How to use the NodeXL Automation Tools

May 19, 2014 at 10:32 PM
Edited Dec 2, 2014 at 5:00 PM
The NodeXL Automation Tools release contains a set of tools for importing Twitter search networks into GraphML files and for creating NodeXL workbooks from those GraphML files. The tools, which are meant for advanced NodeXL users, can be run on a scheduled basis using the Task Scheduler program built into Windows.

("Advanced" means only that you have to know how to edit an XML file and run a program from a command line.)

How to Install the Tools

1) Install NodeXL Excel Template 2014 if you have not already done so. (It's at The Tools won't work without the NodeXL Excel Template.

2) Go to the NodeXL Downloads tab at

3) In the "Other Downloads" list, select the latest "NodeXL Automation Tools" release.

4) On the NodeXL Automation Tools release page, download the Zip file listed under "Recommended Download."

5) There is no setup program for the tools. Just unzip the Zip file into a folder of your choice.

6) If you have already imported Twitter networks using the NodeXL Excel Template, skip steps 7, 8, and 9. You must import at least one Twitter network using the NodeXL Template before attempting to use the NodeXL Automation Tools. (If you don't do this, the Tools will give you an error message that includes the text "Twitter access token not set.") Steps 7, 8, and 9 need to be done just once.

7) In the Windows Start menu or Start screen, search for "NodeXL", then click "NodeXL Excel Template" in the search results.

8) In the ribbon in the NodeXL Excel Template, go to NodeXL, Data, Import, From Twitter Search Network.

9) In the Import from Twitter Search Network dialog box, click "OK". You will be led through the process of authorizing NodeXL to use your Twitter account to import Twitter networks.

How to Import a Twitter Search Network Into a GraphML File

1) Make a copy of the file "SampleNetworkConfigurationFiles\SampleTwitterSearchNetworkConfiguration.xml".

2) Edit the copy in Notepad or some other text editor. The file specifies a Twitter search term, what to include in the network, and the folder to use when the imported GraphML is saved.

3) Open a Windows command prompt.

4) At the command prompt, enter this:

UnzippedFolderPath\NodeXLNetworkServerStarter.exe ConfigurationFilePath\MyTwitterSearchNetworkConfiguration.xml

...where UnzippedFolderPath is the full path to the folder into which you unzipped the tools, and ConfigurationFilePath is the full path to the folder containing your copy of the sample Twitter search network configuration file.

The NodeXLNetworkServerStarter.exe will then download your Twitter search network and save the resulting GraphML in your specified folder.

How to Import a Twitter Search Network on a Scheduled Basis

Because the NodeXLNetworkServerStarter.exe program is command-line based, it can be run on a schedule using the Windows Task Scheduler. If you are not familiar with the Task Scheduler, see for an overview.

How to Create NodeXL Workbooks from the GraphML Files

The GraphML File Processor program included in this release continuously monitors a specified folder and its subfolders for new GraphML files. When it finds a new GraphML file, it creates a new NodeXL workbook from it, saves the workbook to the same folder as the GraphML file, and automates the workbook.

To use the GraphML File Processor program, do this:

1) Run the GraphMLFileProcessorStarter.exe program in the unzipped folder. That opens a GraphML File Processor window.

2) Click the Help button in the GraphML File Processor window.

How to Uninstall the Tools

Just delete the folder containing the tools.

Read This if You Were Already Using an Old Version of the NodeXL Network Server Program

1) The NodeXL Automation Tools replace an older release that was called NodeXL Network Server. If you were using the NodeXL Network Server, you should replace it with the NodeXL Automation Tools. (There was a problem with keeping the NodeXL Network Server in sync with the NodeXL Excel Template, which updates itself automatically. The NodeXL Automation Tools always use the most recent NodeXL Excel Template, which solves the synchronization problem.)

2) If you have many network configuration files that you don't want to modify, then unzip the NodeXL Automation Tools into the same folder that contained the NodeXL Network Server and rename the NodeXLNetworkServerStarter.exe file to NodeXLNetworkServer.exe. Your scheduled tasks should then be able to run using the same configuration files.

3) The older NodeXL Network Server could import Twitter search networks into GraphML files AND create NodeXL workbooks from those GraphML files. The new NodeXLNetworkServerStarter.exe program can only do the first task. If you also want to create NodeXL workbooks from the GraphML files, you have to use the GraphMLFileProcessorStarter.exe program.