PDM Professional Add-in

Flatter Files now includes an add-in for SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional (EPDM) that allows you to view the item on Flatter Files with a single click directly from your PDM Vault.

As shown in the image below, you simply right click any file in PDM Professional. The add-in will then display a “View in Flatter Files” option. Selecting this option will open the appropriate Flatter Files item in your browser. If the item selected is a part or assembly file, then the add-in will attempt to locate the corresponding parent drawing and open it directly in Flatter Files.

Flatter Files PDM Menu

Obviously the majority of your users likely won’t have access to PDM Professional so this add-in won’t impact them, but for Designers, Engineers, Reviewers, and anyone else actively using PDM Professional this provides a very useful shortcut for viewing an item in Flatter Files. For example, if you are designing a part and want to view an existing drawing for reference purposes. This add-in provides a much quicker method to view the drawing versus loading the full drawing in SOLIDWORKS.

Another potential use case is when you decide you want to mark up an item that you are currently viewing in PDM. Simply view the item in Flatter Files and then you can mark the item up right in the browser without any additional software.

Installation

Installing the add-in is quite simple. The latest version of the Flatter Files Uploader application includes the add-in as part of its installation directory. Open the SOLIDWORKS PDM Administration application and log into your vault. Right click on “Add-ins” and select the option “New Add-in…” as shown in the image below.

Flatter Files PDM Menu

This will load a file browser. Browse to the Flatter Files Uploader installation directory (C:\Program Files (x86)\Flatter Files Uploader) and select the file named “FlatterFilesPDMAddIn.dll.” Click “Open” at which point the Add-in information page is displayed as shown in the image below.

Flatter Files PDM Menu

Click “OK” which will cause a warning message regarding add-in updates to be displayed. Click “OK” to dismiss the warning message. At this point, you should now have a new entry under Add-ins called FlatterFilesPDMAddIn. When you return to your vault view in Windows Explorer, right clicking on a file should show the “View in Flatter Files” option. Clicking this option will display the corresponding file or files in Flatter Files. If the file does not yet exist on Flatter Files, then a message indicating that the item does not exist will be shown.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected].


Office 365 Single Sign On Tutorial

Flatter Files can be integrated with Office 365 such that users will login to Flatter Files using the same credentials used to login to their Office 365 account. This simplifies the management of passwords for users, improves security, and allows you to give bulk access to user groups in your Office 365 directory without having to manually create each individual user account in Flatter Files. When a new user logs into Flatter Files for the first time using Office 365, all existing Flatter Files Admin accounts will receive an email at which point the Admin can update the users settings as appropriate. If a user is removed from your Office 365 directory they will also automatically no longer be able to access Flatter Files.

This integration is known as Single Sign On which is facilitated by a standard protocol called SAML 2.0. Flatter Files has supported SSO via SAML 2.0 for many years and we have customers that use this implementation with many online identity directories. As Office 365 has become more and more popular, many of our customers without even realizing it can take advantage of the benefits of SSO without any additional software or expense since Office 365 includes Azure Active Directory. Azure Active Directory can be setup to sync with your local Active Directory instance but it can also be used to provide SSO access to Flatter Files as well as any other application that supports the SAML 2.0 protocol.

Flatter Files documentation has included detail SAML configuration details for many years but to make it absolutely as simple as possible to get started, we have now created a detailed tutorial for integrating Single Sign On with Office 365.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected].


Extension issue with Firefox 51

The latest version of Firefox (version 51.0) which was recently released in late January included a change that caused the Flatter Files Extension to no longer work. The breaking change they made also results in the automatic update of the extension from working. As soon as we realized this issue we prioritized development and quickly resolved the issue. Unfortunately, due to the automatic update being broken you must install a new version of the Flatter Files Extension manually by downloading and running the installer located at https://www.flatterfiles.com/extension. We apologize for this inconvenience and will ensure moving forward that the extension is tested with each version of Firefox before it is released.

The Flatter Files Extension is used to print with Adobe Reader and view content in local applications. Once installed, it will work in both Chrome and Firefox providing you with a consistent print experience and easy access to viewing your content in local applications.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected].


Office 365 Integration

One of the most popular features of Flatter Files is the ability to automatically notify both internal users and external suppliers when a drawing has been updated with a new revision.

Today, we are excited to announce that we have integrated with Office 365 such that Flatter Files accounts can be configured to use a customers Office 365 account for sending emails. Once setup, the emails will originate from your actual Office 365 account. They will even be shown in the Sent Items folder for the particular user account that was used to send each email.

For example, the Office 365 user account for the user that shares an item externally will be used to send all of the emails that pertain to that particular share. Both the original share creation emails as well as revision update emails will all be sent from that users account. The resulting emails will show up in the Sent Items for that particular user in Outlook.

This functionality significantly improves your company branding when sending emails to your suppliers. In addition, internal emails will arrive much quicker since they are being sent and received on the same domain.

More Details

The user sending the email must be part of your Office 365 domain and they must have a functioning mailbox. Otherwise, Flatter Files will continue to use an existing 3rd party method to send the emails for that user.

Flatter Files will locate the correct user based on a matching email address between the Office 365 user and the Flatter Files user. If that doesn’t match then it will attempt to match the user based on the first and last name.

Internal new revision emails will be sent from the mailbox of the user logged into the Uploader that uploaded the new revision assuming there is a matching Outlook mailbox to use. It is recommended that a dedicated mailbox account be used by the Uploader such that the Sent Items folder for a regular user isn’t cluttered with these automatic emails.

If anything causes Flatter Files to either not find a matching Office 365 user account or if simply an error occurs during the process then the existing 3rd party email provider will be used to send the email.

Configuration

Configuring this functionality is quite simple although your Office 365 admin will need to be involved. Just follow the steps outlined below:

Office 365 Setting

If you have any questions or enhancement requests, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected].


View In...

A few months ago we released the Flatter Files Extension which made it possible to print with Adobe Reader from Chrome. Recently we added support for Firefox starting with Firefox version 50 such that Adobe Reader can be used to print from both Chrome and Firefox. This has been very beneficial because both Chrome and Firefox have inconsistencies when printing from the browser where as Adobe Reader has no such issues. The technology developed to enable this local printing capability has now been expanded to support local viewing. This allows you to open the PDF, Native, and generic CAD files that have been uploaded to Flatter Files locally with a single click. Previously, users would have to download the file and then open it in the appropriate application.

There are now three new options, View In Adobe Reader, View In eDrawings, and View In Native App. All three options are now part of a new View submenu shown when you click the download button. Instead of just getting a list of files to download when you click Download, the menu below is initially shown.

Download Menu

The same download options are still shown in the Download submenu when you hover the mouse over Download. This is shown on the left below. However, if you hover over the View option the new View submenu is shown which includes the new options. This is shown on the right below.

Download Menu View Menu

The View In Adobe Reader option is pretty straightforward. The PDF currently displayed in Flatter Files will be opened locally using Adobe Reader.

The View In Native App option is only included if corresponding native files have been uploaded per your Uploader configuration. If they have been uploaded then clicking the option will open the native file locally using the default application assigned to that file type. For example, if it is a SOLIDWORKS file then SOLIDWORKS will be used or if the native file type is a Word document then Word will be used if it is installed. Keep in mind that for both cases the correct application must be installed locally. Otherwise Windows will ask what application you would like to use to open the file.

The View In eDrawings option will display options to open the supported Native and Generic CAD files in eDrawings. eDrawings 2017 added support for opening STEP and IGES files so those options will be listed if they have been uploaded per your Uploader configuration. In addition, eDrawings supports opening DXF, DWG, and STL which will each be listed if they exist for the item. If you have uploaded the Native SOLIDWORKS files or uploaded eDrawings files as the Native file type then a Drawing and Model option will be listed. The eDrawings submenu is shown in the image below. Keep in mind, that eDrawings must be installed on the local machine for this functionality to work. If it isn’t installed the user will be prompted to download it.

Download Menu

The ability to open the generic CAD files directly in eDrawings is a very unique and beneficial capability. For example, if a user wants to view the corresponding STEP file for an item, they can now simply click the download button, proceed to the View In eDrawings option, select STEP and automatically eDrawings will be opened with the appropriate STEP file.

Download Menu

If you have any questions or enhancement requests, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected].


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