Question Mark1Primavera has gradually evolved over the years with each new release of the program. The biggest change in Primavera came with the release of version P4. In order to focus on its enterprise capabilities, Primavera changed from a file based system to a database system. Due to this change a lot of existing users were not able to understand the way Primavera was saving files. The confusion arose because they did not understand the workings of a database system.

The most common question asked by these users was;

How do I save files in Primavera?

Primavera uses a Distributed Application Architecture called Client-Server model. A Client-Server model consists of two parts; client systems and server systems, both systems communicate over a computer network or on the same computer. Primavera’s data is stored in a database on a server or on a database on your computer. This data is then accessed using the Primavera client  installed on your computer.

The core of Primavera’s architecture is its database

A database is defined as a structured set of data which can be accessed in different ways. Database enables Primavera to be an enterprise application in true sense. In a database system multiple users can open the same project at the same time and edit it.Primavera P3 and Microsoft Project use a file based system where all data is stored on a single file. The major drawback to a file based system is that only a single user can work on the file at one time and other users have to wait till this user stops using it.

Web

A database also gives the flexibility to access Primavera using a web browser such as Internet explorer. If we install a web-server such as Weblogic, we can access the same data in a web browser via Primavera EPPM. So a database system comes with several advantages over a file based system. When we are installing Primavera, we get a choice of installing different versions of Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle Server depending on which version of Primavera we are using. Different versions of Primavera support different versions of database (please read the installation manual for tested configurations). Once the database is installed, you can install Primavera client and configure it to connect to the database using the client.

In order for Primavera to work, you have to ensure that the database is running all the time. As and when you create new data, it starts getting stored in various rows and columns in the database and multiple users can access it. If you want to send a project to a different user working on a different database, you have to export a .xer file in a supported format (P6v7, P6v8.1, P6v8.2 etc.) and send it to the receiver. Then that person can then use the import functionality to import this data into his/her database.

Common Myth : Primavera automatically saves all data in the background

Some users think that any change that they make to the project automatically gets saved to the database. Sadly, this is not the case. To enable automatic saving of all types of changes, your computer will have to run a lot of processes in the background to monitor these changes. This puts a lot of undue pressure on the computer’s resources and  affect’s its performance.

So whenever you close Primavera or Schedule (F9) your project, all changes get pushed to the database. If you have scheduled (F9) your project then all other CPM related calculations are executed along with the it. But repeatedly scheduling your project for every small change can be quite cumbersome especially if your project is big.

To overcome this problem, Primavera has two other options where we can manually push all the changes that we make to the database. You can find these options by clicking on the File tab and going down to;

  1. Commit Changes (F10)
  2. Refresh (F5)

Schedule Tab

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 5.02.09 pm

Let us take an example of editing an Activity ID;

If you make changes to an Activity ID in your project it doesn’t automatically get pushed to the database. This means that in case you lose connection to the database or Primavera crashes, your changes are not saved. To avoid this, you can either Schedule (F10) your project (which you won’t like to do again and again if your project is too big), Refresh (F5) your project but this refreshes your layout and sometimes the collapsed summary bars get re-adjusted or you can use the option to Commit Changes (F10).

Interesting Tip: Use “Commit Changes”  to quickly save data in Primavera P6

Commit Changes is the simplest of all the options because it simply pushes or “commits” your changes to the database without making any changes to your layout or your schedule. In-fact I suggest that you should make it a practice to keep pressing F10/Commit Changes periodically when you are entering or editing data in Primavera. This is very similar to saving a file in excel or any other program that you usually work on.

Don’t forget to leave your comments below and use the forums for any queries that you might have.