Slinger's Thoughts

July 31, 2008

CadWorx, FlexCAD, SmartP&ID, and other AutoCAD plug-ins with MOSS

Filed under: SharePoint — slingeronline @ 6:43 am

Well, we finally decided on a way to go for integration of AutoCAD with our SharePointimplementation.  Since it does almost everything that all of the other options do, and the licensing is dirt cheap compared to the others, we decided to go with CADtoSharePoint.  We are now presented with a new quandary though.  Some of our users are using CoAde’s CADWorx plug-in, and it uses a database to track connections between components of different drawings.  We’ve already run into issues with this before we even started loading drawings into SharePoint.

Basically our CAD Support guy, (who is a technical idiot, by the way…) loaded CADWorx onto some of our users workstations and we began to start using it.  Right about this time we also had some users move into another building, as we have grown out of the space we were in.  Not a bad thing, we just didn’t get the space inside the building that we wanted in time to keep everyone in the same building.  We set up a network system that would automatically replicate changes between the two building’s networks so that everyone would be current.  Not a bad solution to a moderately unique problem.  CADWorx uses a database to link drawings together that share a common connection.  In our industry a feature like that would be a great help, as often there is a piece of equipment or a connection on a drawing that invariably, but accidentally gets left hanging off connected to nothing.  I’m sure you’ve seen this before somewhere.  Some magic pipe that looks like it goes somewhere, but if you really look and follow it, it is simply a GNDN pipe. (GNDN stands for “Goes Nowhere – Does Nothing.)  Well, the folks at CoAde have really thought it through, and the database that CADWorx uses can be either an Access database, or an SQL database.  Our CAD support guru, (and I use that term loosely, since he thinks that a disconnected mouse could create a network issue,) decided to go the Microsoft Access route, and placed the database on one of the drives that we replicate between our two locations.  If the users of CADworx were only at one location this would be fine, however, they were at both locations, and using the program at the same time.  So, you create a new component at the main building, and the database assigns it an Item ID as any database would, and uses the next available number.  Someone at the other building does the same, and again, the database uses the next available number.  The problem is that both databases use the same number, and now you have drawings that are connected improperly, pieces of equipment are showing the wrong information, and every time you fix it, it breaks something else.  One of our CAD users caught this oversight, and it spiralled down from there.  It was asked if SharePoint could be used and someone answered “No.”  Funny, I don’t remember anyone asking me, and I’m the guys who knows the most about MOSS in this company.  It’s my job to know.  Well, we are getting to the point where I will be the CAD group’s salvation, but before I take another step, I have this problem.  We use CADworx.  How will SharePoint and CADWorx work together?  One answer I already have is that I will not install CADWorx to use a MS Access database that is contained on a shared drive, but rather I will force it to use a SQL server. (This would have likely prevented the whole mismanaged connections issue to begin with.)  We have an assistant CAD support guy who I know well, and would be much more likely to be receptive to something that would make the job of our CAD users easier.  I will likely bounce my ideas off of him and we’ll see how it goes.

Before I do anything though, I want to know from you; Do you use SharePoint for your CAD drawings, and have you installed any 3rd party plug-ins?  If so, how do they work together?  And this goes for any plug-ins out there, from any company.  FlexCAD, CadWorx, Piper’s Brain, SmartP&ID, SmartISO, or anything else I haven’t thought of.  Once we get it set up, here I will let you know how it goes.  Maybe this can be yet another instance of my SharePoint saving the day.

On a side note, I also want to know how you contend with ignorance. “It can’t do that.”  I’m not the only victim of this at this company either.  Our purchasing software gets shortchanged also, and the person responsible for that gets it all the time.  Someone will make some comment about how the software she manages can’t do something and she just looks at them, like a deer caught in headlights, wondering where in the hell they got that idea.  The she politely corrects them, and begins to explain to them that as a matter of fact, it can, they just didn’t ask.  I have a long way to go before my SharePoint and I get the respect we deserve.  (I really wish that our employees would stop thinking of it as a fancy replacement for an FTP site.)  Anyway, let me know.

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1 Comment »

  1. […] CadWorx, FlexCAD, SmartP&ID, and other AutoCAD plug-ins with MOSS […]

    Pingback by Michael Greth MVP SharePoint Blog : SharePoint Kaffeetasse #87 — August 12, 2008 @ 3:23 am


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