By Nick Harris
Viewing CAD Files Anywhere
For as long as I can remember I am regularly asked to recommend the easiest way to view other people’s design files when you don’t have access to the original authoring application. Even for AutoCAD, the most widely used design documentation software in the world, the answer has been dependent on the equipment you like to use. If you are a Windows PC user, then there are several options, but if you are an Apple mac or tablet user then things get a bit more complicated. If you also want to view Revit or Inventor models without switching environments, then your options are even more limited if not non-existent.
We are now in a world where users increasingly expect the flexible experience of Office 365 and Google Docs where the ability to access and edit data is consistent, regardless of location and technology platform. Organisations are redefining their working practices to take advantage of this anywhere access with an expectation that the response times for any type of information requests will continue to fall. This is particularly relevant for design professionals who are constantly looking to technological advances to deliver improvements in productivity and efficiency. The answer once again is coming from the Cloud, and Autodesk now has plenty of options.
Best for AutoCAD Files
Firstly, there is the AutoCAD web app. A browser and mobile app service for viewing and editing AutoCAD drawings.
It is more than a viewer and you can edit AutoCAD existing drawings, create new ones and it even has the command line that is so familiar to every AutoCAD user. Files are uploaded to the AutoCAD web app folder structure and can be shared with other people for viewing and editing. You are also able to connect to external storage services like Dropbox and OneDrive to retrieve and open AutoCAD drawings from there.
To learn more about AutoCAD in the cloud:
Autodesk and Microsoft have been collaborating on making it easier for SharePoint users to work with AutoCAD drawings. Now if you store AutoCAD drawings in Microsoft SharePoint or OneDrive you can open and edit the drawings directly from the browser interface using the AutoCAD web app.
AutoCAD and SharePoint:
BIM 360: Best for Viewing and Commenting
However, most consumers of design data need a simplified viewing and mark-up experience and BIM 360 Document Management is a far better choice. It is designed specifically for teams to share and feedback on project data with an easy to use, intuitive interface. Again, it is available within a web browser or mobile app and, most importantly, it is not restricted to AutoCAD files. In fact, you can view more than 50 different file formats including Inventor, Revit, IFC, Microstation and PDF files. For a complete list click on the link below.
The mark-up tools are designed to be easy to use regardless of whether you are using a web browser, tablet or phone. It doesn’t matter if you are using a browser on a PC or an Apple Mac, you still get the same viewing experience and toolset.
You are also able to print model views and drawing sheets.
BIM 360 has full support for AutoCAD external references which means that no matter how you structure your files you get a consistent viewing experience in BIM 360, complete with all the AutoCAD geometry. Read Henry’s article here to find out more about this important feature.
Autodesk recently introduced a new feature that will make it even easier to view Microsoft Office files without leaving the BIM 360 interface. In another collaboration with Microsoft, Autodesk now provides the capability to view and edit Office files that are stored in BIM 360, using the Microsoft online editing tools. For more information click on the link below:
BIM 360 and Office 365: