Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Pro/ENGINEER: Anatomy of a Trail File, Part 1

Trail File Basics

Despite a diverse set of API's, Pro/ENGINEER trail files represent a reliable and robust method of automating Pro/ENGINEER activities. They are not the perfect fit for every application, but for many needs they work great.

Trail files are best used after recording specific actions, then combining the resulting content to create the finished trail file. In order to edit trail files it is important to understand their content.

Here is an example of a trail file header. These entries are generated by Pro/E upon startup without any action from the user. The first line is always present and always required in your trail files. Some other lines that stand out indicate that Wildfire 2 was used and the ProE to JT Translator is started via a protk.dat file. Both of these are status messages and are not required.

!trail file version No. 1301
!Pro/ENGINEER TM Wildfire 2.0 (c) 2004 by Parametric Technology Corporation All Rights Reserved.
< 0 1.135407
< 0 0.964741
< 0 0.879000
< 0 0.842000
!Application (VisProducts): started via registry.
! exec path: /opt/UGS_JtTranslators/ProE/EAI_Proe/proe/sun/proclientWF2
! type: synchronous Pro/TOOLKIT EXE
< 0 0.846000
~ Move `splash_dlg` `splash_dlg` \
2 7.472141 6.432063
 

I have never needed to keep lines that start with the 'less than' symbol and typically always remove them if piecing together a trail file:

< 0 1.135407
< 0 0.964741
< 0 0.879000
< 0 0.842000
 

As the lines relative to the 'splash_dlg' are unnecessary, all that is needed from the above is this:

!trail file version No. 1301
 

Although we don't need the lines associated with the 'splash_dlg', the syntax is important to understand as it is used throughout trail files. The trail file 'interpreter' sees the backslash continuation character (\) as an instruction to treat the following as a single line:

~ Move `splash_dlg` `splash_dlg` \
2 7.472141 6.432063
 
If the entry is to be removed, both lines should be removed, or the trail file will not work. Don't try to combine the lines. That won't work either. If you need the entry, leave it as is. The interpreter can handle it, and you shouldn't worry about it consuming more than one line.


Another note in the JT Translator startup messages is that they start with an exclamation point. This is the 'comment' indicator, instructing the interpreter to ignore the line. All lines starting with an exclamation point are not needed and can be removed, if desired. In some cases, I'll leave a comment in place to help identify the end of an action, but typically they are removed.

To assist in editing trail files, I usually add comment lines before and after sections. This makes it very easy to copy or move sections within the file.

!!!
!!! Run massprop calculation
!!!
~ Select `main_dlg_cur` `MenuBar1` \
1 `Analysis`
~ Close `main_dlg_cur` `MenuBar1`
~ Activate `main_dlg_cur` `Analysis.psh_analysis_modelanl`
~ Activate `modelprop` `Compute`
!%CIMass Properties calculation completed.
~ Activate `modelprop` `Close`
!!!
!!! Exit session
!!!
~ Select `main_dlg_cur` `MenuBar1` \
1 `File`
~ Close `main_dlg_cur` `MenuBar1`
~ Activate `main_dlg_cur` `File.psh_exit`
! Message Dialog: Warning
! : Do you really want to exit?
~ Move `UI Message Dialog` `UI Message Dialog` \
2 14.561095 12.836755
~ FocusIn `UI Message Dialog` `no`
~ FocusIn `UI Message Dialog` `yes`
~ Activate `UI Message Dialog` `yes`
!End of Trail File
 

Part 2: Recording robust trail files

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