Over the years Email has become the most prevalent method of exchanging files. As our DWG files get smarter and our users get lazier, the files continue to grow in size. A big market now is for file sharing applications that can allow users or entire companies to exchange files through a link instead of an attachment in an email. I do like this method for various reasons:
Email databases (Outlook PST files and Exchange message stores) are getting bigger and bigger as users send and receive large attachments every day. This has a domino affect in that it causes slow downs on servers, eats up network bandwidth, burns through backup media and extends backup and restore times. You can always enable compression on the servers, or buy more storage and get faster processes and more memory, but to what end?
The nice thing about file sharing applications like YouSendit or Sharefile or even Dropbox is that for Email, it is just a text message with a link included – very small and very fast. The files are automatically uploaded to an offsite location and therefore are only on your network once so you do not have them backed up twice – unless your doing Dropbox which may also store an additional local copy that you may be backing up as well. There are a lot of variables in this which depend on the particular service you are using and which features, but the basic file sharing service uploads a copy offsite and then allows you to share it with a link.
File sharing programs add other perks as well – they offer Email notices when files are accessed or shared and can offer password authentication for security.
I have personally used both Sharefile and YouSendit and use Dropbox regularly for personal use and backups to make my critical data mobile. I like all three and for most businesses it would not be hard to justify their costs – they can even be free for small usage.
There are a few steps that the person sending or sharing the drawings can do to minimize the drawing size and should be standard practice.
- Minimize copying other jobs in other current job to do your work. Use standard libraries and menu customization to insert your work or copy pieces as needed. I regularly deal with drawings with more than one project inserted in model space and in some cases I have seen up to five! Besides the file size, now everyone has to dig though the drawing to see which are the plans/elevations/sections that they need or call the architect/consultant for clarification.
- Use Blocks – rectangles are not desks or lights, they are rectangles and a job that could be handled with a couple of blocks that uses 100 rectangles for lights is not a very smart or lean drawing. (another future post)
- Purge! Yes, the big one. Since so many users still do use past projects for setting up new ones and copy items in from previous projects to address details in current ones, occasionally (regularly) purge your drawing – and definitely do so when sending them out.
What is Purge?
How to Purge?
Note: This routine also does an AUDIT to check the drawing for errors. This routine was discussed in the “Macro Mania I” post and is included in the FS-Tools add-on menu that you can download here.
What can purge do for you?
On a recent project, there was an issue with the size of the drawings being shared so the sender made one attempt and received some failure notices by some of the recipients. They then started over and made them available on their FTP site. When I received the files, I typically clean them up for our use, and in this case I was curious to see just how bloated they were.
I have a simple toolbar Macro that I use nearly every day for this that purges the drawing and runs an audit to make sure their are no errors, does a zoom extents and saves and closes the drawing. Running this Macro which is a single mouse click on the drawings knocked them down from 35meg to 18meg – nearly a 50% reduction – and that was without removing extra “stuff” from the drawings. I did this same step yesterday and reduced the files provided on an FTP site by 60%. This is a regular step in my cleanup and sharing process and takes seriously a couple seconds per drawing to perform. Doing this with a script using Scriptpro, you could do an entire project in a flash.