Classic issues with layouts in Primavera P6

Matthias van Campenby Matthias van Campen | In Primaned Blog |

Advanced Primavera P6, layout types, activity codes, copying projects

To provide the project team with the required insights in the project, a project controls engineer spends a good portion of his time filtering, sorting, scaling, summarizing, etc.  Thankfully most of this work doesn’t have to be repeated over and over again, as you can simply save layouts. Reapplying a layout is not only a gain of time, it also assures that your reports always look exactly the same. Or don’t they? Have your filters or group and sort settings ever disappeared, leaving you wondering where they went? Then this post will surely help you out.

Fig. 1: How a layout looks pre-saving v.s. in a back-up project







The problem occurs when one continues working with a copy of a project and if filters or Group and Sort settings refer to project-specific items such as ‘Activity Codes’ and ‘WBS’.

  • If you make a copy as a back-up, make sure you continue working in the original project. The back-up will not display all layouts correctly, but this might not be that important for back-up
  • If you do continue with a copy, take the following rules into account:
    • Avoid Activity Codes in your filters and
    • If referring to WBS elements, use “WBS Name” or “WBS Path” in your filters and not “WBS”
    • (Re-)Create your layouts for every copy of your project and reload them after switching.

If you’re looking for other solutions or if you’re just curious as to why this problem occurs, keep on reading for a bit of Primavera-theory…

Layout saving options

Fig. 2: Layout saving options.

When saving a layout, two main options are available. You can make it available for certain users, or you can assign it to a single project. When you choose to make it available for the current user (yourself) or for other users, the layout is accessible from within every project. This also makes it possible for those users to change the layout.

A layout assigned to a project can be accessed by anybody who has access to the project but cannot be accessed from within another project.

When you switch between projects with a ‘project-layout’ open, the formatting of the layout is kept during the transition on a ‘read-only’ basis. You can change the layout and save it, but Primavera will then ask you to choose a new name for it in the current project. Be aware that when you go back to the original project, the ‘read-only’ status is dropped. This means you can open project A’s layout, change it in project B and then overwrite the original when you switch to project A again.

Project specific data

Primavera keeps a lot of data about every task, resource, risk, etc. But if that isn’t enough for your filtering needs, you can have user defined fields and activity codes to fill the gaps. Depending on your choice, these fields can either be accessed from other projects or not (ref. Figure 3: Activity Code Options).

Fig. 3: Activity Code Options.

If you choose to have your activity code on a project level, you will not be able to access it from other projects. So, what happens when you use project-specific fields for filters or grouping bands on user-specific layouts? Everything will look fine until you switch to another project. If you filtered on a project activity code, the filter will simply be cleared and as a result all activities will be shown.

Fig. 4: Filter before switching.

Fig. 5: Filter with project activity codes after switching.





Copying projects

Often you might want to make a copy of a project, as a back-up. The question is then: How can you copy a project without losing your layout settings?

Fig. 6: Copy project options.






When copying projects, there is no checkbox for layouts. Your project-specific layouts all get copied from one project to another even if you were to uncheck every single box. What happens to your project-specific data?

Primavera makes new activity codes, new group-and-sort’s, and new filters, but sadly they are exact copies. The new filters don’t refer to the new codes but to the old ones. So the exact same thing happens as what happens when you switch projects: you lose your project-specific data. What you can do is redefine your filters in the copy and save that layout again.


Layouts in Primavera might not work entirely as you’d expect they would. As long as you plan to stay in the same project everything stays in order. If you plan on using your layout in different projects remember next tips:

PROJECT- SPECIFIC DATA Redefine every time! Redefine + save once, reload every time.
  • Try avoiding project-specific fields for grouping/sorting/ filtering in user-defined layouts.
  • If you copy a project, project-based layouts with project-specific filters must be redefined once.
  • User-defined layouts with project-specific filters should be redefined every single time you switch projects.
  • Project-based layouts with project-specific filters should be reloaded every time you switch projects.
  • If you copy projects merely for back-up, keep working in the original project. This way you don’t have to redefine layouts and reports every time you want a temporary back-up.
  • Keep a print-screen for all important layouts that refer to project-specific data.

Have you experienced some other troubles with layouts? Have we missed an important aspect of the problem? Feel free to write your comments below…

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Comments (1)

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    Antonio Solis Rodríguez


    Excellent description of the problem. After so many times this situation occurred, I understood the reasons why when I copy the project, the copy does not open the filters and the design correctly. Good article. Regards.


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