a lot!

    Reply
    • Hi Zoey,

      You can edit the Data Validation list by going to Data > Data Validation and editing the list to include 6,7,8,etc. You can do this just once if you first select all the cells that contain this same type of data validation. Or, you can edit it in the first cell and then copy that cell down. The conditional formatting that automatically indents the Task description is only set up to handle up to 5 levels, so you’d need to create a new rule. I’ve updated the version 4.0 files to include up to 6 levels in the data validation list.

      Reply
  • Is there a list of cells/data elements we should never delete or a list of ones that we can? I don’t need every single data point on the template and I know I can hide but there are some I’d just rather delete if not needed. Thanks.

    Reply
    • @Vivian,
      There is not a list because it all depends on what you want to do and what version of the files you are using. If you are referring to the files mentioned in this post, then please mention which items you are interested in deleting because there are not many things that can be deleted without messing up the spreadsheet. For example, you can’t delete the existing columns (unless you are deleting columns from the right side of the gantt chart) without messing up formulas.

      If you wanted to delete fields from the header area (such as the Start date, End date, Display or Week fields), then I’d recommend inserting a couple rows at the top then using cut/paste to move the elements to the inserted rows and then hide those rows.

      Reply
  • This is great! There are just a couple things that I would love to bring into the new version from the older one.
    – Is there a way to break the week cells into smaller bars to indicate which day on the graph like the old version showed? It seems like you would need to add more columns, but I’m not sure what the formula would need to be in Row 4.
    – Is there an easy way to get a Planned vs. Actual bar format into this version?

    Thanks so much!

    Reply
    • @Amy … The file gantt-chart_v4-0.xlsx still uses more columns (7 columns per week in the weekly view) to display the gantt chart. The “o365” version was designed for compatibility with the online Excel app so fewer columns were used to reduce the computation power required (i.e. fewer formulas).
      – Although the gantt chart doesn’t show planned vs. actual, you could insert two new Start and End date columns for storing the original planned time frame. I’ll consider adding a planned vs. actual version (like the old beta trial).

      Reply
      • Thank you so much for your reply! I didn’t even think to download the non-o365 version. I think that will work perfectly with a little format tweaking. I will try to add the planned vs. actual columns, but it would be great if you would add that to this version. I’m not super strong in excel and it will take me a bit to figure out how to make the conditional formatting work.

        Thanks again!

        Reply
  • [Referring to the Google Sheets version]
    Hello, I have noticed the following:
    – in the weekly view
    – when an action spans more than two weeks
    – if the action is marked 100% complete
    – then the last column of the line in the chart appears “in progress” (blue) instead of gray as are all the previous columns.
    This does not happen in daily view.
    Other than that, it’s an amazing piece of work, thank you very much.

    Reply
  • Jon,

    Fantastic & thank you very much!!!

    Best regards,

    Pascal

    Reply
  • Hi Jon,

    First of all – thanks for all the nice work- highly appreciated. Now i have a feature request: how do i create multiple dependencies in the Gantt v4 version? While creating this by myself was not a problem in the v3 version, the v4 version is given a lot of problems . Any indication whether we might expect his feature please?

    Thanks and best regards,

    P.

    Reply
    • @Pascal… Due to multiple requests, I’ve updated version 4 with 2 more Predecessor columns (you can download the new files by returning to the download page). Two of the columns are hidden by default, so if you want to define up to 3 predecessors for a task, you can unhide these other predecessor columns.

      Reply
  • Hi John,

    Both the Desktop and Mobile versions seem to be exactly the same (i.e. the file names are exactly identical and work both on the full version of Excel 2013 and also the Office 365 version) so not sure why there is a need to have two different downloads(?)

    –YS

    Reply
    • @Yogesh, Thanks for catching that. I’ve fixed the second link.

      Reply
  • I’m looking forward to trying the new WBS numbering tool – that had me flummoxed in the current version! Thanks for this.

    Reply

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