Sync your C4D Content Browser across Workstations

One of the many strengths of Cinema 4D is its powerful Content Browser with built-in Presets and the possibility to build up your own Preset Library. Artists who make regular use of their timesaving Xpresso Setups, Textures, Materials, Objects & Rigs have a great possibility to archive and access their assets through the Content Browser. I wondered if there was a possibility to sync your own organized Content between multiple workstations – to avoid troubles with different states of your personal library when working on multiple Workstations, as a freelancer often does in his home office and in a regular office when doing Jobs on location. This tutorial describes how you can achieve this on Windows 7.

First things first: How does C4D store the Information in the Content Browser?
Beside the possibility to browser your File Structure directly, C4D offers so-called “Preset Libraries”, some of them already shipping with Cinema 4D.
If you setup your own custom Preset Libraries in your Content Browser, Cinema 4D stores them in .lib4d Files located at the following location – which, as far as I know, can’t be changed:

C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\MAXON\CINEMA 4D R15_XYZ\library\browser

Each custom Preset Library is stored as a .lib4d File in the “browser” Folder.

 

Furthermore, C4D only seems to reflect changes in these files on startup (no “refreshing” seems to happen automatically when C4D is running and the file is changed by someone else) – so, from my experience, any syncing is not a scenario for a realtime collaboration between several 3D Artists working on the same Preset Libraries – or at least, changes in the library should be clearly communicated between collaborators.

So, with these 2 limitations in mind – how can you keep your .lib4d files up to date on every workstation you work?

For Freelancers working in multiple offices, a USB Stick / external Harddrive is one possibility – a more elegant way would be a cloud-based approach, in my case Dropbox. While Dropbox does not allow syncing files outside the Dropbox Folder, we can use symbolic links, also called Symlinks to work around this limitation. As written above, this short tutorial focuses on Windows 7, but there should be a similar solution on Mac, since the concept of Symlinks also exists on Unix-based Operating Systems (which OS X is).

So what can symbolic links do for you? In this case, simply put, they give you the possibility to move whole folders to different locations on your File System (even onto a different Hard Drive), and trick Programs like Cinema 4D into thinking they still exist at the same old location. That way, we can achieve syncing with dropbox, or for the USB solution, also get rid of any cumbersome file copying in between workstations and your portable storage. So here’s a quick way of setting up the necessary Symlink:

  1. Move your existing local “browser” folder with your custom .lib4d files to your desired location (Dropbox, Network Drive, External Storage)
  2. Pick your moved browser folder as the link source (via context menu)
  3. Insert/drop “as symbolic link” into the standard local “library” folder (also via context menu)

Repeat these 4 steps on every workstation you use. That way, you can get all your C4D Clients always looking up your .lib4d files in a predefined location, which is either

  • a portable storage
  • a network drive (which is limited to a local network)
  • a cloud-synced folder like Dropbox

I hope this helps 🙂 Happy Syncin’!

By the way: Beside the predefined custom library folder, there is also the possibility to read .lib4d files from /library/browser in the install directory of C4D – without the possibility to write. This can come in handy, when you want to prevent versioning conflicts in multi-user scenarios. You can assign one Artist the authorship over a certain Preset Library by placing the Symbolic Link into his custom Preset Library Folder, while all other Artists get their Symbolic Links into their installation directory, preventing any changes on their side.

 

 

 

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