There is a lot to cover in this one, so get ready. We’ve been hard at work over the past few months making some major improvements to AVAIL. In continuing to build more of the core building blocks of our platform we’ve integrated a lot of really very cool features with this release.
THE BIG PICTURE
The serious technical details are described below, and for those of you who like to talk, read, and ponder life’s mysteries, head over to our blog to read AVAIL CEO Randall Steven’s post about our theories behind all of this. His post is the rug that really ties the room together.
Channels Panel list can be customized and searched
Graphic interface updates
Flags and Comments system added for User Feedback
Ability to have Multiple Publishers / Editors per Channel
Role definitions can now be customized for Enterprise customers
Per-Channel Permissions for shared users can now be modified: Can View, Can Edit
Index multiple operations at once
Indexing is now done passively
Enhanced UI feedback that a data synchronization is in progress
AVAIL Content Browser for Revit is reporting data to your Analytics account
Push parameters from AVAIL Content Browser for Revit into AVAIL Desktop as tags for content
Most of the UI changes you’ll just have to experience for yourselves, but we always strive to achieve a beautiful modern user interface and user experience because we truly believe that it makes a difference. In this release we addressed some of the user feedback about the not-quite-right terminology that we previously used in the Channels Panel by introducing tabbed lists, and Channel names can now be searched. Let us know what you think!
Through our new Flags and Comments system you can really dig into the why behind opinions about content. Don’t just rate a piece of content ‘1 star’ and move on… We believe that someone needs to know why a piece of content is rated unfavorably. Flag that content, and Comment about what is wrong so that it can be addressed. Or, maybe read that Comment that says “for rendering use only” and don’t use it for a purpose that it’s not intended for in the first place.
A great new feature allows you to specify Multiple Editors per Channel so that you can collaborate with others on curating your Channels of content. Now you can share the management of your Channels with other individuals in your firm.
AVAIL originally shipped with two Roles: Publisher and Consumer. For Enterprise customers, we can tweak the definitions of what each of these Roles can, and can’t do. For example, a Consumer wasn’t originally allowed to create their own Channels, but could only see Channels that had been shared with them. If you want to change this to allow Consumers to create their own Channels, but not be able to share them, you now have that capability. This could be useful to let everyone use AVAIL to organize their local “stash” as we call it.
You can also set what Permissions people have within any single Channel. Users, even if they are in a Consumer Role, can now be assigned the rights: Can Edit, and alternately, Can View per Channel that has been shared with them. These permissions are helpful for those one-off cases where you do want someone in a Consumer only Role to be able to have greater permissions than they’re assigned by default, but on a per Channel basis. Publisher/Consumer are firm wide settings that a Channel Publisher can override with Can Edit to specific members of their team. This is great for workflows where you’re using AVAIL to help manage projects.
(See chart below for Roles and Permissions definitions)
Multiple operations can now be indexed at the same time. Basically, you can drag ‘n drop a bunch of files into a Channel, and it will process in the background while you move on to index or tag the next set of content, perhaps in a different Channel. This is really useful as you’re getting started or trying to index lots of content. You no longer have to sit and wait for AVAIL to actively process that content in the foreground.
On the AVAIL Content Browser for Revit side of things, we’ve laid the groundwork for future capabilities and opened a connection from the Content Browser plugin to your AVAIL Desktop application and Google Analytics account. You can now see advanced Analytics about what your users are doing! Want to know which wall types are being used regularly, or which details are always being used (or not being used…)? AVAIL Analytics can tell you. Time to get educated about your Revit content, and NOT just family files but content buried inside of .rvt files too!
Because of this bi-directional data flow ability, Publishers can now easily push parameter data that’s buried within a Revit family, as tags in AVAIL. Want to add all your OmniClass number parameters as tags back into AVAIL? Great, just pick that parameter from the AVAIL Content Browser for Revit and push it into AVAIL Desktop as a tag! I know… that’s a little bit too manual of a process for most of you to be satisfied with, but don’t worry, we’re not done yet! 😉
One of the observations we’ve made regarding the current state of content management is the strong reliance on two tools to manage your company’s files be they on a WAN/LAN or in the cloud; the ability to create and name file folders and the name of files themselves. I don’t have to tell you how limiting those tools can be. Our only option for decades we’ve all become somewhat numb to the pain.
We think there is a huge opportunity to improve both management and access to content. In many ways the existing file folder and file name means of storing and retrieving files has pitted the needs of centralized control and file management versus the ease of finding what you’re looking for.
AVAIL is providing a new alternative, a way to separate where a file is stored from how it is retrieved. A way to reduce your dependency on those cumbersome folder and file names for retrieving content.
One of the themes we’ve developed over the past couple of years during the development of AVAIL is optionality. Optionality should be a good thing. Given optionality you take advantage of an opportunity when it presents itself.
Optionality is present in several ways at the core of how AVAIL has been designed. If you’ve used AVAIL or sat through any of our webinars you’ll hear us talk about the important of context in retrieving content. That’s a form of optionality that lets the publisher and consumer of content in AVAIL get to the same content in different ways mirroring the way you’re thinking about it at the time.
With the new 3.0 release of AVAIL you’ll find a couple of additional features that play on this theme as well. We’re extending the ability to contribute to the management of content in a Channel in AVAIL beyond the firm-wide Publisher/Consumer role definition. Now, the owner of a Channel can allow anyone they’ve shared that Channel with the ability to contribute via a new “Can Edit” setting that is controlled per user. This means a Publisher of a Channel can invite select others to add or remove content and tags from a Channel without having to make that person a firm-wide Publisher. Optionality.
Another update in 3.0 are initial moves toward providing each individual control over how they organize and consume Channels and content. You’ll see this manifested in a redesigned Channels panel that now provides each desktop the ability to “Pin” the Channels they consume most. Additional features that let everyone customize their experience while letting you maintain administrative oversight and control will continue to make AVAIL more powerful and customizable to fulfill differing needs and workflow preferences. Optionality is a good thing.
I just returned from Autodesk University where we engaged in numerous conversations about the value of employing content management systems. There’s obvious value in the immediate task-at-hand of organizing volumes of files (content) and making them easier to find and use throughout your organization. A topic that isn’t quite as obvious is the value of a content management system as a System of Engagement (SOE).
In traditional enterprise speak a System of Record (SOR) is defined as a conventional enterprise system designed to contain the authoritative data source for a given piece of information. A System of Engagement goes a step further. According to Forrester, “Systems of engagement are different from the traditional systems of record that log transactions and keep the financial accounting in order. They focus on people, not processes…. These new systems harness a perfect storm of mobile, social, cloud, and big data innovation to deliver apps and smart products directly in the context of the daily lives and real-time workflows of customers, partners, and employees.”
Being able to capture knowledge throughout your organization in the form of the content that is being generated and more importantly, where, when and how it is being used is of tremendous value. Knowledge can be fleeting. At AVAIL we’re focused on helping you capture and manage that knowledge.
To help you engage and capture feedback related to the content you manage with AVAIL we’re introducing a new feature we refer to as Flags & Comments. As a start, Flags are labeled as “needs attention” and provide a mechanism for your users to alert you or your content admins. Tightly coupled with Flags are Comments. You can require that a Flag be accompanied by a Comment. For example, if a user triggers a “Needs Attention” flag they can then be required to include verbose notes on what problem they see with the content. AVAIL then provides the admin an easy way to filter the content containing Flags and take appropriate action. Over time we plan to let you define a Flag’s meaning (“needs attention”, “mark as complete”, etc). We will also soon introduce Notes which allow you to provide information to permanently accompany any content managed with AVAIL.
Flags, Comments and Notes are just the first step in providing you with valuable workflow tools to manage content and an important piece of a System of Engagement solution.
Updates to the AVAIL Active Directory (AD) support includes ADFS 2.0 SAML and ADFS 3.0 with OAUTH2 federated identity (sounds impressive!)
Ability to suppress “Join AVAIL” invitation when sharing a Channel.
New ability to share a Channel with “Everyone in My Plan”
Active Directory integrations are in full swing this fall as AVAIL is “rolling across the enterprise”. With AVAIL Active Directory (AD) integration it has never been easier to manage hundreds of users. As new users are added or removed from your normal IT process through AD they’re automatically logged into AVAIL and authenticated. No login or password required! AD users can also suppress the “Join AVAIL” emails when sharing a Channel across your firm. If you have 50 or more users contact email@example.com to discuss AVAIL Enterprise Licensing for your firm.
As hundreds of new channels are created in AVAIL each month we’re working hard to fine tune how you can most easily deploy and manage your AVAIL Channels. With this release of AVAIL we’re adding the ability to easily create a Channel that is shared with everyone in your firm without having to select them individually. We’re turning this on for existing accounts this week so look for the new built-in group called “Everyone in My Plan” shortly.
We released AVAIL commercially a couple of months ago in late August after the better part of 4 years of development and eight months in beta. It has been an exciting time and it’s gratifying to work with all of you as AVAIL progresses.
We’ll use this blog to keep you updated on the latest releases and features as well as glimpses of what’s coming next. We’ve been trying to keep everyone up-to-date via emails which we’ll continue to publish but we thought a more permanent spot for the release notes and other communication was need, thus blog.getavail.com is born!
If you’ve been out of the email loop over the past few months here’s a synopsis:
AVAIL 2.9.3 Release
Took care of some nasty problems caused by the Windows 10 Anniversary update
Added ability to drag & drop Revit Drafting Views, Schedules and Groups directly into your current project through the AVAIL Content Browser for Revit
Added the ability to control auto-update for network deployments
AVAIL 2.9.0 Release
Added support for Multiple Revit Sessions
Added email notification when an AVAIL Channel is shared
AVAIL Content Browser for Revit now includes update detection
Now you can gather the information you need to better manage your content including most accessed Channels in AVAIL and most searched for content.
AVAIL now supports viewing your company’s AVAIL analytics data in Google Analytics. Setup a free Google Analytics account and enter your Google Analytics Tracking ID in your AVAIL Management Console. (Be sure to follow the instruction in the Management Console to properly configure your Google Analytics account)