There are four data visualization methods in Targetprocess 3: Board view, Detailed view, List view, and Timeline view. Once you have configured your view, you can quickly switch between all these modes to choose the most suitable one.
The main idea of the Timeline is to present cards based on planned dates, actual start/end dates, and forecasts to help track work over time. Timeline is a powerful tool for portfolio management, roadmapping, release and iteration planning, tracking projects, teams, and people.
There are two main elements in the timeline mode: details view and time navigator (see screenshot below). Every swim lane in the details view has a backlog. The backlog contains entities that are not planned and are have not been started.
Being able to display cards on a timeline gives you the ability to visualize three important time frames to see how work is progressing:
- Planned Time
- Actual Cycle Time
- Forecasted Time
A Closer Look at Cards Visualization
Below is a screenshot of a work item that is in progress and shows the already mentioned time frames for planned, actual, and forecasted time.
- Planned dates are shown with the dotted outline
- Actual start and end dates are shown with solid background
- Forecasted time is shown with semi-transparent background
Starting from left to right, first we see planned time, represented by the dotted outline. It is possible to see just this dotted outline and without seeing anything else. This happens when you have a planned work item, but no one has started to work on it until now. Every work item and most other entity types in Targetprocess can have a planned start and end date. You have to make sure that these dates are set in the card's detailed view (see screenshot below) in order to have the dotted outline show up on the timeline.
At least one of these fields needs to be populated. If the planned end date has not been entered, while planned start date has, Targetprocess assumes the work item has an infinite duration (so it’s not planned to end anytime). If the start date is not entered, but end date is, it will show the work item as though it was started at the beginning of time.
To also show the planned timeframe for completed cards, you will need to go to the timeline pane of the timeline view and enable the “Planned for Done” setting:
Here you can also enable forecasting.
Actual Cycle Time
The next time frame we can see in the screenshot is the actual cycle time, represented by a solid white rectangular. It shows you when someone began to work on this item and when work was halted. As the work item below is still in progress, the actual cycle time frame lasts till the green vertical line, that indicating today's date. The start point is indicated by the left edge of the solid white rectangular (blue vertical line in this example - other card types have different color).
If users are displayed as cards, start date indicates when this user was created and end date is always the current day.
On the right of the vertical green line you see the forecasted time, represented by a semi-transparent rectangular (marked with the orange frame in the image above). It shows you when you can expect the work item to enter its final state.
The forecast calculation is currently based on linear extrapolation using two points: start date and current date. You're welcome to find detailed description of Forecasts calculation in the dedicated article.
Scrolling through Time
The Time Scroller is the fastest way to navigate through your work in matter of time. The whole period of time displayed in the Time Scroller is selected via the date picker in the header of the view:
The visual part of this period of time, which is currently displayed in the details section of the timeline view, is indicated by the highlighted box within the Time Scroller (see screenshot below).
To scroll through time you just need to manipulate this box by performing one of the following actions:
- To move back or forth in time (while keeping the current length of the displayed time frame), you have to drag and drop the whole box, by clicking anywhere inside the box and moving it to the left or right. Moving the box to the left means going back in time, moving it to the right means going forth in time.
- To change the scale of the displayed time frame, you need to grab the left or right edge of the highlighted box and move it to the left or right. The size of the box will adjust and the details area of the timeline view will update accordingly to show the shorter/longer timeframe.
Besides navigation the Time Scroller provides some more features. The colorful bar charts are indicators for the density of the entity types, that are currently represented on the view. This gives you the following possibilities:
- Compare density of cards on whole timeline, e.g. to answer the following questions:
- Are there more cards on 29th of June or on 30th of March?
- Every time I navigate using the scrolling I need to know how many cards I’ll see.
- Compare density of different types of cards on a day, e.g. to answer the following questions:
- Distribution of how much bugs and User Stories I’ll see on timeline for this day?
- Compare count of some entity type on the period of time, e.g. to answer the following questions:
- Is it more bugs on 29th of June or 30th of May?
- Is the count of User Stories growing?
Refreshing the Time Scroller
At the moment the Time Scroller doesn’t support automatic updates, this is, you will have to refresh it manually from time to time, for example when you moved some cards in the timeline view via drag and drop.
Swimlanes and Timelines
It is possible to display horizontal lanes, so called swimlanes, on the timeline view. Swimlanes can be configured in the setup panel of the view, as usual. The screenshot below shows a timeline view with features as cards and projects as swimlanes.
The timeframe from Planned Start to Planned End is shown on a Timeline with a lighter shade of grey. This makes it easier to see if a planned start for a work item card matches the start of a Release (as in the screen above).
Drag-n-Drop in Timelines
You can now update Planned Start Date and Planned End Date in a timeline with drag-n-drop:
- Drag the left timeline border to update Planned Start Date
- Drag the right timeline border to update Planned End Date
- Drag the whole timeline to update both the dates (duration won’t change)
As a reminder, you can also use drag-n-drop in a timeline backlog to change the timeline’s priority. For that, a view for User Stories with Priority set as a lane is required, and the priority can be changed by dragging a card from one lane to another. Cards within one lane can be prioritized by drag-n-drop, respecting settings in Prioritize tab.
Drag-n-drop from Backlog to Timeline
You can move cards from Backlog to Timeline by drag-n-drop. When a card is moved to a Timeline this way, the initial Planned Start and End dates are set automatically. The entity takes about 30% of the Timeline’s length.
Dates shown in a tooltip when dragging a card
New Planned Start and End dates are shown in a tooltip while the card is dragged; it’s easier to remember the dates this way.
Lanes on Timeline views
On Timeline view it is possible to distribute cards by lanes. Rows are supported only. Columns and filters for them are not supported. It is not possible to hide Backlog column on Timeline views.