File Sharing/Publishing

Take Control of File Translation

8 Nov, 2011 By: Robert Green

CAD Manager’s Toolbox: Use this simple step-by-step process before your project kicks off.


With more and more CAD projects containing traditional CAD tools (AutoCAD and MicroStation), as well as new building information modeling (BIM), mechanical, and civil engineering tools, I'm seeing more and more need for data format translations during the lifecycle of the project. And as these translation requirements grow more complex, the likelihood grows that you may have problems.

Now, of course, entire books could be written about this process, but here's a short and simple way to get on top of your translation requirements. This has worked for me over the years.

  1. Find all versions of software you'll use at your facility.
  2. List all the file types (extensions) for your software.
  3. Determine all versions of software the client will require you to send them at their facility.
  4. List all the file types for the client software.
  5. Ask the client to send you sample files so you can see first-hand the file formats, versions, and other details about the files you'll need to deliver.
  6. Ask the client for copies of any specifications and standards documents that they expect you to follow.

Now you'll know specifically what the client wants. To determine how well you can deliver on their expectations, follow these steps:

  1. Verify that you can read the files the client sends you.
  2. Figure out how to use client standards in your own design software.
  3. Write files from your software to the target version the client expects.
  4. If you have to go through intermediate translations (say, SolidWorks to STEP to Autodesk Revit), do so now.
  5. If you have to translate between 2D and 3D systems, be sure to do a test case on this process.
  6. Send sample files from your software to the client for verification of operation.

If things work great then you're done! If not you may have to make modifications to your in house software to make sure you can send information to the client as they expect it.

Of course you may encounter bumps in the road when trying to figure out your translation requirements, but isn't it better to know about them before the project starts?


About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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