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setting up user and workgroup folders




I have been experimenting with setting up user and project folders for a workgroup setup. I want to set the user folder to a location on the server and I am confused about what this is actually doing. The first time I tried setting the user folder it copied the folder structure to the new location on the server but none of the files. Is this what is supposed to happen just to keep the folder structure the same and then I add the files I want?

The next time I chose to not copy the folder structure and it reset back to the defaults which was fine. I changed the user folder a third time and told it to copy the structure to one level above where I had my personal user folder and it ran in a loop for a while making about 100 copies of my old user folder.

I am not sure why it did this.

What I want is for users to be able to access their workspace settings from any computer but all references and project folders will reference a common location on the server. I think I almost have it worked out but it is a bit confusing.

I am quite surprised that there is hardly any discussion here about multi-user environment. Do most people just not set it up for multi-user and share files the old fashioned way?

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Nobody answered yet, soon or later Jeff will tell you more, but until then..

I share in the office where I work and keep an eye on an office of about 20 every now and then, when they need to set up new projects or school new collaborators.

The folders you mention are only for resources, they are not actually to be used for working files.

Lets split the two things: Working files and Resources.

Working files:

You should keep working files outside the workgroup folder, but on the same disk (this will allow you to use relative references).


1- you have declared Workgroup folder the folder "VW-group" on your server. This contains shared resources whose path must follow the VW path rules. What you see in the Application folder is the path structure VW requires for working. Study it carefully.

2- close to the folder above mentioned you have another folder, called for example "Work". There you find only other folders, one folder for each project.

There everybody places project folders. The "Work" folder has the same parent folder of "VW-group".

3- inside each project folder you find always the same structure of subfolders. Personally I find comfortable a set of *always identical* subfolders, named "00-working files", then "01-base", "02-Project"... permits, constructive drawings...

It is very important to keep reduced the path, do don't abuse in subfolders.

The trick is too keep working files always in the "00" folder, while you'll have files for printing and calculating and and ..... into the following folders "01-...", "02-..., all pointing to the files in "00-working files".

For example you set up a project, you'll have sureyors plans, measurements eventually... , this all stays into "01". Based upon these infos, you'll build drawing files (1 file for each floor) residing into the "00-working files".

For printing and calculating you'll use references only to the layers withing the working files. These special files will be in the folders 02, 03... and all as relative reference to 00.

This allows you to change location (project phase) of any file without breaking paths. Simply drag a file from one folder to the next.


VW resources are readen in following order:

* application

* workgroup

* user

You'll like to have your own settings or special files/plug-ins in the user's folder but shared resources in the workgroup folder.

You won't touch the application folder, because that gets upgraded and you want the latest untouched and proper.

Use the default folders in the workgroup fodler carefully, match it wisely with the standards and you'll have a very good shared environment.

Aliases/links are supported, you'll like to use this feature:

for example, you'll have a wall styles file in Standards (because of their special classes) and a link to it into Defaults.

Templates might reference to the file (old style ref) with automatic update on, that will make your templates always up-to-date.

Avoid doubling files, use only aliases. Strive for few files. Nothing should be changed into the workgroup folder without special "permit".

The worst you can do in VW is to have different resources equally named. That gets you large troubles in a multiuser environment.

You'll find the structure quite flexible and easy to use.

Even if there are holy-grail-wars as to what's the best way to use it.

hope it helps,


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I agree with your surpise by not having much discussion on this topic. I know for a fact that there are a lot of firms that are multi-user and deal with the issues that you are speaking about. NNA actually created the forum a while back after I asked for it repeatedly...

That said, we are constantly struggling the the user folders. On a regular basis, VW likes to crap out and not "see" the designated files. I then have to manually re-point the user folder pref to the server location. The help files and manual write up do nothing to really explain how this is supposed to work. For us, it is a matter of trial and error.

I am trying to get things working again right now, and if I can shed any light on your issues I will try.

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Sorry all. I'm not trying to ignore you, I've just been trying to gather more information to best respond.


Why set up the user folders on a network volume? The intent of the functionality was to allow someone to change the default location of the user folder to a different place, but on the same machine, not a server volume. For example, on the Mac, the default VW User Folder is created at:

volumename>Users>username>Library>Application Support>Vectorworks>2009>

The VW Preferences tab "User Folders" allows someone to alter this location under "User Data and Preferences Folder". It may be to move the folder to a new location like:


Some place easier to find, or backup. While it is possible to use a server volume, that is NOT the intent (it may not be stable, for various reasons). Nor is it the intent for multiple users to share the same User Folder because the Settings files contain data that is very specific for each machine and monitor. You would have multiple users overwriting the same preference files at the same time. OUCH!! Bad data management!

For all use cases (single or multiple licenses, LAN or not), custom content, 3rd party plug-ins and customized workspaces are stored here. However, the "Workgroup and Project Folders" option allows multiple users share resources from one location, even on a network volume. BUT, you should be careful about what it is that you're sharing. It is most prudent to share only custom symbols and templates from this location, nothing else.

Settings are best to leave as local, NOT shared because they support things like monitor resolutions, palette locations and tool defaults and constantly overwrite themselves during application use.

Plug-ins, especially 3rd Party, are usually sold/installed on a single machine/user basis. You get one license number per installation. If you're trying to use the "Workgroup" option to get around this, then I would talk to the supplier of your plug-ins to see if they support it (I doubt it).

Workspaces, too, are difficult to share because of different monitor settings, resolutions and palette locations.

As to hierarchy, when VW launches, it looks first in the local User support folder, then in the Workgroup folder, if designated, then in the installed application folder, for all resources. If any needed default resources are missing, then new ones are automatically created in the default VW User Folder as noted above.

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After reading through your post a little more thoroughly, I have a bunch of questions/comments:

Why set up the user folders on a network volume? The intent of the functionality was to allow someone to change the default location of the user folder to a different place, but on the same machine, not a server volume.

The manuals actually talk about the user folders being setup on a server, and do not talk about the intent like you state in your post. If it is a big no-no, then NNA should be VERY clear about it. This is a part of the problem that we are having. We have been directing the User Folder to a main location on our server, so that everyone will have the same workspace setup and plugins. This makes a tremendous amount of sense in a multiuser environment. If this is not what NNA intends to happen with this feature, then what is the appropriate way to approach it?

Workspaces, too, are difficult to share because of different monitor settings, resolutions and palette locations.

Again, this does not make a lot of sense for a multi user environment. We want to have everyone working off the same workspace. It is much easier for training new staff (since most do not have VW experience) and for those times when you have to sit at someone else's machine and actually be productive.

To go further with this, how should we be thinking about things like the Finish Library, Notes Database, Hardware Library, etc.? These are all items that we want in one place, that each user is connected to and can have read/write access. Having individual copies on each local machine means that you get a different set of notes every time you open a file someone else has worked on. VWA 11 was very good at allowing these to be read from a central location on a server, but from 11.5 to now, it does not work. That is, unless I am missing something right before my eyes.

If I can make a suggestion, I think it would be great if NNA did a white paper on multi-user server deployed setup, like the Ellicot Hts. white paper is on how to set up for a multi-user project. Orso make some interesting suggestions about using alias' and the like, but I see that as becoming a tangled web very quickly, and not at all intuitive. I would not want any of my staff to have to try to make something like that work, or God forbid, troubleshoot. As I have said to a fair number of people at NNA over the last couple of years, I think you should plan for a version of this program to solely address these types of issues. The WGR upgrades and DLVP's have been fantastic. Now it is time to address simplification of setup, usability, and advancement of the multi-user features, although I fear this might be a lot to ask of a program at this price point.

As always, thanks for taking the time to address our comments and questions. We really appreciate the effort that all the folks at NNA put in on VW!

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I've read the documentation for Workgroup Folders. For "User Data and Preferences Folder" it says:

Specifies the folder that contains Vectorworks preferences, log files, workspaces, and any personal content you create. This might be a folder on the local computer, or on a USB drive or network drive; this allows you to run Vectorworks from any computer.

The key wording is "preferences, log files, workspaces and any personal content you create". The intent is only one user, one computer, one session at a time, NOT multiple users sharing the same User Folder, to store data that is "dynamic".

In a multi-user environment, every user should have their own User Folder in their accounts for their machine. Locating this User Folder on a USB drive or Network drive is meant to remain only the domain of that particular user, not shared. Why? As I stated before, there are certain parts (preference files [settings], workspaces and log files that are unique to each session of VW and should never be shared. Sharing these files simultaneously causes overwriting of files in use by one user from another user. That's bad.

However, there are resources that can be shared. This is what Workgroup Folders are for. As I said, VW has a hierarchy of searching the folders to find resources.

Specifies the folders where Vectorworks will look for additional content, such as shared project files and workgroup reference files. This might be a shared folder on a network drive, or a project-specific folder on the local computer.

Folders are searched in order from the top of the list to bottom; if multiple files with the same name are found, only the first version of the file is shown in the program. To change the position of a folder, click in the # column and drag the folder up or down in the list.

For a stable multi-user setup, as intended, use the following list:

For each user, on local machines, there should be a User Folder, normally in a default location determined by the operating system (e.g. on the Mac it is: volumename > Users > username > Library > Application Support > Vectorworks > 2009 > )

In this folder, the following files and folders should remain:

1. Error Output (writes to this file when there are problems in a session)

2. Plug-ins (contains preference file for tool defaults)

3. Settings (all user/session preferences and saved settings)

4. Vectorworks Log (open and close logging, crash indicators, but not the actual crash log)

5. VW User Log Sent.txt

6. VW User Log.txt (part of crash reporting system giving info about state of VW at crash)

7. VW Help (doesn't need to be shared, too slow if it was)

8. Workspaces (If a user makes a change to the Workspace, it'll end up here. If it's just palette locations and visibility, then these can be shared).

The Libraries and Plant Database can be erased after a Workgroup Folder on a network is setup and there is someting to point to.

The Workgroup Folder can contain the following folders:

1. Libraries (This is where customized content goes)

2. Plant Database (Just don't mess with the contents of the folder, if any)

3. Workspaces (optional- Again, some workspaces work better than others depending on screen size and resolution. You could have a bunch of different Workspaces for different purposes, but I wouldn't limit experienced "power users". I am far more efficient with my workspace than any other, yet Robert would prefer his different than mine. No need to argue.)

For the times users want to switch machines, hey!, the perfect use of a customized "backup" user folder on the network that can be pointed to, when a person sits down in front of a different machine.

In the end, the resources that are intended to be shared, via Workgroup Folders and a LAN, are in the Libraries folder (and optionally Workspaces).

Does that help?

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Thanks for all the replies folks and thanks for explaining the user file on a server issue. The quote about running vectorworks from any computer is kind of misleading and we wanted to set up each computer so everyone could run their own workspace on any computer in the office.

I was planning on setting up a separate user folder for each user on the server just for easy access but I suppose there isn't much point. Copying the workspace files to each computer will work.

I am working on setting up the workgroup at my office in preparation for upgrading to VW2009. Right now I have one copy of 09 to experiment with. Thanks for all the input and I am sure I will have a lot more questions. I really hated Vectorworks 12 but 2009 has some really great features.


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The quote about running vectorworks from any computer is kind of misleading and we wanted to set up each computer so everyone could run their own workspace on any computer in the office.

I was planning on setting up a separate user folder for each user on the server just for easy access but I suppose there isn't much point. Copying the workspace files to each computer will work.

It's not misleading, just needed clarification. You can run with User Folders on a LAN, and make them "portable". The issue is that users shouldn't be sharing the same User Folder, or at least the elements I describe above. So you CAN set up a User Folder for each individual user.

My only concern comes from a LAN technical point of view. The system works great as long as the "health" of the LAN is robust. As is the case with any process or functionality that relies on a LAN, any hiccups in the dataflow (e.g. bad hub, bad wires, bad connections, server bugs) can ripple through to the individual's workflow.

Workspaces can be shared. The on/off, position and sizes of palettes are stored in a separate .xml preference file, for each user. But if the user tries to use the Workspace Editor, then a new local version will be created.

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Thanks for that info. It certainly clears up how to approach some of the setup. One question about the Libraries in the WorkGroup folder on the server: Can/Does that take the place of the Libraries Folder in Applications>VW>Libraries? From your earlier post, it seems that the program will look in the Workgroup Folders first for data, then in the application folder if it does not find it. Is that correct?

How would you handle the Notes Database and other issues that I mentioned in the earlier post? It seems that they would want to go in the Workgroup Folder, but it does not seem that the program looks in there automatically.

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You should NEVER erase any of the folders in the main application folder. These are the "shipping versions" of all content. When an updater is run, any content/resources are updated here. It is also the default value/state of all resources.

If a User invokes a tool/plug-ing and makes changes to it, the changed version gets saved to the User Folder, NOT the Application Folder.

As I stated before, when VW runs it looks into the following places:

1. User Folder (default location unless designated otherwise by Preferences)

2. Workgroup Folders (if present and designated in Preferences)

3. Application Folder

Admittedly, some work still needs to be done for the Notes Database to work consistently and robustly as a shared resource, especially across a LAN.

Please contact Tech Support with any problems you are having and see if it warrants a bug report.

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I did not mean to imply that we are deleting anything. As a rule, everything in the application folder is untouched. I have used this program long enough and made enough mistakes to know what that can do.

With the Notes Database, we have had decent stability of late with the program always looking at the correct location on the server.

Is there a problem with locating a 'master' Preference Set on the server and having all the users point to it? I know that it is a read/write file, and am wondering if there would be similiar problems to having a master user folder. The Prefs Sets hold a lot of information that is best standardized in a multi-user environment and would really address a large number of our operational issues.

Thanks for all the help!

Edited by rcarch
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Back in VW10, Project Preference Sets were introduced. They are found under the Tools>Options menu. They have kind of been marginalized over the last few releases, but they are critical to the hardware, room finishes, etc. The source files for them are located in Plug-Ins>VW_Arch>Data. They have nothing to do with the actually preference settings for individual users, but are more workflow based.

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I see to what you are referring, now. It doesn't appear that they have kept up with the numerous changes made in sharing resources via Workgroup Folders.

Due to their current location in the Plug-ins folder, these could be difficult to share under the circumstances I outlined above.

I think the best way to address this is through a re-engineering effort to relocate these resources in a way that they can be easily shared, even across a LAN.

I'll enter it as a bug/wish myself.

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None the less. We are testing the "WorkGroup folder on the server". Has its downside but also its 'control' benefits. We aim to get rid of 'AutoCAD user' workspaces. Cant teach them new things when they are still holding to their old habits. Easy to update whats on the user folder. especially plugins, resource browser... etc.

A downsides is because we are in beta stage and their are current users who don't want to change and so we have other saved workspaces. So whoever shuts down last VW saves that users workspace. Hope that annoys them to change.

I was looking for any discussion on the Workgroup and Project Folders which is the bit below the User Folders under the Vectowworks Preference but found this instead.

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This forum looked like a good place to present our question.

We have been using a shared server location to centralize our Vectorworks 2008 standards. Generally we are please with the results. The key features have been a centralized symbols library, centralized template files, works cross platform, and centralized control over line weights, dash styles etc. Another firm we work with chooses to develop a standard set, then copy this folder to everyone's machines. This doesn't make sense for us because we would like continuously improve things like our symbols libraries and templates.

We don't like how the preferences revert back to the desktops if the local user doesn't have the server linked. We try to set up the machines, but inevitably someone boots up the program without thinking about the server first. . . . . I would also prefer to see Workspaces stored on a local level. Ideally we would have control over which features are local vs. central, and a warning if the remote preferences are not available.

Now we have purchased 2009 and would like to migrate our standards. Does anyone have a procedure for doing this? I would like to avoid recreating this work?

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If you read thru the earliest posts in this thread, Jeffery does a nice job of explaining how things set up in 2008. We have made some changes based on his comments and somethings work well and others dont. I can say that you really want all your user folders on the local machine. We currently have each user folder on the server, and while it is stable and works fine, it is incredibly slow, esp. at program boot up.

If you are running in the Mac OS, then your local machines should automatically connect to your server at startup. Are you running an OSX server? If not, you should consider upgrading to it. It will eliminate the need to connect to the server before VW starts.

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We still using 'User data and preference folder' in the server. Found a way to default the wrkspace to the standard workspace at VW startup. Lock the settings folder. Also lock the workspaces folder. Smiled when we had a couple new people also previous ACad users using the (our) standard workspace.

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We have been trying to set up Workgroup folders to be used as office standards for title blocks, wall types, etc. We tried to set them up through the VW Preferences under the User Folders Tab. But for some reason VW is not recognizing the folders we have set up. We tried to follow the folder structure that VW has (ie; default/Libraries/Walls, etc)?

Our folders are set up on a shared network drive, it is not a true server setup. We have tried various manipulations of the names and how it was linked, but nothing seems to work??

Any ideas????

I started another post under Mulit-user, but thought i may get some help through this one??

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On 11/26/2008 at 3:07 PM, Jeffrey W Ouellette said:

As I stated before, when VW runs it looks into the following places:

1. User Folder (default location unless designated otherwise by Preferences)

2. Workgroup Folders (if present and designated in Preferences)

3. Application Folder

Admittedly, some work still needs to be done for the Notes Database to work consistently and robustly as a shared resource, especially across a LAN.


Is this still the case? I've tried putting a notes database in our workgroup folder as follows but it doesn't show up in the database dropdown menu of the Notes Manager or a Callout

Workgroup Folder > Libraries > Defaults > Notes

Edited by Christiaan
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