I thought I would share my experience & recommendations with using Visualize Professional to render a SolidWorks Assembly with configurations.
The assembly is fairly simple, but uses circular patterns so there are 18 copies of many of the parts. I have 2 configurations and the only difference is a concrete wall and metal sleeve in one and only the concrete wall (different hole size) in the other.
If I use "monitor file" with automatic part grouping, Visualize brings in the full feature tree, so if I want to change the appearance of one of those patterned parts, I need to update 18 parts. But switching between configurations in SW (and doing a save) prompts Visualize to ask me if I want to re-import the model, which is very helpful.
But I really like Appearance grouping, so my model tree is very short and replacing appearances is a snap. But the "monitor file" option disables the Appearance Grouping option.
So this is my work flow (2017 SP4.1):
1. In SW I assign a DIFFERENT appearance to parts so that they get grouped in Visualize the way I want. Because I wanted to have the two sizes of concrete wall kept separate in Visualize, I copied SW concrete appearance under a new name and applied it to the other concrete part. But the bolt & but have the same appearance so I can treat them as one entity.
2. I created a 3rd configuration in SW ("Combined") that had those 3 unique parts un-suppressed.
3. Exported assembly to Visualize using Export Simple, which does Appearance Grouping.
4. Set up Visualize scene, camera and appearances in the Default configuration.
5. Added 2 new configurations in Visualize to match the original SW configurations. All I needed to do was Hide 2 parts in one and 1 part in the other configuration.
6. Send both configurations to the render queue.
The advantage of this approach is that my Visualize session is independent of SW because I don't have to go back to SW to switch configs and re-save. And I have 1 Visualize project file so all settings get applied to both.