Symbol Linking

With Milestones Professional's symbol linking, a symbol's date on one schedule can be based on a symbol's date on another schedule or the same schedule.

Symbol linking involves a few steps, including naming the target symbol, establishing the link from the outgoing symbol to the target symbol, and updating the linked symbols.

A target symbol controls the date of a symbol whose outgoing link points to the target symbol. The symbol with the outgoing link will find the named target symbol, acquire the date of the target symbol and use that date to move the symbol to the same date.

Symbol linking example 1
In the example below, there are two schedules. The Project Status Overview schedule is used by top-level management to track status, dollars, and percent complete, across multiple projects. The Project 1 Detailed Report schedule is used by lower-level management to track the details of the project, including project phases, dependencies, flow, and duration.

In the Project Status Overview schedule, the start date on the Project 1 task line has an outgoing link to a target symbol—the first start date (Research) in the Project 1 Detailed Report schedule. Likewise, the arrow status symbol in the Overview schedule is linked to the arrow status symbol in the Detailed schedule. Finally, the end dates are linked, as shown below.

When the target symbols move in the Detailed schedule, the symbols with outgoing links in the Overview schedule move to the same date.

Thus, the Detailed schedule is maintained by the project manager, while the Overview schedule is monitored by upper management.

Of course, if your management system works differently, then some or all of the links can be established in the opposite direction—where the dates in the top level schedule drive the dates in the lower level schedules.

Symbol linking example 2
In this example, the schedule named "Main Schedule" is used to keep track of four projects. Each task row is dedicated to tracking the start and finish dates of a project.

The main schedule's "Web Site" task line has an outgoing link from its start symbol to the first start symbol in the "Web Site Project" schedule. When Web Site Project's Task 1 start date changes, the start date for Web Site in the Main Schedule changes to the same date.

In the same way, the Web Site task line's finish date is linked to the Task 4 finish date in the Web Site Project schedule.

Thus, the Main Schedule's purpose is to track the overall progress of several sub-schedules.


How to link the symbols
To link symbols, first name the symbol (target) that will control the date of the other symbol (parent). Double-click the target symbol, choose the Symbol Links tab, and give the symbol a unique name. Save the schedule.
In reference to the example above, the Task 1 start symbol for Project 1 is named Proj1Start.
Now, in the other schedule, double-click the symbol whose date will be changed according to the named target symbol's date. Choose the Symbol Links tab.
Click Browse to find the schedule containing the target symbol, then choose from the Symbol Name list. (If the target symbol is located in the same schedule, choose This file). Save the schedule.
In reference to the example above, the Project 1 start symbol in Project Status Overview is now linked to Task 1's start date in Project 1 Detailed Report.
How to update the linked symbols
In the schedule containing the outgoing links, choose File | Update | Linked Symbols. A report of the symbol linking results appears:
  • If the symbol linking is reported as unsuccessful, then the file containing the target symbol may have been moved, renamed or deleted. Or, the Symbol Name in the target schedule may have been deleted.
  • To prevent dependent symbols from shifting when updating linked symbols, check Do Not Update Dependent Symbols. Otherwise, dependent symbols will shift when the linked symbols are updated.
  • You may need to click Refresh List to update the Symbol Name list.
  • You can break a link from a symbol on one schedule to a named symbol on another schedule or the same schedule. Once the link is cleared, that symbol's date will no longer be based on the target symbol's date. To do so, choose the Symbol Name and click Clear Link.
Alternatives to symbol linking
Master schedules
Managing large projects