Why It’s Important to Have an Organized Structure for Inventor and a Properly Configured Project File (Part 2 of 2)
Posted on October 23, 2015 by Mark Lancaster, Synergis Product Support Specialist:
In Part 1 of this post, I covered the importance of having an organized structure outside of the Inventor application. In Part 2, I want to go over the configuration of your project file (.IPJ) which I believe is another key to your success in Inventor.
For this article, I will break down the project file line by line and describe what each setting is used for. Few things before we get started:
- Not every setting in your project file will have information assigned to it. Some will always be blank. Also a couple of the settings were carried over from legacy versions of Inventor and they are no longer used by the system.
- Currently you may have incorrect settings that are leading to issues within your model or have forgotten what some of these settings even do.
- Images are based on Inventor 2013, 2014, and 2015. Pre-Inventor 2013 project files may have a different look and/or settings.
 Project Info:
Common or Multiple Project Files: I have been asked many times about whether you should have individual project files or a single/common one. For Vault users, the use of a single/common project file is the performed method. However, if you are not using Vault, the choice ends being more of how you want to manage your project files. For me I abide by one simple rule, “if my settings never change between jobs why create individual project files”.
Project Type: In Inventor there are two types of projects, one is called the “Single User” and the other is “Vault”. Legacy versions of Inventor contained additional project types called “Semi-isolated Master”, “Semi-isolated Workspace” and “Shared”. These types of projects are only permitted if the “Enable creation of legacy project types” option is selected under the “General” tab of the Application options. However, moving forward I would recommend staying with either the “Single User” or “Vault” project type.
Helpful Tip: On occasion I will receive a case where the user indicates their Vault tools in Inventor are disabled and they are unable to check-in/out files. In most cases the issue is simply related to the active project type. When working with Vault, the project type must be set to “Vault” in order for the related tools to function. If this happens to you simply check the (project) type of your active project.
 Include Another Project File: With this option you can include the scope of existing project files based on the project you select. When this occurs, certain settings (i.e. library folders, search paths, folder options, and etc.) from the included project file are transferred into your project. Keep in mind the included “Project Type” takes precedent over your new one and editing of certain settings are not permitted because they are under the control of the included project.
 User’s Editing Capability of the Styles Library: Basically controls the user’s access (read or read-write) to the Inventor default (external) style files. I would recommend this setting to be set to “Read-Only” to protect your default data from being over-written.
 Available and Active Appearance Libraries: Instructs Inventor which appearance libraries are available to the user and which one is active.
 Available and Active Material Libraries: Instructs Inventor which material libraries are available to the user and which one is active.
 Location Where You Edit and Save Your Project Files: For those who are not using Vault, most of the time our project file is stored in the same directory (workspace) as our Inventor model. Meaning there’s really no need to define a separate workspace in our project file. However, you can use this setting when you want to place your project file in one directory and work in another.
 Shared Network Location of Non-Library files: Allows you to define multiple search paths for accessing your files that are located outside of your project workspace. As a reminder when Inventor needs to resolve a file location it first looks at the library location of your project file, then the workspace, and finally the workgroups as defined here. This setting is crucial for resolving files that reside outside of your project workspace. For “Vault” projects, this setting is not used.
 Location Of Reference (library) Files: We may assume this setting has something to do with the Inventor Content Center Library. However, it’s a way for you to control the access to commonly used Inventor files (.IPT and .IAM) that do not reside in your content center. When a folder location is provided, any components pulled from that location and placed into your model are deemed read-only. If the (non-content center) library structure contains sub-folders, only the root directory of the library needs to be specified here.
 List Of Sub-Folders Located Below the Project Workspace: When your project workspace contains sub-folders you can define them under this setting so they appear as shortcuts in the Inventor “Open”, “Save” and “Place” dialog. This setting is only used as a navigation tool within your project and it will not resolve any links to missing files.
 Folder Options: Location as specified for “Design Data”, “Templates” and “Content Center Files” information. If a given option is set to “[Default]”, the setting is then per the Inventor Application Options/File tab.
Design Data: Wither you are specifying the folder location here or in the applications options, it is recommended for the “Design Data” to be kept locally. When this information is located on a network you could experience delays/non-responding conditions when you are accessing your files.
Templates: The only thing I would recommend is to make sure everyone is pulling for the same template locations and not having it different for each user.
Content Center Files: As stated in Part 1 of my article, it is crucial to have the same location for all users when it comes to your content center files. Having different locations or a non-shared spot will only lead to Inventor not finding content center parts.
As a reminder, this setting is the location where your Content Center files reside once they are placed into your assembly from the Content Center library.
 Options: Sometimes we might overlook these options and don’t take advantage of certain ones.
Old Versions To Keep On Save: This setting controls how many backups of your files are created when you save them. You can set it to -1 (negative one) to save all the time, 0 (zero) to disable it, or a positive whole number to denote the number of active backups you want to maintain. As a reminder, all backups are stored in a sub-folder called Oldversions which is located in the same spot as your files are.
Using Unique File Names: As indicated in Part 1 of my article, have you ever come across the “Non-Unique Project File Names” dialog when trying to open your model? It’s because this option is set to “YES” and Inventor found duplicate files in your structure. At first you may think switching it over to “NO” will address your problem. However it should be kept as “YES” and it is recommended that you resolve this problem by cleaning up your structure and creating a naming convention for your files.
Name: Indicates the name of the project when it was created. If modified, the change only happens in the Projects dialog and no rename will occur at the project folder level and/or the project IPJ file itself.
Helpful Tip: Renaming of the project can only occur if the project is not the active one.
Shortcut: Indicates the name of the shortcut to the project IPJ. If modified, the change only impacts the name of the shortcut link.
Owner: This project file setting is normally blank, but you can apply a name to indicate the project owner.
Release ID: As stated in the help file: If a project is used as a library for another project, this setting can be useful in denoting which project to use. In most cases this setting is left blank.
Imported Components Folder Name: When importing 3D CAD neutral files into Inventor, the imported information is automatically placed per the sub-folder listed here. You may elect to leave this setting blank to limit the number of sub-folders being created when importing files into Inventor.
Imported Top Level Assemblies Folder Name: When importing 3D CAD neutral files as an assembly, the imported information is automatically placed per the sub-folder listed here. You may elect to leave this setting blank to limit the number of sub-folders being created when importing assemblies.
 Vault Options: This option is only available if the project type is set to “Vault”
Virtual Folder: Indicates the top level Vault folder structure that Inventor will start using when Vault commands are selected within Inventor. By default the Virtual Folder is always set to the root ($) of the Vault Project Explorer. I would also recommend leaving this setting as is.
Publish Folder: Originally it was designed to indicate the location of the external visualization file (DWF) when files were checked into the Vault. However, this setting is no longer in use because it is under the control of the Vault environment.
As a reminder, editing of any project file can only occur when there are no files loaded in Inventor and the file itself is not in a read-only state. In addition project files can also be modified outside of Inventor using the Project Editor tool.
In closing, I hope this 2-part article has helped you understand the importance of an organized structure and properly configured Inventor project file. The Synergis Engineering Design Solution team can also discussed other ways to maximize the use of the Inventor application within your organization.
Until next time.
Mark Lancaster is a Product Support Specialist on our Helpdesk team working to support customers to create data-rich designs and efficient workflows. Mark’s most previous experience is as the CAD Design Manager of Pall Corporation, one of our long time customers. In that position, he was responsible for workstation optimization and design management, established uniform standards for the local and global offices, and developed global systems to control and manage their design data.