Think you have a problem caused by a UPF? Not so fast...

User Preference Files (UPFs) often get blamed for a lot of things -- in fact, it would not surprise me if they were seen by some as the cause for sun spots :). Seriously, that blame is very often misdirected. How? Well... there is a very big difference between cause and effect. Alleviating the effect (i.e. deleting your UPF) often does very little (if anything) to remedy the cause, which could be something much deeper and many times more serious. It is the cause that needs to be be figured out -- deleting a UPF will not do much other than hide that. The cause could come from any number of sources, which is why it is so important to find out what led up to the problem that you are having. It is like a broken window -- a window usually does not "break" itself -- something else is the culprit 99.999% of the time. If other things happen due to the window being broken, that still is no indication that the window broke itself. There is a very distinct difference there. Solving what broke the window is well worth every minute of investigation -- and often makes things work much better all around. Sure, the "quick fix" of simply deleting a UPF and recreating it may seem like the shortest path to resolution, and the "well-that-fixed-the-problem" perception is obviously viral, but over time, you are not really helping yourself (or anyone else, for that matter) all that much by deleting your user preference files.

This is not to say that User Preference File issues have been completely nonexistent*. Granted, a problem is a problem -- figuring out what the problem is should not be avoided. But before blaming (and deleting) the User Preference File for some "weird" thing you are encountering, it would be well worth it to stop (even briefly) and try to remember the things that led up to the situation where you are. Oh, and save the UPF instead of deleting it :).

* previous to MicroStation V8. In MicroStation V8, a good amount of effort was made to minimize potential causes to the "UPF effect". And measures were put in place to help in the diagnosis of possible causes.
  • I can copy that having upf files on the network can cause problems. We've recently again had the problem that an user upf file on the network drive was locked, and could not be opened. Things may work for a couple of months, but suddenly it happenes again.

    Storing upf files locally is a safer solution.

  • For years we've had all user workspaces on the network without a problem...until recently that is. About a year ago we had to move only the upf locally due to Edit & Place Text bogging down. That fixed it. Seemed to point to network connection problems. Occasional hiccups seemed to cause MicroStation to want to look locally for things and then the upf became problematic.

    Now even with a local upf, we had a serious network problem about a week and a half ago. Wouldn't you know, tons of folks with upf problems all of a sudden - and all quite different: tool settings not sticking, moved view windows, commands not working, commands like place cell freezing up MicroStation, dialog boxes with memory buffer trailers, etc.

    Phil, any tips for protecting that window from our network playing stickball? In all seriousness and right in line with Guliani's Broken Windows Theory, when the windows are broken on the buildings, it gives the perception that the entire neighborhood doesn't care.

    Thanks Phil...and tell those darn kids to stop playing near the house!

  • Can you give us an example of a situation in which it would be possible for a user to determine the actual cause of the problem which was ultimately corrupting the UPF?

    I've never encountered a situation in which a UPF-related error could be resolved by doing anything other than deleting the UPF and it would be very helpful to know.

  • Come on, Phil: be serious.  Everyone knows that sunspots are caused by strong magnetic field flux lines that pull energy from the sun's surface making it cooler and, therefore, darker than the surrounding solar surface.

    What people don't understand is that there has not been a sunspot in over a year, which is unprecedented in the 400 years since their discovery.  Is it possible that this LACK of sunspots is caused by a UPF?  Will deleting my UPF bring back the sunspots?  Should we try deleting all UPF's everywhere?   This wouldn't solve the underlying problem, though, if I'm reading you right.

    Thank you for all your years of service!

  • Yes, that is a technique that also has been used. The thing is, that should not become habit -- repetitive need to do that indicates something is wrong and must be looked into. If it doesn't, the proverbial lug nuts could eventually wiggle free and the wheel will fall off.