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Understanding Premiere's Preference Structure & Behaviors

Premiere's preferences are located in more than one place and lack proper documentation (from an administrative perspective). Some exploration and observation is required to obtain an understanding of their structure and associated behaviors. Don't worry, things don't get too convoluted.

This article is part of a series:
Managing Adobe Premiere Pro Preferences In OS X

Part 0 - Why Premiere's Lack of Preference Management Matters

Part 1 - Understanding Premiere's Preference Structure & Behaviors

Part 2 - Devising A Strategy For Management

Part 3 - Developing & Testing An Implementation


Location

This Adobe Article reveals the location of Premiere's main XML preferences (pXML) at <drive>/Users/<username>/Documents/Adobe/Premiere Pro/<version>/Profile-<username> .
The name of the file is Adobe Premiere Pro Prefs. Most (but not all) of the settings configurable via the user interface are tracked within this file. Notable exceptions are the locations of the media cache database and files which are within OS X's preferences system within com.Adobe.Common <version>.plist and the plugin cache in com.Adobe.Premiere Pro.<version>.plist .

Structure of pXML

As an XML file, the Adobe Premiere Pro Prefs file (pXML) can be opened in any appropriate editor. While it may not be human friendly it's mostly human readable. PremiereData/Preferences/Properties contains elements that correspond to settings within the application. The text content of these elements represent the stored value for that setting.

<BE.Prefs.ProjectLocking.EnableProjectLocking>false</BE.Prefs.ProjectLocking.EnableProjectLocking>
^ Represents the project locking checkbox in GUI as unchecked ^

The pXML is not limited to the settings available in the GUI preferences dialog.

<ProgramMonitor.DroppedFrameIndicator>true</ProgramMonitor.DroppedFrameIndicator>
^ Represents dropped frame indicator in the program monitor's wrench menu as selected ^

Things can and do get more complex though. For example, the audio hardware settings element contains an array of text values while some elements are representative of a group of choices (e.g. DefaultSequenceSettings) with their child elements holding the actual preferences and values.

Behaviors

Initially, the pXML will not contain an element for every possible setting. As best as I can work out, Premiere has an internal defaults store for certain settings. Only when/if a setting is changed from its default value is the corresponding element added to the pXML. Once added it will remain present even if its value is changed back to the default.

The pXML is read upon Premiere's launch and its contents will affect the settings of the application. Changes made to the file while the program is running will not have any effect, and any modifications made to the pXML during this time will eventually be lost.

Toggling a setting in the application is not instantly reflected in the pXML. The pXML is only written upon saving/closing/opening a project, or upon quitting Premiere.

If the structure of the pXML is malformed, or contains a malformed element, it will cause Premiere to scrap the entire file on launch and create a fresh one. This will result in all settings being reset to default (and even seems to triggers a re-scan of plugins). If only the text content of an element is malformed (say an element contained the string "ture" instead of "True"), Premiere ignores it and reverts to its internal default value for that setting. If the setting is later changed within the application, the pXML will be updated to reflect the new value, but until then the malformed text content will remain.

The next entry in this series will evaluate how this information can be used to devise a strategy for managing Premiere's preferences.

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