By Luke Howells
I’m sure for many of you Xrefs and Data Shortcuts are not a new tool in your arsenal, however with technology changing rapidly most file storage is moving from fixed location servers to cloud based servers within a Common Data Environment (CDE).
So how do we manage our existing workflows for data referencing to work with cloud storage?
Increasingly we are integrating platforms such as Autodesk BIM360 Docs and Autodesk Vault. Even with these there has to be an interface to interact with our design software. You may already be familiar with cloud sharing technology such as Onedrive and Dropbox that use a desktop connector to make the sharing of files from you computer seamless. They work by displaying a virtual folder in your Windows Explorer which is connected to the internet service. When you save files to this folder they are instantly synchronised to a cloud location and, depending on your permission settings, available to colleagues and team members.
Depending on your chosen platform, you often have to download a Windows Explorer connection tool. The Onedrive desktop connector is standard with the latest Windows version or can be downloaded from Microsoft.
For BIM360 Docs, the Autodesk desktop connector has to be downloaded and installed before creating a virtual folder to provide desktop access to your BIM360 Docs folders. Download the BIM360 connector from here https://info.bim360.autodesk.com/desktop-connector
Whichever connector you use, there should be a Windows Explorer virtual folder which links directly to the cloud storage location.
Using the Windows Explorer link we connect to Xrefs or create Autodesk Civil 3D Data Shortcuts exactly as we would have done from mapped drives or shortcuts connected to local servers.