Understanding the Autodesk Content Browser – Part 4

This is Part 4 of a multi-part series on the Autodesk Content Browser.  This article will address adding a Catalog to the Library and how to make Catalogs available to users.

Part 1 of the series addresses why you would want to use the Content Browser and how to get to it. Read it here.

Part 2 of the series addresses how the Content Browser is organized. Read it here.

Part 3 of the series addresses the library to which the Content Browser will look.  Read it here.

Much of the power of the Content Browser is the ability to have various Catalogs that key in on specific needs of an organization.  These may include separating information based upon:

  • Stock catalogs provided by Autodesk
  • Shared company custom catalog(s) on a network
  • Local User custom catalog
  • Web page from outside organization

Adding a Catalog to a Library

There are multiple ways to add a Catalog to a library.

1.  The first way to add an additional Catalog is to pick the Add Catalog (open book appearance) icon from the lower left corner of the Content Browser; or right-click in an open area of the Content Browser and select Add Catalog… from the shortcut menu.

Content Browser Add Catalog Methods

When the Add Catalog dialog box appears, you can choose to either create a new catalog or add an existing catalog.   If you are creating a new catalog, specify the name for the catalog and pick the Browse… button to select a folder to place the catalog.  If you do not choose a location, it will default to your local user folder.  Catalog names can include spaces and can contain any characters except the following:   \ / : * ? ” < > |

Content Browser Add Catalog

2.  To add an existing catalog, choose the “Add an existing catalog or web site option”.  Either type in the folder and filename for the catalog, or pick the Browse… button to select a folder that contains the desired catalog.  Select the desired .atc file and pick the Open button.

Content Browser Add Existing Catalog

Content Browser Catalog Location

3.  Another method to add a catalog to a library is directly from the Windows Explorer.  In Windows Explorer, browse to the location of the desired .atc catalog file.  Pick on the .atc file and drag it to the Content Browser Library.  When you release the mouse button, the Catalog will be added to the Library.

4.  To add a web site as a catalog, select “Add an existing catalog or web site” option in the above dialog box and type in the actual web site URL in the box.  Be sure and include the entire URL including the http:// prefix.

5.  Another method to add a catalog is with a registry file created for this purpose.

After a CAD Manager creates a custom catalog on the server, you want to easily share that catalog with other users.  Instead of having each user manually add the catalog as noted in other 4 methods, you can create a system registry file that can be run to add the catalog.

Go to the Home page of the Library.  Place your mouse over the Catalog that is to be shared and press SHIFT when you right-click.  Select the Convert to Registry File option on the shortcut menu.

Content Browser Catalog Registry

Browse to the desired folder location for the file, type in a new file name, and pick the Open button.  A new registry file will be created with the .REG extension.

If a user has proper permissions on their computer, when they double-click on the .REG file, the user will be asked if they want to add the catalog.  When they answer Yes, the catalog will be added to that user’s Catalog Library.

It is also possible to create a .REG file that will add multiple catalogs to the user’s Catalog Library at one time.  To do that, you follow the above steps but select an existing .REG file instead of entering a new name.  The catalog that you selected will be added to the .REG file.

Make a Catalog on my computer be available to users from the server

You may have created a Catalog on your computer and want to share that Catalog with other users.  It is a common practice for the CAD Manager to develop it on their computer and then share it with others by putting it on the network server.

Go to the Home page of the Library.  Place your mouse over the Catalog that is to be shared, right-click, and select the Publish ‘XXX’ option on the shortcut menu (where XXX is the catalog name).

Content Browser Publish Catalog

In the Publish Tool Catalog – Step 1 of 4 dialog box that will now appear, specify one of the following options:

  • Move it to a new location;
  • Copy it to another location;
  • Leave it in its current location.

Select the Next > button.

In the Publish Tool Catalog – Step 2 of 4 dialog box, either type the folder location to place the .atc file or select the browse button (shown below) to browse to the desired folder and pick the OK button.  You also have the option to create a new folder to contain the catalog file when using the browse button.

Content Browser Publish Step 2

Select the Next > button.

In the Publish Tool Catalog – Step 3 of 4 dialog box, you specify the location for dependent files.  You can either type the folder location or select the browse button (shown below) to browse to the desired folder and pick the OK button.  You also have the option to create a new folder to contain the catalog file when using the browse button.

Content Browser Publish Step 3

Dependent files contain information that is referenced by tools in the catalog, such as drawings containing styles, tags, or mvblocks that are referenced by tools.

You have the option to automatically copy the dependent files into the specified folder if they do not already exist there.  The purpose of this is to make sure that the styles are available to all users using the tools and that the styles are not at a location inaccessible such as the local hard drive of the catalog creator.  If you do not select this option, verify that all of the referenced files within tools do actually exist in the specified folder.

You also have the option to “Report invalid catalog references”.  This will create an HTML file containing a list of any dependent files that weren’t found during this publishing process.  It is a very good idea to have this selected.

Click the Next > button.

In the Publish Tool Catalog – Step 4 of 4 dialog box, you specify how others will access this catalog’s content.  The “Directly from the location provided:” option will typically be selected.  The other option is great if you are posting the catalog for web access.

Content Browser Publish Step 4

You can make the catalog items be read-only so users cannot intentionally or accidentally modify them.  This is a good option if the specified folder is not controlled by Windows permissions and all users have full access to the folder.  If the CAD Manager is in control of the folder via Windows permissions, then selecting this option is not necessary.

Palettes that are dragged from the Content Browser to a user’s workspace can be refreshable.  If you never want the users to be able to refresh their palettes to match the Content Browser, then you would select that option on the dialog box.  Typically, CAD Managers want the users to be able to refresh their palettes, so this option typically does not have a checkmark.  This option does not control the auto-refresh feature associated with palettes.

Click the Finish button to publish the catalog to the desired location.  Depending on the size of the catalog, this can take a few minutes.

Note that individual users can specify the location of dependent files on the AEC Content tab in the Options dialog box.  The variable %AECCONTENT_DIR% is used for tool-dependent file references.  This variable is updated to use the specified path.

Content Browser AEC Content

What’s next?

The next article will address how to add tools and tool palettes to the Content Browser.  Read it here.

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