Working with a large team can be a daunting task. Especially if it involves dozens, if not hundreds of documents that need to be carefully reviewed and controlled. In today’s digital world, it can be difficult to keep track of this, especially when each member of your staff prefers to do things differently! Even with carefully managed file-sharing networks and servers, it becomes a hassle to keep track of who did what, without getting the IT department involved. Thankfully, Bluebeam has developed a solution to this problem, Bluebeam Studio.
At first, Bluebeam Studio looks just like any other cloud storage system: you create an account, enter your credentials, and upload files to the server. However, there are several handy features that make Bluebeam Studio work well in collaborative environments. Bluebeam Studio is comprised of two main areas: Projects and Sessions.
A Project is your tool for document storage and file management. Files uploaded to a project are stored securely on one of Bluebeam’s cloud servers. In addition to PDF files, Bluebeam Projects allow you to store any type of file. Non-PDF files opened through Bluebeam will open in the appropriate application, if installed on your machine.
A key component of Projects is the ability to share them with others, manage access, and edit privileges. Within your organization, you can adjust the level of access each person gets by entering the email address they used to register their Studio account. Additionally, you can adjust security settings for all other visitors by setting them directly in the project. For example, if you share a link to a project with a contractor, they will only be able to view the files you specified and will not have any edit privileges.
In order to keep track of edits, Studio uses a system of checkouts. When a team member needs to work on a file or set of files, they can check those files out for editing. This downloads a copy of the file onto their local machine and locks the server-side copy as read-only. As such, the user can edit their checked-out files, even if they have no internet access, and no other user can make changes to the file until it is checked in. Once the work is complete, the user can check-in the file with their changes, or they can discard all changes and unlock the server copy for editing.
Alongside Projects, Studio also features Sessions. Sessions are environments where multiple users can work on the same set of files simultaneously. Similar to Projects, you can upload files, invite users, and set permissions for each user. When a Session is live, any user who has access can open the included files and make edits to them, which are visible in real time to all members of the session. Session also keeps a record of all changes, which can be exported as a report when the session ends.
During a Session, users cannot make changes to other users’ markups. However, you can leave a note or a comment, notifying the user of the changes needed to their markups. Records of all comments are kept throughout the session, similar to the Status property of markups. Additionally, users can chat with one another through the session record, which logs the messages along with any changes.
You can add files from your local machine to a Session, or you can add directly from a Project. Project files active in a session will be listed as “Checked-Out In Session” on the project tab. Once the session is over, the resulting files are saved locally on the session host’s computer. If these files were checked out from a project, they will need to be checked in by the host in order for them to be accessible to other users.