Value of Flatter Files to Existing EPDM Users

Ever since we integrated Flatter Files to work with EPDM, we have often gotten the question of why should an existing EPDM user add Flatter Files to their implementation.  This blog post will specifically outline the major benefits, which includes access to your content for everyone and everywhere, all content in a central location that is searchable, assembly views, and shared links.

Once everything is set up, all content is available by anyone within your organization that has an internet connection and a web browser at no additional charge.  In addition, a free mobile app for iPhone, iPad, and Android can be used to access the content on your mobile devices.  This means that you no longer need EPDM view licenses for everyone that simply needs access to the data (managers, salesman, purchasers, etc...).  In addition, companies have found that the amount of training and maintenance for employees that only need access to the drawings is also much lower when using Flatter Files.

An unlimited amount of content can be uploaded to Flatter Files.  Thus, no one ever has to wonder where the drawing is kept or ask the CAD team to find a drawing for them.  They will simply go to Flatter Files and the drawing will be there.  All property data associated with the drawing is uploaded and searchable.  Making it super fast to find the drawing you need.

If your models consist of quite a few assemblies then Flatter Files can save you a lot of time.  The Uploader app not only creates and uploads a PDF of each drawing but it also uploads the bill of materials data.  Once the data is uploaded, assembly views are then automatically created.  An assembly view contains all of the individual parts and sub assembly drawings needed to make a specific item.   Many companies spend many hours creating a PDF that contains all of the drawings in an assembly.  With Flatter Files these PDFs are automatically created.  In addition, as revisions are created to the individual drawings the assembly view PDFs are automatically updated.

Flatter Files also provides a really convenient way for drawings to be shared with vendors or other partners outside your organization.  Instead of emailing a PDF or drawing file, you send a link.  This link provides password protected access to the content, which can include multiple drawings and/or assembly views.  Optionally the CAD files and previous revisions can be included.  Once the link is created,  it doesn't change.  Meaning that as you create new revisions the vendor can simply return to the same link and the latest version is always available.  This can save your purchasing department a lot of time if you work with lots of outside vendors.  At any point the link can be deleted removing access to the content.  You can also track the number of times each person is accessing the link to ensure it is properly being used.

Those are the main benefits for existing EPDM users.  If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected]

Shared Items - Automatic Emails and Expiration Date

Two new settings have been added for when sharing a drawing or document.  The first is that whenever the file's revision is changed an email can automatically be sent notifying the receiver that the drawing or document has been modified.  The second setting that has been added is the ability to set an expiration date to the shared item.

One of the major benefits to using Flatter Files is a significant reduction in errors caused by using outdated drawings.  By using link based sharing within Flatter Files, all of your outside partners can also know that the link they have been sent is always up to date.  It is possible that a partner might forget to visit the link each time to make sure they are using the latest drawing.  Therefore,  shared items now include an automatic email to everyone that has received the shared link whenever the drawing changes.  When sharing an item, you are able to select whether you these emails should be sent.  This option is called "Email recipients when file(s) change" and is shown in the share menu below.



This setting can also easily be modified within "My Shared Items."  Simply click the "Edit" link in the "Options" column.  A dialog will appear that includes the option for automatically sending emails when the drawing or document changes.




The first image above also shows the ability to set an expiration date.  This is an optional setting that simply denies access to the drawing or document once the date has been reached.  Once the item has been shared, you can easily manage the expiration date in "My Shared Items" which is shown below.  At any point, you can modify the date, remove the expiration, or add an expiration date to an existing item.  An expired shared item can still be edited as well.  Once it expires, it is simply shown as expired and no longer accessible.  To make it accessible again, simply edit the expiration date to a new date in the future.   






Flatter Files Android App

Flatter Files now has a native Android App for accessing your content on your Android device.  The app can be downloaded at this link.  Once you have downloaded the app, simply login using your Flatter Files account and all of your content will now be accessible to you on your Android phone or tablet device.




Shared Items and User Groups

When sharing an item externally with Flatter Files you simply send a secure link.  Multiple drawings can be shared with this single link.  This works great for sharing a group of drawings with a specific supplier.  Over time you may want to add or remove items from this link.  Thus, all of the items that you share are shown and can be edited under "My Shared Items."  This is very useful but it is likely that you have coworkers that might need to be able to edit this shared link or just need to verify that the supplier has indeed received the link.   This is now possible with user groups.  Once the item has been shared, you simply add the shared item to the user group.  Once added, every user within this group will now see the shared item when they click "My Shared Items."  This allows anyone in the group to verify that the drawings have been shared with the supplier, resend the link, change the password, add additional emails to the link, or delete the link.

To add a shared item to a user group.  First share the item and then right click on the item under "My Shared Items."  Then simply click the group that you will like to add the shared item to as shown in the image below.


A shared item can be added to multiple user groups and removed from those user groups at any time.  To view what user groups that the shared item belongs to, simply click "List" in the User Group column.  Once the list is displayed, the item can be removed by right clicking in the group and clicking delete as shown in the image below.


Administrators can create and edit user groups by clicking Dashboard, Settings, and Users.  At this point they will see a list of the existing user groups which by default will contain a single user group called "All."  There is now a button at the button that allows for the creation of additional user groups.  Once the new user group is created, users are added by simply dragging users from the "All" user group to the new user group.  This new user group interface is shown in the image below.





New Features

Over the past few months Flatter Files has been updated with many requested features.  Here is a summary of the most significant updates:

Hide Libraries
You can now hide custom libraries from specific users.  This allows you to create libraries that are only accessible by specific people within your organization.  This works great for R&D drawings and documents or to simply separate the drawings for different departments.  Administrators can hide libraries by visiting the users settings and deselecting the libraries that you wish to hide from each specific user.



Multi Item Share
You can now share multiple items at once.  Simply select a group of items and then click share. Once the share is created you can select another group of drawings and then right click and select "Add to Existing Share."  This allows you to perform multiple searches and continue selecting and adding items to a shared item.  The person you are sharing these items to will receive an email with a single link.  Clicking this link will allow them to log in with the password you provided at which point they will see a list of drawings where they can select the item to display.  This list is also searchable such that large groups of items can be shared and easily accessed.



Search App
A new web application has been created that simply allows you to search for and view your content on Flatter Files.  This works across all browsers and all devices.  Thus, you can now access your content within mobile web browsers on Android and other mobile devices.  Whenever you try to login to the main web app on any mobile browser or Internet Explorer 8 and earlier you will be redirected to this simplified search app.  You can also access the search app directly at flatterfiles.com/search.



Hide Checked Out Items
Your account can now be configured to hide checked out items from your users.  Typically when a user views a checked out item the user is notified that the item is checked out and the current revision is then displayed.  If you decided to hide the checked out item, the current revision is not shown and instead the user is notified that the item is checked out and not available.  The option to hide checked out items can be found under company settings.




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