Customise the Data Capture (Properties.xml)

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Ref: 20060306
Last edited September 29th, 2011

Every Activity and Deliverable on a Process Navigator diagram can store data. The definition of the data to be stored is contained in an XML file. By default, this file is installed to \Program Files\Triaster\Process Navigator\Properties.xml.

NOTE: Process Navigator offers two Properties.xml files. The file with the standard questions is called Properties.xml. However, there is another file called Additional Properties.xml from which you can take sections to add to your standard file. The Additional Properties.xml file is located in the same default location as mentioned above.

Explaining how XML works is beyond the scope of this article; however, to edit the XML file really is straightforward using any text editor such as Notepad. Just make sure you have a back-up copy before you start!

TIP: When you upgrade your software, the Properties.xml file will be overwritten, so please ensure that you save your Properties.xml file as a different name (i.e., Company Name Properties.xml) to avoid losing your customised changes to the file.

Editing the Properties.xml

  1. Open Windows Explorer (right-click the start menu and select Explore). Browse to C:\Program Files\Triaster\Process Navigator
  2. Take a copy of the properties.xml file by right-clicking the file and selecting 'Copy' from the menu option. Paste the copy into the same folder.
  3. Give the copied file a new name by selecting the file and pressing F2. Type in a new name.
  4. Ensure that the file is not Read-only by right-clicking the file and selecting Properties from the menu. At the bottom of the properties dialog, deselect the Read-only field and select OK.
  5. Double-click the copied XML file which will open the XML file in your Internet browser.
  6. Right click and the select View Source. This will open the Properties.xml file in Notepad.The file is now ready to be edited.

To Add a New Group

Groups are defined by the <group> tag. For example, the first group for Activity properties is People and Organisation, defined as follows:

<group groupName="PeopleAndOrganisation" groupCaption="People and Organisation">

groupName is any unique string within the XML file, and groupCaption is the string displayed in the properties tab - what is seen by the users.

NOTE: The groupName must have a unique name in the file and ust not contain spaces. Also, </group> tag is required at the end of the group.

To Add a New Row

To add rows into a group, use the <row> tag. For example, part of the People and Organisation group and contained rows is given below:

<group groupName="PeopleAndOrganisation" groupCaption="People and Organisation"> 
    <row rowName="Responsibility" rowCaption="Responsibility" rowType="3"/> 
        <rowValue>Business Analyst</rowValue> 
        <rowValue>IT Support</rowValue> 
        <rowValue>Project Manager</rowValue> 

Note how the </group> tag closes off the group definition? This is compulsory.

rowName is used to generate the custom property name in Visio's ShapeSheet. For this reason, it should only contain alphanumeric characters (no spacing or punctuation).

rowCaption is the row name as displayed in the Properties dialog within Mapping Edition.

rowType is one of the following options:

0 String value - a basic text edit field is displayed.

A drop down list of options is given, but the user can also enter items not contained in the list. When using this option, the items contained in the list are defined as <rowValue> tags. For example, the default Properties.xml file contains a question, 'Is this Activity a Bottleneck' with Yes and No as the responses. This is encoded as:

<row rowName="Bottleneck" rowCaption="Is this Activity a bottleneck?" rowType="3"> 

Be careful not to terminate the <row> tag as with type "0" with a final /, but use a full closing </row> tag.

4 A check box. This is an alternative to having a drop down list of True and False values.
5 A date control to enable easy input of dates.
7 A time edit control to enable easy input of times in a 24 hour clock format.
12 A colour selection control.

Whatever data type is used, they are stored as strings in Visio's ShapeSheet to ensure portability across different applications.

Using the New Properties.xml file

Once you have made the changes to the XML file, save the file in notepad and use F5 to see the changes within the file opened within internet explorer. Close the file.

TIP: If you get the message 'Page cannot be displayed' after you have altered the XML file, then there is an error in the xml file. Most likely an end tag is missing. Go to View > Source to find the error.

Open Process Navigator and select Process Navigator > Options. Select the File Locations tab. In the properties field, browse to the new customised properties.xml file that you just created and select the Update button. You will find the changes you have made by right-clicking the shape and selecting properties and then the Properties tab.

TIP: When changing the properties of the Node, it is recommended that properties are added to the Node and default properties are not deleted. The reason is that even though the XML properties of the Node itself are changed, the Node will still look for the default properties. In addition, the Node version bar will not reflect the new changes and will only display the default properties.

Need further help? Contact the Triaster Support team by e-mailing or by calling us on + 4(0)870 402 1234.
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