CAD Manager's Newsletter (#340)

25 Mar, 2015 By: Robert Green

Why Your Data Management Plan Depends on Your WAN

A workable wide-area network is key to keeping your users on the straight and narrow procedural path.

In the previous edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I made the case for a data management strategy that goes well beyond simple backups done by your IT department. I received responses from a wide variety of companies asking for more specifics on how to put a strategy in place. It seems that there is wide acknowledgement of the need, but a lack of knowledge on how to proceed.

In this edition, I'll start the process of guiding companies through a discovery of their needs and discuss some possible solutions. Here goes.

What's Really Required?

Perhaps the best first question in the data management process might be: Exactly what should a good data management strategy include? Here, in no particular order, are the key components I've come to believe are required.

An enforceable storage, numbering, and revision scheme. This is how you know where the current versions of files are and ensure that everyone is on the same page. Whether you use a software application or file folders and manual file naming, the point is to achieve consistency. Note that enforceability (via software tools or management edict) is key — users cannot be allowed to improvise on naming, revising, and storing files!

Some sort of file-locking mechanism. In cases where multiple team members may need access to the same file, there must be a way to prevent team members from writing over each other's files. There are a variety of software and wide-area network (WAN) management tools that can provide file locking, which we'll explore later.

Durable backup and restoration for disaster recovery. This is most likely taken care of by your IT department and includes the ability to store massive amounts of data offsite, then retrieve it rapidly to restore entire servers, user e-mail accounts, etc., in bulk. (CAD managers typically don't need to worry about this.)

Local project archive storage. These archives contain all the data needed to "reload" an old job and work on it again. Archives typically are made at key points in a project timeline (bid, initial submittal, final submittal, as-builts, etc.). The archive data must be locally available to the CAD manager so jobs can be quickly pulled from archive (no waiting two days to download something from the cloud).

Company Size and Topology

Now that we know what to manage, let's turn our attention to how our company size affects our approach. The first thing to consider for your data management plan is how your company is configured, from a topology point of view. The reality is that the more far-flung your offices and workers are from each other, the bigger an IT problem you're going to have. So think about which of the following categories your company best fits into:

  • Small company with all data in one location and minimal employee travel.

  • Medium-size company with a few branch offices and travelling workers.

  • Large company with many branch offices and travelling workers.

Using the size-based breakdown allows us to reach the following conclusions quickly: Read more »

:: CAD Manager's Toolbox

Get Acquainted with AutoCAD 2016

If you manage AutoCAD, you've no doubt heard about the new version that was just released, and would like to get your hands on some learning materials to better understand what's coming your way.

There are several great resources to do just that in Heidi Hewett's AutoCAD Insider blog post from March 19.

AutoCAD Insider

Hewett is the AutoCAD technical marketing manager for Autodesk, and she creates preview guides and training videos for new AutoCAD platform releases. In her blog post you'll find links to download these resources — as well as a trial version of AutoCAD 2016 — so you can get up to speed quickly on the new feature set.

I've always found it very useful to read through Hewett's materials before embarking on a new AutoCAD release implementation, and I bet you will as well.

Do you have a helpful tip, recommendation, or question for the CAD Manager's Newsletter? Send it to me at If I use your tip in the newsletter, you'll receive a Cadalyst prize!

:: Resources

Formlabs Offers a 3D Printing Design Guide
Formlabs, a 3D printing developer, has released the Formlabs Design Guide with information on optimizing the design of models for 3D printing. The free PDF describes best practices for 3D printing with the company's Form 1+ SLA 3D printer.

Global CAE Market Report Released
A recently released report from Research and Markets forecasts the global CAE market will grow at a CAGR of 11.34% from 2014–2019. Increased adoption of integrated CAE that improves the efficiency and effectiveness of product development cycles is expected to propel market growth. The "Global CAE Market" report reportedly examines the market landscape and its growth prospects in the coming years as well as the key vendors operating in this market.

FARO Website Offers 3D Laser Scanning Resources
FARO, a 3D laser scanning developer, recently launched a website for the AEC community with 3D laser scanning resources — including videos, application descriptions, webinars, white papers, case studies, and plug-in apps.

DEVELOP 3D Live Broadcasts in North America
Organizers of the DEVELOP3D Live conference are offering a live stream of the conference's main stage at Warwick University Arts Centre, United Kingdom, on March 26, 2015, to North American audiences. The event highlights product development technology from 3D modeling, design visualization, and simulation to 3D printing, manufacturing, and workstations to stream.

:: Events

SPAR International 3D Measurement and Imaging Conference
March 30–April 2, 2015
Houston, Texas
This event will bring together professionals from diverse markets to discover the latest advances and technologies in 3D data capture, processing, and delivery to drive efficiency, improve workflows, reduce project timelines, save money, improve safety, and mitigate risk. Read more »

Cloud Rendering Workflow in Revit
April 1, 2015
11 a.m. PT
This Novedge webinar will cover the basic "render in cloud" workflow in Revit, detailing how to share renderings to the gallery and selecting render settings to create quality images. Read more »

Introducing solidThinking Evolve 2015
April 8, 2015
11 a.m. PT
This Novedge webinar will introduce attendees to the solidThinking Evolve 2015 hybrid modeling system. Read more »

Fiatech 2015
April 13–15, 2015
Boca Raton, Florida
This conference will comprise more than 50 sessions on the latest in building information management (BIM), workface collaboration and management, and related topics. Read more »

Vectorworks Design Summit
April 27–29, 2015
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Network with Vectorworks users and discuss the importance of design. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to

:: What's New at

Justify Text Without Changing the Location
Have you ever wanted to change the justification of a text or mtext object but didn't want to change the location? The Express Tool Tjust comes to the rescue! Watch the video »

Program AutoCAD-Based Products Using AutoLISP
Customize AutoCAD Electrical and other software products that lack a .NET API. Read more »

Onshape Offers a New Paradigm for CAD Collaboration
The new cloud-based 3D software is notable not for its MCAD capabilities, but for its fresh approach to collaboration, file management, and licensing. Read more »

Be More Direct with Autodesk Inventor 2015's Direct Edit Feature
In this IMAGINiT Tricks tutorial, Imran Bhutta shows how easy it is to use the new Direct Edit feature in Autodesk Inventor 2015. Watch the video »

Cadalyst Survey: Most CAD Users Today Face Significant File Collaboration Problems
New report reveals the extent of issues related to slow data transfer, lack of file version control, unreliable data synchronization between locations, and other consequences of inadequate technologies and procedures. Read more »

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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