When you hear collaboration what is the first thing you think?

_uacct = “UA-1416026-2″;
urchinTracker();

_uacct = “UA-1416026-1″;
urchinTracker();

When you hear collaboration what is the first thing you think of? Hey if Acrobat wasn’t the first thing, that’s ok, I understand. That;s why we have Acrobat for AEC and Acrobat in the AEC Industry Blogs!


_uacct = “UA-1416026-2″;urchinTracker();_uacct = “UA-1416026-1″;urchinTracker();When I came to Adobe, my view of Acrobat was more for archiving and security than collaboration. Since I came from the CAD industry, I was thinking that the only files that mattered where the CAD files, that is a very narrow, view of a project.  So you are probably asking yourself, where did that come from? I was on the plane coming home from one of my Local AEC /EPC Forums ( click here for locations of up coming events ) and I was sitting next to this gentleman who was an engineering director at a large engineering company, and he saw my shirt and laptop and said “Hey Adobe, cool I love Acrobat and Photoshop!” So after I thanked him and asked if he needed to make a purchase or used 3D, I asked him what he liked most about Acrobat? He responded with “Well making PDF’s of course!” giving me that look like “yeezz he works there he should know!” So to keep the conversation going, I asked “So, you just make PDF’s huh, so what do you do with ‘em after that?” He replied “well I really don’t know, I guess we put them in the archive, I mean you guys say they are more secure….” You see where this is going. So finally I asked him if they ever used the collaboration tools in Acrobat! He had that deer in the headlights look. You know where you really don’t want to admit you have no clue what the person just said to you, and you are fishing for something intelligent to say. After a short dramatic pause he simply said “nope!” I asked him what 2D and 3D CAD systems they use, how do they do submittals, what is their internal workflow’s for responding to RFP’s and RFI’s (hey it was a long flight from Seattle to Dallas). He told me all the stuff they do and then I showed him a Survey that Harris did relating to how the industry did their jobs, he was right line with the poll results(which seemed to make him a little more comfortable to know that it’s not just his company that is not using all this technology) Harris took a poll of Architects, Engineers, and Project Managers; here are some of the interesting points:

Where is the project collaboration occurring and with whom-

  • Collaboration on project information with others is crucial to this market, with 94% of respondents collaborating on project information. Although the greatest percentage of collaboration occurs at the same office location, 72% collaborate outside of their office location, with Architects/Engineers leading the way.
  • Collaboration occurs at the office at least once per week for 92% of respondents. For collaboration outside of the office, significantly more respondents collaborate on at least a weekly basis, compared to collaboration occurring less often.
  • Two-thirds of respondents collaborate with people in the same organization that work in a different office, and/or project owners or facility managers.
    • Architects/Engineers are significantly more likely to collaborate with other consultants or service providers. Owners/ Operators are more likely to collaborate with people in their organization that work in a different office.

How does collaboration take place?

  • Email, fax and audio conference are the most common tools used to collaborate (67%+ each).
    • Construction professionals use email and web conferencing significantly less than the other segments.
    • Nascent collaborative tools such as web conferencing, instant messaging and video conferencing are used by about 15% of respondents.
  • 54% of respondents travel for business during the month, with 25% of all respondents traveling 1-2 days/month. Significantly more Owners/Operators do not travel at all.
    • 32% that travel would like to be able to conduct those meetings via web conference and an additional 16% already do.
    • More than one-half of respondents using web conferencing do so to share information with others, to meet with clients, customers, suppliers, or partners, and/or for information collaboration.

So you are asking you self, how does Adobe fit here? Let me show you. We have 2 products that help with collaboration Acrobat Professional or Acrobat 3D.and Acrobat Connect. Let me show you a couple of examples:here we are going to send a RFP with some supporting CAD documentation for a Shared Review. Shared Review is new to Acrobat 8 Professional and Acrobat 8 3D. It allows you to have an Ad Hoc type review using shared folders! So, it supports shared network folders, WebDAV (What is WebDAV? Briefly: WebDAV stands for "Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning". It is a set of extensions to the HTTP protocol which allows users to collaboratively edit and manage files on remote web servers.), SharePoint Server, Documentum, think of it as any folder you can mount as a drive. So this is not a FTP folder, because you can not mount a FTP folder. For instance here are some WebDAV services out there (some are free):


http://www.filesanywhere.com

http://www.sharemation.com
http://www.mydocsonline.com

you get the point, just search for WebDAV and you will see many solutions

Ok so let’s collaborate:

1. Get the files you would like to send for review inside of Acrobat, in this case it is a RFP and some supporting CAD Documents. Now, select the Review & Comments button and select "Send for Shared Review"

 

2, You will be offered this dialogue box, you have many choices. the bonus of shared review is that it will not fill your in box with files, so you can either attach the PDF to the email or send a link to the pdf and have it placed in the shared folder.

3. Here is the meat and potatoes of the deal; since you are using Acrobat 8 Professional or Acrobat 8 3D you have the ability to enable the Adobe Free Reader to participate in the review!!! This is HUGE! our competition boasts that they have had 10,000 downloads of their "reader" in the last 8 years, well, the Adobe Free Reader is sitting close to 600,000,000 Downloads!!! (yes over half a Billion cross platform installs, windows, Unix, Linux, mac, mactel…). So, since the most important thing in collaboration is that everyone can see and edit your data, there seems to be a small edge using PDF as your collaboration tool :-). Also it is here that you tell Acrobat 8 Professional where the shared folder is.

4. Acrobat 8 Professional and Acrobat 8 3D will automatically sync up to your LDAP or MAPI servers to propagate the Address book shown here, in short, all your contacts will be here when you need them, with out IT!!! Simply add the people you what to add to the review. The cool thing here is that I can add optional reviewers and set a deadline to the review if needed.

5. After hitting the Next button, you get our last dialogue box. This dialogue box shows you the message that will go to the team members for review. It is a standard boilers plate that can be edited, it tells the person receiving this that they are invited into the review and how to join.

6. Notice the changes to the Acrobat 8 Professional user interface, you see the markup tool bar pop in and a yellowish ribbon bar appear with the ability to check for new comments, post comments or check the status of the review.

7. Now moving the one of the reviewers computers, we see the email I sent inviting them to participate in the review

8. Here an example email

9. All you have to do to get started is double click the attachment, you will see the dialogue box below asking you to join the review. Simply hit the connect button.

10. You will see this dialogue box welcoming you to the review. Notice the wealth of information here,

11. Once I select OK then (as shown here in the Free Adobe Reader) I get the markup tools, and the ribbon bar just like in Acrobat 8 Professional! Pretty cool to now have that 600 million people ready if we need them!

12. You can see a couple of examples here. I have made some text edits as well as Drawing Markups. The great thing here is that markups are not just a sharpie on a blueprint, but, can be any digital content; audio, video, attachments, specs, submittals… and we can import our comments back to packages such as Microsoft Word, Autodesk AutoCAD, and Bentley Microstation

13. Once done I select the publish comments and Acrobat publishes just the comments up to the shared folder. These comments are small XML packages, so the process is fast and painless

14. A bonus with Shared Review in Acrobat is that, I can at any time hit the Check for New Comments and I can see up to the second any comments posted by anyone on the team. Acrobat also has the ability to set up a time to check for comments. Like check every hour for new comments, and it will do it unattended for you. Man, I didn’t know Acrobat could do that!!

  

15. And the last cool thing about shared review is that you can reply to peoples comments, this helps in the final approval in that everyone has expressed an option and a decision can be made rather then on the final day fighting it out then.

So I have been holding this one for last. Other than the obvious cost savings of no printing, and shipping costs for a full review cycle, the cost benefit of a shared review is in the fact that this process automatically creates your check set!! Yep rather than send out a 100 sheet roll to 10 people and have them all mark up the sets then send them back to you and have you take the 10 set and then dig through them to find and consolidate the mark ups into a check set. Acrobat has been doing that for you. At no added cost or time!! That is time and money put right back into your pocket!

I hope that that can get you started with shared reviews. Please add any comments or questions in the box below. I’ll cover Acrobat Connect and how to do real time collaboration in the next post, till then be careful and carve our some life in your life!

Tim Huff
Acrobat for AEC
Acrobat in the AEC Industry Blog