Sharing Tool Palettes on a network for AutoCAD P&ID

The basic setup for tool palettes on a network for AutoCAD P&ID is the same as for vanilla AutoCAD. Due to a lack of documentation on the internet, we’ll will go through the steps in this article.

Here are the steps we are going to follow to setup a network tool palette environment.

  • Copy our default tool palettes to a network folder.
  • Make modifications to the network files.
  • Set permissions on the shared folder.
  • Give access to other users.
  • Use the tool palettes.

Copying the Default Tool Palettes

Tool palette locations are defined in the AutoCAD profile. Go to Options > Files > Tool Palette File Locations.

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Open the folder at the specified path in Windows explorer.

If you cannot see the AppData folder, go to Organize > Folder and search options > View and Enable Show hidden files, folders, and drives.

No App Data Folder Visible

Folder and search options

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Enable hidden files

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Copy the files in the folder, and paste them at your preferred network location.

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Modifying Network Tool Palettes

Now that we have our palettes accessible, we need to modify them to include necessary content.  The first we will do is modify our options to include the path to the network at the top entry. So here’s what the changes look like on my computer.

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Because AutoCAD uses the top path as the editing directory, any changes we make will be saved to the network location.

I’ve create a new palette named ACME which will allows users to draw items on the ACME layer.  As long as user’s use the tool palette, the layer will get created and the color will be set as needed.

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To add P&ID content, open your project setup, navigate to the symbol you want to add, and click Add to Tool palette.  Make sure that the palette you want the symbol on is current.

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Setting Permissions on a Shared Folder

Because tool palettes can represent a tremendous amount of work, they should be protected from the general users. To prevent unauthorized access, make the folder containing the tool palettes read-only to non-admin users.

Making the folder read-only can be accomplished in a couple ways.  If you have IT people or are familiar with folder permissions, create a cad user group and deny write privileges to the tool palette folder.  Any non-admin CAD user should be a member of the CAD user group.  Because deny permissions take precedence, users will be able to read the files, but not write or change them.

 

A simpler method would be to right-click on the folder, select properties and check the  read-only box.

This method is less secure, since anyone with permission can uncheck the read-only box. I’d use this if you are more concerned about preventing accidental edits than user access.

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The nice thing about read-only palettes is that the user can tell which palette is read-only by a little lock symbol.

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Giving Access to Other Users

While we have put the tool palettes up on the network, added our content, and set the permissions to read-only, other users still can’t access them from AutoCAD.

To allow others to use our tool palettes, we need to add the network path to their profile.  The procedure is the same as we used to add the path to our profile.  However, put the network folder below the user folder, so they create their own palettes on their own computer.

Use the tool palettes

One of the downsides of tool palettes is that groups aren’t transferrable.  What I mean by transferrable is that even though you create a group for a palette, the other users aren’t able to share that group.

So, to get other user’s to be able to view the new palette, right-click on the palette bar, select All palettes.

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and then they can select the palette to use:

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There is a more complicated trick for switch tool palette folders, but that involves macros, so we will have to address that in a later post.  I hope you have found this article worth reading.