In the last Work Better with AutoCAD task, we discuss some alternatives to manage reusable contents. You need to ensure everybody can use them in your company.
This time, we will discuss how we can manage our drawing files. There are several ways how you share the drawings with your colleagues. From simple file sharing to using data management application.
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Using file sharing over network connection
The most common way to share the drawing files is sharing them on a shared folder in your company network. You can collaborate and work simultaneously by using file references.
You can add simple security by limiting folders to several users. You can do this if you don’t want them to be able to modify or even see files that don’t belong to them. But the capability is limited.
You need to manage revisions manually, rename files and probably backup them in separate folders. After you have tons of revisions, it will be difficult to manage. Some issues that can happen are duplicate drawings, or people using wrong revision to work.
Using Sheet Set Manager
A better way to manage drawings is using Sheet Set Manager. Not only to provide data people can access, you can access the drawings easier. Change the properties quickly.
There are also several automated tasks you can use, like using common information and create drawing list. It also can use shared folders, so your team can access the drawings too.
Using data management applications
AutoCAD users in my country are not familiar with data management tools yet. I’m wondering if you’re already using it.
There are CAD data management applications that you can use to manage your drawing files. Autodesk has Autodesk Vault. If you’re working in multi CAD environment, you probably heard similar applications from different CAD vendors. Bentley Systems has Project Wise. Dassault Systemes has Enovia. Siemens has Teamcenter. These data management tool mostly developed for manufacturing industry. Probably only Project Wise that was originally developed for AEC and infrastructure industry (Bentley doesn’t have manufacturing solution).
Basically they offer similar benefits.
- Manage your data in one place, eliminate the possibility of duplicate data.
- Manage drawing revisions. We know that in design process, we will have many revisions. And the final design is not necessarily the final revision. They can handle revisions very well.
- They manage security better than just limiting access to folders. You can set security based by their roles and based on projects. Which actions they are allowed to do. You can also see the logs who modified the drawings.
- In manufacturing industry, there are several more benefits like: automatic BOM, reusing old data, search common data, etc. I’m not sure in AEC or Infrastructure we can get benefits from those features. Probably it will be useful for managing libraries too, but I don’t have experience using it in AEC projects. If you have experience with it, you may want to share it here.
They probably offer the best solution. Better than sharing data manually in shared folders. However, implementing them may take some time until they work properly.
Just for additional information, you can add sheet set into vaults since Vault 2012.
How do you manage your drawing files?
Now let’s discuss how you manage and share your drawing files.
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More than 10 years ago, I worked for an architectural firm. We don’t have network connection yet. We literally give data using 3.5” floppy disk to our colleague. I know, we were late adopters. Network connection is already exist, but we haven’t use it back then. I don’t think anyone is still doing the old fashion way now. I believe you at least have network connection. But do you place all your data in a server, or work locally?
Do you use other applications to manage your drawings? I think there are applications that can manage data for general purposes like Microsoft Sharepoint. Or do you use CAD specific data management tools? What are you using it for? Only for sharing the drawings, or also manage revisions, reusable contents, etc?
The e-book winners
Like I promise, I’m announcing the e-book winners on Monday. We’ve got two winners: PepaR and Neaton.
I’ll send the download link directly to the winners. Congratulations PepaR and Neaton! Thank you for participating in the discussion!
Every member has full acess to folder and files. It's necessary if you collabroate on big project and do via DWG. Intresting way is using xrefs and collect drawing together in one central file.
Revisions: We add suffix for revision, eg.: "Drawing_r01.dwg" or "Drawing_2011_10_20.dwg". Document with changes in revisions is saved in folder with drawing.
Thank you for the feedback.
How do you guys manage file sharing security? And how do you manage revisions?
For shared date we use intern network. Nice possibility for work with external co-workers offer Dropbox (it's work aslo with Revit worksets).
Sheet Sets it's very nice tool for manage, print, autofill titleblock etc. I try it and wrote article (I post link below). I found also some issues, first and main is DO NOT OPEN MORE then ONE DST file if you use autofilling title block by user defined field storen in DST file. AutoCAD is confused and don't know what DST file is proper for titleblock.
Aricle about sheet sets (translated from czech):
<a href="http://translate.google.cz/translate?sl=cs&tl=en&js=n&prev=_t&hl=cs&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2 Fwww.autodeskclub.cz%2Fclanek%2F5298-autocad-ve-stavebni-praxi-dil” target=”_blank”>http://translate.google.cz/translate?sl=cs&tl…” target=”_blank”>Fwww.autodeskclub.cz%2Fclanek%2F5298-autocad-ve-stavebni-praxi-dil
We use Sheet Sets. It makes file management and plotting much easier. You always know which drawing files are being used in the set and plotting is very easy. Most drawing sets have a sheet list table which is created through the Sheet Set Manager. If the sheets either by addition, subtraction or sheet title change, Update Table List is used to repopulate the contents table. Archiving a set of drawings is easy with a right click on the Sheet Set and choosing eTransmit. No more guessing which files are necessary.