If you need to know more about Primavera P6 and the SDEF format, then this article discuses what they are and shows you where to find the Primavera P6 utilities that convert XER files to SDEF format and vice versa. We also take a look at the utilities in action and talk a little about the results.
What is an SDEF file?
Some management tools require a Standard Data Exchange Format (SDEF) file in order to import data from Primavera P6. This format has been around since the mid-1980s when the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) identified the need for a standard format that allowed the sharing of data between various project management tools.
Where to find the Primavera P6 SDEF Conversion Utilities
In brief, the SDEF conversion utilities consist of two small program executable file that usually reside somewhere below your Primavera P6 Professional installation directory. Their exact location depends largely on the version of Primavera P6 you have installed.
The files you are looking for are called:
P330XERConvert.exe – converts an SDEF file to a P6 XER format
XERP330Convert.exe – converts a P6 XER file to a SDEF format
In Primavera P6 R8.3.2 and P6 R8.4, these files are located in a folder named Converter, located below the P6 Professional installation folder.
In earlier versions of P6 you may find them in the Common Files folder located elsewhere in the Program Files or Program Files (x86) folder. We suggest you do a file search for one of the above mentioned file names on your P6 client machine to locate them.
Using the Conversion Utilities
The utilities are simple to use. Depending on which way you wish to go you simply choose the appropriate Utility executable file. Keep in mind that these file’s existence goes back to the days of Primavera Project Planner, known to all as P3 – a now obsolete project scheduling tool and the ancestor of P6 in some respects. Thus some of the language used in the utilities refers to P3 3.x; which you can generally take to be referring to P6.
Convert an XER File to an SDEF File
To convert an XER file to an SDEF file, run the XERP330Convert.exe. The following dialog will appear. Choose the SDEF setting and click Next.
In the XER File Name dialog, use the Browse button to locate the P6 XER file you wish to convert.
In the SDEF Project Name dialog, enter a name for the project you are converting, then click on the Browse… button to set the location where the SDEF text file should be created.
When you see the little Frog dialog, your file is ready in the selected location, so click OK to close the utility.
The file created has a .txt extension and can be opened in Notepad for inspection. The format file is shown in part below.
Converting an SDEF file to an XER file
The next example shows how to convert an SDEF file to an XER file; which can then be imported back into Primavera P6. The format data contained in the SDEF file is somewhat more basic than that which is normally contained within an XER file. Therefore XER files created by converting a SDEF file will likely only serve to update an existing P6 schedule, and would not be sufficiently detailed to create a complete project in P6. For example, such items as calendar working days, milestone activity types and WBS elements do not appear in a schedule after importing the converted XER file.
To convert an SDEF file to an XER file, run the P330XERConvert.exe. The following dialog will appear. Choose the SDEF setting and click Next.
In the SDEF Project Name dialog, locate the SDEF File you wish to convert using the Browse… button.
Now enter a name and location for the XER file you are about to create.
In the Finish dialog, click Finish.
When the prompt appears, click OK to complete the process.
As mentioned, the resulting XER file can be used to update an existing project with changes made in the source system that created the SDEF file.
However, if you create a new project using a converted SDEF file, the results can be a little basic in the resulting schedule. The final screen shot shows how a small project was created by importing a converted XER file. Note how there are no WBS elements and no milestone activities; these came over as one day long activities.
I hope this helps explain what the Primavera P6 SDEF conversion utilities are, where you can find them and how they work. There are more particulars about the SDEF format that you can download here from Oracle’s website.