Got Gantt? mrc Does Now with m-Power
April 5, 2011 Alex Woodie
IBM i shops that utilize mrc‘s Web application development tool, m-Power, have a new chart type to choose from: Gantt. The addition of the chart type with the funny name will help m-Power users demonstrate how events are expected to occur as a project unfolds.
Named after the early 20th century American mechanical engineer Henry Gantt, the Gantt chart has become a popular type of bar chart that’s commonly used to communicate phases and activities of a project. Project managers in many industries often avail themselves of the Gantt chart functionality in Microsoft Excel to illustrate many of the factors and dependencies that go into project scheduling.
The folks at mrc say the new Web-based Gantt chart in the m-Power development environment will function similarly to Gantt charts in Excel. The main difference is that the m-Power Gantt charts will access data directly from a database.
This database connection gives the m-Power Gantt charts several advantages over plain-Jane Excel Gantts, mrc says. For starters, the m-Power Gantt responds to the drag-and-drop report-building interface in mrc’s tools, making it relatively simply to update. An update in one task on the Gantt automatically updates other affected tasks, mrc says. By comparison, updating Excel-based Gantts requires manually changing the data in the spreadsheet.
Also, because the chart is centrally located on a server and accessed via the Web, users are always presented with the latest version of the Gantt chart. In Excel, users must take pains to ensure that everybody involved in a project has the latest version. This usually involves lots of version management and emailing of spreadsheets, which adds complexity.
Brian Crowley, mrc’s director of development, says the new Web-based Gantt chart is a “great tool” for business managers. “It combines all the benefits of a regular Gantt chart with all the advantages of a web application.”
The Gantt is just one type of pre-configured chart that mrc includes in m-Power. The Chicago-based company recently overhauled the graphing engine in m-Power, which is a model-based development tool that outputs enterprise Java (J2EE) code that runs on a variety of systems and databases, including the combination of IBM i and DB2/400, mrc’s historical sweet spot.