New Feature: Upload Trigger

The Flatter Files Uploader now includes the ability to setup up an Upload Trigger. An Upload Trigger can be used in multiple ways. If you are using the built in review and notification process then instead of uploading an item anytime a change occurs, it will only upload the drawing if specific property criteria is met. Once the upload occurs, you can then still handle the normal review process within Flatter Files. If you are using a PDM system or other internal review process, configuring an Upload Trigger can create a seamless integration between Flatter Files and your PDM system such that as revisions are approved they will automatically appear on Flatter Files. This blog post will first describe how to configure an upload trigger along with all of the current options and then discuss in more detail how an Upload Trigger can be used to save you time and improve your workflow.

The image below shows the new interface for configuring a specific folder for upload. Toward the bottom of the interface you will see the new option "Use property to trigger uploads." By checking this option a configure button is displayed as shown.


Clicking the configure button will display the interface shown in the image below. The first option is to select the type of Upload Trigger. The first and default trigger type is to perform an upload anytime a specific property changes. Typically this would be a revision property or something that is similar that is only modified when the new drawing is ready to be uploaded. For example, if the revision drawing property is equal to A and you modify the drawing but don't change the revision property then it isn't uploaded. Once you increment the revision property from A to B, the drawing will then be uploaded.


The second type of Upload Trigger requires a property to be equal to a specific value. Thus, an upload will only occur if the drawing has been modified and a specific property is equal to a specific value. The image below on the left shows the required configuration for this type of trigger. As you can can see, you simply enter the name of the property that you want to use and the value that it should match to trigger the upload. The third and final type combines both the first and second such that a property must have changed and a different property must be equal to a specific value. The configuration for this trigger type is shown in the image below on the right with example inputs for the property name and value.


All three trigger types described above have a few common options that also must be configured. The first option only applies to Inventor and SolidWorks drawings and pertains to wether the property data should be obtained from the drawing or the model. If you use properties from the drawing instead of the model then this option should be checked. The second option is checked by default and this allows the Uploader to automatically check out the item if you have modified it locally but have yet to trigger an upload. Thus, you are currently working on the item but it isn't complete. The third option is typically only used if you are using a PDM or internal review system which includes a review process such that you want to completely skip the Flatter Files review process. Basically, the Upload Trigger becomes a Revision Trigger. As soon as the trigger is met a new revision is automatically uploaded and created on Flatter Files.

Unless you are using SolidWorks EPDM, up until today your only option when performing a Flatter Files Upload was for all of the files that have been modified since the previous upload to be uploaded and checked out. Once you are ready for the item to be reviewed you simply check the item in and select a reviewer. Once the reviewer approves the drawing the new revision is created and anyone that accesses the drawing will see the new revision. The downside to this is that the current version for all modified drawings is uploaded every single time an upload is performed even for drawings that have been modified but are no where close to being ready for submittal. This slows down the upload process. By configuring an upload trigger, you now have complete control over when the upload occurs for each item. It can still be checked out as soon as you modify the drawing, but uploads will no longer occur until you modify the property data. This save you time and resources.

Currently Flatter Files includes direct integration with SolidWorks EPDM, which allows customers to use EPDM for collaboration and drawing approval while using Flatter Files as a publishing tool to provide access and control of their content. Obviously there are hundreds if not thousands of other PDM type software solutions for collaboration and/or review processes as well as simple custom review processes that may not even include specific software. By configuring an upload trigger, you can now seamlessly connect any PDM type software or internal review process to Flatter Files, which can save you a ton of time since it will automate the connection to Flatter Files. If you are considering Flatter Files and would like to connect it to some type of PDM system or internal review process, please feel free to contact us to discuss the specifics of the integration by emailing [email protected]

Adding the ability to configure an Upload Trigger greatly improves the flexibility in using Flatter Files. It should make it even easier to control when specific items are uploaded as well as fully integrate Flatter Files to be used in conjunction with any type of PDM or internal review process.


Annotations

The most requested feature for Flatter Files since the launch of the service has been the ability to add annotations to your drawings while viewing the drawing. Today, I am very happy to announce the availability of annotations for iPhone, iPad and Android devices. Now whenever you are viewing a drawing, if you see a mistake or want to make an addition to a drawing, you can immediately add it directly to the pdf while viewing it. The annotated drawing is then uploaded to Flatter Files and is available for viewing. In addition, specific users within your company can receive an email notification when an annotation is created. This makes it quick and easy for viewers to add annotations that are easily accessible by the appropriate technical staff.

Annotations work slightly differently depending on whether you are using an iOS device (iPhone/iPad) or an Android device. For iOS devices, the updated application requires a one time in app purchase of $9.99 to enable the ability to create annotations. All other functionality remains free. Each user within your company that needs to create annotations will need to purchase this in app upgrade for their device. To purchase the upgrade, tap the new annotation button that is shown when viewing a drawing. A dialog will appear with the option to purchase the upgrade or restore a previous purchase. Once purchased, tapping this icon will display the annotation toolbar.

To create an annotation in the iOS application you simply add the annotations and then save the annotation to Flatter Files. This is shown in the video below using an iPad. The same functionality is available for the iPhone.


The annotation created in the video above is now available for viewing on all of your devices. In addition, an email can be configured to be sent to specific users notifying them that a user created the annotation. This provides a great way to facilitate potential changes directly from the viewers of the drawing to the appropriate engineering or design team for review. The first video below highlights how to view the annotation on the web application and the second video demonstrates how to view the same annotation on your android device.



Anyone within your company can create annotations but only users that are granted access can view the resulting annotations. This is simply a user setting that can easily be enabled for any users that need access.

Annotations can also be created on your Android device but it works slightly different than on the iOS application. The PDFs on Android are displayed using your device's default PDF viewer. If this PDF viewer includes the ability to add an annotation, then the resulting annotated PDF can easily be uploaded to Flatter Files. The added benefit to this method is that you can try out multiple PDF viewer and annotation tools from the Google Play store to find the one you prefer and use that in conjunction with Flatter Files to create the annotations. The video below shows how to create an annotation using Flatter Files and the free Adobe Reader Android app.


As you can see, creating annotations within Flatter Files is a powerful and easy way to mark up drawings in a complete paperless workflow. This results in quicker improvements to the design and improved communication between engineering, design and everyone else within your organization.


Smart Libraries


Flatter Files now includes the ability to create Smart Libraries.  Smart Libraries contain all of the Drawings and Assembly Views within your account that match a specified search query.  For example, if you want a library that displays all of the currently checked out items in your account, you can simply create a Smart Library for this search and the library will always be shown such that you can easily view all of the items currently checked out.  Just like other custom libraries, you can control who within your account has access to this Smart Library.

With this latest update, when you create a new library you are shown the additional Smart Library options.  To create the Smart Library, you simply enter the library name, check the Smart Library option, and then enter the desired query.


To create a Smart Library that will display all of the checked out items for your account you would do the following:

  • Enter the library name.
  • Select the Smart Library option.
  • Enter the query "checkedout:yes" into the field.
  • Click Submit.

The image below shows the inputs to create the Smart Library for checked out items.


The library has now been created and the image below shows the result.  As you can see, the Smart Libraries appears just like other libraries except that the count for the number of items does not exist since this number can continually change.


This new Smart Library can still be renamed or deleted just like regular libraries by right clicking on the library and then selecting the desired option.  In addition to the standard options, the Smart Library query that is used to generate the content in the library can be edited and the result in the library can manually be refreshed.  These right click options for the Smart Library are shown below.


Smart Libraries are a powerful way to quickly provide access to specific search results.  These Smart Libraries appear just like regular Libraries and are accessible within the web application as well as on the mobile viewing applications for both Android and iOS.  Access to the Smart Libraries can be controlled just like regular libraries.  If you have any questions regarding Smart Libraries or other features of Flatter Files please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]


Shared Items - Stats

Flatter Files has recently been updated to allow you to retrieve specific stats regarding the links that you share outside your company.  Stats for your shared items provide a great mechanism for ensuring that the vendors or partners that you have shared the item with are actually accessing the item as it is updated.

Right clicking on a shared item now includes two additional menu items.  The first is Access Stats and the second is Update Stats.  The image below shows both of these new menu options.



Access stats show how many times the shared link has been accessed by each email.  The image below shows a table listing each email that has access to the item, the last time they logged in, and the number of logins in the last 30 days.  Additionally, a log of each individual login can be displayed by clicking View, which is shown in the second image below.



In addition to the access stats, you can also view an update log that shows when and what was updated with regard to the particular shared item.  For example, one of the drawings might be listed as updated or if you add items to a shared link the item added will be listed as being added.  An example update log is shown in the image below.

A monthly shared item stats email that summarizes the stats for all of your shared items can also be configured to be sent by the account administrator.  To configure, go to your Dashboard, click Settings, and then click Company. There is an option under company settings that allows you to turn on and then enter the email addresses that should receive the monthly email.  This email is sent on the first of each month.  The option for turning on the email is shown in the image below with the blue box around it.


Easily creating and controlling shared links is a big part of Flatter Files.  With these new features, not only do you have complete control on who can view your content but you can now find out if they are actually accessing the item when they say they are accessing it.

SolidWorks World 2014

Flatter Files will be at SolidWorks World 2014, which is being held in San Diego, CA at the downtown convention center.  The show starts on Sunday January 26th and wraps up on Wednesday January 29th.  If you are planning to attend the show please stop by our booth.  We would be happy to show you Flatter Files.  Our booth number is 739-G.

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