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When using a solid modeling CAD package such as Autodesk Inventor or SolidWorks, Flatter Files is able to automatically create all of your assemblies using the model data.  This saves an enormous amount of time and has become the most popular feature of our private beta testers.   Up to this point, the resulting assembly hierarchies could not be modified in any way since they match the model data unless the assembly was copied and no longer synced to the model data.  In addition, only model data that included a matching uploaded drawing was included.  It was determined that the flexibility to be able to manually add any existing drawing where the missing drawing should exist would greatly improve the assemblies.  Thus, Placeholders have been created to do exactly this.

Before I dive into the details, I want to point out the most common case where this will be very helpful.  It is very common that when modeling a part there will be many purchased items that you will want to include.  Many times you will download a model from the vendor and include it in your model or you will simply create a model of it yourself.  This is very useful to have in the model but the viewers of your drawings need a specification sheet for the item or a simple graphic showing its general dimensions.  This information is also typically obtained from the vendor.  You can now include this information by simply uploading a PDF of this information and adding it to the location that the placeholder exists.  Since you added the item in the model, a Placeholder will now exist in the hierarchy for each of these purchased items.

The first view that appears after logging into Flatter Files is shown below.  All of your Top Assemblies can be found in the Folders view which is located in the bottom half of the left navigation bar.  As you can see in the image, there are currently three Top Assemblies located in the folder Uploaded Assemblies.

When you click on a Top Assembly, the view transitions to show the hierarchy specific for that Top Assembly.   This next image shows a close up of the resulting hierarchy.

Now that you are viewing this hierarchy, you can simply select any item in the hierarchy to display the complete assembly.  By clicking on a specific item within the hierarchy the assembly view will navigate to the particular page containing that drawing within the assembly.  A button now appears that is labeled with the Edit button.  By clicking this, you now proceed into edit mode which is shown in the image below.

As you can see in the image, a new item within the hierarchy appears that is labeled as a placeholder.  This items appears exactly as it does in the model that it was uploaded from.  For this particular item though there was not a matching drawing.  Therefore, it is displayed as a placeholder in the edit mode.  Any drawing in your library can now be dragged onto the Placeholder item.  The image highlights the drawing that is added to the hierarchy at the location of the placeholder.

Once you drag the appropriate drawing on the placeholder the assembly will be updated.  You now simply click the Done button and the new hierarchy is displayed.  The item that has been added is highlighted in the image below.

To remove the item that was added, simply right click and select Delete.  This removes the added that was added but does not remove the placeholder.  You can easily add another item for the placeholder by simply repeating the steps described above.

iPhone Application

Flatter Files now includes an iPhone application.  The application is not yet in the App Store since we are still in private beta but our beta testers are able to use the app.  The fundamental purpose of Flatter Files is to help CAD users communicate their drawings more efficiently to viewers and viewing drawings on a mobile device will make the communication even better.

The iPhone application is ideal for viewing any drawing or assembly.  The same search capability exists as in the web application.  The application also allows for reviewing of drawings and you can share the drawings externally.

New Feature: Assemblies View

A new library view has been added to Flatter Files that displays all of your assemblies in the same manner that Drawings displays all of your drawings.  As you can see in the image below, you simply select on Assemblies on the left hand side of the screen and the new view is displayed.

This new Assemblies view displays each and every assembly.  This includes both top assemblies and sub assemblies.  By simply selecting on the item, the entire assembly is displayed.  This will include every drawing that is included in the hierarchy of the assembly.  The display interface matches the Drawings interface.

The existing assembly view has been renamed to Folders.  In this view you will still see a listing of all of your top assemblies, which are grouped into folders.  If you click on a top assembly the hierarchy of that assembly will be displayed as before.  You can also get to this hierarchy by right clicking on any assembly in the new Assemblies view and select View Hierarchy as shown in the image below.

Once View Hierarchy is selected the corresponding top assembly is displayed in the Folders view.  For example, the assembly BD-0004 was right clicked and View Hierarchy was selected in the image above.  The image below shows the resulting hierarchy in the folder view and highlights the corresponding assembly that was right clicked.

The new Assemblies view provides a single location for you to search and locate assemblies.  This greatly reduces the amount of work needed to find, share, or copy assemblies.

Problems Solved

Flatter Files was designed specifically to solve actual problems that companies face all the time with regard to drawings.  Here are a few of the common problems and an overview of how Flatter Files solves each problem.

Where is that drawing?  

Flatter Files provides a single destination for all of your drawings that is searchable.  So if someone in production or sales or marketing or anyone else in your organization needs to see a drawing they now have a central place containing all of your drawings.  Just log into Flatter Files and start searching.  Every property of the drawing is searchable and search results can be limited to certain properties.

What do you mean this is the wrong revision?  It is the one you gave me. 

Every organization that uses drawings eventually runs into the latest revision problem.  Someone within your organization mistakenly uses the wrong version of the drawing.  Many times you send an email with the newer version but when they need the drawing they forgot about that latest email and instead use the drawing that was last printed.  Flatter Files fixes this problem by removing the need to email a drawing by providing a central place where drawings are always viewed.  Users can still print the drawings, but every time they need a drawing instead of searching for a drawing in their file system or email they can log into Flatter Files, locate the drawing and know that it is the latest revision.  As an added bonus, if the drawing is currently being modified, the viewer will be notified.

Can you send me all of the drawings for this product?  

Rarely when viewing a drawing do you just view a single drawing.  Instead you need a group of drawings as identified on a bill of materials.  Flatter Files groups your drawings into assemblies such that you simply locate the top assembly and then all of the drawings needed are shown inside that assembly in a single view.  The best part is that anytime any of the drawings contained in the assembly are modified, the assembly view is updated such that you never actually have to update the assembly.  Just revise the drawings and the assembly will always contain the latest revisions.

I converted a drawing to PDF and sent it externally to another company but now I am going to update it.  I guess I have to send it again?

With Flatter Files, drawings are shared via a link and associated password.  No more sending a drawing each time you change it via email.  Instead, simply send the link and password and from then on anytime they visit the link the latest version is shown.  Both drawings and assemblies can be shared.  If a drawing is checked out, the external viewer is also notified.

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