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Since variables are part of the process instance, they are persisted everytime the process instance is persisted.
So, if you are planning to use persistence, I wouldn't recommend you to store the whole xml inside the process. Is there any reason why you can't store just the id or name of the xml?
Thank you for your answer!
Storing the id is indeed a good idea! It also reminded me that runtime state persistence is not enabled by default in jBPM 5.