Airtable serves as a low-code platform for building collaborative apps. This Cloud collaborative service is well known as a spreadsheet-database hybrid, with the features of a database in the form of a spreadsheet. Gantt Charts are Bar Charts used to represent a project schedule and the dependency relationships between the current schedule status and the activities.
This blog talks about how you can set up Airtable Gantt Charts in 4 simple steps. It also gives a brief introduction to Airtable and Gantt Charts before diving into the setup process.
Table of Contents
Introduction to Airtable
Airtable allows its users to create a database, set up column types, link tables to each other, add records, sort records, collaborate, and publish views to external websites. The basic components of Airtable are as follows:
- Tables: A table is similar to a spreadsheet. A collection of tables makes up a base in the Airtable Gantt Chart.
- Fields: Every entry in a table is called a field. They aren’t just limited to hold text, and support 16 basic field/data types: long text articles, file attachments, URLs, numbers, percentage, currency, formulae, barcodes, auto-number, single and multiple-selects from drop-down lists, single-line texts, checkboxes, email ids, phone numbers, date and time.
- Views: Airtable Gantt Chart Views display the result sets of the data queries. These can also be saved for future purposes.
- Bases: Bases hold all the information needed to create a project. They can be built from existing templates offered by the Airtable Gantt Chart, from an existing base, from a spreadsheet, or from scratch.
- Records: Every row of a table in an Airtable Gantt Chart can be called a record.
- Workspaces: A collection of bases is called a workspace in an Airtable Gantt Chart.
Introduction to Gantt Charts
Gantt Charts are one of the most powerful tools that can be used to display activities against time. On the left side of the chart, you will find a list of the activities and along the top would be a suitable time scale. Every activity can be represented as a Bar, the length and position of the Bar will depict the Duration, Start Date, and End Date of the activity.
Airtable rolled out the Gantt View to help its users visualize every aspect of their project inside Airtable itself. It allows users to better manage milestones, task dependencies, and more during every phase of your project’s lifecycle. Here are a few features of the Airtable Gantt Chart view:
- Production Timelines: You can display start and finish dates for every project task and understand which tasks must be completed before others. Irrespective of your industry, the Gantt View can help you avoid expensive misunderstandings and delays in your project timeline.
- Project Management: Airtable’s Gantt view serves as a Single Source of Truth for your project which allows you to plan action items, update statuses, and assign tasks in a single place. It keeps everyone on the same page and moving in the right direction ranging from simple to-do lists to complex, multi-project environments.
- Resource Management: Plan, allocate and schedule the resources you’ll need to complete your project efficiently. You can also track team capacity in real-time and assign tasks to a list of available team members. Airtable’s Gantt View gives you visibility into required and available resources which lets you know the need for a pivot long before a situation turns critical.
- Grouped Records: Airtable Gantt Charts also help you organize certain types of tasks together and compare team members’ workload at a glance. You can group records in an Airtable Gantt Chart similar to a grouping of records in an Airtable base’s grid view. First, you need to pick a field to group by project leader or type of task. You can also collapse groups to get a high-level overview of the duration of a particular group and how it fares against other groups.
- Critical Path Highlighting: Airtable also simplifies the identification of chains of dependent tasks by highlighting the critical path on your Gantt block. This prevents individual task delays from affecting the completion date of the entire project.
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Steps to Set up Airtable Gantt Charts
Now that you have learned about the basics of Airtable and Gantt Charts, you can dive into the setup for an Airtable Gantt Chart in detail.
These are the steps you can follow to get started with an Airtable Gantt Chart:
Airtable Gantt Chart Setup: Adding a Gantt View
- You can add a Gantt View in Airtable by clicking on the “View” button near the top-left hand corner of your base followed by selecting “Gantt” from the list of available view types.
- With this, the Gantt View will be created, after which you can configure your data to display in the chart.
Airtable Gantt Chart Setup: Configuring Your Data
- The next step is to start configuring your data. You can start by configuring the data settings, which includes the table and View you wish to use for displaying records, along with the start and end date fields. You will need these to use the Gantt view. Airtable fills in these settings automatically during the installation, but you may want to modify them yourself to reflect the data you wish to use.
- The “Start Date Field” and “End Date Field” are used to talk about the duration of each record when it’s shown on the Gantt Chart.
- To use the Gantt Chart, you need to specify both these fields. However, you can display records with only an end date by using Airtable’s milestones feature.
Airtable Gantt Chart Setup: Customizing the Appearance
- There are a few appearance options that you will have to customize while configuring the settings of your Gantt View, for the first time. This needs to be done for the label field and the row height as well.
- You can set the row height to Short or leave it as Medium (the default). This allows greater information density for this field. This setting can be seen as the second option under “Appearance” in the view settings of the Gantt Chart. You also need to keep in mind that this is a global setting shared across all users. This means that if you change this view setting, it will change for all the collaborators as well.
- The “Label Field” option allows you to pick which field to use as the display name for each record in the app.
Airtable Gantt Chart Setup: Using Advanced Features
- Advanced settings like dependencies and milestones can also be configured. The Gantt app allows you to work with two different types of records: Milestones and Tasks. A Milestone depicts a single point in time like a deadline, checkpoint, or meeting. A Milestone record should just have an end date (with no start date). Milestones are represented in the Gantt Chart as diamonds with vertical lines.
- You can enable milestones by turning on the “Use Milestones” setting in the Gantt app.
- Similar to any other record type in an Airtable View, you can also create Milestones. You can also use the “Add Milestone” button in the left-hand sidebar of the Gantt Chart.
- This automatically creates a record with no start date along with an end date based on the chart’s current scroll position.
- There may be times when a project schedule or plan will require that activities be performed in a certain order. For instance, you need to finish making a presentation deck before you give a presentation. These dependent relationships between different tasks (called dependencies) can be visualized with arrows connecting the various bars in the Gantt Chart.
- The arrow depicts the direction of the dependency. The base of the arrow comes from the record that needs to be completed first (the predecessor). The arrow points toward the record that can only be started after the predecessor are completed (the successor). To create this relationship, you will need a linked record field that links to its own table instead of another table (a self-linking record field).
- You can create a self-linking record field by first clicking on the plus button to the right of your existing fields followed by selecting the “Link to Another Record” option, and select the same table that you’re creating the field in.
- Once you’ve added the linked record field, you can use it to either link to activities that can start only after the activity in the primary field is finished (the successor) or link to activities that must be completed before work can start on the activity in the primary field (the predecessor).
This article talks about the 4 simple steps you can implement to set up an Airtable Gantt Chart. It starts with a brief introduction to Airtable including its features and benefits, and an overview of Gantt Charts before diving into the setup process.
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