First Look Review: LinkFixerPlus for AutoCAD3 Apr, 2006 By: Patrick Davis
Quickly and automatically fix broken links and xrefs
Not long ago, renaming or moving AutoCAD files was not a big deal. Drawings typically did not reference other files, and nothing prevented you from moving these files. Now, nearly all drawings contain some kind of reference to other files, such as other drawing files, images, fonts and OLE objects. When you work with drawings that reference or link to other files, moving or renaming any of these files can cause serious problems.
If the problem is with a single file, it's manageable. But rename a directory with 10, 20, 100 or more files, or move files to another server, and you have a major problem that costs you time and ultimately money. So, a solution that enables you to quickly find files with broken links -- and repair those links -- is a valuable tool.
In many ways, LinkFixerPlus is like the Xref Manager on steroids. It allows you to select files in multiple folders and check them for broken links. You can generate a report on the findings and begin the process of repairing broken references automatically -- all outside AutoCAD.
LinkFixerPlus has four main modules. The first module produces a report of parent files (files that contain one or more links that point to some other file or files), links and child files (files that are pointed to by links in parent files). Three report options are available. The first details the parent files and their links pointing to child files. The Cross-Reference Report shows child files and the parent files that point to them. The Broken Links Report shows the broken links between parent files and child files.
LinkFixerPlus for AutoCAD includes four modules, each of which offers unique functions for managing, reporting and repairing linked files.
The second module is the Inoculate tool, which prepares drawings for automatic repair. This tool assigns a unique link ID to each child file pointed to by nonbroken links in the parent file that are embedded within the links of both the parent and child files.
The third module, the Move and Rename tool, lets you move or rename files while still maintaining any links.
The fourth module is the Cure tool. Used in conjunction with the Inoculate tool, it repairs broken links in parent files. The Cure tool can operate in automatic mode, which does not require any user interaction, or in semiautomatic mode, which prompts the user to select a child file from a list of candidate files.
For my first test, I used the Inoculate and Cure processes to prepare and then fix links that were broken as a result of the files being moved using Windows Explorer. I moved a project folder from the server (W drive) to a flash drive (E drive). The project folder contained about 30 parent drawings, each of which had four or more child drawings as xrefs. The child files were also located into several different folders. When the parent drawings were opened, none of the xref drawing files appeared because of broken links.
I used the Inoculate tool to safeguard the links contained in the drawing files, preparing them so that they could be automatically fixed using the Cure process after the files had been moved. I opened the parent files on the E drive, and all of the xref drawings opened correctly. The software repaired a total of 153 broken links. The entire process took less than five minutes.
I also used the LinkFixerPlus Move/Rename tool to move several project folders from the W drive to the E drive. When the process completed, LinkFixerPlus successfully moved the project folder and correctly adjusted all links. This process took about two minutes. That's significantly longer than would be needed for copying with Windows Explorer, but using the latter option would have resulted in many broken links that would then need to be manually repaired.
LinkFixerPlus for AutoCAD supports DWG, DWT and DXF file formats and is compatible with AutoCAD 13, 14 and 2000-2006, the company reports. AutoCAD is not required for processing drawing files.
In addition to the AutoCAD version, LinkFixerPlus is available for reporting, managing and repairing links in Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access files; Adobe PDF, InDesign and PageMaker files; and HTML, JS, ASP, CSS and SWF Flash files.
LinkTek offers an array of licensing options and stand-alone pricing ranges from $688 for processing as many as 5,000 links in a single session to $2,750 for processing an unlimited number of links in a single session. Corporate licensing is also available.
This licensing scheme can present a small drawback. During any given processing session, if you reach the maximum number of links your license allows, a LinkFixerPlus prompt will ask if you want to cancel the process or continue, having repaired only the links processed to that point. The good news is that the link counter is reset after each process is run, and the link limit is not cumulative.
LinkFixerPlus for AutoCAD is a versatile tool that enables users and IT managers to accurately and automatically maintain xrefs and links contained in AutoCAD files, as well as other files such as Excel, Word or HTML. A limited 30-day trial version is available on the company Web site.