During these times many of us are encouraged or sometimes even forced to work from home which in turn comes with some challenges. One challenge is how you can collaborate on SOLIDWORKS files without having to send them to the recipient through an email or upload them to some file sharing site. In this blog post I will introduce you to an option that is a quite small step but still very powerful and something that many of our customers already have available! This option is called “Collaborative Business Innovator” and is the first step onto the cloud solution from SOLIDWORKS known as the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform. Let’s begin!
Me and my colleague Lars are working on a SOLIDWORKS model but we’re very far apart – I’m in southern Sweden and he’s located in Norway! We do not have some common PDM system to handle our files but we each have a license for Collaborative Business Innovator which gives us access to several applications on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, one of them being “3DDrive” which is a cloud storage for files. This application comes with a client that you can install on your local computer to access the files uploaded to 3DDrive without having to access the application from a web browser. Further, you can also install a SOLIDWORKS connector that let you browse your 3DDrive files directly in the SOLIDWORKS Task Pane, even files that someone else has shared with you through 3DDrive!
My colleague Lars has uploaded some SOLIDWORKS files to his 3DDrive folder and shared that folder with me. In order for me to start working with the files using the SOLIDWORKS connector they have to be located under “My Files” and not under “Shared with me”. To fix that I navigate to web portal for my 3DDrive app, select the folder Lars has shared with me and select “Add to my files” in the drop-down menu.
Lars has shared a folder called ”Universal Joint” with me which can be seen under the section ”Shared with me”.
To move the folder from the section ”Shared with me” to ”My files” I’ll have to select the drop-down menu and select the option ”Add to My Files”.
Thereafter the folder is located under “My Files”.
When the files are located under “My Files” I can select the SOLIDWORKS connector in the SOLIDWORKS Task Pane to access the 3DDrive files and open them in SOLIDWORKS by dragging and dropping them into the viewport.
After the file has opened, I can work with it just as any other SOLIDWORKS file!
Besides sharing files with each other, the Collaborative Business Innovator role comes with some really nice features you can find quite useful when collaborating on a project. Firstly, if I select one of the files in the Task Pane view it’s possible to review information about the file – including its history! I can in other words review the history of the files, download each version and even restore the file to a previous version if I find that a mistake has been made in the latest version!
By selecting a file and clicking the ”information” icon at the upper left corner I can review the file information including the different versions of the file.
If I want to, I can also restore the file to a previous version or download that specific version of the file to review it.
Yet some other great features are that you can preview – and mark-up! – a file directly in Task Pane. By selecting a file and clicking the eye-icon in the toolbar in the upper section in Task Pane you will get a preview of the selected file which you can zoom, pan and rotate. In this preview you can measure, create cross-sections, explode the model and create mark-ups. In this case, I’m uncertain whether the hole at the top of the bracket is large enough so I draw a circle around it and add the text “Do we need to change the size?” (this is done directly in the preview in Task Pane! I don’t need to take a screenshot, open the image in Paint and add the text).
Now, to inform Lars about this question I can create a post in a forum I’ve created for this project so he can review the file and provide an answer to the question. Amazingly, this too can be done directly from the preview in Task Pane! I do not have to switch between different applications to achieve this and I do not have to save the preview, find it somewhere on my local hard drive and send it to him though an email or similar. All I have to do is to select the icon at the bottom, second from the left, to share this to something that is called a “community”. On the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, a community is a forum in which people can communicate, share pictures or videos and more. Access to a community is by invitation only and in this case, I’ve created a new community for this specific project and invited Lars to it meaning only the two of us have access to the content we’ve shared though it.