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The P6 Omnibus File

Omnibus (adjective)

Comprising several items.

The most common Primavera export file is “XER” which harks back to the company that developed this enterprise scheduling software in the first place: Eagle Ray. Primavera Systems bought Eagle Ray, and then Oracle bought Primavera Systems. The very familiar “XER” file format in fact stands for “eXport Eagle Ray”.

XER files can only export project data associated with the current project, or all resources or all roles. For someone who needs to transfer all resources or roles from one database to another the XER file can be very useful, but I find this to be a rather esoteric function for the vast majority of users.

But there is another Primavera export file (XML) that can do so much more:

  1. Export all project layouts associated with the current project
  2. Export all (or some) baselines associated with the current project
  3. Import into any other version of Primavera P6

This might also encourage you to create project layouts. By default, new layouts are user-specific and can therefore be applied to any schedule to which the user has access. Project layouts are only available to the associated project (or a copy of that project) which is desirable when the layout has specific features (such as a grouping or filter) that would not be applicable to other projects. The header or footer might likewise contain wording that is specific to one project.

Primavera P6 EPPM users are more accustomed to this method of importing files because the P6 Web interface only supports XML file imports and exports. However, P6 Professional Client (sometimes referred to as P6 Optional Client) can be used to import XER files into a P6 EPPM database. Confusing, yes, but P6 EPPM databases can be accessed via a Web or desktop interface.

The following screenshots show the process for exporting P6 XML files. Keep in mind, you are not required to export any baselines and can also choose which ones to export. Likewise, you do not have to export project layouts:

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Here is the sequence for importing P6 files. Notice that we can choose which baselines should be imported:

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Pretty simple!

Hopefully you will not think of me as a hypocrite if I admit to sending XER files on a regular basis. But as a consultant I do not need to keep sending baselines to clients if they have already received those files previously. For example, if I sent my client the third update last month it is somewhat redundant to send them the fourth update this month with the third update as a baseline. I also do not need to keep sending project layouts unless I have recently created new ones.

Nevertheless, for the recipient, the XML file has everything needed to view the current schedule and make comparisons to previous versions of the schedule. I find that for my construction claims work it is a great way to transmit my entire analysis of a delay to the client. The only downside might be that XML files are not nearly as compact as the text-based XER files. Roughly speaking, XML files tend to be about ten times larger, which in some cases might exceed the maximum file size for email attachments. Not surprisingly, it also takes longer to export and import XML files.