Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Rendering AutoCAD drawings in Alfresco

One question we are often asked is how to render AutoCAD drawings in Alfresco so that they show up as thumbnails and in the preview window.  

The easy answer is to license Formtek’s Engineering Data Management Module for Alfresco (the EDM Module).    When discussing rendering a drawing in Alfresco, several questions arise.  Among them: 
  • Do you want to view just the base drawing or the complete drawing with its external references?
  • Can you see all views of the drawing?
  • Is there adequate capability to zoom and pan the drawing rendition?

With EDM Module release 3.0 (designed for Alfresco 5.1 and above), you can indeed view just the base drawing or the base drawing with its XRefs. 

Rendition of a Base Drawing with XRefs

By default, the EDM Module will render the model space and all layout views in a multi-page PDF. All renditions are in vector format, allowing the scroll and zoom features of the Alfresco viewer to be exercised with complete fidelity. Note that the Alfresco viewer has a zoom limitation of 400%.  If you download the multi-page PDF rendition, you will be able to take advantage of the zoom, scroll and pan features of your reader.  (For instance, the Adobe Reader allows zooming up to 6400%.)

The EDM Module also comes with a built in content model, which includes both an Engineering Drawing and Engineering Document content type.  And, of course includes view, edit and search forms.  


Default Edit Form:  Engineering Drawing Content Type

It is a fairly easy exercise to map the block attributes from a drawing into the content properties in the Engineering Drawing type.  You can also create your own custom content model and map the block attributes to the properties in that model.

Here’s a video with more information about the basic functionality of the EDM Module:

Formtek EDM Module for Alfresco
And here’s one which provides more information about managing XRefs in the EDM Module:


Managing Drawings with External References

If you are interested in direct synchronization with AutoCAD, Formtek also offers a plug-in to AutoCAD which integrates AutoCAD and Alfresco, but that will be the subject of another blog post.

One final note:  the EDM Module for Alfresco only works with Alfresco Enterprise One (i.e. not with the Community version of Alfresco).