The Bulk Edit Tool, Unwrapped

In a previous post, I took the time to review the Bulk Import Tool, one of the Project Server 2010 Solution Starters available for free download from Codeplex.  The Bulk Import Tool imports large numbers of projects from SharePoint lists.  As I discussed in that post, some of the data doesn’t quite make it into Project Server – or may make it into Project Server in a form that must be edited.

That makes the Bulk Edit Tool a natural next step.  This tool allows the user to open any number of projects within the Project Center, and then to change the project level fields in a convenient datasheet interface.  In all honesty, I‘ve had decidedly mixed luck with getting this tool to work, and was about to skip a discussion of it, but then I decided to give it a second try. 

Thus, I spun up my Hyper V machine, installed the add-in and spent some time understanding how it works.  This post represents the results of that second look.

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First off, the installation is pretty much the same as the Bulk Import Tool.  If you need guidance on how to install it, I refer you to that post.

That being said, the main quirks that I identified in this tool are pretty much as follows:

  1. Sometimes the tool just doesn’t work.  I am not sure why.  I suspect that it just stops working when the number of projects exceeds a certain limit, but I don’t know.  In environments where I can’t get it to work, I fall back on using the Bulk Import Tool to perform bulk edits (as documented here).
  2. When selecting the projects to be edited, the user has the option to add a filter.  For instance, if I only want to see the active projects, I can set a filter to only display projects where a custom field called Active=”Yes.”  The filter actually seems to work pretty well on non-flag fields.  Every time I ran the filter on a flag field, the tool would freeze.
  3. Filters to identify which fields are blank seem to be problematic.  For instance, when I filtered on a multiline text field to see if it was blank (=” ”), the filter wouldn’t run.
  4. Filters on text and date fields seem to work just fine.

If you can get past the filter step, the tool allows you to set the values for the selected project fields.  Some things that caught my eye here:

  1. Flag fields, which show up in Project Server as offering the option of only Yes or No, show in the tool as having three possible states: Yes, No, and Unknown.  As near as I can tell, Unknown corresponds to a blank cell, which is a bit weird as I’ve always learned that a blank cell is the same as entering “No.”
  2. The owner field may not be changed in bulk, i.e. the user can’t select an option at the top and then use the highlight and fill option to populate the cells underneath.  The Bulk Edit Tool may still be used to edit the owner field, but each cell must be clicked on one by one.  (again, here the Bulk Import Tool is slightly more useful.)
  3. Some fields seem to freeze the tool, for instance in preliminary testing, trying to bulk edit the Hyperlink tool didn’t quite succeed.

After clicking on the option to update the projects, I would recommend the following:

  1. Watch the Manage Queue page to confirm that the server is still processing the projects.  Sometimes it’s hard to get the feedback that the server has completed publishing all of the projects.
  2. Review the option to Force Check In Enterprise Objects.  Occasionally, some projects got stuck in checked out mode.

Good luck….

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The Bulk Edit Tool, Unwrapped

2 thoughts on “The Bulk Edit Tool, Unwrapped

  1. Ken says:

    Hi,
    We have recently installed the Bulk Editing tool but have discovered the loading time to be poor. When using filters, it takes more than 1 minute to return results (even where known results are to be two). Have you experienced this? If yes, how was it resolved?
    Thanks, Ken.

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