One challenge here is that there a number of different versions of ProjectWise Explorer in use in organizations. All of those various versions would need to be listed on the site, and asking that user to choose the right one may be difficult. Not saying that this isn't a good idea, and we have discussed it, but it will take some additional effort and configuration to be sure that it is possible for administrators such as yourself to be able to point these external users to the exact version you want them to use.
Rimantas, I somehow missed your reply from last year but thank you for your detailed explanation of the business reasons for the two clients.
However, the question to Bentley remains - shouldn't the ProjectWise client be available at www.bentley.com/.../free+software for downloading? If Bentley can provide an app for the iPad then why not provide a client for the PC?
Kevin has correctly pointed out that ProjectWise Web Server does not have integration with CAD applications. Here's some additional info on the reasoning:
PW Web Server web client and PW Explorer thick client were made for different purposes. Therefore we try to optimize the feature sets of each of the clients based on their target user scenarios.
PW Explorer was build for all those users who are actively creating engineering content, to enable storing it in a PW repository as a controlled environment for all engineering content. In these scenarios CAD application integrations and DFT plus caching servers are critical components to enable effective and efficient workflows.
PW Web Server web client was built for consumer type of users who need access to the most up to date engineering content. The key scenarios include:
- Project team web portals to provide all critical project information (engineering, financial, schedule and KPIs info) in one place. Integration with both SharePoint 2007 and SharePoint 2010 versions are critical here.
- Exchanging deliverables with external parties (both upload and download) eliminating the need for any intermediate storages (ftp servers, etc.) and data duplication. Here are support for plain IIS environment comes very handy – as this allows providing access to PW repository for external parties without the need to provide them with internal domain accounts – significantly simplifies administration and maintenance.
- Providing access to most up to date engineering data for facility maintenance engineers. Ability to navigate PW repository spatially using facility background maps, viewing CAD documents using browser only and ability provide feedback from the field by creating markup comments and storing them directly in ProjectWise. Also, with SELECTseries 3 release – we’ll introduce the new ProjectWise Navigator web part (i-model web viewer) allowing to view 3D and 2D models over the web (ability to markup i-models over the web is preliminary planned for next SELECTseries 4 release).
- Providing an on-demand access to ProjectWise stored content for mobile field workers via tablet devices. Enables viewing drawing PDFs and generic office documents, viewing document properties, list of references and audit trail as well us uploading images, and video clips directly to ProjectWise repository from tablet devices (currently upload is supported on Android tablets only)
Ok, so when you mentioned security risks before were you talking about a P/W connection that didn't go through a Gateway server? That's something I wouldn't have considered.
No, with the gateway server service you can allow access via a thick client pretty easily. Firewall rules need to be setup, but they need to be setup for a web server as well. Since the firewall rule is for a single TCP address and only needs to allow traffic over that port from the Gateway server (not all of the internet) it isn't a very complicated rule and most security people I've worked with are OK with it.
Every company we've worked with that uses projectwise has used this setup, and we use it to provide access to our system as well. Some external companies need to open a firewall port to allow the client out of their network, but we've yet to have a problem getting this setup either. Most difficult was access from a military base but mostly it was a matter of filling out some forms (Bentley already has the approvals of being an acceptable network application for the military.)
The thin client has no integration with apps, and this makes it impossible to use for CADD applications that need reference files to work correctly.
At WSDOT we use a certificate on the Gateway server that satisfies the security concerns of our IT staff. I don't work directly with the servers but as I understand it, the purpose of the Gateway server is to create a secure link for external clients to access ProjectWise information.
I have to say Dean that I'm surprised by your Gateway server security concerns and I would appreciate it if someone from Bentley could chime in on this.
The reason you normally don't use the thick (desktop) client for external users is becuase it requres them accessing your internal network. Special rules need to be setup to allow them access to your PW Server and File storage so that the files can be copied directly from your network to theirs. Most companies I have worked with do not like the security risk of linking the two networks together and prefer a thin client without network access.
As good as the latest Web portal is, it still lacks some of the functionality of the ProjectWise client. It doesn't cost external users to use the ProjectWise client since it pulls a license from our server. So even though I give them the option of the Web portal, I don't think many of them use it.
We used to place the client on our FTP server but that gets cleaned off every month so that isn't a permanent solution. When we brought on our latest project (which includes a new group of external clients) we decided to put the client software on our WSDOT resource website. We asked our Bentley account rep for permission and it was granted. I just think it makes more sense to have one global location for access then to have it out on dozens, perhaps hundreds of servers.
Maybe I'm missing something but it seems that it would be to Bentley's advantage to make ProjectWise client software available to anyone that wants to access project information.
I believe that Bentley inteneded for Internet Explorer to be the way external clients could access your files at no cost to them. As far as I know, ProjectWise Clients are not a free license currently to anyone. Are you missing some functionality in the Web Explorer that is needed for your external clients?
I understand that there is currently a location for no-cost Bentley software:
This seems like the place for ProjectWise client software.
I must be in the same boat as other ProjectWise admins that need to supply external clients with software so they can access our file. I understand why you need a Select account to download MicroStation, InRoads, etc., but the ProjectWise client software differs in that many organizations without Bentley support use this application.
It would be fantastic if Bentley had a public access page where anyone could download various ProjectWise client versions (and the new Office 2010 add-in) so that many of us wouldn't have to duplicate the same effort.
BTW, could someone add ProjectWise to the spell check???