How many of you have purchased CAD and visualization tools so downstream users, including external suppliers, can work with your designs? Have you had to purchase and deploy multiple solutions due to interoperability issues? How many of you have had to punch holes through your firewall to allow access to partners and suppliers. How many of you have had to limit design reviews and approval due to the cost and complexity of orchestrating collaborative activities? What do you do when 2D requirements and specifications need to accompany your designs? There is a better way. It’s is called a Shared Review. Let me show you how it works.
The most important take-away from what I am about to show you is that PDF is anything but a static document. A second take-away I that the Adobe Reader does a great deal more than you may know. There are numerous features that can be “switched on” by the PDF author. Those features include 3D measurement, sectioning, rendering styles and much, much more. Today we will concentrate on some of the review and commenting features.
Let’s get started. I decided to use a SolidWorks assembly for this example. I could have chosen virtually any data format, such as MS Office and 2D or 3D CAD formats. In this case, there are several configurations within the CAD assembly. I want to use one of those as the basis for the review. Below is the dialog that helps me select the one I want. I’m going to select the “4-Head Motion” configuration. If I wish, I could also import more than one of the configurations using 3D Reviewer, but in this case I only want my team to evaluate one option.
Here is what the configuration looks like when converted to PDF:
Now, let’s get to the collaborative review process. I have several options, including Acrobat Connect Pro for synchronous web-conferencing if I choose. Today, however I want to take the review off line and enable the entire team to see one another’s comments. Many customers I talk to use email and native file formats for reviews. There is so much functionality in the Adobe Reader that I can rely upon. It is much more efficient to use PDF. Besides, I have the additional benefit of eliminating the problem of dealing with the problem of multiple formats and applications.
Notice below that I have started to add some comment to the PDF that I wish the team to address. Of course, they will likely have some of their own comments and questions. I am going to start a shared review with the team. I start by going to the Comment pull-down and select “Send for Shared Review”.
The Shared Review will post a copy of the PDF on a shared site, perhaps a folder in a shared directory, a SharePoint site or possibly on Acrobat.com. Everyone in the review will have the ability to participate in the review and will be able to interact with everyone’s comments and work with the 3D content, in case they need to analyze the design.
Next I am presented with a wizard to lead me through the process. Notice that I have selected Acrobat.com for this example, but I have lots of options as I said.
Did you read the dialog box? If not, go back and read it. I can distribute, Comment and Collect using any of the approaches I outlined above. Let’s click “next”.
The wizard has linked to my email client. I have selected the team members to be a part of this review. Next I’ll select “Send”.
Look at what happens:
A new ribbon has appeared that allows me to check for new comments and check for new comments. In just this way, all team members can add comments of their own, reply to mine and aggregate comments to a copy of the PDF if they choose. Not only that, but everyone can track reviews.
Here is what the Tracker looks like:
I know you can’t read everything, so let explain. From here, I can see all of the reviews and forms data collection activities I am involved with. The review I just started is highlighted in the left panel of the screen. For this review I can see the status, access level, deadline, who has accessed and commented. If I wish, I can add reviewers, change the deadline, end the review and start a new review with the same reviewers. When I click “View Comments” I will be taken back to the previous view where I can add additional comments and so forth, as I explained. I can aggregate comments if I choose so I can have a record of what everyone contributed.
There is more to cover, but I don’t want to overwhelm you. The most important things to remember are that the PDF is a dynamic “container” for rich content like the 3D file we included, and of course the comments we have been working with. The oter team members needed nothing more than the free Adobe Reader to participate in this powerful review. Only Adobe Acrobat and Livecycle products can unlock the very powerful Reader features you have learned a little about.
Hopefully I have given you some ideas about how to improve collaboration, reduce expenses and improve efficiency in this brief article.
See you next time.