Two New Features Delivered in September
For whatever reason, perhaps because they’re part of the Project development group, the Planner team is not good at making new features known to its users. For instance, many new features are not described in the Microsoft 365 message center, and Planner doesn’t appear to have anyone who tries to excite and delight its users with news and advice by posting to Twitter or other social media. You need to keep an eye on its Microsoft Technical Community blog to learn what’s going on. And judging by the small number of views the blog clocks up, few people do that.
Which brings me to the September 30 announcement describing two new features. The first is recommended plans, a new section in the navigation pane in the Planner hub to reveal plans containing assigned tasks for the user that they haven’t opened yet. In other words, it’s a way of drawing user attention to plans where new and unknown tasks lurk waiting for their attention. I’m afraid that I can’t get too excited about this development for the simple reason that it should have been in the product from the start, just like a mail folder flags the existence of unread items.
Moving Tasks in Planner and Teams
The other new feature is more important and useful. Moving tasks between buckets in a plan has always been possible, and it’s also been possible to move tasks between plans belonging to the same Microsoft 365 group. Moving tasks to plans in other Microsoft 365 groups has not. This gap is now closed, and you can now move tasks to any plan in any group you’re a member of. The feature works in both the Planner browser app and the Tasks app in Teams. One difference between the two is that after it moves a task, the Planner browser app displays a link to bring you to the moved task in its new location. The Teams app doesn’t do this.
Moving a task to a plan in a different group is just like moving a task between plans in the same group. After selecting the Move option in the […] menu, you select the target group (Figure 1) and the bucket within the target group and Planner moves the task.
Microsoft’s blog notes that certain fields might not be moved along with a task. For instance, labels are specific to a plan, so they won’t move. To gain insight into what task elements won’t move, the blog points to the support page for the topic. Unfortunately, the page has details of what a copied task contains but nothing about a moved task, so I did a quick test.
Figure 2 shows a sample task before moving while Figure 3 shows it after moving to a plan in a different Microsoft 365 group.
Looking through the different task components, we can see that:
- The assigned owner remains.
- Labels are gone, as expected.
- The progress, priority, start, and end date are preserved, as is the description and checklist items.
- The file attachment is present and points to the original location in SharePoint Online. This is not an issue if the users in the new group are all members of the source group and can use their membership to access the file in SharePoint. It is an issue for people who aren’t members of the source group as they won’t have permissions to access the file.
- No comments exist apart from the “New task created” entry. This is logical because the comments are in the original group’s mailbox.
Overall, moving a task to a plan in a different group results in an acceptable outcome. Labels can be replaced easily, and any problem attachments can be replaced to allow access for all the members of the new group.
Rich Text and Images for Notes
As soon as I complain about the lack of Planner items in the Microsoft 365 message center, one turns up. MC295027 (October 29) describes how a new rich text field will arrive in mid-December to allow users to format notes in tasks instead of being limited to plain text as is the case today. The new control also accommodates images. Initially, only the Planner web client and the Tasks in Teams app will support the new text field, which is being implemented as a new Graph API capability. Microsoft will transfer existing plain text note content to rich text notes automatically, ready for the introduction of rich text support in other Planner clients (mobile, SharePoint Online, and Power Automate). They’ll also make sure that any changes made in one note field will synchronize to the other.
So much change, all the time. It’s a challenge to stay abreast of all the updates Microsoft makes across Office 365. Subscribe to the Office 365 for IT Pros eBook to receive monthly insights into what’s happening.