Hey there Dear Readers. Sorry to interrupt the 2-part series we’ve got going on Basic Select Techniques in CC3+ (Part 2 coming soon) but I wanted you to know about this situation I recently ran into with the ProgramData folder. Read on!
Excuse me. Yeah. Hi. Got a minute? I was wondering if you could help me. I seem to have lost my…um…my ProgramData folder? (winces). I swear it was just here a minute ago. Do you mind if I take a look at yours?
You can’t find yours either? Dang. I don’t know about yours, but mine had all these Campaign Cartographer 3+ Example maps in it. Since I’m new to Campaign Cartographer and really trying to…you know…master it, it would be great to have them. I can’t follow the examples in the User Guide without them.
Oh, wait, there it is! See it? You don’t? Here, let me show you…
You are a new user to Campaign Cartographer 3+. You are dutifully going through the CC3+ User Guide, working the tutorials, following the example maps provided with CC3+, when, for some reason, you can no longer find them on your system. In fact, you can’t find the ProgramData folder at all, let alone ProgramData\ProFantasy\CC3Plus\Examples where the maps are supposed to be.
The ProFantasy Team updating our favorite fantasy mapping tool decided to follow the latest, recommended best practices from Microsoft and has separated data needed by the application from the actual application executables themselves. This is a Good Thing (TM).
In Campaign Cartographer 3, the Program Files (x86) folder, with a few add-ons and high-definition symbol updates, weighed in at a hefty 3.23GB. Campaign Cartographer 3+ is a shockingly svelte 26.5MB in size (as of 09 February 2015). A huge change.
The new location for all of that data? C:\ProgramData\ProFantasy\CC3Plus
Unfortunately, Microsoft has hidden the ProgramData folder and all of its children by default. This presents a problem to the average Microsoft Windows user: if you open a map outside of the ProgramData folder hierarchy, you will not be able to later navigate back to the ProgramData folder.
If you are a new user learning the tool, this means you will, effectively, “lose” access to the example maps referenced by the Campaign Cartographer 3+ User Guide.
There are at least two solution options available to you.
Option 1: Change ProgramData install directory
During install of CC3+, change the default installation directory for application data. Instead of accepting the default ProgramData location, change to any directory to which you normally have access.
In my opinion, the installer should not default to a directory that is hidden by default. I can, however, see why ProFantasy has chosen to do this. With the exception of the Example maps, I have not yet found a need to go digging through any portion of the ProgramData folder tree1.
One possible side-effect of not accepting the default is that improperly configured, third-party application installers which do not appropriately read the system environment may assume that the default ProgramData folder was used. These badly-behaved installers may attempt to load their own data to ProgramData resulting in a misconfigured application or ProgramData spread across multiple locations within a user’s system.
Option 2: Unhide the ProgramData Directory
ProgramData is a hidden folder on your system. It is possible to unhide it…but you will also unhide a lot of other folders that you really shouldn’t see or mess around with.
I do not recommend this. Microsoft decided that this folder should be hidden by default for a reason. ProgramData replaced the old ApplicationData folder that used to be part of the Documents and Settings folder set. It is meant to hold information needed by the application – such as configuration data, log data, or, say, a spell-check dictionary. It is not user-specific or meant to be opened or manipulated by users. Once it is visible, you may more easily delete or corrupt it accidentally.
Just because you can unhide hidden folders and data does not mean that you should. It is a much better security practice to limit even your own access on a system to the minimum required to function. Increasing access privileges to work around issues with a specific application is bad practice.
Have you run into this problem yet? If so, do you have a recommended solution other than those I’ve posted here? If so, I’d love to hear about it. Leave it in the comments!
I can, however, think of at least one other, albeit rare, reason to do so: customizing menus and toolbar buttons. Unless CC3+ has changed from CC3, you have to hand-edit files which are now stored in the ProgramData folder. ↩