Identifying your Archibus view file

I gave some tips recently on editing Archibus views (.axvw), but, let's back up a step... how do you find the source file for the exact task you want to edit?

In WebCentral, left-clicking on a task obviously opens up the page for use, as on any webpage... but, if you right-click, you can find the details of the specific view file. 

If you like, you can copy/paste the Task File name to aide in your search.

In this particular case (noted above tabs), the AXVW is actually comprised of multiple tasks, so, open it up in a program like Notepad++ and locate the lines pointing to the part you need.


Autocad 2015 from the Dork Side

I was actually asked to blog and tweet on behalf of both myself and AUGI during yesterday's blogger event in San Francisco, so, you can find my notes on the 2015 release over on BLAUGI:

As you know, I don't work on the design side, I work post-construction and often don't use many new features "in production" because I am not actually producing new drawings often. So, I tend to really appreciate the little tools that make consuming and reusing data easier for me and my users. This release has a few of those.

See the above BLAUGI post for a long list, but, here are my personal favorite top 3:
  • Help's Find command button tool
  • Command preview
  • Lasso selection

There are others in that vein as well, check out the list to see which might be your favorites.
A 'bigger' feature would be the continuing refinement of the point cloud support in AutoCAD is something that excites me as an owner. Reality capture (of existing conditions) is a process that has become drastically more affordable and accessible to a much wider audience in the past few years, very exciting.

AutoCAD 2015 wasn't the only thing we discussed, I am planning another blog post later this week to fill you in on the rest of the stuff we went over.


Notepad++ formatting tip

I've used the Notepad++ application to edit before, usually HTML. But, now, I'm using it to edit Archibus views.

When chatting with my friend, James Castruccio, he mentioned I should be able to tweak a setting in Notepad++ that would automatically apply the XML formatting to the AXVW files when I opened them, rather than manually selecting it from the Language menu every time.

I poked around a little and couldn't see an obvious setting, so, I did what any self-respecting cad geek would do, and posted a question on the AUGI Forums. 



Richard Lawrence provided the solution I used.


Under the Settings menu, click the Style Configurator

In the Language list, scroll down to select XML (or whatever applicable format you need) from the list. The Default Ext textbox will populate, then you can add what you would like to add in the User Ext field (in my case, AXVW).

This will save a few clicks and picks for me per day.

Although, on occasion, I'll still manually toggle, such as when accessing SQL components.


Archibus View Field Size Tip

One of our lease specialists asked me to add a comments field to our Taxes and Insurance form (aka task) in Archibus, which would allow space for notes on some of the more obscure situations they run across. In addition to wanting to display all of the text at once, the notes field will serve as a visual break between the current and historic data being displayed.



From the Archibus Help File:

colspan – When the field is presented in a form containing multiple columns of label – value pairs, this attribute allows a field to cover more than one column.

Valid Values: a ‘small’ number between one (the default) and the number of columns used as the panel attribute.

Optional: yes

Since this panel is formatted to have two columns, I set the colspan control to 2.

Editing the .axvw file, I modify the entry for the applicable field.

" <field name="cmts_cam" table="operating_expense" colspan="2" /> "

Also note that each field is paired up with another (either another data field or a placeholder), so I had to remember to remove the second line in this pair, so that the pairs below it in the form were not shifted.



The first change basically did the job, but, I wanted a bit more control over the appearance of the textbox, so I decided to use the style control and input the size in pixels. It did take a couple of tries to get it to line up just how I wanted, but, once you’ve got those numbers handy, you’re gravy for the next time you edit that form, or another using the same panel with the same attributes.

(I am sure there are apps out there that will allow you to measure screen pixels to find the number faster, if I run across one, I will post about it.)


" <field name="cmts_cam" table="operating_expense" colspan="2" style="height:40px; width:743px;"/> "


Remember, you still need to keep the colspan set to 2, otherwise, the style width will push the whole first column wider.


And with that final tweak, the view receives the users’ seal of approval, which means my first of many .axvw edits is completed!


Excel: Concatenating Fields

My next big task at work is adding our hundreds of branch locations to the Work Order & Preventative Maintenance (CMMS) system in Archibus.

Our consultant has a portal where we log in to the system, so, the first step is supplying them with a list of usernames and email addresses to import. The data I have available does not list this information together, so I needed a quick and easy way to produce it.

Concatenating a name to create an email address

While I could just copy the name column and do a find and replace to append the domain, I like concatenating, because it’s so quick and easy.


Just type an equal sign, the first cell name, an ampersand and then the second cell name.

Since I want to drag and copy this down the entire column, I still want to point the latter half of the equation to the top cell. I type a dollar sign in front of the cell number, so it will not increment to match the row number (if I were copying this formula to different columns, I would put a $ in front of both the column and the row, like “$F$1”).



If I were joining other data, such as the city and state fields, I would want to add additional formatting like a comma and a space. All I have to do is place some more &’s and surround the addition with a pair of quote marks.


The above is a shorter way of using the =CONCATENATE function.


MS Excel has an Autofill feature, so, start typing the word, and when it shows up at the prompt, hit Tab to insert the whole command into your cell.



Then proceed as you normally would when typing an expression in, using parentheses to surround the data and commas to separate the components you wish to include.



Archibus Processes, Users and Roles

As I mentioned in an earlier article, we've recently upgraded from v18 to v21, and will be implementing some new features.

As a part of the feature roll-out our consultant, Talisen, has recommended that I perform 'User Experience Testing'. This is basically an audit of our users, the roles we assign them to and the processes or tasks which should be assigned to those roles.

Some of it was basic database cleanup, removing old employees and contractors, but, some of it was an education. I had not yet been called upon to support any of my users in compliance, accounting, or legal, so, I've gotten to learn how they utilize our data.

(If you'll be controlling roles and processes, I'd recommend taking this System Administration class. It was an excellent introduction to this topic, and others. http://www.archibus.com/index.cfm?circuit=training_detail&template_id=475&pagesection=Training&menu_id=47 Some of the topics will also be on offer at the Archibus Users Conference this May http://www.archibus.com/nexus/ )

Security Groups

The first consideration in user permissions are Security Groups, which will control what data your users can view or edit. Each user can be assigned up to 10 security groups.
As you can see in the screenshot below, the Task titles in the System Administration Domain are pretty self-explanatory.


A user's Role controls the applications, tasks and data they can access.


Whether you call them Processes or Applications (I favor the latter, as evidenced in my illustration above), they are how we break down to a particular business process.

When assigning Applications to Roles (or to individual Users), you can drag and drop a whole Application, or expand it to just select one of the Tasks within it.

Note: If you fail to assign an Application to a User, they will see nothing but a blank screen instead of the Process Navigator.


The name Task is fairly self-explanatory here; clicking on the task launches a View, which allows you to access the data and tools to complete that particular task.


Stepping into the new FM role

Coming in to a new facility, there were a few major adjustments for me to make, but still plenty of parallels to my prior experience.

Hardware and IT
When working in Facilities Engineering, I was in charge of all of the large-scale reprographics equipment (plotters, copiers and scanners), as well as a handful of workstations. My current company does not do full scale plans and doesn't have a plotter. FINALLY! The paperless office I have always dreamed of! 
I will miss the hardware maintenance, though...  those were the rare times I got to work with my hands.
And, the locked down approach of our IT department (due to the nature of the company's work) is a bit of a challenge. My access was initially strict at the hospital, until IT saw I had no access to medical data and acknowledged that they could not support my software (AutoCAD MEP, Revit MEP, scanning plug-ins, etc), and was granted more control of my machines.
Of course, as my new system, Archibus, is hosted by a third party, I remote into an external machine and have as much access as I need to in order to complete my work.

Getting to know you
Our CAFM consultant, Talisen Technologies, had conducted interviews with the facilities staff in the past, giving me a quick understanding of my users and how they interact with and utilize Archibus. I have since spent time observing them and expanding those notes. 
I have a great respect for the challenging work that this staff does and am happy to get them past any software roadblocks that crop up.
The facilities staff is located together, so we can talk over the walls or peek at screens as needed. The other users of the system are split a bit further. We have a handful of buildings using work orders, maintenance, security features right now, but, soon, we'll also have hundreds of branch offices added as well (I'll post about that separately later).

In the hospital, we had to know our new or ancient structures and their systems intimately and perform analysis of them. My current company leases most of its space, with the long-term details being neither as vital nor complex. 

I have long been a proponent of BIM in FM, but, I am realistic enough to acknowledge that it is not necessary for my current situation.

System Upgrade
The tech support I have done in the past really comes in really handy. One has to be respectfully responsive (and occasionally thick-skinned) when a system upgrade goes through, especially if it experiences a couple of hiccups. Some people just don't like change. As mentioned in my last post, those who input work orders into our CMMS are the most important folks in the company, because they keep all of the cogs in the machine moving, so, when I inhibit their work, I have to get it fixed fast.

We upgraded recently from Archibus 18 to 21. Once they got used to the new look the users are appreciating the improvements (though they're still resisting the idea of having to clear a filter in a field ~shrugs~).

Unlike my forays into FMDesktop and Maximo, there is not really any standards definition or classification that needs to be done on a large scale. All of the employee and space standards have been set up and operating smoothly for many years (very vital first step in any CAFM/CMMS implementation).

So why do they need me?
If my company has a great consultant, power users and an established adoption, why do they need an in-house system admin?

The VP of Facilities explained to me that she knows all facilities, even her own, do not make full use of the potential of Archibus. My experience speaking with so many other FM folks over the years has been the same. They get up and running but stall before rolling out all of their potential expansions.

Also, the power users within the company have very important jobs to do. The AEC industry recognizes that pairing CAD/BIM Managment roles with production poses many challenges and it is better to have a single person completely focused on support... same thing here.

I can be constantly present to gain inspiration for streamlining processes or improving features because I sit with my (heaviest) users every day.
I can also handle any random support issues that crop up, from password resets and training to reporting tweaks.
I can also drive forward and support the change our leadership team wants. Without splitting my focus onto other facilities tasks, I can hone my expertise and ensure our system is modern, functional and applicable to our business needs.

It is fantastic that the owner of my company, and his leadership team, give a lot of thought to their facilities. We've got backing to move forward, and that is priceless. (We're also highly visible and not stuck in a basement somewhere. ~coff~)

Want to talk more FM?

There is an "FM Community" on AUGI, with a discussion forum, so, feel free to visit, suggest additional resources for the links pages or talk about the software you use for your business type. This user group is about us sharing with, and helping, each other.