Archive for March, 2013

The new SELECTseries 3 GEOPAK finally solves the long standing road bump (also known as the GPK file) with ProjectWise. The new integration allows for the GPK to reside only in ProjectWise and no longer needs to be export out of the system.  This works for both single and multiuser access.  There is also a new update for GEOPAK SELECTseries 2 which allows for the same integration. BOOYAH!

EJA

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When working with outside parties there are server considerations. First is how they are going to connect and where is the data stored.  Connectivity can happen using a browser based client or a thick client.  Each has its pros and cons.

The thick client access has the most functionality and can also provide direct integration inside of many commonly used applications such as AutoCAD, MicroStation, Revit, Civil 3D, Microsoft Office, as well as other applications.  It also offers increased performance via data compression and delta file transfer (DFT).  Thick client access does require the installation of the ProjectWise Explorer on the desktop and requires port TCP 5800 for connectivity and file transfers.

When utilizing the thick client it also gives added flexibility for routing since the ProjectWise Explorer can directly contact a ProjectWise Gateway Server, ProjectWise Caching Server, or ProjectWise Integration Server as the next server in the route.  All three of these servers can pass routing information to the thick client.  If added performance is needed, or in a larger office with many users a ProjectWise Caching Server may be utilized.  Caching Servers can have a dual function.  The first is being able to store files as their home location.  The second is caching of files from remote offices. 

Thin client access is much easier since it works over standard web browsing ports.  It also has capabilities to allow viewing and markup of CAD formats through a browser with no design markup of viewing tools installed.  Browser users can check out/in files but need to understand that ProjectWise would be unaware of reference or x-ref attachments and require a scan be done on the file(s) after they have been checked in so any changes in references would be picked up, therefore it is recommended that CAD editors use thick client access to edit files. Viewers, markups, and Microsoft Office type users can use the browser based clients without any issues.  Thin client users would also not be able to take advantage of DFT traffic, therefore users of larger files may benefit from thick client.

Client to Server communications are done on ports TCP 5800 for thick client access and ports HTTP 80 and HTTPS 443 for browser based clients.  All server to server communications will be on port TCP 5800.  When working with a remote office port TCP 5800 will need to be open on any firewall between the ProjectWise Explorer (thick client) and the next link in the chain which may be a ProjectWise Caching Server, ProjectWise Gateway Server, or ProjectWise Integration Server.  Also, any of the servers that are next in line would also need to communicate using TCP 5800.

Browser based clients will utilize standard ports 80 and SSL 443 for communications.  Browser traffic cannot be relayed by a Caching or Gateway Server.  It must have direct contact to the ProjectWise Web Server.  Once the traffic reaches the ProjectWise Web Server it will then communicate via port 5800 to the other servers to process requests.

If dual authentication is needed then VPN access may be required as the first level of authentication with their ProjectWise login being the second.  Other options may include a Citrix type connection to ProjectWise which is a supported configuration.

The diagram below represents some of the common routes that ProjectWise traffic can take when dealing with outside entities. 

workingwithsubs

EJA

I’ve had several people ask me if you can edit PDF files using the ProjectWise iPad app so I created a video with two simple workflows. This first is the check out the PDF, edit using the Adobe Reader app and then check the file back into ProjectWise. The second is opening a PDF from ProjectWise, mark it up, and save a copy of the markup back to ProjectWise. Pretting simple stuff, all with an iPad. Who said the iPad can’t create content. ipadpdf

EJA

Did you know that the ProjectWise Web Server provides integration with SharePoint 2010’s search tool.  This allows users to search both ProjectWise and SharePoint at the same time from the same SharePoint search interface. The search results will show both SharePoint and ProjectWise documents side by side in the list.  This is also the only way to search multiple ProjectWise datasources in one search. Notice the additional search filtering to the left side.

sharepoint_search

EJA

ProjectWise Routing

Posted: March 14, 2013 in Configuration
Tags: ,

ProjectWise uses its own routing rules. In general, the client is told to go to a ProjectWise server. If that is not the end point, then that server will tell it where the next hop is until it reaches its end point. It is a best practice to always use fully qualified domain names instead of IP Addresses. The following diagram shows some of the valid routes that ProjectWise traffic could make. All ProjectWise Explorer traffic is on TCP Port 5800 by default, but could be changed by the administrator to a different port number.  With the flexibility in routing almost any situation can be solved when dealing with remote office, users, sub, or owners.

routing

EJA

Since ProjectWise consists of several servers that need to work together, it is sometimes difficult to diagnose performance issues.   ProjectWise performance diagnosis usually fits into five different categories.  It is best to ensure that you have the “right size” system.  Consider the following:

  • CPU
  • File I/O
  • Network
  • Memory
  • Database

In general, most hardware has a three year life cycle around which you can plan a system.  This means that the hardware will be sufficient enough to perform with future versions of the software applications, such as the ProjectWise Integration Server, but also work with new operating systems that may be deployed over time.  In addition to the software requirements, the expected user load must be taken into consideration. Most companies that use ProjectWise will grow their usage over time.

The following chart shows how one Integration Server can be scaled to handle the load for up to 2000 connected users. It would be a best practice to include a second (or more) Integration Server, in either a cluster or network load balanced set up, to allow for failover and for spreading the load when you have more than a few hundred users or need more of a guaranteed uptime.  Keep in mind that these numbers are representative of a SELECTseries 4 Integration Server which is true 64bit.

ProjectWiseBlogIS

EJA

Since latency has so much to do with performance I wanted to blog about the best practices that users can do to minimize the effect of latency on the user experience.  Following these simple steps in your daily routine can substantially decrease the total number of transactions with the server and therefore increase perceived performance.

  • Turn off the Preview Pane in the ProjectWise Explorer Client within high latency offices. This will limit the amount of data and transactions needed by the Client during folder and file navigation.
  • Limit the use of custom Views, only displaying the minimal amount of data about each file.
  • Limit the use of titleblock integration with AutoCAD and MicroStation.
  • Limit the amount of attributes in any Environment being used in the high latency offices.
  • Utilize Caching Server(s) where possible in the high latency offices as file storage.
  • Utilize Caching Server(s) where possible in the high latency offices as file caching.
  • Utilize Fetchfile.exe to pre-populate local file caching.
  • Refrain from exiting MicroStation or AutoCAD when opening additional files.
  • Limit the number of files in any one folder to a manageable amount.
  • Navigate by using the folder tree in ProjectWise and not selecting sub folders in the contents list.

EJA

DGN & i-model Viewer

Posted: March 5, 2013 in General
Tags: , ,

The  new release of ProjectWise V8i SELECTseries 4 Refresh has a new addition to the preview pane of the ProjectWise Explorer.  We now have an embedded viewer for both DGN and i-model formats which allows for viewing without leaving the ProjectWise client or having a viewing tool such as Navigator or MicroStation loaded on your machine.  This is the same viewing technology that we have had on the web side for a while.

The viewer supports several actions including the following:

  • Pan, walk, fly, rotate, zoom, window, and fit navigation
  • Measuring distance
  • Print
  • Models & views
  • Model interrogation with business intelligence

NavigatorView

We know, you want markups, DWG support, blah, blah, blah.  I think the saying is “Rome wasn’t built in a day”.

EJA

This is the first of what will be many blogs about ProjectWise and Performance.  I’ll cover subjects that will help you understand what makes ProjectWise perform like a finely tuned sports car or a bus during rush hour.  The first topic to cover is latency and its effect on performance.

Much of the anticipated performance can be determined by the latency between clients and servers.  In today’s digital age, bandwidth and latency determine the speed at which you receive your data. The nice thing is that money will usually buy you more bandwidth, but when it comes to latency, that is not always the case. Latency is the measurement of the time it takes a packet of data to move back and forth. The data must go from the user interface into the kernel, out the network card, to switches, firewalls, routers, back to a network card, into the kernel, and then back through the same route. The time it takes this whole process to happen is referred to as latency. This operation may be repeated thousands of times per minute.  Therefore, a high latency returns poor performance regardless of bandwidth, which determines the amount of simultaneous packets that can be sent.

The chart below can help set expectation of performance. 

latency

In future blogs I’ll discuss ways that you can minimize the effects that latency will have on the user experience.

EJA

Starting in ProjectWise V8i (SELECTseries 4) the available Point Cloud Service can stream Point Clouds and large images to client machines running MicroStation SS2, Navigator, Open Plant, Descartes SS3 and Bentley Civil products.  A possible AutoCAD streaming integration may be in the works.  Much like Google Earth, Point Cloud Streaming only sends the needed information to the client based on the location and zoom ratio.  Point clouds can be from several megabytes to many gigabytes in size.

The Point Cloud Service can be loaded either on an Integration Server or Caching Server.  There is a price difference, so consult your sales team for pricing, however it is less expensive when running on a Caching Server.  Once configured, import your .las or .pod files into a storage area/folder on the Caching Server or Integration Server that is running the Point Cloud Service.  This Streaming also works for large images.

In general, you can run one Point Cloud Service and have all of the point cloud files on one server, or you can add multiple Point Cloud Services and store the point clouds in multiple storage areas.  Keep in mind there is no need to cache point clouds in remote office, as they will be streamed as needed.

EJA