Extractor files

This guide assumes you have already worked through the Extract data with a custom extractor guide and therefore have installed the Extraction Builder Visual Studio extension.

Having installed the Extraction Builder extension, you can develop your custom Aluma extraction inside an existing project or solution, such is the flexibility of using Microsoft Visual Studio as the working tool.

If you wish to create a new project dedicated to Aluma extraction in Visual Studio 2019 (recommended), the best template to use is the Empty Project (.NET Framework).

If you are using Visual Studio 2017, you can use the Microsoft C# | Console App as it is one of the simplest and contains the necessary references and structure. In the Solution Explorer, you can delete the pre-built Program.cs and App.config files as these are not necessary.

As you found during the tutorial, creating a new extraction file is done from the Solution Explorer window, where you right-click on the project, select Add | New Item... and add an Extraction item from the list.


The Extraction Builder panels (click to enlarge)

File types

The item you just added to your project, the FPXL file, is the extractor "source" file and holds details of all the components and their settings in your extractor.

There are, however, two other important files to be aware of, which are created automatically inside your project whenever you save.

  • The FPXL.DIAGRAM file – this stores the cosmetic layout, including how you laid out your components on the canvas inside Visual Studio
  • The FPXLC file – this is the compiled version of the source file and is the basis for testing in Document Studio, and for creating an Extractor.

Moving files between projects

You can move these extraction source files between Visual Studio projects, and there are good practices for this.

Ensure that you have both FPXL and FPXL.DIAGRAM source files for your custom configuration, and place them alongside each other in the source folder.

Without the diagram file, there is no guarantee that the extraction components will be displayed in a readable format on the canvas.

The FPXLC (compiled) file is not needed during the import, as this is not explicitly a part of the project, and is easily regenerated by re-saving the configuration.

Use the Add | Existing Item command from inside Visual Studio with the file filter set to All Files.

Select the FPXL file only. With default Microsoft Visual Studio settings, a full copy of the file will be created within the current project.

The Add As Link option could be used to create a reference to the original file only, but we recommend using the default Add option to create a copy for the following reasons:

  • Leaving the original untouched and therefore a ready-made backup or 'iteration zero' reduces the risk of of data loss
  • The fact that you are including multiple source files in one project means they are somehow related, so it is good practice to have them together in the file system also such that the whole project can be moved without the risk of broken links

The diagram file is automatically detected and a copy is created as a child item of the FPXL in the Solution Explorer.

Double-click an FPXL item to start reviewing or editing an Aluma extractor file.