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Process Maps - some advantages of the XML format


Triaster process maps are saved as Visio XML documents. A text-based format can be helpful when trouble-shooting files. However, opening a process map VDX file in a text editor such as Notepad reveals a format that isn't easily readable. So how can the file be opened in a way that makes it more straightforward to analyse and understand?

Try this:

  1. Take a copy of the VDX file, and rename the copy with a '.xml' extension.
  2. Double-click on this XML file to open it.

This will commonly open the file in Internet Explorer, where it's formatted in a much more comprehensible way. Sections can be expanded and collapsed, so simplifying the view and making it easier to concentrate on the content of interest.

Opening an XML file in Internet Explorer is also a simple way to quickly validate its XML. On rare occasions, our help has been sought in recovering corrupt map files, where an invalid XML error is reported when trying to open it in Visio. Often, the file has been truncated.

Opening such a file in Internet Explorer can help to identify the point at which the file is recoverable. This would usually be at the last full definition of a Triaster shape. From that point on, the file content would be discarded, and replaced with content from an essentially blank process map file to complete a valid XML file. Of course, the amount of recoverable content depends on the point at which the file is truncated, but there's often enough to make the exercise worthwhile.

Sometimes, the XML error pertains to a specific section in the file. Particularly if that section is meant to be consistent across files, e.g. the VBA project data, it can be replaced with data from a valid file, and the map content is retained.

So, we've found that the XML, text-based format allows us to analyse and repair files in a way that just wouldn't be possible if a binary format were used.

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