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Create dependencies in your project tracker
Create dependencies in your project tracker

Got a complex project with lots of moving parts? Learn how to account for dependencies in your doc.

Updated over a week ago

If you’re using Coda to manage projects and tasks, you may find yourself wondering about dependencies. A dependency is a relationship between tasks, where one task is dependent on another. For instance, maybe you have Task B which can’t begin until Task A is completed. Or you have Task C which can’t begin until Task D also begins.

We’ve made it easy to set up, enforce, and work with dependencies in your project tracker. This requires using relation columns in your table, which we’ll cover briefly below.

If you want to learn about setting up dependencies within timelines specifically, check out this article.

Within this article you’ll find...

But first - relation columns

Relation columns are required for setting up dependencies in your project tracker. So what is a relation column?

Sometimes we have the same values shared by tables in a doc. Rather than having to retype these, or worry about keeping them up to date, Coda allows you to create relation column - a column that references other tables.

The relation column format creates a linked select list of the display column of the table of your choice.

NEW demo relation column.gif

How do you know which column is the display column? Simply look for the bookmark symbol in the list of columns.

1_1 (12).png

If you ever want to change your display column, click the dropdown menu next to the column of your choice and select Set as display column. Learn more about the display column here.

Create dependencies

Where relation columns become particularly helpful in the world of project management, is in tracking task dependencies.

In tables

If your data is displayed as a table, here's how you set up relation columns for dependencies:

  1. Create your base task table (let’s call this Tasks) with task name as your display column

  2. Add a column and name it Dependencies

  3. Right-click on the header of your new column, select Change column type, then select Relation from the options (Tip: you can use the search bar to quickly find this column type)

  4. You’ll be ask to choose which table this relation column should pull from. Choose your base tasks table (the one we’re calling Tasks).

Now that your relation column is set up, you can use it to start assigning dependencies. Any changes made to the selected task will automatically be reflected in the relation column. And, what's more, you'll be able to see all of the underlying data from the dependent task in the row in question so you have the complete picture of your work and how it's put together.

In timelines

If your data is already displayed as a timeline, creating a dependency columns is even easier:

  1. Hover over the timeline, then click on Options (in the upper right)

  2. Click into Timeline display

  3. Scroll down to the Dependencies section, and click Set up dependencies

  4. Click into the drop-down menu, and select +Add a new column

A new relation column will automatically be added to your data. You can then start assigning dependencies via that column.

Learn more about creating and customizing timelines - and enforcing dependencies - here.

Tips for using dependencies

Format based on status

It can be helpful to have a quick and easy way of understanding the status of your dependencies. We recommend creating a Dependency status column that automatically pulls the status of the dependent task, and displays it in the row of the main task.

To set this up, just follow these steps:

  1. Right click on the header of your dependency relation column

  2. Select Add related column, then choose the status column from the options. A new column will be created (let’s call this Dependency status) which will automatically reflect the status of the dependency for that row.

  3. To add formatting, hover over the table and click Options in the upper right

  4. Click into Conditional format. Then create a conditional format rule - or rules - based on your Dependency status column. You can read more about creating these rules here.

dependency status conditional format .gif

Group by dependency

For an easy summary of what your dependencies affect, you can choose to group the dependency column along the left.

  1. Right click on the header of your dependency column

  2. From the menu options, select Group, then choose whether you want to group column along left or group column across top

That’s it! Your tasks are now grouped by dependencies. You can read more about grouping here.

Enforce dependencies

Coda even allows you to set up enforced dependencies between your tasks. This means that when the date of a task moves, the date of the dependent task with be automatically updated. While the effects of enforced dependencies can be seen in any view type, they can currently only be set up through a timeline view. Learn all about how to set up enforced dependencies here.


What if I have multiple dependencies associated with a single task?

If you run into this situation, simply toggle on the Allow multiple selections option in the Column options menu of your relation column.

Just a heads up, if you then group your dependency column, you'll see each dependency group as an individual unit.

Can I set up enforced dependencies?

Yes, you can enforce dependencies via timeline options. This ensures that when the date of a task changes, the dependent task will update automatically. Learn all about this here.

How do I set up dependencies in a timeline view?

Timeline views are a great way to visualize dependencies. You can learn about timelines and setting up dependencies in this article.

Related resources

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