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Hi, its me again. Back a long, long time ago, i went crazy with plugins and now have a pretty messy folder with most of the original plugins. The problem is that it now comes to over 3+ Gigs and even though I have done my best to sort it out, i fear deleting lots or dependencies that are required for stuff i don't even know exists *:golly:. So, I'd like some advice on managing and maintaining a plugins folder, and whether I should just start from scratch with just the necessary plugins that i need?

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Since managing and maintaining are essentially part and parcel of the the same process, I'm assuming what you're really after is a way to organize your Plugins folder (i.e. "sort it out") and then maintain that organization.  The hard part is the organization.  Once you have things organized, the process of maintaining that organization becomes self-evident.

There have been numerous discussions over the years about the best way to manage/organize one's Plugins folder.  Unfortunately, this website's existing search function doesn't make it easy to find these discussions.  If you guess right on the necessary search terms to find any of the existing conversations, or if one of the Simtropolis denizens who can remember such things can point you in the right direction for some of these conversations, you can peruse how others have organized their folders.

I would say that there is no wrong way to manage a Plugins folder, except not managing it at all (which is unfortunately the way many people seem to manage it - don't feel alone).  The bottom line is that no matter how many ideas you look at, you have to find a way that works for you.

I don't like to give a specific approach on this subject (as least not initially), as the way I think about it may not be the same way others think about it, and my approach may not make sense to others.  Instead, I like to get people to think about all the Plugins they've collected as paper documents.  How would one organize those documents in a file cabinet to make it easier to locate things (since that's really the primary purpose for organization)?  The key is to apply some sort of organization that you understand, and that works for you.  Unfortunately, it WILL take time initially, both arriving at a method that makes sense, and then implementing it.  But once one has applied some method of organization, it makes it easier to reorganize using some other method, if one's initial idea doesn't work out.

It sounds like you are as much interested in organization as you are in cleaning out the "junk" in your Plugins folder.  Whatever you decide to do next is likely to be tedious and time-consuming.  Do you want to somehow work with whatever you have now, or would you rather truly "start from scratch?"  The first implies that you need to determine what lots / buildings you currently have that you want/need to keep, determine what dependencies they need, and then discarding anything not needed/used.  There is at least one tool available that can help with this process.  The second implies you are willing to just dump everything you already have, and re-download only those things that you really want to use (and obviously the necessary dependencies).  This would be the only way I can think of to ensure that only those things you know you will use end up in your Plugins folder.  The smart way to do things would necessarily require implementing your chosen method of organization before doing anything else.  Since neither process can guarantee you end up with a Plugins folder that would support any of your existing cities, you run the risk of orphaning these cities.  I can supply more specifics depending on which direction you choose to use.

Having said all that, I would be happy to share my particular method of organization (keeping in mind that I'm definitely OCD).  My working Plugins folder is just a tad under 8 GB.  But I can determine within a few minutes if I already have the necessary dependencies for any new download, even one with a dependency list 30 items long.

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Get the Data Node tool and use it first to show you what files have had any of their elements overridden. If you want those overridden elements to rule, then either remove the file overriding them or take steps described elsewhere to change load order. Removal will occur when you discover that you've put all of a mod's optional dat files into your plugins folder when you were supposed to have selected just one -- save the others outside your plugins folder for when you might want a change. Controlling load order is an art unto itself, so find threads on how to do it.

After you've sifted and sorted, see which files now have all of their elements overridden. Such files can be moved out of your plugins folder.

I think datanode might also alert you to non-mod files (images, readme texts etc). If not, then the dat-packer (another useful tool) will. Move all non-mod files outside your plugins folder (I manage a parallel docs folder where I can read those things but the game doesn't).

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  • Original Poster
  • 1 hour ago, twalsh102 said:

    Since managing and maintaining are essentially part and parcel of the the same process, I'm assuming what you're really after is a way to organize your Plugins folder (i.e. "sort it out") and then maintain that organization.  The hard part is the organization.  Once you have things organized, the process of maintaining that organization becomes self-evident.

    There have been numerous discussions over the years about the best way to manage/organize one's Plugins folder.  Unfortunately, this website's existing search function doesn't make it easy to find these discussions.  If you guess right on the necessary search terms to find any of the existing conversations, or if one of the Simtropolis denizens who can remember such things can point you in the right direction for some of these conversations, you can peruse how others have organized their folders.

    I would say that there is no wrong way to manage a Plugins folder, except not managing it at all (which is unfortunately the way many people seem to manage it - don't feel alone).  The bottom line is that no matter how many ideas you look at, you have to find a way that works for you.

    I don't like to give a specific approach on this subject (as least not initially), as the way I think about it may not be the same way others think about it, and my approach may not make sense to others.  Instead, I like to get people to think about all the Plugins they've collected as paper documents.  How would one organize those documents in a file cabinet to make it easier to locate things (since that's really the primary purpose for organization)?  The key is to apply some sort of organization that you understand, and that works for you.  Unfortunately, it WILL take time initially, both arriving at a method that makes sense, and then implementing it.  But once one has applied some method of organization, it makes it easier to reorganize using some other method, if one's initial idea doesn't work out.

    It sounds like you are as much interested in organization as you are in cleaning out the "junk" in your Plugins folder.  Whatever you decide to do next is likely to be tedious and time-consuming.  Do you want to somehow work with whatever you have now, or would you rather truly "start from scratch?"  The first implies that you need to determine what lots / buildings you currently have that you want/need to keep, determine what dependencies they need, and then discarding anything not needed/used.  There is at least one tool available that can help with this process.  The second implies you are willing to just dump everything you already have, and re-download only those things that you really want to use (and obviously the necessary dependencies).  This would be the only way I can think of to ensure that only those things you know you will use end up in your Plugins folder.  The smart way to do things would necessarily require implementing your chosen method of organization before doing anything else.  Since neither process can guarantee you end up with a Plugins folder that would support any of your existing cities, you run the risk of orphaning these cities.  I can supply more specifics depending on which direction you choose to use.

    Having said all that, I would be happy to share my particular method of organization (keeping in mind that I'm definitely OCD).  My working Plugins folder is just a tad under 8 GB.  But I can determine within a few minutes if I already have the necessary dependencies for any new download, even one with a dependency list 30 items long.

    @twalsh102Thanks for the great advice, it really helps! I had the idea to start all over, but after reading this think im going to spend time just sifting through all the plugins and save time by saving stuff that I have, ( a lot is really nice stuff from simpeg that i grabbed around 2014, and some is useless crap that i never use *:ohyes:) i think that 3GB is a lot rn, how is 8GB impacting with game performance?  Mine is still relatively quick at loading, but all my assets bog the game down as soon as skyscrapers start popping up.

    @jeffryfisher Also thanks for this too, haven't heard of the data node tool, so i will check that out, this is really helpful for me.

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    As Tim mentioned, there have been oodles of discussions about managing one's plugin folder. Even tho there are dozens of topics I believe you can find about 95% of the details in this thread: Show us how you manage your plugin folder

    And a point jeffry touched on about moving some stuff outside of your plugins is important. More specifically, it's best to not totally delete things. You never know when you might need it back. Also, some things are no longer available from sites that have disappeared.

    One thing I'll add is like jeffry, I keep parallel folders. Maybe not the same way, but I have one SC4 Downloads folder with sub folders in which I keep the original files I download as well as I create a document and c & p the name, the URL linky, and the description such that I always have the original and can also get back to the exact online page should I so desire (if it still exists). Then I extract the files in this holding area and cut them and paste into my plugins. (I still have the original zip so cutting rather than copying.)

    For the ones that are installers, I first rename my plugins to xplugins, create a new empty plugins, and only then run the installer. That let's me go take a peek at where it put what. For these installer kinds I then make a copy of all the extracted files and copy them to a new folder where I have the original download. Next I then cut them from the current (temp) plugins and paste them into my xplugins where I want them to go. Finally, I then delete the now empty plugins and rename xplugins back to plugins.

    Yes, it's a lot of extra work up front, but in the long run I'm in total control of where things are located.

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    The tool @jeffryfisher  is referring to is officially called SC4DataNode, with the latest version always available here:

    This is the tool I was also referring to.  It is NOT a simple tool to learn, but as you gain experience with it, you will come to love it due to all the information it gives you about Your Plugins folder.  This is an audit tool.  It won't allow you to actually change anything.  It will not alert you to the existence of non-game files

    Short list of some of the things it will tell you:

    1.  The exact load order of all of the game files in your Plugins folder;
    2.  All the dependencies (only those that are already in your Plugins folder) for any particular lot you have, as well as where those dependencies are actually located;
    3.  If you are missing dependencies for any particular lot (although it can't tell you what those missing dependencies actually are);
    4.  As jeffryfisher alluded to, which files override other files (which will allow you to ferret out duplicates, or alternate versions that you can't use);
    5.  You can export a CSV file for various types of information.  For example, you can export a list of every prop existing in your Plugins folder, that shows the TGI for each prop, any prop families a particular prop belongs to, the name of the prop, which file that prop is included in, and the path to the file (relative to your Plugins folder; it can somewhat leave you in awe to find out you have almost 36,000 individual props in your Plugins folder; or output a list of textures, that provides the same type of information for each texture (and discover you have more than 84,000 separate lot textures);

     

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