Merlin import of EXCEL files

Merlin can import  lots of file formats, here a list of the currently supported formats:

  • MS Project (.mpx, .mpp, .xml)
  • OmniOutliner (.ooutline, .oo3)
  • OmniPlan (.omniplan)
  • NovaMind (.nmind)
  • MindManager (.mmap)
  • Merlin 1 (.merlin)
  • Merlin 2 (.xml)
  • Text files (.txt, .csv, .tsv)
  • OPML files (.opml)

So you look at the list above, have project WBS saved in MS EXCEL and don’t know how to proceed?

Import from EXCEL is also possible, it cannot work however seamlessly. Merlin cannot know where project related information is contained in any particular EXCEL file, which EXCEL columns contain which Merlin column information or how contained values are to be interpreted in each and every case.

An MS Project, Merlin, OmniPlan, Mindmap file contains data in a predefined way. That means, a developer know exactly where to find  the value of task’s title or task’s duration and map it to Merlin title and duration of a newly created task. So when considering importing EXCEL files into Merlin to create tasks out of the sheet, you have to keep in mind that you will perform some additional configuration steps. EXCEL is not a project management software after all, isn’t so?

So, first step is to open your EXCEL file in Microsoft EXCEL and save the sheet as a text file. It can be a comma separated values (.csv) or tab delimited text (.txt) file. As next you open this file with Merlin, select correct separators, quotes, line endings, map your information to Merlin columns and let Merlin create the new tasks for you.

The workflow in detail:

Lets suppose you have an EXCEL sheet. Continue reading

Was Merlin a project manager? (part two)

There is usually a long story behind a successful product. This applies for Merlin and my first visions about it in 2003.

Here is how the drama started.

Was Merlin a project manager? (part two)

….We were looking for alternatives. Someone in the company started to [ab]use MS Excel as a project management tool. In the beginning I found this to be a good idea, and followed willingly. Some weeks later we had scripted a great amount of data sheets with innumerable charts. It was fine for separate projects but made our overview on all running projects smaller day by day. When colleagues began again to do their job manually, bypassing the scripts and their automations, it became clear to me that we needed yet again another, better solution.

Continue reading

Was Merlin a project manager? (part one)

There is usually a long story behind a successful product. This applies for Merlin and my first visions about it in 2003.

But first things first. Back in 2002, founding ProjectWizards, I decided to switch to Mac OS X. It was a relatively new operating system based on NeXTSTEP, which Apple bought and developed further. The excellent quality that Apple machines had, and still have, was one of the main reasons for switching. With MS Office X, we had a good basic software package for daily work. And even though Word, Excel and PowerPoint on Mac were always a step behind their Windows versions, they contained the functions we needed. Last but not least they offered a relatively good compatibility to Windows files. All this was necessary for our job at ProjectWizards; Project management. And here is where the drama starts.

We tried at first FastTrack Schedule by AEC. It was the only Mac OS X application for project management available, with all limitations and problems of a classic OS 9 application. The software had some inconsistencies making its professional use by ProjectWizards impossible.

The next step wasn’t any easier. Virtual machines were not performing well on PowerPC based Macs, so MS Project on MacOS X was not an option. We had tested Windows machines with terminal server, accessed by “remote desktop”. But this was not really a better solution either…

– To be continued –