Addressing ArcGIS (and InfoWater) versioning when sharing InfoWater models

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November 1, 2016 | Patrick Moore

One of the challenges sometimes faced when sharing models is when the ArcGIS version is different as ArcGIS will give an error if you try to open a newer version of an ArcGIS .MXD file in an older version of ArcGIS.

One of the easiest ways to get around this issue if you need to send a model to someone running an older version of ArcGIS is to create a “zero byte .mxd” file that can be opened in any version of ArcGIS without issue. If you make the MXD a zero byte file it will strip away any Arc GIS specific information which allows you use the model database data in the IWDB or ISDB folder to be used in any version of Arc GIS. You can do the following to make the zero byte MXD file:

  1. Browse in Windows Explorer to the location of the model you wish to send
  2. Use Windows Explorer make a new Text File (right click –> choose NEW -> select Text document)
  3. Use Windows Explorer to copy the name of the existing MXD file (example -> model1.mxd)
  4. Delete the existing MXD file or rename it to “model_name-old” (example -> Model1-old.mxd)
  5. Now paste in the copied old name to Rename the Text file with the name of the MXD file (example the text file should now be Model1.mxd)
    1. Windows will ask if you wish to rename the extension of the text file, but just say yes if a warning popup arises
    2. Example renaming and new zero Byte MXD file (click for larger image if necessary)
  6. The new text file is now a MXD file that will now have no content and have a size of zero bytes (NOTE: If you are saving this for someone else, do not open the zero byte file in your higher version or that will add ArcGIS version information to the file. Make sure to send it to them as a true “zero-byte” mxd file.)
  7. On the computer using the lower version of ArcGIS Double click on the new zero byte MXD file to open and initialize the model as you normally would
  8. When the model opens and initializes you may need to hit the Reset display button to update the model layer color coding to the default values (Reset display is the yellow palette with an arrow over it as shown below
    1. Reset Display Icon (click for larger image if necessary)

This procedure is often much simpler than using the “Save As” procedure to save the ArcGIS file in a lower version and may save you time when you run into ArcGIS versioning issues.

One last note, we often hear in Technical Support of concerns regarding updating the software that there could be a conflict between the version used by a client from the version used by a consultant that if the consultant upgrades that they are unsure if they are on a different version of the InfoWater software if the client will be able to open it. The good news is that since at least version 10.0 of InfoWater, the software database has been written in a flexible format such that newer versions of InfoWater should be able to be opened in older versions of InfoWater without any conflict. The only point of note is that any new feature in InfoWater added in a newer version would not be available to use in a older version, but in the vast majority of models, this is not going to create many issues of concern because the newer features are not often used in models where versioning is a concern. And so if you have the workaround shown above for getting around ArcGIS versioning, sharing models in different versions of ArcGIS and the InfoWater software should be much simpler to manage. While we always recommend keeping your InfoWater up to date with the latest updates, knowing there is flexibility in doing InfoWater and ArcGIS versioning can allow you more flexibility than you may have realized regarding different versions of the software when sending or sharing models between different groups.

If you have any further questions regarding this procedure or regarding versioning please reply to this post or email us at

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Tags: ArcGIS, version

About the Authors

Patrick Moore

Patrick Moore

Senior Support Engineer


Patrick is a Senior Technical Support Engineer for Innovyze.  He spent roughly 16 years as a Private Engineering Consultant both designing water infrastructure and using Innovyze software to build, calibrate, and analyze water system models. He has a passion for teaching and sharing knowledge with others to assist users in improving their modeling skills.