Part 3: Best Method to Import a Primavera P6 XML Project File

Written on . By Tracy Mah

This article is the last in a series of my research and testing of Oracle Primavera P6 XML exporting and importing of projects.

If you haven’t read the first two blogs, please check them out:

Part 1:

Part 2:

We’ve learned so far that Primavera P6 XML project exports and imports have many advantages over the traditional XER files. The downside of XML files are that they are much larger and may not successfully export or import due to the file sizes. The default file size limit is set at 102.4 MB, which shouldn’t be an issue for small to medium sized projects.

For exporting XML projects, there is a method to force the file size to be significantly smaller by including an Activity Layout that is saved with the Project before the XML export. By doing so, the file that is exported becomes a compressed ZIP file. For comparison, my tests in the second article revealed for a 5000 activity project, the XML file was 137 MB vs the 3.6 MB ZIP export file size.

In this article, I timed the import of the same projects that were exported in the Part 2 article. The tests were conducted in a Primavera P6 r16.1 PPM standalone system. The results are in the table below.


Number of Baselines

Time to Import

File Size

1000 Activities – XER


15 sec

1.2 MB

3000 Activities – XER


58 sec

3.5 MB

5000 Activities – XER


2 min 13 sec

5.9 MB





1000 Activities – XML


6 min 1 sec

27.5 MB

3000 Activities – XML


18 min


5000 Activities – XML


30 min 41 sec

137.2 MB





1000 Activities – Zip (+project layout)


6 min 8 sec

0.76 MB

3000 Activities – Zip (+project layout)


19 min 17 sec

2.2 MB

5000 Activities – Zip (+project layout)


35 min 13 sec

3.6 MB

The results don’t show a huge difference with the XML import times, however, you can see that it does takes longer to import the Zip project files. My assumption is that extra time is needed for the program to unzip the file before it can go through the import process.

Other factors that may increase the import times would be the server conditions (power, speed, etc) and the speed of the connection to the server itself. I did similar tests while I was working on a client site and I found the import of the Zip files took much longer as the file would need to be extracted (unzipped) in the system first before it can be imported.

What can be concluded from these tests?

1) My recommendation would be to import the XML file only. Don’t try to import the Zip file that contains the Activity Layout as well. Manually unzip the file into its separate XML and layout files. Then choose only the XML file to import without and activity layouts.

The image below shows the Import XML dialog box where you should uncheck the ‘Import all project level layouts’ box. Then in the next ‘Select Import File’ dialog box, you can choose the XML file type.

2) The large XML file sizes can’t be avoided during the import process, but I believe the benefits outweigh the traditional XER files. You can read the advantages here

I hope my three part blog series has given you extra insight on Primavera P6 XML imports and exports. I encourage you try and choose XML instead of XER project files. Just remember to use the recommended procedures for large projects that I discovered during my testing.

a) For XML exports, include a Project level Activity Layout with the export so it creates a compressed ZIP file.

b) For importing, do not import the ZIP file. Instead unzip the ZIP file manually and then import the XML file without any Activity Layouts.