Projects and Data Shortcuts

So, after Josh’s post earlier this week, and knowing that he was working from some older information, I decided to dig in and see if I could solve some of the problems that he mentioned in the first post. It’s not so much that I solved them, but that I had to figure out how this whole process came together, and how you need to manipulate Civil 3D so that network users have the advantage of drawings associated to their correct projects. Follow the jump and learn the secret!

The first thing you have to know is that everyone has to turn on the association function. There are two commands here: SHORTCUTASSOCIATEENABLE and SHORTCUTASSOCIATEDISABLE. These essentially toggle on a registry key. When association is on, the games can begin.

To illustrate, I’ve set up two computers, XP and Win7, both running Civil 3D 2010 and mapping a shared E:\ on my server (in this case, actually on my Mac, but I digress.) I’ve created a new project on XP, called XP Created and stored it on the netwwork.


I’ve also opened a couple of drawings and saved them into the project structure as you can see here.


Take a look at the first image’s command line, and notice some feedback there. This is result of another new command: SHOWASSOCIATEPROJECT. This command will show you the name (and GUID) of the project currently associated with the current drawing file. If your drawing is not associated, the output is simply, “Shortcut Project : “ and nothing more. Good thing to check if this process starts to fail on you.

So, with the association enabled, your drawing will become associated when you create data shortcuts. If you have already created shortcuts, or want to associate your drawings manually, there are two more commands: ASSOCIATESHORTCUTPROJECT which will display a dialog like this:


Where you can pick the current project or some other. The Data Shortcuts Project XML file path shown there is where C3D is going to create the association between the project name (and GUID) and the current Working Folder and Data Shortcuts folder paths. Safe to ignore for most users.

The other option for associating projects is to use the ASSOCIATEPROJECTTODRAWINGS command which will display the same dialog, allowing you to pick which project you want to associate the drawings with, then will display this dialog:


Now you can pick an entire folder and subfolders to associate with a project. This will not work on open drawings or files that are not C3D files. In that case, the command line will tell you which files were not associated.

Now, you have your shortcuts created, you have your projects associated, you as a local designer are having good luck. When you jump between drawings, the Data Shortcuts branch of Prospector updates, and you’re rocking and rolling. The guy across the office? Not so much.

I’m in my Win7 machine, and I’m about to open my XTOPO file from the XP box. Note the path and setup shown in Prospector here:


Now, I do have shortcuts association turned on. This is important! So, I go ahead and open XTOPO.dwg from the server and check out the information given back to me in the command line:


And also note that Prospector did NOT update the Data Shortcuts branch to reflect this project association. Civil 3D knows the association exists, but it simply can’t find it. Here’s the magic trick, and it’s so simple, it’s great.

Open up your Options dialog and change to the Files tab. Expand out the Project Path branch as shown. Then click Add, name the Project Path, then Add again to set an actual Windows file path.


Now, I’m going to close and reopen XTOPO.dwg. Take a look at Prospector now, and note that the Data Shortcuts branch reflects the correct Data Shortcuts path and information. Also note that the window title shows [XP Created] as an associated project.


I’m telling you, that’s some wicked good magic, courtesy of Manchester, NH. Thanks to the guys that helped me decipher this this morning, the first round’s on me next time I’m up there.

A few things to keep in mind:

  • Performing a saveas, a drawing will retain it’s association.
  • Creating a reference or publishing a shortcut will associate a file automatically.
  • This is UNDOCUMENTED, UNSUPPORTED functionality. If you try it and it doesn’t work, Subscription support will probably tell you tough luck, call the jack clown blogger that turned you on to this function.

Have a GREAT weekend!

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