Project Management Enhancements in Flying Logic Pro 3

In a previous post I detailed the general changes made in Flying Logic Pro 3.0. This post reviews those enhancements specific to the application’s Project Management features.

Project Management tab PM-tabof the Document Inspector

The Project Management tab in the Document Inspector has gained buttons and the concept of a Standard Calendar has been added.

Proj-Mgmt-Inspector

Just like before the Start and Finish Date of the project are shown. The button between the dates indicates whether Start-to-Finish or Finish-to-Start scheduling will occur.

Below that is the controls to edit the Standard Calendar. The Workdays checkboxes function just as before. You can also set the number of Hours in a Workday. As you might guess, this means that tasks can be given in units less than a day! And you can click on the Exceptions… button to define additional days off beyond that indicated by workdays.

In Flying Logic Pro 3, you can create custom Resources and Calendars. Resources can be assigned to tasks and calendars can be assigned to resources.

resources-dialog

The Resources dialog shows all custom resources. You can create a custom resource by clicking the Add button. You can then edit the name, abbreviation, utilization and associated calendar for each resource. Note that Joe Pearce is using the Standard calendar, but Alice Smith is using a custom calendar.

calendars-dialog

The Calendars dialog has the same editing controls as for the Standard calendar in the Document inspector. (You can actually edit the Standard calendar in this dialog if you choose.) Clicking the Add button creates a new custom calendar. This one has been named “Four-day Workweek” and Friday has been turned-off.

Now let’s see how these new features can be used in a project.

Entity tab of Element Inspector

Here is a simple project with three tasks (entities). Next to the graph is the state of the Element Inspector with the Entity tab visible for each task when selected.

The inspector has two new fields: Resource and Assignment.

The Resource combobox shows the current resources assignment to a task. If no resource is assigned, then the Default resource is considered assigned. Clicking the arrow button shows a pop-up menu with a list of all resources. Selecting a resource item in the menu either adds to removes it from the task. Selecting “Default” removes all resources from the task.

The Assignment pop-up menu can be used to change how multiple resources are
applied to a task. The Fixed Effort setting divides the current effort
across all the resources, which reduces the duration of the task per
newly assigned resource. The Fixed Duration setting indicates that
each resource must expend the same amount of effort regardless of
total resources, which increases the total effort for each newly assigned
resource. Finally, in the Fixed Effort and Duration a.k.a. Fixed Both
setting, each resource only uses part of their time on the task. All other
things being equal, two resources will have 50% utilization, three resources
will have 33.3% utilization, etc.

In the particular example above, task A has a resource of Joe, task B has a resource of Alice, and task C has both Joe and Alice. Plus, Alice is using the Four-day Workweek calendar. What follows are the affect of all these on the project.

Task A starts on the project start day, Thursday, June 16. It’s a two day effoirt task that Joe is solely assigned. He completes it in two work days (a “duration” of two days), which in this case is two actual days also.

Task B also starts on the project start day. It is also a two day effort task, but assigned to Alice. Alice also takes two work days to complete the task, but as she has Fridays off, she completes the task on Monday the 20th.

Task C is assigned to both. The earliest it can start is Tuesday, June 21st. It is a four day effort task. it only takes two work days to complete as both Alice and Joe are assigned to the task.

The entire project completes on June 22nd.

Changes to what Project Management is Displayed in an Entity

The effort is no longer shown in entities. This has been replaced by the list of resources (is any) assigned. Effort seemed less relevant especially now that effort and duration are no longer the same for a task.

There is a tool tip that is displayed when hovering the cursor over the project management information.This tip does show the effort and gives the hour in a workday that a task starts and ends.

Completion Auto-calculated for Milestones

Any task with zero effort is considered a Milestone. The completeness of a milestone is no longer by manually changed. Instead, it’s completeness is set to 100% or “C” if all immediate predecessor tasks are complete; otherwise, the completeness is 0%. Note that only immediate predecessors count — if a predecessor of a predecessor is not complete, that has no affect on the calculation. If you are using completeness value, make sure they are all up-to-date!

Chat View when Project Management Visible

If you have not already, you should read the Chart View section of the previous post if you are not familiar with this new display mode of the canvas.

chart-view

Non-milestone tasks in the chart that have been a non-zero completion value are shown with a green bar down the center. This bar’s width is proportional to the completion value.

When Project Management is visible, five more columns appear in the Chart View table of elements: Effort, Start, Finish, completeness, and Resource. Also, the column header over the chart itself becomes a schedule, and the width of entities correspond to task duration. Milestones are displayed a small diamonds.

The additional columns also appear in the context menu for showing and hiding columns.

pm-chart-context-menu

This completes this overview of Flying Logic Pro 3.0 changes!

 

Flying Logic 3.0 Released

Sciral is proud to announce Flying Logic 3.0, the new major release of our premiere Visual Thinking software! This release has many new features, including one of the most requested: tabbed document interface.

In this post we will be detailing the general changes in this release. Improvements in the project management feature will be discussed in a later post.

Expanded Find and Search

We have added additional types of data that can found via the Find and Hyperlink Search functions. I will use the document shown below to explore this.

simple-graph

First, you can now find entities by Entity ID. When you open the Find dialog, you should see a new option Search Entity IDs. Selecting this as the only search criteria and entering “2” will cause the entity titles “A” to be selected since it’s entity ID matches the search string.

simple-graph-entityid-sel

Of course this search would also find entities with the IDs 21, 42, etc. For an exact match you would need to turn on Whole Words Only.

Two additional new options are Search Attribute Names and Search Attribute Values.  By “Attribute” the dialog is referring to User Defined Attributes as defined in the User Defined Attributes Inspector.

The sample document has defined a Source attribute for both the “A” and “B” entities.

uad-study

Both entities have values for the Source attribute that include the word “Study.” (Assume entity “C” has no such attribute.)

We can now select Search Attribute Values in the Find dialog and enter “Study” to find these two entities. Note that if an edge, junctor or group also had an attribute value containing “Study,” it would also be selected.

simple-graph-uda-sel

You can also search for elements by Entity ID and User Defined Attributes as part of an inter-document hyperlink. For example, entity “C” has an annotation that contains an intra-document link of #attrvalue=University.

link-dialog

If the Text Inspector is locked and “research grant” is clicked, entity “B” will be selected as its Source attribute has the value “University Study.”

click-link

Tabbed Document Interface

Flying Logic how has the option to open documents in tabs instead of separate windows.

tabs-1

Here we see three documents loaded into the same window. You can move between documents by clicking on a tab. You can also rearrange the tab order by dragging a tab. A tab can be closed by clicking the little Close Button in the tab. Closing with window will close all tabs; but if any documents have unsaved changes, you will be asked to confirm closing.

7-tabs

If you have a lot of tabs open in a window, some documents will not be visible. You can access those documents from the pop-up menu button that appears after the last tab. Note that this button only appears if there are excess documents.

gen-prefs

The program determines whether to open a document in a new window or a tab of the current window from the current setting of the Opening Files option in Preferences.

Chart View

The final new general feature is Chart View. This switches the canvas from showing a document as a graph to showing it as a chart.

chart

The right side of the chart acts almost exactly like graph view in regards to how elements can be manipulated. Data about the elements, through, is shown in the table on the left side of the chart.

Depending on various settings, the table will show the ordinal number of the entity, junctor, or group, whether an annotation exists, the title, entity class, confidence, and entity ID.

Right-clicking on the chart table columns header (shift-click on Mac) will show a context menu that can show or hide particular table columns. Some options will affect the document in graph view — showing confidence values will also show them in graph view.

chart-context-menu

Chart view has its major use in conjunction with project management, which will covered in a later post.

Menu Keyboard Shortcut Changes

We had to make some changes to existing menu keyboard shortcuts to accommodate tabs. We wanted to be compatible with the shortcuts used by other programs.

changed-shortcuts

Close Tab is Ctrl-W (-W on Mac). Close Window (formerly just Close) is Ctrl-Shift-W (⇧--W on Mac).

Unfortunately, this conflicts with the old shortcut for Show/Hide Edge Weights. Close Window was the winner though, so Show/Hide Edge Weights is now Ctrl-Shift-D (⇧--D on Mac).

If you have any questions, you can ask them in the Flying Logic forum or send as an email at support@sciral.com.

How to Access Databases Directly in Flying Logic Pro 2.2.2

The 2.2 release of Flying Logic Pro introduced some additional scripting features that allow direct access to any database with a JDBC driver.

You might be wondering why that would be necessary — doesn’t Python and Java already support access to databases. Well, yes and no. Yes, in that the functionality is there. No, because of Flying Logic Pro’s internal class-loading model causes calls to Python and Java’s JDBC to fail.

There are two new scripting method that can be used to resolve this issue.

Jython, the implementation of Python incorporated into Flying Logic Pro, has a package ZxJDBC that includes the method zxJDBC.connect to open a database connection. This call is replaced by a method in the Application class in Flying Logic Pro. Here is an example for MySQL.

# You should have previously added the path to the MySQL JDBC jar
# via Application.appendClassPath method
url = "jdbc:mysql://someserver/somedb"
username = "someuser"
password = "somepassword"

driver = "com.mysql.jdbc.Driver"
# obtain a connection using the with-statment
with Application.createSQLConnection(url, username, password, driver) as conn:
with conn.cursor() as c:
# execute SQL commands

Alternately, you could use Java’s java.sql package to open a connection. This only works if the createCompatibleDriver method in the Application class is used to “wrap” a driver created from a JDBC package.

# You should have previously added the path to the MySQL JDBC jar
# via Application.appendClassPath method
from com.mysql.jdbc import Driver
from java.sql import DriverManager

# Need to create shim Driver from real Driver
realDriver = Driver()
shimDriver = Application.createCompatibleDriver( realDriver )

# register driver and open connection
DriverManager.registerDriver(shimDriver);
conn = DriverManager.getConnection("jdbc:mysql://someserver/somedb", "someuser", "somepassword")

Start taking all the information you have in your databases and create some helpful graphs!

Important Note for Upgraders

During the install of Flying Logic 2.0, the contents of the Examples folder will be replaced by new files that conform to the new document extension of .xlogic. If for some reason you have saved any of your documents in the Examples folder, they will be deleted during the install.

Please copy all your documents from the Examples folder before installing Flying Logic 2.0; and in the future, avoid saving files to the Examples folder.

Flying Logic Professional 2.0 Has Arrived!

Sciral’s development team and Beta testing team has been working hard to bring you our first paid upgrade, Flying Logic Professional 2.0. This upgrade to Flying Logic Professional 2.0 is available now for only $69.00 at Sciral’s Flying Logic Upgrades, and can be downloaded from Sciral’s Flying Logic Downloads page.

For new users, Sciral still offers a free 30-day trial of Flying Logic Professional so that you may try the software before buying it. Please visit Sciral’s Flying Logic Downloads to begin your free trial of this amazing software today. Once you’ve had a chance to use Flying Logic Professional 2.0 we know you’ll wonder how you got along without it. Flying Logic Professional 2.0 is available for purchase in the Sciral Store for only $249.00.

Any users who purchased Flying Logic Professional 1.2 within the last 60 days are eligible for a free upgrade to Flying Logic Professional 2.0. To redeem your complimentary upgrade on purchases of Flying Logic Professional 1.2 made within 60 days of this latest release please visit Sciral’s Flying Logic Upgrades.

Flying Logic Professional 2.0 includes a huge number of new features and enhancements including our top request for Incremental Layout! To read all about Flying Logic’s new features in detail check out the all new Flying Logic User’s Guide.

Here is a list of the new features in Flying Logic Professional 2.0.

  • Sidebar is now a collection of inspectors that can be individually shown or hidden as desired.
  • Title and annotation editing moved to Text inspector.
  • Create new entities from titles via Quick Capture option in Text inspector.
  • Annotations can include styled text and hyperlinks.
  • Document inspector allows adding of info like title, author, headers, footers, etc.
  • Navigation inspector supports visual scrolling of graph.
  • Element inspector can edit all selected graph elements of same type at once.
  • Canvas can be zoomed smaller and larger.
  • Show unique Entity IDs for each entity element in graph.
  • Change entity title width and font size.
  • Auto-edit titles of newly created entities.
  • Import custom symbols from bitmapped images (GIF, PNG, JPG, etc.) and SVG drawings.
  • Helpful highlighting when moving edges.
  • Menu option to reverse edges.
  • Menu option to swap elements.
  • Menu option to swap forward and back edges.
  • Select head or tail entity.
  • Group background color can be changed.
  • A group can by hoisted to become entire contents of canvas.
  • Incremental layout option minimizes re-layout of graph when new elements added.
  • Domains can be hidden so they don’t appear in the class tree in the Domain inspector.
  • Current domains can be set as the default for newly created documents.
  • Export diagram to Graphviz (DOT format).
  • Create new document from selection.
  • Project management features (experimental).

This release of Flying Logic Professional 2.0 also includes the following Bug fixes.

  • Document extension changed to xlogic to resolve problems related to a popular Mac program.
  • Margin and page calculations in Print Preview dialog improved.
  • Other stability fixes.

We know our current Flying Logic family of users, anyone that’s been considering using Flying Logic, and those users that still haven’t found us yet will find this latest release an amazingly powerful planning tool. As always the Sciral team would like to wish you Happy Planning!!!

Sciral Rings in 2011 With Great Savings!

The Sciral team wishes you a very Happy New Year. We would like to extend special promotional savings to help usher in 2011. When you purchase your copy of Flying Logic Professional during the month of January you’ll save $50.00 off the regular retail value of $225.00. To take advantage of of Sciral’s New Year promotional savings enter the discount code below when you visit the Sciral Store.

Discount Code: FLPROHNY11

As always, Sciral still offers a free 30-day trial of Flying Logic Professional. Give it a try today and see what the Flying Logic advantage is all about. We know you’ll love this elegant and powerful planning tool.

Flying Logic and Exploding Cats

When writing a novel, that’s pretty much entirely what life turns into: “House burned down. Car stolen. Cat exploded. Did 1500 easy words, so all in all it was a pretty good day.” — Neil Gaiman

Wandering the Web today I came across a writer who had just discovered Flying Logic. With permission, here is an excerpt from the LiveJournal of R. Scott Shanks, Jr.:

“I went to the Romance Writer’s Workshop, and became learned in the ways of storyboards. Fiddling with the storyboard let me know what was wrong with my novel. Good.

Industriously making post-its and moving them around did not fix the problems, though. I concluded two things; the storyboard only permitted me access to the whole novel at night, at home, when I was pooped, and that I needed to murder a huge number of my darlings — but couldn’t tell which ones had to go.

Shannon suggested last week that I tell her the story, which I did in brief, maybe a dozen sentences. “Which parts have to be there for the story you want?” First and last plot points.

Which meant all the others had targets on their heads. Way to go, Shannon.

That was a strangely liberating outlook. I changed from “something has to go” to “it will be interesting to see if anything stays.” I looked at the storyboard with loathing, and switched to tinytinytiny post-its and a notebook — portable storyboard.

I was still not moving with anything approaching speed. It’s easy to move the story elements around this way, but still takes attention. Changing the writing on the notes takes time. And the sticky wears out.

Then, Lisa, on whom be praise, suggested I look into Consistency. It won’t do much for me, I think, but that company also produces Flying Logic.

My world shook.

Yesterday I had a beginning and an end, and some very nice GMC notes. I put them into entities in Flying Logic and started making lines … which demonstrated when I had multiple scenes in the same scene; corrected that … which showed holes; corrected that … which revealed why my major plot points weren’t working; figured out what they had to be … which showed new scenes that had to be there … and where the tension had to build … and then discovered that I could customize the boxes in the program, changed them to match my post-it notes so I could see where I had too much of one element clustered ….

I spent three hours of a train ride yesterday steadily creating a plot that works. I did not have a cat exploding kind of day. I had something better. I had a “knew my work and did it well” kind of day. It felt terrific.”

Flying Logic 1.1 Has Been Released!

Flying Logic 1.1 is out, and is a free upgrade for registered users! Major new features include:

  • Tagging entities and custom classes with visually distinct symbols. Flying Logic Pro users have access to a variety of “professional” symbols used for flowcharting, influence diagrams, and more.
  • Export to OPML, the standard format used by outline processor software.
  • Collapse and expand all selected groups with a single command.
  • Display and edit edge annotations directly in the diagram.
  • Display and edge annotations and edge weights individually.
  • Back edges can now have weights (useful for influence diagrams, causal loop diagrams, etc.)
  • Clearer drawing of diagrams when zoomed out.
  • The layout of the diagram can now be “biased” towards the start of the flow or the end of the flow. This affects how the elements of the diagram are ranked for layout, and thus which end of the diagram they will “stack up” on. Different sorts of diagrams appear more natural with one bias or the other.

The detailed list of additions and changes is here. Watch this blog in the coming days for in-depth articles and tips on the new features. Also, discuss how you use the new features and what you’d like to see next for Flying Logic in our forum.