I’m always dealing with both CAD files and related projects. Combining Project Information and CAD data for review and presentation was a challenge but it’s just become a whole lot easier. A combination of MindManager and Design Web Format (DWF) allows my Project Plans and CAD data to be easily united. Free viewers for both file formats make sharing this information very simple.
Autodesk created the DWF File format to enable their users to share CAD data in a rich, web friendly, compact file format and Autodesk DWF Viewer to view and print them. Mindjet allow read only viewing of their native MindManager map “.mmap" files with MindManager Viewer. Both viewers are free downloads.
I thought it would be useful to incorporate these DWF files into the MindManager Maps I use to manage Projects. It is very easy to do this by adding a hyperlink from the Map Topic to the DWF file (as with any file) but it would be nice to see “inside” the DWF & show the multiple sheets it can contain. In response to my suggestion Michael Scherotter, a Business Solutions Architect at Mindjet, has developed an add-on for MindManager X5 Pro that enables this! This article shows the current beta version of this in action.
MindManager for AEC is a smart DWF Map Part that “interrogates” a linked DWF extracting the preview image for each drawing sheet contained within the file. It also extracts the properties for each sheet: Name, Author, Subject, Company, Comments, Keywords, Description, Copyright, Creation Time, and Modification Time. These are saved as MindManager notes on each “sheet topic”. As they are data rich, DWF’s can also contain a huge amount of Xml extended object data at very high compression. How much of this date its useful to extract to the map is still being reviewed.
Below you can see a DWF with 4 separate sheets. In this case its four views of a store layout,
Drop this DWF onto the map to create a new topic with Hyperlink (or add Hyperlink to an existing topic).
Drop the DWF Map Part from the MindManager Library onto this topic. The previews and data are extracted automatically as sub-topics with images & notes. You can see this on the gif (click for full size version).
As this is a “smart map part” it can be refreshed to incorporate any changes in the source DWF. As a Project Manager you can quickly update all the linked DWF’s and review any new sheets added to the project drawing set. You can open the source DWF from the link on the DWF Map Part to inspect anything in detail. You can also drag a sheet from the DWF Map Part to add to another topic or create a new one. This breaks the link resulting in a static copy – useful to document an issue set. Refreshing the original DWF Map Part regenerates the “lost" sheet you removed.
This is a useful way to incorporate CAD data into your project maps. If you export to other formats the DWF Map Part Previews, Hyperlinks, & Notes are treated as normal topic MindManager Topics, Links, Notes And Images. Of course exporting is not necessary if you give users the free MindManager Viewer and Autodesk DWF Viewer. These allow you to share this data, all read only, in the native file formats.
As mentioned this code is still in development. Currently the performance of the macro is directly proportional to the number of sheets in the DWF. If this becomes a final product the performance would be dramatically increased. If you have MindManager x5 Pro and would like to test the MindManager for AEC Beta contact me using the “Email Me” link on this Blog. If you use MindManager mapping for AEC (or other CAD related uses) and have any thoughts or wishes to enhance MindManager for your projects either use the comments link below and or email to me & I will forward them to Michael. He does listen!
NOTE: This is a technology demonstration of a possible integration between MindManager and Autodesk’s DWF file format. It is not meant to describe or demonstrate any future products that are being developed by Mindjet LLC. Mindjet has not made any decisions regarding whether this functionality will make it into a product. It has to be established that there is a market for such a product. Your feedback is instrumental in making this happen.