User Modified Files

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Daren LaBranche
Junior Member
Posts: 56
Joined: Tue, Sep 25 2012, 5:26PM
Company Name: Drawn to Wood
Country: CANADA

User Modified Files

Postby Daren LaBranche » Wed, Sep 26 2012, 11:45AM

As you can see I'm new to this forum & relatively new to eCabinets. I have read through several posts about networking, user data, app data & even the page named 'File Formats and Compatibility' in the EC help file to help me identify ALL of the files that are modified by a user when using eCabinets and/or the ShopBot link. I've even done a backup & examined the content of that to see what files are there. I think I have a pretty good idea of what the files/folders are & where they come from (I have both XP & WIN7 systems) & I'm now working on putting it all together. But I wanted to toss this out there to see if anyone had any further ideas or info.

My reason for wanting to identify these files is because I want to install EC & the SBL on more than 1 PC & have the exact same data (& installed options in each app) available to me regardless of the PC or even whether I'm online or not.

I use a desktop PC to do most of my design & planning on & a laptop to run my ShopBot. The desktop PC is always online, but the laptop is used both on & offline (by online I mean connected to the internet). I currently use symbolic links (symlinks) by Link Shell Extension along with Dropbox to solve this problem with other apps (described here: http://www.mydigitallife.info/how-to-synchronize-folders-located-outside-of-my-dropbox-folder-to-dropbox-server/ ). This has been working very well for me with apps such as SketchUp, ArtCAM, etc...

In order to make this work for EC & the SBL I need to identify two types of files/folders:
1) User data: User-modified files which can be relocated as needed (ie: to Dropbox) & then redirected in the app by a setting (ie: EC's Edit > Settings/Preferences > User Data Path). I would expect things like materials, hardware, cabinets, jobs, reports, etc... to be user data in ECs.

2) App data: Files used to run/modify the app that may be user-modified when items are changed (ie: settings, preferences, material images, etc...) that affect the app but are not separated into user data files (ie: the database). App data is typically not able to be relocated because the app looks for it in a specific location (& the programmers haven't taken user changes fully into consideration), therefor, using a symlink allows a mirror of that data to remain in the original location while the original is in Dropbox able to be accessed/updated by the other PC.

Aside from not being a true network-type solution (where files are locked by a user when in use, but shared between users who are networked), I believe that my method is the only way to do what I require. I you have any any suggestions I'd be glad to hear them. Obviously, I do not agree with the tedious & error-prone procedure of exporting & importing data between PCs.

Thanks

Gary Campbell
Guru Member
Posts: 256
Joined: Sat, Apr 04 2009, 6:27PM
Company Name: ShopBot Tools Inc
Country: UNITED STATES
Location: Durham NC

Re: User Modified Files

Postby Gary Campbell » Wed, Sep 26 2012, 6:52PM

Daren...
Since the only file type we need to take to the control computer for SB Link cutting is a "TWD", I made a folder in the Root of both computers called "Thermwood Files". (name is not important) I use this file for:
1) TWD transfer from the design computer
2) Holding place for SB Link Import and Export files
3) A spare copy of the SB Link settings, in case I need a reset

Having those 2 files synced should give you what you want for cutting. On the design side the list is much longer and more complicated.
Gary Campbell
ShopBot Tools Production Support

ShopBot (eCabinets) Link Training & Support

Daren LaBranche
Junior Member
Posts: 56
Joined: Tue, Sep 25 2012, 5:26PM
Company Name: Drawn to Wood
Country: CANADA

Re: User Modified Files

Postby Daren LaBranche » Wed, Sep 26 2012, 9:45PM

Hi Gary, thanks for your thoughts on this. My concern is that I will be at the shop (a 10 minute drive away from my office) working with my laptop (connected to the Shopbot) & realize that I need to make a design change to a file. In this case I want to be able to see the exact same libraries & setup in ECs on my laptop as I do on my office PC. Does this make sense to you? Sometimes I try so hard to explain things clearly that I get overly verbose in my descriptions - sorry.

What I've learned today while trying to setup symlinks is that I cannot identify all of the files that are affected by user-changes. Here's my results after two attempts:

Test #1: Link select files.
a) I changed the User Data Path & then moved those files/folders into Dropbox. I then pointed the User Data Path on both PCs to the new location in Dropbox.
b) I symlinked the following specific files/folders that I thought were 'non-user data' or 'app data':
- 'ecabinets.ini' 'ecabinets.mdb' and 'proposal.ini' files from the root of the 'Backup' folder from:
- Win7: C:\ProgramData\Thermwood\eCabinet Systems
- XP: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Thermwood\eCabinet Systems
- 'LocalStore.mdb' file from:
- Win7: C:\ProgramData\Thermwood\eCabinet Systems\localstore
- XP: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Thermwood\eCabinet Systems\localstore
- 'Materials' folder from:
- Win7: C:\ProgramData\Thermwood\eCabinet Systems\materials
- XP: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Thermwood\eCabinet Systems\materials

RESULT: Incomplete data being shared between PCs. I added a new edgebanding material in one PC (then exited ECs & started it on the other PC) but it would not appear in the other PC's list of banding.


Test #2: Link entire Thermwood folder.
a) I left the User Data Path the same as in #1 above.
b) I symlinked the entire Thermwood folder from:
- Win7: C:\ProgramData\Thermwood
- XP: C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Thermwood

RESULT: Could not start ECs on the XP PC (message said it could not find the same User Data Path). That's because the Win7 path to the Dropbox folder is different than that in XP.


CONCLUSION: I need someone to tell me exactly what files/folders are changed (other than those in the User Data Path) whenever a user works in ECs or the SBL so that I can symlink only those. I'm not an IT guy, but I would think that the same files (except possibly app settings/configuration) would need to be shared when using ECs in a network environment?

Daren LaBranche
Junior Member
Posts: 56
Joined: Tue, Sep 25 2012, 5:26PM
Company Name: Drawn to Wood
Country: CANADA

Re: User Modified Files

Postby Daren LaBranche » Thu, Sep 27 2012, 3:47PM

Dennis told me that the materials library should be in the file 'ecabinets.mdb' so I tried Test #1 again (with a couple of slight tweaks). But I'm still not seeing new materials added on one PC showing up on the other PC. Other changes like adding a cabinet etc... seem to working as expected. So I'm stumped! I even watched as Dropbox sync'd the files ('LocalStore.mdb' and 'ecabinets.mdb') between PCs after I made a change. And what's really odd is that it actually worked - once. I added a new edgebanding to the library on PC#1 & then it appeared in the library on PC#2 - just like it's supposed to. But I can't get it to do it again. :wall:

So until I learn why/where materials are stored I guess it's gonna have to be export/import via backup/restore to fully synchronize eCabinets between my PCs. It's too bad the User Data Path wasn't able to carry all of this info, then it would be simple.

Daren LaBranche
Junior Member
Posts: 56
Joined: Tue, Sep 25 2012, 5:26PM
Company Name: Drawn to Wood
Country: CANADA

Re: User Modified Files

Postby Daren LaBranche » Thu, Sep 27 2012, 4:21PM

I just did a backup & noticed that it did not include everything in my 'Materials' folder. It's missing 2 folders ('Reflections' and 'Window Images' [and all their contents]) & 1 file ('jpgs.txt'). Can anyone please explain why?

Mtls folder.jpg
My Materials folder


Mtls folder BU.jpg
Backup of Materials folder

Daren LaBranche
Junior Member
Posts: 56
Joined: Tue, Sep 25 2012, 5:26PM
Company Name: Drawn to Wood
Country: CANADA

Re: User Modified Files

Postby Daren LaBranche » Thu, Sep 27 2012, 5:34PM

UGH! :wall: :wall: :wall: :wall: :wall: :wall: :wall: :wall: :wall:

Now I can't even get a Conestoga door to have a woodgrain image applied to it (image not found). I can understand that it can't find the file because I've moved/renamed them, but I can't find how to change the location of the image file in the door editor. How do you do it?

Are all users of eCabinets condemned to using the existing filenames & folder hierarchy that it comes with?

Gary Campbell
Guru Member
Posts: 256
Joined: Sat, Apr 04 2009, 6:27PM
Company Name: ShopBot Tools Inc
Country: UNITED STATES
Location: Durham NC

Re: User Modified Files

Postby Gary Campbell » Thu, Sep 27 2012, 6:51PM

Daren...
When I started using eCabs my shop was a similar distance from my home, where I did my designs (in the AC). Online sync was not an option as there was no affordable internet at my shop location. After a few trips back and forth to change erroneous designs, I decided to bring my laptop with eCabs on it to the shop when I was cutting. Of course, the more I cut, the less I needed to redesign my files. After a few years of eCabs use, the need to redesign are finally few and far between.

I suggest that you spend your time learning the software and let experience dictate the path to take. If you havent purchased the eCabs Video Training, now would be a great time to do that before you develop habits that will be harder to change in the future. Good Luck
GC
Gary Campbell
ShopBot Tools Production Support

ShopBot (eCabinets) Link Training & Support

Dennis Englert

Re: User Modified Files

Postby Dennis Englert » Fri, Sep 28 2012, 8:32AM

Daren,

The standard cabinets, doors and drawer fronts are linked to specific files from a specific path. If you move or remove those files, then you will get the "texture not found" message or a yellow image tile that looks like construction zone tape or sign. The materials and finishes for these can only be changed from files located in the default paths. The Conestoga Doors and Drawers were previously sold through our online store. The materials and finishes are those that are specifically available through Conestoga and thus are limited to those offerings from those folders. Finishes for other door and drawer types can be selected from any other folder in the Materials dialog, but the material originates from a Generic material for sheet and banding stock.

I advised not to remove the Generic materials for sheet stock, banding stock and banding stock. Also, I mentioned specifically, not removing or relocating the Brewster (wallpaper) folders as removal of the default folders does and has caused problems. The key to the latter is not to remove or rename default folders. I mentioned the Brewster folders as there are a lot of folders that are alphabetically first in the Materials folder and there has been an inclination to move or remove those. Someone in the past did specifically remove or reorganize those folders and it did cause problems. Previously, I hadn't talked to anyone that had entirely changed the folders for the various wood materials, so it did not come to mind during our conversation yesterday and the bulk of our conversation was about backup.

With regards to Backup and Restore. I did a back up a couple of times this morning. My file count results are exactly the same for both backup files. There are several topics on the forum about Backup and Restore. Some suggest that you only need to do a partial backup for sake of expediency. In any case, I believe that if the Backup Settings are consistent between the two computers, your results will be consistent. I don't have any idea why the Window Images folder would be missing as you've shown, but if your results are from the two computers, I'd double check the settings. I'll continue to test this.

With regards to Gary's comments about the videos. I am aware that you have purchased "The Nearly Complete Guide to eCabinet Systems" and that you did have a subscription for a couple of months from May of this year. Both learning methods are meant to get you off and running as quickly as possible. Neither of these learning tools dwelve off the beaten path about reorganizing the intended file and folder structure or go beyond a typical Backup and Restore.

Dennis

Daren LaBranche
Junior Member
Posts: 56
Joined: Tue, Sep 25 2012, 5:26PM
Company Name: Drawn to Wood
Country: CANADA

Re: User Modified Files

Postby Daren LaBranche » Fri, Sep 28 2012, 10:05AM

Gary: I look forward to the day when I have a better "big picture" of how eCabinets functions. Obviously, knowing all of its idiosyncrasies (like these that I've already experienced) is crucial. I may be a bit different than most users in that I like to have a thorough understanding of how things are built, from the ground up. Hence my desire to cleanup the materials library. I'll try to remember your advice. Thank you.

Dennis: Obviously I'm not the first user that finds the materials folder (which is actually just images) a total mess. I have never worked with software that didn't allow some kind of restructuring of a user-edited directory. You have not told me where the Conestoga doors get their images from, so along with the other problems associated with moving/renaming files, I can see that eCabinets is not configured for user changes in this fashion (as you tried to tell me before - sometimes I'm a little thick headed). I am surprised though that you do not sound interested in taking this as a suggestion/opportunity to improve the product.

Therefor, I have decided to change my tact a little on this. Rather than trying to remove & rename existing files & folders I'm going to do like brewster did - add my own. I have reinstated the complete original materials folder & I will now take copies of all those images that I want to use & place them in my own folders - at the top of the list - in a way & naming convention that I find useful.

I hope that someday eCabinets will have the ability to cull, revise, merge the contents of this folder so that I can get rid of all the unused files & folders in there.

As far as the actual materials in the library go, I think I'll do the same thing: Keep all of the default eCabinets materials as is (ie: Generic materials & those added by others' downloaded libraries) & then add my own materials to the start of the list with a prefixed symbol that brings them to the top of the list. Do you see any problems with this?

Dennis Englert

Re: User Modified Files

Postby Dennis Englert » Fri, Sep 28 2012, 10:46AM

The direction that you've devised for future organization of your files should work for you. One note, the texture images in the Materials folder can only be one level deep meaning that if you create a WOOD sub-directory you can not create Walnut or Oak or Cherry folders within the Wood sub-directory.

With regards to interest or disinterest. The forum is used extensively as a conduit for suggesting any changes and is read by our programming staff and decision makers. They determine whether a suggestion has merit, if the suggestion is feasible or determine the effort needed to implement such a change or the implications that result. Currently, there are several threads with suggestions on various aspects of the program. There is a "Feedback" link under communications that provides an additional conduit for recommendations and reporting problems, though problems should be reported to cabinets@thermwood.com or via a phone call. When reporting problems, in all cases, a copy of the relevant files, screenshots and step-by-step description of the procedures used are important.

Some of the suggestions may be easy to implement and many are more difficult than may be suspected. In any case, the suggestions are discussed, given a yeah or ney, and prioritized along with our other commitments to other projects and heavily weighted to our fundamental business of building and selling Thermwood CNC's.


Dennis

Daren LaBranche
Junior Member
Posts: 56
Joined: Tue, Sep 25 2012, 5:26PM
Company Name: Drawn to Wood
Country: CANADA

Re: User Modified Files

Postby Daren LaBranche » Fri, Sep 28 2012, 1:09PM

Ok Dennis, I'll make my suggestions on the forum & contact you if I have problems. Sometimes it's hard to tell when you're learning new software whether difficulties are caused by inexperience, malfunctioning software/computer or simply a shortcoming of the software.


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