NX Logging Business
NX journals everything, basically, into log files from the moment you click the startup icon to the last confirmation to exit. However, there are two different journal logs that you should be familiar with:
- NX System Log File
- License Server Debug Log File
NX System Log File
The NX System Log File records the entire startup process including what user, device, network or managed environment, and all the configuration options and sources. After that, it lists each click-by-click event that happens, including cursor movement and object selection. Here’s how the NX System Log File can be used:
- The log file is accessed most easily within an NX session by selecting File→Help→Log File:
- Once selected, a text window appears, similar to a Notepad display but with no word wrap and no formatting whatsoever. It is strictly static ascii text, meaning, it can’t be changed and imported back into NX to change any settings. It’s simply an export of information; a dead text file that can be saved for a record of session history and it serves to troubleshoot or verify configuration setup and settings installation.
- At the top of the file is the header containing the user name, date and time, and host machine or node name. The header is framed above and below with lines of equal signs.
- Immediately below that is the pathname to the log file. When a user has trouble starting NX, whether it’s due to license issues or other problems, this log file cannot be accessed using the File→Help→Log File command, obviously, because NX isn’t running. However, anytime an NX initialization is started, whether by clicking an icon, an executable (.exe) file, or a .bat file, a log file is created in the users “temp” directory. There may actually be many individual log files in that temp directory.
- After the pathname line, it lists when the log file was created and then the machine details. Sometimes this can tell you something you don’t know about your computer!
- Next, after a section break containing a line of asterisks, is the Flexera licensing information; information about your Siemens account and the settings used in starting the license service.
- Then, another section breakline of asterisks and the actual NX software configuration information. This is essentially a report on all the settings of your configuration and environment variables and files such as the Customer Defaults settings derived from the “user.dpv” file. Suffice it to say it is extensive!
- Near the bottom of the log file, the entries that record the installation and configuration events end and the recording of actual mouse gestures, menu picks, and other input are listed where lines start with “&MACRO” appear. Literally every mouse button pick and movement are recorded. And, as you’ll see below, any internal errors or failures are also noted and that is what makes this file so essential in troubleshooting your NX session and configuration. Usually, if you have a bad enough problem to open an Incident Report (IR) with Siemens GTAC, they’ll ask for this log file to look for errors and other discrepancies.
- Again, this window is merely an exported report or the journaled events in the session and the file can saved, edited (as I’ve done to remove sensitive Swoosh Webkey account and Sold To information), and exited. Nothing that is done with this file affects anything about an NX session and this log file can be displayed as many times as desired.
License Server Debug Log File
This log file records different information, mostly relative to the license server status and the check out and check in of the NX license features of a license bundle being used during a session.
Normally, most NX users aren’t really concerned with this kind of NX event tracking because it is more relative to the responsibilities of the CAD/CAM manager or IT Administrator of NX customer sites. In fact, this log file can only be generated from the actual license server machine being used, meaning, if a user is on a client machine that has no actual license file on it but accesses NX licenses from a server host machine. Here’s how the NX License Server Debug Log File can be used from a license server machine:
- Accessing the log file is accommodated by using the Flexera LMTOOLS utility which is an application that is installed on the server host when NX is installed.
- In a Windows 10 OS, press the windows key on the keyboard to bring up the Windows Start Screen. On the left, scroll down to the “S” section and expand “Siemens”. Select LMTOOLS from the list. This can also be added to the Start Screen (shown on the right) or Task Bar as an icon.
- On other operating systems, access the LMTOOLS command from the application list as appropriate.
- Once selected, the LMTOOLS dialog appears. Select the “Config. Services” tab at the top, second from the right:
- Select the “View Log” button near the bottom right. The log file is displayed in a separate window.
- However, this is not an ascii text type file but a scrollable, dynamic listing that includes a time stamp for each and every line and it will update as you select different commands and settings interactively in NX. Yet, its parent process is that of the LMTOOLS utility, not NX. When LMTOOLS is exited, this log window also closes.
- You will also notice that this listing window does not have an OK, Cancel, or Close button in it. Once displayed, closing it is done by selecting the “Close Log” button in the LMTOOLS dialog. The location of this log file is also indicated to the left of the View Log and Close Log buttons.
- Like the NX system Log file, this log file can also be used by Siemens GTAC to troubleshoot and validate your NX configuration and settings. As it says in the first line, it “is intended for debug purposes only” but it has another cool thing you can do with it.
- If you scroll down the listing, you will see similar configuration and settings confirmation that you see in the NX System Log File but after that, near the end, you will see a record of the individual license “features” being checked OUT and IN as used by the user in a fixed license (node) environment or by all users in a floating license environment during their NX sessions when an NX license server is being used.
- In a customer environment where there are ala carte licenses, such as those not used on a daily basis like Freeform Shape, Sheet Metal, Advanced Assemblies, Drafting, etc., instead of complete license bundles for each user in the company, you can track who is using what license feature and for how long.
- Without getting too deeply into the explanation of all this feature license definition (and this is a layman’s interpretation):
- The customer license file is generated by Siemens for a specific computer based on that computer’s Composite ID (CID), MAC address, and the actual software functionality purchased. It contains what can most accurately be described as hieroglyphics (hexadecimal code) that triggers the software to enable selective functionality. NX functionality is purchased in license bundles.
- A license bundle is a predefined grouping of NX applications such as Gateway, Feature Modeling, Assemblies, Drafting, or the various groupings in CAM or CAE. Although NX itself is an application, Siemens has defined sub-applications within the software that are generally relative to the engineering and manufacturing disciplines common in industries today. There are bundles that include only CAD, CAM, or CAE functionality but also a mix of any of these areas of NX, depending on a customer’s needs. Within the various license bundles, there are groups of functions included in license features.
- License features are, in a sense, a subgrouping of functionality included in a license bundle that have a particular focus relative to a customer’s specific business processes, type of product, industry, or task preferences. Examples would be: 5-axis machining functionality as opposed to lathe or turning definitions or aesthetic free form design capability instead of simpler analytic mechanical shapes.
- When a user starts NX, the NX configuration will assign a default license bundle or profile assignment of functionality for that user. The user can then select the bundle of choice, if so licensed, or simply open or create a part file and then select any of the licensed NX applications enabled by that user’s configuration. From that point on, this License Server Debug Log File records the license features being used by journaling the feature being taken “out” and then released “in”.
- Again, this is a rough overview of the process and is not necessarily in very accurate “programmer language speak”.
- A good example of the value of this would be: a user in an ala carte (individual license feature) license customer environment where there is only one “freeform 2” license feature available, who is trying to use the Bridge Surface command. The user gets a popup notice that the application isn’t available. Upon reading the log file on the server they might see that user’s NX session is trying to access the “freeform 2” license feature that contains the Bridge function but up earlier in the log file, it shows that another user has already taken the only freeform 2 license out and therefore, no other user can use the functions included in that license feature or bundle.
- There are other ways to do this kind of license usage tracking with other applications, some of which are free and downloadable from the internet but you do need to be aware that unless it is a Siemens software product, Siemens cannot be liable or accountable for the application’s effectiveness or accuracy.
Hope this article has been informative and beneficial.