Share Files Overview

The Collaboration Process

Dimension offers a simple email-based collaboration capability. This capability works as follows:

  1. User A views a drawing in Dimension and selects one or more annotations or measurements ("markup") they wish to share with User B.
  2. User A then saves them in a "Share" file. This is a small file containing a link to the drawing and the display information for the selected markup. The file will have an extension that associates it with Dimension.
  3. User A creates an email message to User B. At any time while creating the email, they can drag the Share file to the email message and drop it. Dimension makes it easy to do the drag without searching for the file as we'll show later. The drop will add the Share file to the email's attachments.
  4. User B opens the email and double-clicks on the attachment. The attachment is passed to Dimension (based on the file extension).
  5. Dimension uses the drawing link to load the drawing then zooms and scrolls the display to the same view as User A. The markup included in the attachment is displayed over the drawing.
  6. User B can review the markup without saving it. They can display the shared markup and/or other markup previously created. They can zoom, scroll and perform any other Dimension activities. The shared markup can be added to User B's drawing, optionally putting it in an existing or a new layer.

This same process can be repeated. User B can add more information to the drawing then send it back to User A. Use of this technique is not limited to email. Any application that supports dropped attachments can use this technique. For applications that support attachments but don't support dropping them, the same process can be done more awkwardly by selecting the Share file via File/Open in another application.

Drawing Repository

The share file doesn't include the actual drawing. This is done for two reasons:

  1. Drawing files can be quite large (especially when multiple drawings are stored in a single file). This may make them too large to transfer via email.
  2. Since the persons sharing the information are all Dimension users and all working on the project, they most likely already have the drawing files.

Because the drawing isn't transferred, it must be available from a common source (or "repository").


Figure 1: Drawing Repository Usage

Any of the following can function as a drawing repository:

Creating the Share File

To create a share file, you must first select the measurements and/or annotations you wish to share. If you wish to share more than one, you should select "Multiple Select" from the Measurement Toolbar or the Annotation Toolbar then select the measurements and annotations.

With the selections made, select "File/Create a Share File" from the Main Menu. A File Save Window will be displayed allowing you to enter the filename. By default, the file will be in the project folder with the extension ".etoxml". Do NOT change the extension. Once you have entered the filename and pressed the "Save" button, the Share Export Window will be displayed.


Figure 2: Share Export Window

The Share Export Window is used to easily drop the share file on other applications. If you don't wish to do this, simply close the window. You can access the share file using normal Windows techniques. The Share Export Window floats above all other windows on the desktop. This allows you to switch to another application without covering the export window.

Dragging and Dropping the Share File

To drag an drop the share file, first open the target application. For example, if you wish to add the share file to an Outlook email message, open Outlook and start a new email message. Then press the left mouse button down on the share file name inside the Share Export window, drag the cursor to the target application (the new email message in our example) then release the mouse button.

Opening the Share File

The recipient of the share file opens it using the same technique as for any other file type. For most email applications this means simply double-clicking on the attachment. The recipient must have Dimension installed. When Dimension is installed, it registers as the application to handle files ending in ".etoxml". So when you open a share file, Windows automatically gives the file to Dimension.

Dimension reads the share file and does the following:

  1. Switches to the project if it exists or walks you through the project creation.
  2. Retrieves the drawing from the repository and adds it to the project (if necessary).
  3. Zooms and Scrolls the drawing to match the view used when the share was created.
  4. If the share file contains any measurements, it temporarily adds any needed scales to the drawing.
  5. Temporarily adds the shares measurements and annotations to the drawing.
  6. Displays the Share Import Window.


Figure 3: Share Import Window

The Share Import Window has the following controls:

Show Share Measurements and Annotations -  If this is checked the measurements and annotations included in the share will be displayed.

Show Other Measurements and Annotations -  If this is checked the measurements and annotations included in the drawing before the share will be displayed. Un-check this box if you wish to see only the shared measurements and annotations.

Layer Display and Buttons -  If you wish to add the measurements and annotations to the drawing, you can put them in a specific layer. Press the button with the three dots to select an existing layer. Press the "New" button to create a new layer.

View Log -  When the share file is opened, Dimension keeps a log of all the actions taken. There may be conflicts between share information and existing information (measurements, annotations and scales). The logs keeps a record of any conflicts and how they were resolved. Press this button to view the log.

Add to Project -  Press this button to add the imported information to the project.

Close -  Press this button to close the Share Import Window. Closing the window will remove the temporary measurements, annotations and scales unless they were added to the project.