Advanced topics

Customising Process Navigator

Process Navigator has been designed to enable client and industry specific customisation of the mapping capability in a straightforward way. The symbol sets, captured data and even part of the process mapping logic engine can be customised.

Customising Data Capture

Every Activity, Deliverable and Node on a Process Navigator diagram can store data, and the definition of the data to be stored is contained in an XML file. By default, this file is installed to C:\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.

To edit the XML file really is straightforward using any text editor such as Notepad. Just make sure you have a backup 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 to avoid losing your customised changes to the file.

The location of the XML file is available by right-clicking the drawing page, selecting Options, and then the File Locations tab. You will see the dialog below.

To edit the Properties.xml file, open Notepad (Start > All Programs > Accessories > Notepad).

Browse to the Properties.xml file which, by default, is located in C:\Program Files\Triaster\Process Navigator\Properties.xml.

When the Properties.xml is opened in Notepad, it is from this point that you can change the contents of the XML file.

NOTE: Remember to save your Properties.xml file with a new name to avoid the file being overwritten during software upgrades.

Contents of Properties.xml

Activity Properties

People and Organisation

Business Analyst
IT Support Engineer
Project Manager
Secretary PA

Accountability Same List as Above
Consulted Same List as Above
Informed Same List as Above
Performance Measurement
 Total Cost Text
Total Effort (man-hours)  Numeric (spin control)
Elapsed time (days) Text
Frequency of Occurrence (weekly) Text
Process Management
Covered by Data Protection (uses personal information)? Yes/No 
Are there any Health and Safety implications? Yes/No
Is this a checking process? Yes/No
Is this an authorising process? Yes/No
Is this process tedious, repetitive or intensively manual? Yes/No
Is this Activity a bottleneck? Yes/No 
How can this process be improved? (1st idea) Text
How can this process be improved? (2nd idea) Text
How can this process be improved? (3rd idea) Text

Deliverable Properties

Deliverable Classification
Deliverable Format
Computer File
Hard copy (handwritten)
Hard copy (paper printout)
Hardware Prototype
Other (over type this cell to specify)
Application/System Used
Test Director
Process Navigator
Visual Studio
MS Word
MS Excel
Functionality Text

Work-flow Routing

Off-page Link Reference Text

Node Properties

Process Management
Approval Status
Content Approved
Compliance Approved
 Content Approver  Text
 Content approval date  Date
 Compliance Approver  Text
 Compliance Approval Date  Date
 Strapline when unapproved  Text
Process Roles
Process Owner
IT Support
Process Manager Text
Author Text
Revision Text
Last Revised Date
Last Revised By  Text
Revision Description Text
Map Review
Next Review Date
Last Review Date Date

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.

NOTE: The groupName must have a unique name in the file and must 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, the full 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 Engineer</rowValue>
                        <rowValue>Project Manager</rowValue>
            <row rowName="Accountability" rowCaption="Accountability" rowType="3">
                        <rowValue>Business Analyst</rowValue>
                        <rowValue>IT Support Engineer</rowValue>
                        <rowValue>Project Manager</rowValue>
            <row rowName="Consulted" rowCaption="Consulted" rowType="3">
                        <rowValue>Business Analyst</rowValue>
                        <rowValue>IT Support Engineer</rowValue>
                        <rowValue>Project Manager</rowValue>
            <row rowName="Informed" rowCaption="Informed" rowType="3">
                        <rowValue>Business Analyst</rowValue>
                        <rowValue>IT Support Engineer</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).

NOTE: The rowName must be unique so it must not be duplicated anywhere else within the XML file.

NOTE: If you are going to use the Export to Microsoft Project 2003 feature, ensure that the rowName=“TotalEffort” is not modified otherwise the export of duration is not carried through.

rowCaption is the row name as displayed in the Properties tab.

rowType is one of the following options:

0 - String value - a basic text edit field is displayed.
3 - 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.
6 - A Spin Control (select an integer).
7 - A time edit control to enable easy input of times in a 24 hour clock format.
8 - Enables hyperlinks to be used.
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.

Once you have made the changes to the XML file, save the file in Notepad and re-enter Process Navigator. 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 a 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.

Sharing the Customised Data Capture

Once you have created a customised properties file that you would like others within your organisation to use when producing their maps, you can store the file on a shared network location. Other users can select this file by right-clicking the drawing page, selecting Options and then the File Locations tab. In the Properties field, input the new filename.

Note that if the network or server is down, then the users may not be able to access the customised XML file.

Customising Reports

Reports can be customised in 2 ways:
  • Report format (look and feel) can be customised by specifying a new style sheet file, or by changing the existing style sheet.
  • Content can be altered in some reports by modifying the Properties text file.

Style sheet modification is beyond the scope of this manual and is really for skilled HTML publishers only.

The Properties.txt file is a simple 3 column, comma-delimited, text database file. Column 1 gives the name of the property to be reported on as found in the Properties.xml file. Column 2 gives the name of the property as it will appear in the report. Column 3 gives the name of the report it will be in, e.g. Activity Metrics is the Metrics report found from Reports > Activity > Metrics in Process Navigator.

NOTE: The names in column 3 are fixed and cannot be changed. However, the content of these reports can be changed as mentioned above.

RowName in ShapeSheet

 Name of property as it appears in the report
 Report Name
 Total Effort (man-hours)
 Activity Metrics

Contents of Properties.txt

The default Properties.txt contains the following:
TotalCost, Total Cost, Activity Metrics
TotalEffort, Total Effort, Activity Metrics
Errors, Number of Errors, Activity Metrics
Complaints, Number of Complaints, Activity Metrics
LapsedTime, Elapsed Time, Activity Metrics
People, Number of People, Activity Metrics
EnvironmentalCost, Environment Cost, Activity Metrics
HSInvolvesChildren, Involves Children, Activity Health and Safety
HSInvolvesPublic, Involves the Public, Activity Health and Safety
HSInvolvesHazEnv, Involves Hazardous Environment, Activity Health and Safety
HSInvolvesHazSub, Involves Hazardous Substances, Activity Health and Safety
HSInvolvesAnimals, Involves Animals, Activity Health and Safety
HSInvolvesOtherRisk, Other Risks, Activity Health and Safety
HSDescription, Transfer Description, Activity Health and Safety
HSDiscuss, Discuss with H & S Officer, Activity Health and Safety
CONMoneyDepartments, Other Departments, Activity Controls
CONMoneySuppliers, Suppliers, Activity Controls
CONMoneyStaff, Members of Staff, Activity Controls
CONMoneyAnyoneElse, Anyone Else, Activity Controls
CONMoneyDescription, Description, Activity Controls
CONCheckingProcess, Checking Process, Activity Controls
CONAuthorisingProcess, Authorisation Process, Activity Controls
To edit the file see Customising Reports
Customising the Stencil and Template
Process Navigator’s stencil and template can be customised to integrate corporate colours or include new or altered shapes to fit the requirements of an organisation.
Note: This can be quite complex involved work. Therefore we are unable to support any customisations done by customers. If you would like some sutomisation work done, please contact Triaster’s Customer Success Team on +44 (0)870 402 1234 to discuss your requirements.  

Some of the possibilities are:

  • Editing the Stencil
  • Create new Process Navigator shapes or add additional shapes
  • Recolour existing shapes
  • Alter shapes based on Properties
  • Customise the Node
  • Add logo
  • Change border colour
  • Change information displayed in version bar
  • Change background page

Editing the Template

Always display Node in new files
  • Incorporate new stencil
  • Incorporate background page