CONNECT Edition - Configuration Tips : Switch to local configuration (for home working)

Previous articles have described how to use ConfigurationSetup.cfg to redirect your applications to a networked configuration.

Another common question asks how to use our applications when out of the office or working at home (obviously pertinent to the current COVID-19 situation!).

Where remote access solutions are not available or suitable, configuration can be used to automatically switch an installed application from the office network to a copy/version of the company configuration on the PC's local hard drive, or to fail over to the example configuration installed with the application.

Inserting configuration logic similar to the example below into ConfigurationSetup.cfg will use the default network configuration AA (when the machine is in the office). If folder W:/AA_Configuration/ is unavailable will go to local hard drive configuration BB. If that is unavailable the failover option will undefine _USTN_CUSTOM_CONFIGURATION and go to the Bentley Example configuration.

[General]
%if exists (W:/AA_Configuration/)
# use network configuration
_USTN_CUSTOM_CONFIGURATION = W:/AA_Configuration/
%else
# use local hard drive configuration
%if exists (C:/BB_Configuration/)
_USTN_CUSTOM_CONFIGURATION = C:/BB_Configuration/
%endif
%else
# revert to Bentley example configuration
_USTN_CUSTOM_CONFIGURATION =
%endif

Once ConfigurationSetup.cfg has been edited appropriately the application will be redirected to the network configuration for all other custom configuration, resources etc. It is not necessary to modify any of the system configuration files elsewhere on the C:\drive.

The local copy of a custom configuration could be a duplicate of the original or one tailored to offline use. This will really depend on individual circumstances such as the size of the organisation, project scale, etc.. The obvious question is how are any files worked on locally kept in sync with the network. This is a big subject beyond the scope of this short technical article. However, I suggest that the approach shown above is most suitable for use where selected files are copied offline for editing or reference, then returned to the network using appropriate version control procedures.

Where access to every aspect of a project, its settings and data are required a remote access solution would be the best option. Obviously we also offer ProjectWise as a solution that manages access to remote data. Existing ProjectWise users who have been provided with a Managed Configuration will not need to use this technique, ProjectWise manages it for you.

Forthcoming articles will cover our cloud based ProjectWise Share features which may also be a part of home working solutions for companies that do not use full-scale ProjectWise server products.

Notes

Moving from one configuration to another will result in a newly opened application displaying No WorkSpace and No WorkSet on the file open page (Backstage). The reason for this is that names of the last used WorkSpace and WorkSet are written to Personal.ucf. These names may not be found in the local configuration so the application reverts to none. The available WorkSpace will be listed in the drop down. Selecting the available WorkSpace will make the available WorkSets visible.

Any version of the example statements above must replace the existing content of the [General] section of ConfigurationSetup.cfg. This file is written to by the application to update the content of the [SetConfiguration] to the currently active Custom Configuration. Editing the statements below [SetConfiguration] will disrupt this write operation causing errors.
Notes may be added to the comments in the header section to provide version information and document the changes to [General].

Currently reinstalling or updating applications will overwrite ConfigurationSetup.cfg so ensure that a copy is backed up in another location. Enhancement 854340 has been requested to address this problem. Until this request is resolved it will be necessary to replace the default ConfigurationSetup.cfg after an application installed.

When connecting to an office network via WAN, network shares may be accessible. In that scenario, with sufficient bandwidth it may be possible to use these shares, but experience suggests that this should be avoided as the latency incurred is generally too severe for effective operation. Starting applications using configured shortcuts may be the appropriate solution in that instance. Another possibility is an IT solution that does not connect the relevant share when connected via WAN.

Please see these articles for more information on this file and it's behaviour:

CONNECT Edition - What does _USTN_USER_CONFIGURATION do?

CONNECT Edition - Configuration Tips : Should I edit ConfigurationSetup.cfg?

Translated German Wiki article:
CONNECT Edition - Tipps zur Konfiguration: Wechseln zur lokalen Konfiguration (für Heimarbeit)

Anonymous
  • Good article, and timely. Most organisations have a tool to remotely connect to a VPN and reconnect your network drives (we use Cisco Secure Mobility Client). However, even if you have that, it's good to have a setup such as this available not only as a backup, it can increase performance as well.

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    "If that is unavailable the failover option will undefine _USTN_CUSTOM_CONFIGURATION and go to the Bentley Example configuration."

    Considering the above part of the article, rather than inserting the logic as suggested above, I leave ConfigurationSetup.cfg as is, pointing to the network drive. Then instead of copying the network configuration to a place suggested as above (C:/BB_Configuration/), I copy the network configuration to the example configuration (C:\ProgramData\Bentley\MicroStation CONNECT Edition\). That's it.

    I think that what this article suggests is better as it leaves the example area untouched, but what I do has been working, and might help to understand what is going on when the network drive is not there.