Wednesday, June 29, 2011

How do you share DWG files?

One of the easiest and most common ways a typical AutoCAD/LT user shares files is by emailing their DWG file to a recipient. If there are any Referenced files (Xrefs), they are also dropped into the same email message and sent. The recipient, another experienced AutoCAD/LT user with a total understanding of your file structure and with all your custom fonts and shape files, drops each individual file in an identical folder to yours, including the Xrefs, and CAD-life is good for both of you.

The challenge of communicating your intent, file custom content (fonts, shape files etc.) and your filing structure for Xrefs to another user outside the above scenario, especially to a client/customer, needs to be more professionally presented, and more convenient for them (not you) to manage.
AutoCAD/LT can help with ETRANSMIT command: it packages a set of DWG files, and any associated support/dependent files like fonts, plot style tables, all referenced files etc., for transmission and distribution. The command has many features and options:
  • Feature: the DWG file you are in is automatically selected.
  • Feature: By default, dependent files are automatically included in the transmittal package unless you uncheck them. These include any attached DWG/ DGN/ DWF/ PDF/ DWFx/ Raster external references.
  • Option: include other dependent files that are part of your DWG file(s), such as Font Files (SHX and TTF Windows fonts), custom Hatch patterns and linetypes, PMP Plotter model parameter files (used to store configuration information specific to a plotter such as custom paper sizes), OLE objects (linked files) that are linked to files in the drawing are not included in the transmittal package, and CTB/STB plot style tables.
  • Option: Choose your final DWG format conversion here, without leaving the command.
  • Option: Save Transmittal Setups for your project.
  • Option: Package the transmittal package in a ZIP file, in a self-extracting EXE file, or in a folder that is copied to a specified location.
  • Option: Specify that the folder structure of the transmitted files be organized in a logical hierarchy, flattened into a single folder, or copied “as is” to the recipient's computer. If you specify an FTP or HTTP destination, the transmittal package uses the single folder option.
  • Option: Add password protection to the transmittal package, bind xrefs automatically, set the default plotter to “none,” and other options.
  • Explore these and other procedures for ETRANSMIT command through this LINK.
How do you get the content you've just create through ETRANSMIT command? There is that easy-for-you Email attachment option, and assuming the recipient is capable of receiving that large a package, their email server is not set to block your attachment (or deem it Spam and drop it in the wrong folder), your client is expecting it, and confirms receipt of it in a timely fashion, is that the only method to ensure prompt and safe delivery? Explore more about this command HERE.

Online File Sharing is a popular solution: whether your company wishes to host the service on their servers, or an off-site third-party vendor (or your company's Internet Provider/WebHosting service), these offer as limited or as detailed set of features you want. Many allow you to send links to recipients to download the files, or have alerts sent directly to them from watched folders on your server or on remote servers.
FTP is the most popular form for this type of file sharing/delivery system. Many are FREE, others have monthly unlimited files or per-file-count charges and are hosted on secure remote servers. Autodesk, for a per-project price, offers a similar service called BUZZSAW and a free Technology Preview from their Labs, Project Nitrous.

Many popular free and low cost File Sharing services like WIKISEND, YOUSENDIT, BIGUPLOAD, 4SHARED (and MORE), as well as established more permanent online file sharing services like DROPBOX and, offer more options including file syncing and even Mobile Device Access.

Options are plenty for sharing and sending files: explore them and create a professional experience for your recipients and clients wit these tools. ◦