Automatic Content Upload without PDM Tutorial

Flatter Files is designed to work with or without a PDM system. This tutorial will describe the typical setup for using Flatter Files to automatically upload content that is not located within a PDM system. It will assume that only SolidWorks files are being uploaded but any other Flatter Files supported file type could also easily be configured using the method described below.

This tutorial also assumes that the source files contain a revision property value. This revision property will be used to trigger the automatic uploads. It is possible to upload files without a revision property but this tutorial assumes that you want to trigger new uploads based on this revision value. Note that if you are uploading archive data such as old PDFs that don’t have a custom revision property, the method can still be used but only new versions of that file will be uploaded if a revision property is added.

Prerequisites:

  1. Access to a computer that has direct access to content that you would like to upload.
  2. SolidWorks installed onto the computer with a valid license.

1. Install Flatter Files Uploader

Flatter Files works by locally processing your CAD files using your version of SolidWorks or other appropriate application and then uploading the resulting data to the Flatter Files Cloud. To do this, you install the Flatter Files Uploader application onto the computer you plan to use.

  • On the computer you plan to use, click here to download the installer.
  • Double click the installer to install the application.
  • Follow the installation instructions. Once finished the application should automatically open.
  • If the computer you are using does not have SolidWorks, install SolidWorks onto the machine.

2. Login and Display Configure Upload Folder

The Uploader application requires a user account to login. All configuration data for the Uploader will be saved to the users account. Once logged in, the steps below will result in displaying the window used to configure an Upload Folder.

  • Once the Uploader application is installed and opened, the dialog shown below will be displayed. Enter your credentials and then click “Login.”
Uploader Login
  • If successful and if this is the first time you have logged in to the Uploader, you will be presented with a welcome screen within the application. Click next and a dialog appears to configure your first upload folder. Skip to step 4 if you now see a window with the title “Configure Upload Folder.”
  • If the welcome screen does not appear, then open the application menu by clicking the icon located in the bottom right of your task bar. This will open the menu shown below.
Uploader Task Bar Menu
  • Click “Edit Configuration.”
  • The window shown below will be displayed.
Upload Folders
  • Click “Add” which will display the Configure Upload Folder window.

3. Configure Upload Folder

The Uploader application requires that you configure a folder for uploading. This folder that you configure is the only data that will be uploaded by Flatter Files. All configuration and settings are specific to the folder being configured. Multiple folders can be configured. This tutorial will only configure a single folder that contains all of your content that will be automatically uploaded.

  • You should now see this window:
Uploader folder configuration
  • Click the “Browse” button and browse to the folder where your content is located.
  • Check the option “Include items in sub-folders” if it is not already checked.

4. File Types

Flatter Files supports various file types. Each file type that you would like to upload other than PDF, JPEG, Tiff, and XML requires an appropriate program to perform the processing. In this tutorial, SolidWorks must be installed for the purpose of processing the SolidWorks native files. The steps below will show you how to configure the Uploader to only upload the SolidWorks files contained in the specific folder location.

  • Select the File Types to upload by clicking the button titled “Select.”
  • This will display the image shown below:
Uploader folder configuration
  • Enable the file type option titled “SolidWorks (slddrw, drw).”
  • Click the button titled “File Type Options”
  • Click the drop down “Select file types options to edit…”
  • Change the value to “SolidWorks/Inventor Options”
  • This window should now be displayed:
Uploader folder configuration
  • Click the button titled “Select” to have the Uploader create and upload any Generic CAD file formats and then return to the page above.
  • Click “Settings” to enable in general generic CAD file format settings such as creating an export for each configuration or not.
  • Return to the page above and enable any of the other options shown on the page.
  • Click “Back” to return to the File Types window.
  • Click “Back” again to return the the Configure Upload Folder window, which is shown below.
Uploader folder configuration

5. Upload Trigger

This step will configure an Upload Trigger such that existing files are ignored until a user increments the custom revision property in the file. This prevents drawings from being uploaded until they are ready to be released.

  • Change the “Upload Type” setting to “Use property to trigger uploads.”
  • Click the “Configure” button.
  • This will open the window shown below:
Upload Trigger Type 1
  • Select the trigger type “When a property changes.”
  • Check the option “Use default revision property.”
  • Under Options, check the first option “Use property from drawing instead of model if applicable.”
  • Check the option “For new items, if property doesn’t exist still consider triggered.”
  • Check the option “Check out items that have been modified but not triggered a revision.”
  • Check the option “Check in items that have triggered a revision and skip the review process,” unless you want to use the Flatter Files Review Process.
  • The Settings displayed should now appear as shown below:
Upload Workgroup No Lifecycle Trigger
  • Click the “Back” button, which will return you to the Configure Upload Folder window as shown below.
Uploader folder configuration
  • Click the “Save” button to finalize the Upload Folder and save it.

6. Schedule the Uploads

This step will allow you to configure the Uploader to perform uploads based on a schedule. Ideally you want the uploads to occur fairly regularly such that your data stays very current. Typically scheduling an upload to occur every 1-4 hours is ideal. When an upload occurs, the first thing it does is check for any changes, if none have occurred then nothing is uploaded.

  • The Folder List window should now be displayed as shown below:
Uploader folder list
  • Click next to display the Upload Schedule Options as shown below:
Uploader Schedule
  • Select the schedule that makes the most sense for your available resources. I would recommend enabling the second option and selecting a schedule of something between 1 and 4 hours.
  • Click the “Save” button.

7. Start Upload

This step will manually start the first upload.

  • The image below should now be shown:
Manual Upload
  • Click the “Upload” button to perform the first upload.
  • The window will now be closed.
  • To view the status click the icon in the task bar to display the menu.
  • Select the option “All Messages.”
  • The window displayed is shown below:
Manual Upload
  • A log of messages will continuously be added during the upload process. Once complete the last message will indicate the amount of time until the next upload.
  • Viewing the messages during the upload is not required or by any means necessary during normal operation.

NOTE:

If you are using the Flatter Files review process then your files will be uploaded but won’t be accessible until you check the files in. Please consult the Review Process documentation for details on how to check the items in for review.


8. View Drawings in Web Application

At this point, your drawings are now accessible for viewing in the Flatter Files web application as well as on the mobile applications for iPhone, iPad, and Android. The steps below will view a drawing in the web application.

  • Click this link to open the web application or go to www.flatterfiles.com and click Login at the top right.
  • Enter your Login credentials.
  • Your uploaded drawings will be shown, double click on an item to display the PDF or enter a search query in the top right search box to located the specific drawing.
  • Additional details regarding drawing access can be found here

9. Create Revisions

When a user modifies a file locally the drawing will automatically be checked out from Flatter Files during the next upload process. By default a checked out item is still accessible on Flatter Files but a warning will appear. Optionally, checked out items can be blocked under Company Settings.

  • Once your drawing is ready for a new revision upload, increment the revision custom property by simply changing the value to the new revision value.
  • The next scheduled upload will create the new revision on Flatter Files.
  • If you would like to upload the new revision immediately then click “Start Upload” from within the Uploader menu.

10. Overwrite Revision

Often you create a revision and shortly after the revision is created you notice a small typo or similar mistake. This results in you needing to overwrite the current revision on Flatter Files after the change is made. The problem is that the Uploader doesn’t automatically trigger an upload since the revision value is the same and the revision value is what triggers the new revision upload. Here are the steps to force an upload for a specific item.

  • Open the Uploader menu.
  • Click the “Process Item” option.
  • Locate the item by searching for the item.
  • Select the specific item in the search results.
  • Check the option “Upload regardless if using Trigger.” This will force an upload even if the revision trigger hasn’t been met.
  • Click the “Process” button.
Manual Upload

11. Complete

This tutorial is now complete. Your account should now be integrated to automatically upload content. As you create new revisions they will now also automatically be uploaded to Flatter Files. If you have any questions or need additional help please email [email protected].