Adding extra search paths to the Printer Configuration Search Path

March 2, 2010 at 9:56 am 12 comments

This blog is about a question from one of the members at the LinkedIn Group “AutoCAD Civil 3D Workforce”. 

The question was: “Is there a way Civil 3D is able to search for two locations to look for PC3 files”. 

This is more a standard AutoCAD question and is the same for all the other AutoCAD vertical products like AutoCAD Civil 3D. 

Using AutoCAD in a networked environment, it’s common and desirable to separate the enterprise settings from local (adjustable) settings as far as AutoCAD allows you to configure. This is the same for the Printer configuration files (.pc3) where you as a CAD administrator or CAD manager want to centralize the plotter configuration files preventing from being changed by users and therefor losing all the effort and time you put in to harmonize these settings. You could create a front-end batch mechanism to copy all centralized plotter configuration files to the home user folder, but keeping those files up to date is time consuming and can result in differences of the configuration. You don’t want that. 

There is a way though to separate centralized Printer Configuration Files from the local user Printer Configuration Files.
The behavior of the Printer Configuration Search Path setting is to search for all files in the assigned folder.

Figure 1. The Printer Configuration Search Path in the Options dialog menu

But there is more to this: it will also search for all files in all sub folders.

In above example if you create a sub folder in S:\Map3D2007\Plotters and place other PC3 files in that sub folder they will also show in AutoCAD.
As for a CAD manager and for maintenance purposes you could setup several sub folders for different kind of clients or projects, just to separate them from the company ones.
For example:
S:\Map3D2007\Plotters    ‘The location for all company configured PC3 files’.
S:\Map3D2007\Plotters\ClientA    ‘The location for all configured PC3 files used for Client A.’
S:\Map3D2007\Plotters\ProjectX    ‘The location for all configured PC3 files used for Project X.’ 

All PC3 files in above (sub)folders are located on the server and are visible in AutoCAD. If setup correctly these files should be configurable only by the CAD manager and not by the user.
Now if you want the user also to be able to add his/her own Printer Configuration Files, create a folder shortcut from the user’s home folder and place this in the assigned Printer Configuration Search Path folder.
This user folder can reside on the local hard drive or even better on a small shared folder on the server only accessible to the user. Every good CAD manager or IT administrator should setup the user’s Home folder for all users the same with identical folder names for everyone to find or to recognize. 

Figure 2. The Shared Folder on the Server and the Folder shortcut

So placing a folder shortcut in this shared folder will result also in a search within the folder shortcut as if it resides below the assigned folder in the Printer Configuration Search Path. Because of this link to the user’s Home folder, its content is fully accessible and configurable by the user. This way the user has (read-only) access to all centralized Printer Configuration Files managed by the CAD manager as to those in his/her Home folder. The ones residing in his/her own Home folder are configurable and managable for him/her only. Don’t forget to place a copy of the Add-A-Plotter Wizard in this user’s Home folder so he/she can create their own Printer Configuration files.
At the end all (separated) Printer Configuration files are available to you in AutoCAD as if they all reside at one location. 

Figure 3. The User's Home Folder from which the Folder Shortcut will be created. Figure 4. The Properties of the created Folder Shortcut.

Figure 4. The Properties of the created Folder Shortcut

 The beauty of this behavior is that you can put as many folder shortcuts as you want in the assigned Printer Configuration Search Path folder. 
And last but not least:  this trick will also work for the Plot Style Table Search Path.

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Entry filed under: AutoCAD General. Tags: , , , , .

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12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Bas Siebers  |  March 2, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    Great blog, could this work for the plotstyles. I don’t want a user to change the default setting but must be able to create a new one.

    Reply
    • 2. draftworx  |  March 2, 2010 at 2:47 pm

      Yes, this also works with Plot Styles

      Reply
  • […] tip that I’ve submitted can also be read in this blog site: https://c3dpeanuts.wordpress.com/2010/03/02/plotterconfig/ Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)No TitleAir Guitar Champion: “The […]

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  • 4. Dave  |  June 4, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Is there a way to drive this with a variable that can be used in a lisp? I’d like to push something like this out to all my users, but don’t want to force a whole profile on them that will change some of their user specific settings.

    Reply
    • 5. draftworx  |  June 6, 2010 at 5:26 pm

      I don’t know exactly what you mean but you don’t have to push the folder shortcut to the users profile.
      Because you’ve already setup the one folder, all you have to do is to create a folder shortcut in this folder which points to the home drive of the users. It’s that easy. If you don’t want the users point to their own home folder anymore, then remove the folder shortcut.
      But if you meant that you want to create a sub folder within the home used folder or any other folder driven by a lisp routine, then that shouldn’t be that difficult too.
      You need create a lisp routine which will check and make a folder or directory at their home folder. I.e. H:\CAD\PlotterCFG. See for the Visual Lisp routines to accomplish this.
      If it’s not what you meant, please let me know.

      Reply
  • 6. david  |  June 20, 2010 at 5:04 am

    Would there be any side effects to setting this up in the opposite manner (putting a shortcut to the server in the user’s folder) for a user that has a laptop and often works from home?

    Reply
    • 7. draftworx  |  June 20, 2010 at 8:47 am

      This is interesting and I think it will work too.
      But of course when the user is disconnected from the network, only the pc3 files from his user’s folder will be seen.
      The other pc3 files at the server then will not.

      Reply
  • […] @iPinda – Edwards Twitter bio says “CAD specialist, AutoCAD trainer and Civil 3D addict” and if you visit his Civil 3D Peanuts blog, you’ll discover that he’s also a part-time freelance AutoCAD trainer and full time CAD application administrator for an international AEC company. You can also learn nice tips and tricks like Adding extra search paths to the Printer Configuration Search Path. […]

    Reply
  • 9. Leon  |  January 27, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    I have other shortcuts in the subfolder of pc3 files. These shortcuts are used by some users who have appropriate software. But when other users start AutoCAD they’ve got a message “The Following shortcuts in the path where invalid and ignored: …\\Standard Shortcuts\Hydroflow\Hydrographs Extension.lnk”.
    Hot to prevent AutoCAD to look in subfolders?

    Reply
    • 10. draftworx  |  March 10, 2011 at 11:06 pm

      I think you can’t. But you could try to re-organice your sub folders, and use 2 different profiles, so the shared pc3 folder is the last/lowest folder/shortcut to point at.

      Reply
  • 11. Bill  |  July 24, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    We have set this up with multipal users accessing the central PC3 files. Problem! how do you get the paper sizes in the Adobe PDF printer to be avalable to all users? also we have been having problems printing to the DWG to PDF printer and when someone with a diff. version of adobe opens the file there is lost information. What are your thoughts?

    Reply
    • 12. draftworx  |  August 10, 2012 at 6:43 pm

      Hello Bill,

      You need to setup once the paper sizes. This will create a .pmp file under a sub folder or same folder of where the .pc3 files reside. Then you need to copy this .pmp file and sub folder if any to the folder you want all the users have access to.

      We (the users at our company) do have similar problems with DWG-to-PDF driver losing information when printing the PDF document. Sometimes the information is available in the PDF file, but printing loses some information. We’re still researching this issue but do not have found a solution yet. If we do, I’ll reply our findings.

      Reply

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