Though touted as a new feature in AutoCAD 2019 – Shared Views have actually been in AutoCAD for a couple of releases now. Previously known as Design Views, they are a great way to share your drawings with others without giving them access to the actual DWG file. Share Views are also great when working with those who need to view your drawing files but they don’t have access to AutoCAD. And since they are super simple to access – they are also the perfect solution when working with someone who is…shall we say, “technically challenged.” In order to view a drawing file using Shared Views, one just needs to be technical enough to click on a link…and let’s face it – most people can handle that!
Over the years we’ve learned to pass PDF files around in lieu of the actual AutoCAD drawing file as a means of protecting the DWG and its contents. AutoCAD 2017 added in the capability to convert PDF files into AutoCAD objects, thus exposing our valuable AutoCAD data to the masses! Shared Views are a great solution to this issue and your drawing file intellectual data cannot be compromised!
Shared Views can be found on the new Collaborate tab on the ribbon as seen in figure 1. It can also be found under Publish in the Application Menu.
You need to be logged onto your Autodesk account (and be an AutoCAD subscriber) to create Shared Views. If you’re running off a multi-user subscription license, your administrator controls whether or not you have access to Shared Views (let’s hope you do!). Clicking on Shared Views will open the Shared Views palette as seen in Figure 2…simply select “New Shared View.”
Shared View Dialog
The Shared View dialog will issue an alert that you are about to publish a view of your opened file – and then you’ll have a few decisions to a make about your shared views. By default, AutoCAD will use the drawing name as the name for your Shared View (but of course you can change that to suit your needs). Do you want to share the extents of your view only (current model space or layout) or do you want to share the entire drawing (model view and all layouts).
If your drawing is 3D, you’ll need to decide if you wish to share views of the 3D model or just the 2D views. And you can also publish the object properties for the intended viewer(s) to peruse (although it does take a tad longer to publish). All decisions that are yours to make!
After selecting “Share”, AutoCAD will give you a heads-up that it will be processing in the background and that a notification bubble will display when the processing is complete. At some point you’ll probably want to turn this dialog off for good (as it can be a bit annoying). While Share View is processing, you’ll also see a new icon appearing in the lower right corner of the status bar as seen in Figure 4 (not easy to discern btw). This indicates that the file is still processing.
When the processing is finished – a bubble will appear as seen in Figure 5 and you can click on the link to see your Shared View in the Autodesk Viewer (Success!)
Once inside the Autodesk Viewer you can view, make comments, inspect the drawing, and secure a link to share your view with others (hence the name “Shared Views!”) One of the first things you will notice upon entering the Autodesk Viewer is that the zooming direction is the complete OPPOSITE of the direction it is in AutoCAD. That’s an easy fix by selecting Settings=>Navigation. Warning: Failure to correct this could drive you insane.
You’ll find some handy measurement tools, the ability to turn layers on and off, and the option to check out object properties (if you saved the object properties with the drawing. You can also add and resolve comments to the shared views (but be forewarned that there is no mechanism to alert others that a comment has been added). This is not a document management program…just a viewer!
By far the most important element of the viewer is the ability to create and copy a link so you can share the view with others as seen in figure 6. Simple select ……from the upper right corner of the viewer and a link will be generated for you (along with a handy Copy option). Then you simply need to paste this link into an email and send off to the desired collaborators!
By default, shared views expire after 30 days (all good things must come to an end). Fear not! You’ll find an option in the Shared Views palette to extend the access if needed by clicking on the ellipsis. You’ll also find the latest comments from the shared views inside of the Shared Views palette (along with a refresh button if needed). You can also grab the link from the Shared Views palette or delete the view altogether.
Shared views are a nice addition to your AutoCAD arsenal! Be sure to give them a try as they can be a handy collaboration resource. Until next time…Happy AutoCADding!