Sunday, June 06, 2010

Dropbox and Project Sharing

I was trading messages with Martin Taurer today regarding WAFS (wide area file services). His firm has been exploring the use of Globalscape's WAFS product that I mentioned in a post recently. While we were both in Sydney attending the Revit Technology Conference Phil Read frequently extolled the virtues of Dropbox.

He (Martin) mentioned that it seemed to him that Dropbox is doing much the same thing as Globalscape's product which prompted a test. The results working with three users were interesting.

  • Paths to central file must be identical (may need to use dos command "subst" to map a location)
  • Initial synchronization of files took quite awhile
  • Subsequent synchronization was quite fast
  • Worked quite well while adding new elements
  • It was possible to select and borrow the same element at the same time (BAD) First person to Synchronize won, the other "lost".
  • The user permission files (eperms) don't update quickly enough at times

Conclusion? For a few power users who are very diligent it is a very inexpensive solution (free 2gb account). For users that are following the sun and not working at the same time it would be an excellent way to permit sharing and working using the same central file. Globalscape's solution seems to have solved preventing users from editing the same element at the same time and for that they can demand their fee.

Try it out but just be careful and test thoroughly to make sure it works for your conditions.

[Added 6/7/10] A friend wrote to say that WAFS is a bad idea whether Dropbox or Globalscape. His comment was, "good luck getting support from Autodesk using that setup". Perhaps he's correct at the moment. But Riverbed devices weren't a proven concept at first, Revit on a MAC using Parallels wasn't supported, running Revit on Win7 beta wasn't... nothing that is a stretch initially is a good idea until it becomes the norm (assuming "they" develop into reliable workable processes). That said, please please do be careful before launching into production mode with either!!

1 comment:

Todd Barrett said...

We took a different approach to Dropbox and used it as a central directory for saving custom families across multiple offices. The 2gb is more than enough for the small file size of most families. To us it was the best solution we could find for sharing this information almost instantly across offices in multiple countries without the headaches of a VPN. Even has a nice little pop-up to tell you when a file was modified or added on the shared directories. Best of's FREE!