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NX Network Configuration Part3:  Roles 

Click here to see a video for this article.

In this installment of NX A to Z, I am going to talk about roles – what they are, why you should use them and how to set them up.

Anyone who has used NX for any length of time knows that everything about the user interface can be customized. For a long time, this was a good and a bad thing. It was good because you could make NX look exactly the way you wanted. You could hide all the buttons you didn’t use, you could make custom toolbars that had all your favorite commands, you could make the buttons whatever size you wanted and you could arrange everything on the screen just the way you like it The only drawback was that whenever you had to use NX on a different computer or install the new version, all of your customizations were gone (it was possible to get them back if you knew where to look, but it wasn’t easy). Now, with roles, you still have all of the benefits of the completely customizable UI, but you also have a quick and easy way to keep and share your UI customizations.

The Roles Tab

When you open NX, you will notice the roles tab in the Resource Bar and it comes preconfigured with a dozen or so roles already created as shown below.

In the roles tab, there are three panels: Industry Specific, System Defaults and User. The Industry Specific panel has roles suited to specific industries (it’s true) like automotive and industrial machinery and consumer products. The System Defaults panel has roles like Essentials and Advanced – and these roles put the typical commands on the toolbars that are used by most people. The Essentials role has fewer commands and also places text under the commands for first time users. The third panel is the User panel.

Creating Your First Role>

To create your first role, just click on the User panel to expand it, right-click anywhere in the User panel and select New User Role as shown below.  If there isn't a User Panel, that just means that no user roles have been created yet, so you just click anywhere in the System Defaults or Industry Specific panels and select New User Role.

This will bring up the Role Properties dialog.

Type in a name for the role and select an image that you want to appear in the Roles tab (this is optional), then select the applications for which you want your customizations saved with the role and then select whether or not you want the Dialog Memory saved with the role. An example of Dialog Memory is the last value you used for the radius in the Edge Blend dialog. Click OK and you have a new role. After you have created your role, you can update your role with changes that you make to the UI by right-clicking the role and selecting Save Role.

So, now what… Well, if you change the NX UI, you can click the role to get the UI back to what it was when you created the role, but that really isn’t all that useful.  What is useful is being able to put your role on your network somewhere so that it is available to you no matter what computer you are using. Putting it on the network also makes it available to everyone else in your company that is using NX, so when you are teaching someone how to use NX, you can be sure that they are looking at the exact same UI that you are.

The Custom Directories File

NX uses the custom directories file to list all the directories where it is supposed to search for UI customizations.  The custom directories file needs to be on your network and the UGII_CUSTOM_DIRECTORY_FILE environment variable needs to point to the file. So take a look at NX Network Configurations Part 1 for instructions on how to change the environment variables file and then copy the custom_dirs.dat file from %UGII_BASE_DIR%\UGII\menus\ to a folder on the network and point to the file with the UGII_CUSTOM_DIRECTORY_FILE environment variable. This is my environment variables file, showing the UGII_CUSTOM_DIRECTORY_FILE variable.

And this is my custom directories file

My custom directories files is in the same network folder as my environment variables file, which is the root folder for all of my NX customizations on my network

I have one custom directory, called Custom_Directories, as you can see, and in this folder is a Startup folder and in this folder is a Roles folder.

Saving Roles to the Network

So, once all the folders are in place, you can start saving roles to the network.  Go back to NX and click on Tools->Customize

Then click on Create and browse to the roles folder on your network that you just created.

Type in a name for the role and click OK. Set the options for the role as before and click OK

So, now you have created a role on the network and if you look in the System Defaults panel, you will see it. This role will now load every time NX is started on any computer for any user that has the same environment variables file as you. To make sure that everyone has the same environment variables file, see NX Network Configurations Part 1.

If you want to take it one step further, you can go to your roles folder that you created earlier and open the .mtx file in notepad (if your get prompted with a dialog saying there is no program associated with the file, choose to select the program you want from a list and click on notepad).

Once you have it open in Notepad, add a category to the NX_PROFILES entry as shown below and this will create a new panel on the Roles tab in NX.

Unfortunately, with network roles, there is no Save Role if you right-click the role; therefore, you cannot update them after you have created them, so you just need to create a new role in the network folder and overwrite the old one. If you are using a custom panel, don’t forget to update the role with the category information .