Today’s file systems range from local hard drives on our computers, or if you work in an office, you probably work mostly on a company server. You might even use cloud-based systems to exchange files, like Dropbox, OneDrive or A360 Drive. Most of these systems have a desktop application of sort that allows you to sync between your computer and the cloud system making the storage system easier to handle and work from. Those who use A360 Drive for this, then on October 10th, probably noticed and saw the messages that the A360 Drive Desktop App was being discontinued with no known replacement for syncing our cloud files to our desktop, leaving us wondering what Autodesk had in store.
A360 Drive is great for sharing and view files, what if you want to do more than just share files but want to be able to collaborate more with clients and team members. What if you could not only share files but could view and markup your files online? What if you had a 3D model like a Revit project that you wanted to collaborate with others that didn’t have Revit. The good news is Autodesk has a solution for that, BIM 360 Team.
Autodesk’s BIM 360 Team is a powerful tool for collaborating with team members and clients that allows us to put any file type we want up on it. One of the biggest challenges is that unlike Dropbox, OneDrive or even previously A360 Drive it only allowed file posting through the web browser, meaning you always had to download and upload to post updated files. That is until now, with the release of the Autodesk Desktop Connector, you can now upload files and folders to your projects through the Windows Explorer (There is also a Mac version).
Figure 1: Autodesk Desktop Connector
If you are already using BIM 360 Team, then once you log-in to your hub and click on your user icon in the upper right-hand corner, you should see the Desktop Connector for BIM 360 bar.
Figure 2: Desktop Connector install link in the hub directory
Once you go through the installation process, there will be a new directory in your Windows Explorer that allows you to see all the different hubs you are part of and access all your project files directly within Windows Explorer.
Figure 3: BIM360 Team Hubs
This is a new feature for BIM 360 Team and has been a big want and need for a long time. Opening the door for many different capabilities, for example:
- The ability to quickly add folders and files to a project while working offline.
- The ability to automate a backup process of files that are stored in the cloud.
These are just some of the initial capabilities; I am sure as it is used more and the development continues, users will find even more use and workflows that will make this feature even more powerful.
BIM 360 Team didn’t give us much grief with our folder and file names; we could use various kinds of characters including ‘/.' That was fine, but now that we are syncing to our desktops, Windows does not like some of these special characters and will give a warning to the folders/files and makes the folder/file inaccessible through the Windows Explorer.
- The Folder or File name can be edited within BIM 360 Team and eliminate the invalid characters, making the folder or file accessible in Windows Explorer.
- To rename the Project in BIM 360 Team, you must be a Project Admin to the project.
Another consideration to keep in mind is that windows for most cases still has a 260 character path limit. Meaning just like when working on a physical drive or server, the file and folder name along with the number of folders deep that a file resides starts to come into play.
The Desktop Connector has been a want for a while now and I look forward to what doors it will open in the future.
For more information on Autodesk BIM 360 Team, the Desktop Connector or any of the Autodesk Products, contact Advanced Solutions at 1(877)438-2741 or http://www.advancedsolutions.com/.