General Software

Alibre Options: Get the Most Out of Alibre Design Softwares Online Functionality

15 Sep, 2005 By: Michael Todd Cadalyst

Avoid more revision cycles by collaborating online with other Alibre Design users


The Alibre Design software's collaboration and online functions are not just for getting real-time support through the Alibre Assistant. You can also use these tools to work in real time with other Alibre Design users no matter where they are located. You can start collaboration sessions spontaneously or schedule them for a specific time and date. To use the online features, you need an active internet connection (DSL or faster is recommended), a current license and the most recent version of Alibre Design.

As many people are not familiar with the Alibre Design software's online capabilities, this month's tech tip will describe the main areas related to online collaboration. I'll briefly cover how to find and use the Home window, the contact list, Team Design? sessions, the Message Center and the Team Manager tool.

Most people purchase Alibre Design for its 3D solid modeling and associative 2D drafting. The collaboration options only add to their ability to avoid revision cycles.

Getting Started
When working online with a full version of Alibre Design, the Actions menu in the Home window provides access to the contact list, Message Center, chat and Team Design sessions (figure 1). Since all of these options are available in the software, you don't need multiple programs to communicate with others.

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Figure 1. The Home window provides access to the many areas of Alibre Design.

Customizing the Contact List
You can use the Add/Remove Contacts option in the Actions menu on the Home window to add other Alibre Design users to your contact list so that you can see when they are using Alibre Design and may be available for a spontaneous collaboration session. After they are added to your contact list (they have the option to refuse), contacts will appear in the Contacts list in the Home window (figure 2). Like Microsoft Messenger, these contacts can include your coworkers, vendors, people you met in the user forums and so forth.

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Figure 2. The Add/Remove Contacts dialog box shows who is on your list and a list of users who have made themselves publicly available.

Benefits of the Contact List

  • Use to quickly contact other Alibre Design users, including Alibre Assistants and Alibre Consultants.
  • See which contacts are online vs. offline -- blue icons are online, and gray icons are offline.

Chat Session
A chat session allows two or more people to chat in real time with one another either by typing or, when suitably equipped with a headset, by speaking. Typed conversations may be reviewed in real time with the scroll bar, sent to an e-mail account or saved for reference (figure 3).

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Figure 3. An active chat session in progress.

Team Design Session
A Team Design session allows two or more people to view and interact with an Alibre Design model at once (figure 4). Depending on settings invoked by the session leader (the initiator), attendees can view the models or can make modifications in real time.

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Figure 4. A Team Design session in progress.

Benefits of Team Design

  • Share and edit parts, assemblies, sheet metal parts and 2D drawings in real time.
  • Use redline tools to facilitate and document the discussion.
  • Communicate by text-based chat or built-in voice over IP.

Scheduling a Session
Sometimes it's better to schedule a Team Design session so all participants are available. Alibre Design users can schedule sessions through the Sessions tab in the Home window (figure 5). You can schedule a session to review a current Alibre Design model or kick-off a new project.

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Figure 5. An example of the Schedule Session dialog box.

Features of Scheduling a Session

  • Set the date and time for the meeting.
  • Create a meeting participant list and assign participant permission levels.

Message Center
The Message Center is used to manage, send and retrieve voice and text messages. Two types of messages are stored in the Message Center: messages sent by other users and messages that report activity associated with a repository item. New messages are sent to the inbox in the Message Center, and the program can automatically forward them to an e-mail account.

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Figure 6. The Message Center stores messages associated with activity in Alibre Design. You can also send personal messages.

Team Manager
Team Manager allows you to create groups of Alibre Design users and assign them permissions (figure 7). Certain users can only view certain files, while others can edit files. Determining who has access to which Repository files is easiest when access to the files is managed through teams. Just grant access rights to specific teams, and then add members. When you want to find out who has which rights, just check the member list. You can easily add and remove contacts from teams.

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Figure 7. Create teams and assign permissions in the Team Manager window.

Examples of Common Teams and Permissions

  • Machine room/subcontractor: allowed to view 2D drawings.
  • Maintenance department: allowed to view 2D drawing, parts and assemblies.
  • Drafting department: allowed to edit 2D drawing, but only view parts and assemblies.
  • Engineering: allowed to edit 2D drawing, parts and assemblies.
  • Sales: allowed to view parts and assemblies.

Next month I'll discuss using custom symbols to save time when creating drawings in Alibre Design. Until then, look for me online as the Alibre Assistant in Alibre Design.


About the Author: Michael Todd


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