The Complications of Configuration Settings

When engineers start using a new CAD tool, often times they will need to reconfigure some of the out-of-the-box settings. Things like default unit systems, template parts, file paths, and even colors can be changed and customized depending on the design, user preferences, or company standards. For Creo Parametric many users will simply open the Configuration Editor (File -> Options -> Configuration Editor) and add or modify their settings there (see below example picture of the Editor).

The first of over 1700 configuration settings

There are over 1700 configuration settings available in the Configuration Editor of Creo Parametric. This level of configuration is extremely powerful, but can also be very daunting to a new user, as it is almost impossible to understand how each and every setting can be changed and how they may interact with each other.

Saving Default Values

So, how would a user change their default values so that they don’t have to change their settings every single time they launch Creo?

Any of these settings can be stored in a configuration text file called a config.pro file. This is simply a text file with the same exact configuration settings as shown in Creo’s Configuration Editor. When exporting or saving these settings Creo generates the config.pro file. Depending on where the file is saved, Creo will pull that file back up the next time it launches, effectively loading your “default configuration”.

An example config.pro file
An example config.pro file

Multiple Levels of Config.Pro files

Creo Parametric has three layers of config.pro files that are used to set default configuration settings:

  1. Creo Installation Directory:
    • This is a subdirectory inside where Creo was originally installed. For example: C:\Program Files\PTC\Creo 3.0\M110\Comon Files\text\ (or a variation based on the version and date code installed)
  2. User Home directory:
    • This is the directory of the “HOME” environment variable for the current user. For example: C:\Users\<USERNAME>\
  3. Working directory: 
    • This is the directory that Creo is set to upon startup. Out of the box, this is set as “C:\Users\Public\Documents” – however, the default working directory may be changed depending on your configuration. A good way to check this directory is to click the “Select Working Directory” button while in Creo (File -> Session -> Select Working Directory)

These files are loaded chronologically in this order, which can be important. Let’s say that the config.pro in the installation directory contains a setting for “pro_unit_length”, which has a value of “unit_inch”. But then the config.pro at the user’s home directory level also contains this setting, but with a value of “unit_mm”. If there are duplicate configuration settings found in the above files, the latter one will be used (aka, if a duplicates option is found in the working directory, Creo will use that value). In this case, Creo would use the “unit_mm” value.

To help “force” configuration settings onto their users, PTC provides an additional file called a “config.sup” file. This file is contained in the installation directory, is read first, and establishes settings that cannot be changed regardless of values in later config.pro files. Because of this, it is often common for administrators to also lock this file using windows file permissions so that the settings cannot be modified without administrative privileges. Below is a picture that demonstrates the hierarchy, starting with the working directory config.pro and moving downwards to the config.sup file.

Image showing the config.pro hierarchy in the Configuration Editor

Administering These Settings to a Team

When configuration settings are managed by a single user for themselves, it is often a fairly simple process to set the configuration options they need in order to complete their modeling tasks.
However, for CAD administrators (who can be responsible for many different users, configurations, design teams, and projects) this task can be significantly more complicated.

As a basic example: if an administrator wanted to create a new template solid PRT model (aka a “start part”), they would not only have to create the model itself, but then put that file into a central location where multiple users can access it, and then change all of the “template_solid_part” configuration settings to point each of their user’s environments to that new template part.

Although this is a pretty straightforward example, as your team expands and as the number of settings you have to manage grows, identifying and deploying the desired configuration settings to your users becomes increasingly complex. Each application/task for Creo users can involve an entirely different set of default configuration settings, and therefore require a separate config.pro. It is the administrator’s job to ensure that the correct settings are picked, maintained, and properly deployed to each user using the proper config.pro.

Aside from actually creating and maintaining these files, the administrator must also consider how to actually get these files onto their engineer’s hard drives. Sure, they could send an email with an attachment, or have their users try to copy/paste files across a network, but relying on users to update these settings themselves is unreliable and wastes a significant amount of time.

Oftentimes to simplify this complicated task, administrators will write batch scripts to deploy and copy their local correct config.pro to their users’ machines. Scripting the deployment of these files saves the administrators a significant amount of time and will pay off tremendously as the team or number of configurations grow. However, while this method does get the job done much quicker, it now requires someone on the team to be able to understand and maintain these custom scripts. Unfortunately, using batch scripts to deploy configuration settings in the correct environments becomes increasingly difficult as your engineering team begins to scale.

Configuration & Administration Made Easy

Luckily, CadActive’s SettingSync makes managing these various configuration settings in different environments for certain users simple! SettingSync is a user-friendly web interface that allows administrators to create and maintain configuration “profiles” for their organization. From there, they can do away with tedious batch files for deployment and rely on SettingSync‘s automatic deployment of config.pro files to the proper users so everyone is in-sync.

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