Survey User, Pipe Catalog and AutoCAD Profile Settings

As described in the post “Setting the Survey database Units (Coordinate System) could be CRITICAL” and followed up in the post “Pushing Survey Database Defaults” there are settings you may want to pay attention to so you avoid a 5’ shift in your survey base mapping!  Additionally, if you have any type of customization you want to complete in the Pipe Network Catalog you probably want to copy the default catalog that comes with the product to a network location and point each workstation to the new location.

In the past, I though you had to push these setting to each machine by a registry merge.  A much simpler way is to set the paths before you export your company AutoCAD Profile.  Learn more after the jump…

A pretty standard – and reliable – method of setting up any AutoCAD product is to install the product on the first workstation and setup a company CAD “Profile”.  In the profile you set things like the plotter paths, template, support paths, etc… and then export the profile to an .ARG file (images below).

2010.03.02-Path Settings2010.03.02-Export ARG

The next step is to copy one of the application icons and edit it to import the .ARG when the program is kicked-off by the icon the first time.

Example: for Civil 3D 2009 – on Win XP – and to import the example profile above, the “Target” portion of the icon would be revised to:

"C:\Program Files\AutoCAD Civil 3D 2009\acad.exe" /ld "C:\Program Files\AutoCAD Civil 3D 2009\AecBase.dbx" /p "N:\Autodesk\Deployments\2009\HRG Settings\Profiles\HRG-C3D.arg"

Where N:\Autodesk\Deployments\2009…ect… is the network location of the exported ARG file.

2010.03.02-Icon to import

OK, so this method is not a big secret.  What I wanted to add is, did you know that the Pipe Catalog and Survey User Settings paths are saved along with the CAD Profile?  They are, and it is a good thing since Windows 7 makes it a little more difficult to run a registry merge at the startup of AutoCAD (security features of Win 7 get in the way).

2010.03.02-Pipe Catalog Path 2010.03.02-Survey Settings

So, as you are setting up those new Windows 7, 64-bit, deployments 😉 make sure to pay attention to the Survey User Settings and Pipe Catalog paths before you export your company profile.



If you already have the systems setup in this method – company icon that kicks-off C3D and imports an ARG if it is the first time – but want to release some changes that include getting the Survey User Settings squared away you can:

  1. make the appropriate adjustments on your system
  2. save over the company .ARG file on the network
  3. open the .ARG file in Notepad
  4. in the .ARG file revise the name of the profile as shown below (note: you need to do a find and replace for the entire document)

This will cause the profile to re-import into each system the next time users launch CAD from the company icon.

2010.03.02-Edit ARG


Thanks, and I hop this helps… 🙂


  1. Brent Daley says:

    That sounds like a great idea as long as it doesn’t overwrite things that the user may customize all the time. Is there an easy way to identify which items in the options are profile controlled for this reason?

  2. Mark Spatz says:

    All the items in the “Options” dialog are profile controlled.

  3. Brent Daley says:

    So is this a true statement…You set your profile target to a network location so each time the user starts cad it pulls those settings. (Which I like because it’s easy for me to make a global change), but if that user wants their model space background a certain color, or right click customization a certain way and changes it…then the next time they open it it pulls the default settings off the network profile and scrubs all the customized settings they’ve made in the options? If that is a true statement, then i don’t see this as a good option. Not giving the user much control over their environment which I think they should have some control over asthetics of how they want to work. If this isn’t a true statement, then please enlighten me, because you said all options are profile controlled.

  4. Matt Anderson says:

    Sorry, that is not correct. If you path Civil 3d to use an ARG file from a network location, it loads that profile in the first instance. It will read the file an determine if the Profile already exists or not. If it does, it will use the settings already loaded in the registry and it will NOT re-load the ARG again until you manually IMPORT that Profile.

    you are truly left with using regedit to make profile changes, or programming those changes.

  5. Mark Spatz says:

    Correct, the import from the ARG file is a one time deal; the first time the user launches the product from their windows login. NOT each time the user starts the product.

    For example, if you are rolling out a new version of AutoCAD. You use part one of this post to get the company settings out there on each machine; lets say it’s the beginning of 2010 when this happens. Then, say in the 4Q of 2010 there are changes you need to make to your systems custom paths; maybe re-path where the plotters are located because you have a server change. Then you follow part two of the post to distribute the setting changes.

    NOW with part two, it will reset ALL the users Options. If this is not an acceptable solution then YES, you need to implement registry merges to make the changes or do it manually on each system.

  6. “…import the .ARG when the program is kicked-off by the icon the first time.”