Tekla Structures setup guidelines for administrators

Tekla Structures
Tekla Structures

Tekla Structures setup guidelines for administrators

Tekla Structures administrator is the person responsible for ensuring that the company standards are used and set up in Tekla Structures. The following sections explain how you can customize Tekla Structures.

Customizing Tekla Structures

Each new version of Tekla Structures introduces new features and functionalities to improve the overall process used for completing a project. Tekla Structures has multiple environments to suit the needs and requirements of specific markets. Many features are localized in each Tekla Structures version. Most of the changes in versions are focused on making the default saved attributes more consistent, organized, simplified, and practical.

Your local technical team is dedicated to improving your knowledge and experience of each new version. The team aims at enhancing your user experience of Tekla Structures by performing tasks that have been identified as essential by the existing users, new users, and potential users.

Before you start customizing Tekla Structures to suit the needs of your company and your projects, collect the needed information, such as drawing standards, used profiles, grades and materials, company logos, and naming conventions.

The overall localization of Tekla Structures can be divided into four different layers:

  • Tekla Structures environment
  • Company-level settings
  • Project-level settings
  • Multi-user settings

The three last ones are mainly managed by company administrators.

Setting up the standard that a company uses, and the standards that a specific project needs will make the designing process much more efficient because the end user can concentrate on the design process.

Tekla Warehouse

Tekla Warehouse has a lot of additional content, such as application tools and environment content. Tekla Warehouse offline offering that comes as an option with Tekla Structures installation has all the catalog content of environments, such as profiles, bolts, materials, and reinforcement. You can access those inside Tekla Structures via Quick Launch.

In Tekla Warehouse , you can find the catalog content under Tekla Structures collections. From there all catalog content is installed into the currently open model. If you did not install the offline content with the Tekla Structures installation, you can later search for the needed area-specific offline collections from the online Tekla Warehouse , and install them. The content is in .tsep packages that are installed when opening Tekla Structures.

You can also create a local collection for your company, and share it for your organization in your internal network. You can manage the access rights on the folder and collection level in the collections.json file on each user's computer. Copy the file to the same location on each user's computer. The file is located in C:\Users\Public\Public Documents\Tekla\Tekla Warehouse\collections.json.

The image below shows an example of the collection paths with four Tekla Structures collections:

In Tekla Warehouse the collections are found after mapping under My collections > Local and network collections.

Overview of environments, roles and licenses

Tekla Structures is one product that has many different configurations. The licenses you have determine which configurations you can use.

A Tekla Structures environment is set up for the materials, grades, profiles, drawing settings, component settings, .ini file settings that are used in a specific market. There are 33 different environments in Tekla Structures. By choosing a specific environment when starting Tekla Structures you will get the settings for that market. When installing Tekla Structures , you can select the environments that you want to use. You can add missing environments later.

The blank project listed in the environments is an empty platform for your own environment or project settings. It includes standard parametric profiles, undefined bolt, material and rebar grades, basic drawing layouts and so on, which you can complement from your own firm or project folders and Tekla Warehouse.

Some environments give you the opportunity to select a role when logging in. The role is independent from the licenses that are used. The purpose of the roles is to make the user interface and settings clearer, easier and faster for the user's tasks.

In practice, this means that settings, filters, reports and the user interface is set up for the role the user has. For example, preloaded settings in a property dialog box that are not relevant for the role, are not shown making the list of options shorter and clearer.

Role selection is primarily meant to be configured by Trimble and reseller localization personnel, and be part of the Tekla Structures installation package. However, advanced users and Tekla Structures system administrators can also create their own roles inside their company organization. Additional environment offering is available in the Tekla Warehouse offline and online collections. Note that you need to have a Trimble Identity for downloading or installing from the online collections. For more information, see Trimble Identity for Tekla Online services

Folder structure

Tekla Structures software and environments are separated into different locations due to the requirements for Windows certification. By default, the files are installed in the following folders:

  • Software is installed under the \Program Files\Tekla Structures folder.
  • Environments and extensions are installed under the \ProgramData\Tekla Structures folder.
  • User settings are installed under the \Users\ <username> \AppData\Local\Tekla Structures folder.

If you have an earlier version of Tekla Structures installed on your computer before installing Tekla Structures 2017i, the files will be installed according to the existing structure.

Project and firm folders

Project and firm folders are meant for storing the customized files. For any company, we strongly recommend setting up firm and/or project folders on a shared file server accessible to all users. Having the hierarchy of project and firm folders will make updating company settings, ensuring that everyone uses the same settings in a project, and upgrading to a newer version of Tekla Structures much easier.

All the settings that are used on the company level (for example, company logo and drawing standards) should be stored in a firm folder and all the settings used on a specific project should be stored in the corresponding project folder. Property files are always saved in the \attributes folder under the current model folder, like, \TeklaStructuresModels\ <my_building> \attributes. These files should then be copied to the project or the firm folder.

To use the saved settings in a firm and a project folder, set the path to the folder by using the XS_PROJECT and XS_FIRM advanced options. These advanced options should be put in the initialization, .ini , files. You can have several different .ini files. You can define in the Tekla Structures shortcut which .ini files to run and which settings to apply.

One of the most important advantages of using firm and project folders is that Tekla Structures does not replace files in the project and firm folders when you install a new version. This means that you retain your customized files without having to cut and paste, or export and import from previous versions. This makes upgrading to a newer version of Tekla Structures easier. When you store files in one place, it is also easier to update the settings and ensure that everyone in a project uses the same settings.


In the current project, 123_project_ABC , you have set up the properties for the concrete column, and saved them as column_ABC. To make these saved settings available for everyone working in the 123_project_ABC project, copy column_ABC.ccl from the \attributes folder under the model folder to the \123_project_ABC project folder on your file server. Ensure that everyone in the project has the correct path for the XS_PROJECT advanced option in the .ini file.

For more information, see Create project and firm folders and Files and folders in Tekla Structures.

Folder search order

When you open a model, Tekla Structures searches for the associated files in specific folders in a set order. It is important that you place the files in the correct folders. Once Tekla Structures finds the associated files, it stops searching. This means that the files that have the same name but are located lower down the search order are ignored.

The basic folder search order is the following:

Folder Defined by
Model folder Currently open model

You can define more than one system folder. To do this, enter the file paths of the folders separated by semicolons as the value for the XS_SYSTEM advanced option, for example: set XS_SYSTEM=%XSDATADIR%environments\usimp\system_steel;%XSDATADIR%environments\usimp\system_common.

There are some exceptions to this search order. The exceptions are listed in Folder search order.


Do not store customized files in the system folder. Tekla Structures replaces these files when you install a new version.

Initialization files

Initialization files ( .ini ) are used for launching Tekla Structures. They can contain many advanced options that you can use to configure Tekla Structures for different standards and your own style of working. Tekla Structures automatically creates the necessary .ini files during installation. The number of .ini files it creates depends on how many country-specific environments you choose to install.

Why are .ini files needed?

There are numerous settings to be made when Tekla Structures starts. Advanced options are used to determine the appearance and the behavior of Tekla Structures , for example, the language used, behavior of part marks on drawings, and the location of your model folder. Advanced options are set through the .ini files. The different .ini files and what they do, and how they are related to each other are described below.

Different types of .ini files

The default reading order of the .ini files is as shown in the image below:

  1. teklastructures.ini

    Initializes the settings needed for Tekla Structures to run.

    The teklastructures.ini file in the \bin folder starts Tekla Structures. We recommend that you do not make any changes to this file.

  2. env_global_default.ini

    Sets the global default settings.

    The env_<your_environment>.ini file is located in the \Environments subfolder and it contains all the environment-specific settings. These files are set by your area office or reseller.

  3. environment.ini

    Sets the environment-specific settings.

  4. role.ini

    Sets the settings defined for a role.

    The role_<role>.ini file is located in the \Environments subfolder and it contains the settings specific for a chosen role. For example, the role_Engineer.ini file in the \Environments\uk folder contains all the settings for the Engineering role in the UK environment.

  5. user.ini

    Sets the settings specified by the user.

    The user.ini file contains your personal settings. The advanced options in user.ini override those in other .ini files. For example, if you have set the same advanced option in an .ini file, in a file in the environments subfolder and the user.ini file, Tekla Structures uses the value in the user.ini file. The user.ini is located in the C:\Users\ <user_name> \AppData\Local\Tekla Structures\ <version> \UserSettings folder.

  6. options.ini

    Sets the settings specified for the company/project/model.

If there are several settings for the same advanced option, the later setting in the reading order overrules the previous one. This means that the settings in user.ini overrule the settings in env_global_default.ini , and the settings in user.in can be overruled by the settings in options.ini.

The lang_enu.ini is the initialization file for the English language settings. The file is located with the other installed languages in the \Tekla Structures\ <version> \nt\bin folder.

We recommend that you make all your customizations in the options.ini file under the model folder, or in the user.ini file. This way the customizations are kept when you install the next version of Tekla Structures.

Setting advanced options in .ini files

Tekla Structures contains three kinds of advanced options: user-specific advanced options, system-specific advanced options, and model-specific advanced options.


Changing an advanced option value in .ini files located outside the model folder does not affect the existing models. You can only update the advanced options in the Advanced options dialog box or in the options.ini file located in the model folder, not from an options.ini file located in folders defined for the XS_FIRM or XS_PROJECT advanced option. The .ini files are also read when you open an existing model, but only new advanced options that do not exist in options_model.db or options_drawings.db are inserted, for example, such options that are not yet in the Advanced Options dialog box, but have been added in the software.

User-specific advanced options set your personal preferences, for example the appearance of the Tekla Structures window. Tekla Structures saves user-specific advanced option settings in the options_ <your_username> .ini file, located in the C:\Users\ <user_name> \AppData\Local\Tekla Structures\ <version> \UserSettings folder.

The options.ini file contains the settings for model-specific advanced options. It is located in the current model folder. To share your settings with other people, copy the options.ini file to the system, project or firm folder.

The system-specific advanced options are stored in all other .ini files.

Setting advanced options

There are two methods for setting advanced options:

  • The advanced options are grouped in different categories according to their usage in the Advanced Options dialog box. To access the dialog box, click File > Settings > Advanced options. See more in Advanced options reference.
  • The .ini files are plain text files that can be edited with a text editor, for example Notepad. The settings will then be saved in the options.ini file under the model folder for the model that you have open. The settings can then easily be copy-pasted into another .ini file. See more in File storing options and advanced options.

We recommend that you only use one of these methods to set advanced options. The settings in the Advanced Options dialog box override those in the .ini files. Some advanced options need a Tekla Structures restart to activate the new setting.

To set an advanced option in the user.ini file:

  1. Locate the user.ini file in the C:\Users\ <user_name> \AppData\Local\Tekla Structures\ <version> \UserSettings folder.
  2. Select and right-click the user.ini file in Windows Explorer and click Open with. You can open the file in any standard text editor.
  3. Check that the advanced option is set to the value you want. If it is, you can stop here.
  4. To change or add the advanced option, on a new line, type set , add a space and the name of the advanced option followed by its value in a single line.

    Tekla Structures only reads lines in the initialization file that start with set, for example, set %XS_DIR%=C:\TeklaStructures\2017i

  5. Save the user.ini file.

Creating shortcuts

To use the correct .ini files for a specific project, the easiest way is to create a shortcut for the project on the desktop. Shortcuts are used to start teklastructures.exe with the defined initializations.

  1. Make a copy of the default shortcut: In the Windows Start menu or Start screen , find Tekla Structures <version> , then right-click the Tekla Structures <version>.
  2. Select Copy from the pop-up menu.
  3. Paste the shortcut to your desktop.
  4. Select the shortcut and right-click.
  5. Select Properties from the pop-up menu.
  6. Modify the Target of the shortcut by adding the required project initializations to it.

For example, you can use the following parameters in shortcuts:

  • -i InitializationFile : Initialization file to be read during startup, for example: -i \\ MyServer\MyProject\Project1 .ini. You can repeat this parameter as many times as you need.
  • ModelToBeOpened : Full path to the model to be opened automatically.

.ini files tell where things can be found and in which order, depending on the folder structure that the company has set up. See more in Create startup shortcuts with customized initializations.

Bypassing the login screen

You can bypass the login screen by using a separate .ini file where you set the following three advanced options:

  • XS_DEFAULT_LICENSE to set the default license for a user role.
  • XS_DEFAULT_ENVIRONMENT points to the environment-specific .ini file, for example %XSDATADIR%\environments\usimp\env_usimp.ini
  • XS_DEFAULT_ROLE points to the role-specific .ini file, for example %XSDATADIR%\environments\usimp\role_Steel_Detailer.ini

Define the startup shortcut using the parameter -I (capital i), for example, -I %XSDATADIR%\environments\usimp\Bypass.ini. When you do this, an additional initialization file is read BEFORE the environment .ini.

The content of such a file could be, for example:

  set XS_DEFAULT_ENVIRONMENT=%XSDATADIR%\environments\usimp\env_US_imperial.ini 
		set XS_DEFAULT_ROLE=%XSDATADIR%\environments\usimp\role_Steel_ Detailer.ini 

See more in Create startup shortcuts with customized initializations.

User-defined attributes

User-defined attributes are attributes set to an object in a model or a drawing. These user-defined attributes can be used for many purposes, such as in filters, drawings, reports, export, import, fabrication, erection, and revision handling.

You can create your own user-defined attributes that you need in your company, or for a specific project. The user-defined attributes can be numbers, text, lists, or dates. They can be set to be unique for an object or allowed to be copied; they can also be ignored by numbering or affect numbering.

The user-defined attributes are defined in objects.inp files. These files are located in different folders following the Tekla Structures folder setup, and they are merged together during startup. The objects.inp file reads the user-defined attributes in order from the folders listed below, starting from the model folder:

Folder defined by advanced option Advanced option
Model Current model folder
Project XS_PROJECT (your defined project folder)
Firm XS_FIRM (your defined firm folder)
System XS_SYSTEM (your defined system folder)
inp XS_INP (your defined inp folder)

The files are merged so that if there are user-defined attributes in any of the files, they are displayed in the user interface. Tekla Structures merges the files so that duplicate attributes are removed. If Tekla Structures encounters the same attribute name in different objects.inp files, the attribute from the first read objects.inp file will be used.

If you need to have several objects.inp files in the same folder, you can use a suffix in the file name to use all the files. This enables having several objects_ <suffix> .inp files in the same folder. The file name could be objects_ precast .inp , for example.

Was this helpful?