This week we are attending the Forge Accelerator event in Munich, together with a lot of great Autodesk people and other Forge fans like us. Btw., Forge is the name under which Autodesk combines all the new cloud APIs. On https://developer.autodesk.com you can find all the available APIs and documentation and on https://forge.autodesk.com you can find more details about Forge.
This week we gave a closer look to the Data Management API, Design Automation API and Viewer API. Today I’ll give you our outcome from our findings about the Data Management API.
The Data Management API is responsible to deal with file objects, upload, download, set references and the like. Surely it will be soon extended with more capabilities.
From a user prospective there is a bit of confusion, as there is A360 Drive, which is a pure file collaboration service similar to DropBox, OneDrive, GoogleDrive, etc., then there is A360, and then there is the Bim Team and Fusion Team. Fore more clearance about the naming, give a look to https://blog.a360.autodesk.com/important-news-regarding-a360-team/.
A360 Drive has a desktop sync tool that syncs your files with it, however there is no API. A360 is accessible through the Forge Data Management API, and we will talk about it here, and now it has a desktop sync tool called Autodesk Drive which you could download through Fusion Lifecycle as seen in this video. Actually, A360, Fusion Team, BIM 360 Team are just the name of the consumer application. The technology underneath is all based on Forge API. So, at the moment it’s all in evolution, but Autodesk is moving very fast, so if you read this blog post in few months, it might be even no longer valid and the product, names and technologies are well streamlined.
Anyway, let’s talk about the Data Management API. It allows you to create hubs, projects, folders, items (files), versions, and references. So, you can create your custom upload tool for bringing all your data into the cloud, the way you want. As an example, we though how could we bring the files from Vault into the cloud. The sync tools (now called Autodesk Drive) will just upload the latest version of your files, but what if you want to take over the whole history? A simple approach could be to export the data from Vault via BCP, which generates a dump of all the data on local disk as XML files, process the BCP package and upload the files including the versions in A360. This way, you would not only get the latest version of your files, but also the whole history. This is pretty cool!
We played with the file version and gave a look whether the files must be uploaded in the right sequence, or if it’s possible to upload older versions to a later point in time. We could not make it work in the short time, but it seems to be possible – we will investigate further. We also played with references. We could recreate the references of an Inventor assembly and they were visible in the web user interface, but however, the references were not resolved, as the viewer was not able to display the assembly. It turned out that at the moment, just the Fusion360 references are supported, however, thanks to one of Autodesk fellows, we could give a sneak peek on an upcoming API extension where also Inventor references are supported. So, I guess that very soon the scenario we are looking for will be possible. Exciting!!!
Our take away is that the Data Management API already offers all the basic functions in order to create projects, upload files, versions, set references, etc. The current documentation is pretty good and there are already lots of examples, and from what we’ve seen, there is more to come – very soon.