Archive for November, 2005

Visual File Comparison

Tuesday, November 29th, 2005

Document comparison is not new today. I remember there were limited command line options in DOS days. It allows you to compare two files (often different versions of same document) for differences.

There are lot of tools which provide you these functionalities. You can use fc.exe command in windows. Or you can check WinDiff from Microsoft as well. But Recently I found a free version of a tool called  ExamDiff which allows you to compare two files visually. It has a nice GUI with the support of command line parameters. I had two versions of a SQL scripts with a lengthy code. With ExamDiff I found out the difference in the two within seconds.

You can look for some other File Comparison tools.

4W’s of Project Plan in Project Server 2003

Wednesday, November 16th, 2005

Each application these days comes with some sort of logging. The purpose of which is mostly to track changes i.e 4W (what, when, where, who).

MS Project Server 2003 (PS2003) provide very little history of who made the changes in your project plan, at least in its default settings. I’ll cover some details on this topic here.



While working on PS2003 I faced a situation where a PM said “someone changed my plan”. On top of that if the environment is such that any PM / RM can open up any plan on the PS2003 & can make any changes, you’ll feel like a ‘lost soul’.

You can check the lastest change made in a plan by digging into the project database. But what if the user says “I suspect that someone changed my plan last week.”

At this point you would like to know who:

  1. saved the plan last time (and may be since last month)
  2. published the plan last time (and may be since last month)



Who Saved or published Last


If the change is recently done, go to Project Server database & look into MSP_Projects & MSP_Web_Projects databases.

a. Running this query against Project Server db will show you some handy information on recent changes:

select Proj_name, proj_id, proj_prop_author, proj_creation_date, proj_last_saved, proj_Data_Source, proj_machine_id, Proj_CheckoutBy, Proj_CheckoutDate from msp_projects where proj_name like ‘projectname%’


Replace projectname% with the actual name of the Project plan/(s).


b. Run this query to find out when the last time someone published the plan.

select Wproj_id, Proj_id, Proj_name, Wproj_Last_Pub from msp_web_projects where proj_name like ‘projectname%’


Replace projectname% with the actual name of the Project plan/(s).


c. Using join you can view the information in one view for all projects:

select msp_projects.Proj_name, msp_projects.proj_id, msp_projects.proj_creation_date, msp_projects.proj_last_saved, msp_web_projects.Wproj_Last_Pub, msp_projects.proj_prop_author, msp_projects.proj_Data_Source, msp_projects.proj_machine_id, msp_projects.Proj_CheckoutBy, msp_projects.Proj_CheckoutDate from msp_projects inner join msp_web_projects on msp_projects.proj_id = msp_web_projects.proj_id


Who Saved or published History

The problem with above method is that it doesn’t tell you the details about the recent change. What if you want to know who made the changes in last week or month. Follow the steps below to find how to set logging & then see history of changes. It is cumbersome process but still worth it in some situations.

a. SetTracing is a utility for PS 2003 which uses Project Server Tracing Service to log application errors in Event Viewer or to a log file. Install it & set its options to log all activity to Windows Event Viewer. Once you configure the logging in SetTracing, from that time it will start logging detailed Project Server errors / changes in Application log of Event Viewer.




b. The default setting of your Event Viewer might override old entries. I’ll not go into details of Event Viewer or retention of event logs. That is a separate discussion. Luckily I found following article “Monitoring and Troubleshooting Using Event Logs” which covers almost everything I wanted to include in my article. So whats the point of re-inventing the wheels 🙂 At this point all you want is search for relevant events. So you can use nay method described in that article. Go to next step for project specific steps. (I want you to keep reading this article ;P)

c. EventCombMT.exe is a utility in Windows Server 2003 Resource kit which you can use to extract relevant information from your long list of Event Viewer logs. To extract information relevant to you, you have to set its options.Make sure to add your server in the list, select Application as the log file to search, select all 6 event types, select Microsoft Project Server tracing service as the source, enter days in Scan Back option & enter Project name or relevant information you want to search in logs in Text field. Then hit Search. It will extract relevant information from Event Viewer to a temp.txt file.






d. Project logging information in Event viewer is not descriptive like most of other Windows logs. When you look at the temp.txt created by EventCombMT.exe, you will not see clear description of the log. Rather you will see PDS related code. But still that code is understandable. Check the PDS Reference if you want to find out the details about a particular PDS method. Like for method return value tells you the user who checked out the project.


The second method I explained above will tell you the 4W (rather A to Z) of Project Server 2003 changes. Try it in your testing environment (as I can’t guarantee the process in your environment 🙂 ). Forgot to tell you, after digging into this subject I found that in my case someone within the team of that PM opend up the plan.

I’ll recommend the use of Microsoft MOM for log management & reporting. Send me your feedback if you find something better on the tracking process for MS Project Plans. Will definitely include it in this article.

Query to find resrouces with unsubmitted timesheet

Monday, November 14th, 2005

— attempt to id non-reporters
–find full list of resources
select wr.res_name
and TXTFLD.text_category = 1
and proj_id = 1
and conv_string = ‘Resource Group’
and wr.RES_NAME not in
        ( — list of resources who have pending task updates.
                select distinct R.RES_NAME
                where A.WASSN_ACTUALS_PENDING =1 — flag to indicate task is pending manager approval
                and A.wproj_id = P.WPROJ_ID
                AND R.WRES_ID = A.WRES_ID
order by res_name

Project Sites

Monday, November 14th, 2005

MS Project Conference 2006

Production deployments of WSS & SPS not supported on Virtual PC & Server

Monday, November 14th, 2005

Windows SharePoint Services and SharePoint Portal Server 2003 do not support Virtual PC and Virtual Server for production environments.

Check this MS KB article

Google Analytics

Monday, November 14th, 2005

Gogole Analytics will provide free hosted Web analytics service that businesses can use to track the effectiveness of online marketing campaigns

Some highlights of this service are:
– Free Service
– Learn how visitors interact with your website
– Identify the navigational bottlenecks in your site
– Finding how profitable your keywords are across search engines and campaigns
– Pinpoint where your best customers
– Easy-to-understand visually enhanced reports
– Available in different languages
– Integrated with Google AdWords

Google Analytics

MS Project EPM Tools – From Russia With Love

Friday, November 11th, 2005

Could you believe that Russian project management consulting company may become a globally recognized one?

That is the first thing I read on this site. After going through their product listing my answer was ‘Yes’ like them.

They have developed some add-on tools for MS Project & MS Project Server which can ease the life of the Project Manager & Project Administrator.

Their add-on tools include:

Task Detailing
Portfolio Analyzer Extender
Configurations Manager
Risk Management Wizard
Earned Value Trends Analysis Wizard
Locale patcher

Out of these the ones which are really valuable or let me rephrase will benefit me or in my work are:

Portfolio Analyzer Extender v.3

Configurations Manager


Now I’ve to Close this window, you know why? To post this article & to work with their trial versions on my development system 😉

Check their Product Pricing here

(Courtesy of Gary from MSProjectExperts)

Check these Language Translator site to translate (MS Project resource site) contents from Russian to English.

Installing Project Server on SBS 2003

Monday, November 7th, 2005

Interested in installing MS Project Server 2003 on Small Business Server 2003?

Check this document. It helps you in the deployment process on SBS 2003.

Troubleshooting Webparts & WPPackager

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005

Troubleshooting Web Parts and Deployment

WPPackager for Packaging and Deploying Web Parts
It is used to package and deploy Web Parts for use with Microsoft SharePoint Products and Technologies. It packages Web Parts, creates an installer and adds code access security permissions during installation.

To read more articles on web parts go to this site


Virtual PC 2004 or Virtual Server 2005

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2005

With the acquistion of Connectix, Microsoft entered into the world of virtualization. Forget about the virtual world of MATRIX 😀 I’ll talk on the virtual world of IT Systems.

They released the product with the name of MS Virtual PC 2004. Later they also launched Virtual Server 2005. So what is the difference between these two?

Virtual PC 2004 allows you to run multiple OS simaltaneously on desktops. Where as Virtual Server 2005 was designed to run many OS on servers. There is a document from Microsoft which compares the features of the two products.

Virtual PC vs. Virtual Server: Comparing Features and Uses

You can also check this Techrepublic article

Product Sites
MS Virtual PC 2004
MS Virtual Server 2005


Do check the FAQ’s pages of the two products. Also view these webcasts to learn more.