Part 1: The Advantages of Primavera P6 XML Exports and Imports

Written on . By Tracy Mah

For long time users of Primavera P6, the traditional method of exporting projects is using the XER file format. An XER is Primavera’s proprietary compressed file format of a project, think of it as their version of a ZIP file. As an alternative, there is a choice to export and import P6 projects using the XML format instead. There are quite a few advantages as to why a Primavera P6 XML export and import is better than an XER file. For example, one of the biggest criticisms of XER files is that Baselines are not included with the project export. A benefit to an XML exports is that multiple Baselines can be chosen to be included in the file.

This blog is Part 1 of a series of three articles on my investigation of Primavera P6 XML exports and imports. 

What is an XML file format?

XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language. XML is an industry standard that allows data to be stored in a plain text format which makes it easy for various software programs to exchange data. By exporting Primavera P6 projects as an XML file, the project data can be shared and controlled by the User.

What are the advantages of a Primavera P6 XML export or import file?

 1) Baselines are exported along with the Project P6 XML file.

  • Primavera Users can select which Baselines are exported and imported in the XML file.

2) Project Activity Layouts are included with the P6 XML file.

  • All Project specific Activity Layouts created for the project can be included in the XML export.

3) An important advantage of P6 XML imports is it enforces the security privileges of the User.

  • If the person using P6 does not have the ability to Add, Edit or Delete certain Global data items like Activity Codes, Calendars, and Resources, then Primavera won’t import those elements.
  • By imposing the specific Global and Project Security Profile settings, Primavera will not import data items that will affect or change the data in the database.

Why is this important?

It reduces the need for the P6 Administrator to monitor and ‘clean-up’ your company’s database. This is especially important if projects are being imported from other companies or contractors. It prevents bringing in their unwanted data like the codes and resources from their P6 database.

4) More control of the data being imported.

  • There are more Import options available at both the Global and Project data level items. The 3 screen captures below show each of the data items that can be selected to ‘Do Not Import’, ‘Insert New’, ‘Keep Existing’, ‘Update Existing’ or ‘Delete’.
  • Different actions can be applied to specific Codes, UDFs, Calendars and Resources.
  • In contrast, the XER Import Options are limited and there are no choices to pick the specific data item (ex, Code) to be imported. Therefore there is very little control in preventing unwanted changes to your database.

Below are the specific Global Data Types the User chooses what action to take.

Below are the Project specific Data Types the User chooses what action to take.

Under the Advanced Import Options, specific Codes, UDFs Calendars and Resources can be individually selected with different actions to take.

As you can see, there are many great advantages to using a Primavera P6 XML export over an XER file.

Why don’t we see more people use XML as the preferred method of Primavera P6 exports and imports?

There are a couple of shortcomings with the Primavera P6 XML file exports and imports. The first drawback is the export and import process is slower.  Also, the resulting XML file sizes are much larger and there will be issues with large projects or ones with more than 4000 activities. Primavera P6 XML exports may fail due to the large project sizes.

I have done extensive testing and discovered an optimal methodology on what settings to use to make the XML export and import as efficient as possible. Check out my next article where I highlight what I’ve discovered to be the best way to export Primavera P6 XML project files,

Stay tuned for the last instalment of this three part blog series on Primavera P6  XML importing. 

In the meantime check out my article on how to Export Primavera P6 Layouts that have a Filter,