Businesses that migrate to Office 365 often choose SharePoint for file sharing and collaboration. Whereas Office 365 makes it easy to share files and collaborate with co-workers, it can be challenging to use SharePoint for specific industries.
In this piece, we introduce Triofox as a tried and tested cloud file server access solution for MEP companies and discuss ways in which Triofox makes up for SharePoint as a corporate file sharing platform.
Background: Company Case Study
Outlined below is a case study that describes the previous workflow of an electrical engineering company and specifies the issue they ran into. Companies whose workflow corresponds can take a cue from the results.
- Company A does solar panel projects for residential utilities.
- They have a few designers, a lot of AutoCAD-editing users, and the rest are just people that need access to the CAD drawings.
- They used SharePoint for several years. However, as an engineering company, using SharePoint brought some compatibility concerns when used with their CAD files, which made them seek an alternative file sharing solution.
These issues include:
- No File Locking
According to Autodesk, “Since the release of AutoCAD 2000, the program no longer controls file locking or creates lock files. All file locking now is performed by the operating system or file access software.” Although SharePoint has the file locking features set up for co-authoring applications such as MS Office files, it does not support CAD files, which is configured by SharePoint Online to open its files externally on the AutoCAD app as a third-party application.
As a result, multiple people can open the same drawing at the same time and edit it, and they won’t get a notification that someone else already opened it. When this happens, either a user can’t save changes because the write privilege has been revoked, or the other user’s updates are overwritten.
- External reference (XREF) is Inconsistent
It is impossible to get the correct referencing between files via path names, and AutoCAD files can’t be accessed via the download folder. With our case study, because they use the files from their Windows machines (to prevent slow performance, people are advised to download the files to the local network and upload when done), the pathnames are inclusive of the OneDrive folder, i.e., “C:\Users\<UserName>\OneDrive”.
The problem is that updates to the file change the pathname for everyone writing to the file. Hence, it can’t point to the same location.
SharePoint Incompatibility with AutoCAD
The CAD file is a container file that references other files or blocks within the same file. It is important for these references to be correctly managed so they can be updated when their corresponding files are edited. In its right, SharePoint is more a document management system than it is a file-sharing solution as phrased by the AIIM, “Microsoft SharePoint is an enterprise content management and collaboration platform that allows organizations to share and exchange information.” Though it allows for storing CAD files, it doesn’t provide sufficient functionality to manage its design files.
File locking is an important feature for online file access and team collaboration. It is a feature that prevents the modification of a file by more than one user at once, which is useful when two or more people need to make changes to a document simultaneously. Triofox is a cloud file server access solution that allows you to access your AutoCAD files in the cloud. It allows users to edit the drawings from within AutoCAD but still have quick and easy access to the drawings from a web browser or mobile device.
By providing a mapped-drive approach to access file shares, it solves the file-locking problem, so editing AutoCAD files that have been replicated to the cloud is not an issue. Triofox mapped drive is a file access solution that has an automatic (and manual) file lock feature that is compatible with a wide range of file extension types. It lets you collaborate with AutoCAD DWG/DXF files so users can easily share design plans and drawings without worrying about the AutoCAD compatibility issue or corruption. Cloud file server access solution other benefits include:
- Great Tool for Remote Working
For designers who need to work with files from their local server when they’re on the go, Triofox enables users to work on the go without the need to use a VPN, as the performance is subject to network availability and the number of users on the network connection. Also, other users can have 24/7 access to the files on the server, unlike when using an RDP, which still requires an active data connection and someone on the ground in the office to turn on the workstation.
Triofox makes working with AutoCAD easier and more efficient. With Triofox, you can access files faster and worry less about the hassle of AutoCAD file corruption. In addition, using a mapped drive, companies can access files they need from their cloud storage service without worrying about network issues as frequently accessed files can be cached for offline access; those files are encrypted at rest.
- Seamless Integration
This solution provides the same in-office AutoCAD experience and reduces data replication or redundancy concerns. Triofox enables users to access existing file shares so employees can access their company’s file shares from anywhere, using a web browser or a mobile app. It mirrors the familiar on-premise working experience, so it doesn’t matter whether employees work remotely or on the road. Once authenticated, they can effortlessly use their own device to securely access corporate data, even when they’re away from the office.
Its deployment takes little to minimal training, unlike SharePoint, whose adoption can be time-intensive and expensive.
Triofox is an excellent solution as it provides the ease of use functionality as SharePoint and provides design editing functionality not readily available on most cloud computing services. For these reasons, Triofox provides a more comprehensive file-sharing solution to MEPs.