Digital Archiving and Retrieval Tool desktop client

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The Digital Archiving and Retrieval Tool (DART) Client is an open-source client application with the purpose of automatically archiving files by communicating with the DART Server along with other important information. It is currently under development and written with the .NET Framework in the C# programming language and the Windows API. Since it can archive files other than CAD data files, it can simply be referred to as the Archiving Tool. Employing a version control system, the Archiving Tool offers an alternative to popular revision control applications such as Subversion and CVS. The Archiving Tool augments these programs by providing a number of additional features, such as the ability to convert CAD formats into STEP or other formats, especially open source formats and send the full file path of the files. It is planned to be released under GNU General Public License and operate on the Windows platform. The stored information on the database will help others who may re-examine or modify the files in the future.

Motivation

The design processes of mechanical engineering projects are often not captured when engineers are working on a project. Hence, this application aims to capture the design process in the least obstrusive ways possible by automatically archiving CAD and other relevant files of a team of engineers to a version control system. Considering that engineers often use propietary file formats such as DWG and Pro/ENGINEER, the Archiving Tool also incorporates the ability to convert these formats into STEP and other file formats, especially open source formats.

Designed to require as little effort as possible from the engineers, the Archiving Tool differs from Subversion and CVS in that the clients of these tools require all deletes and additions of files be explicitely stated to the client. The Archiving Tool does not require these file operations to be stated and can detect the occurence of these operations. However, the Archiving Tool does create a hidden folder which stores the version information of the files like Subversion and requires the user to leave the contents of the folder alone.

Extensions to Subversion and CVS

  • The client should be able to request to convert CAD formats into STEP or other formats, especially open source formats
  • The client should be able to automatically get and send versions; for example get versions from the client computer once after 7:00am and send versions from the client computer once after 4:00pm give or take 2 hours
  • Client should record when specific CAD applications were opened and closed
  • Client should be able to automatically exclude irrelevant files in a folder (if there are temporary files or unimportant compiled files they probably should not be archived)
  • Client should be able to send the full path of the files
  • Client should be able to send files that are not in a single directory (in Subversion, all of the files and sub-folders in a repository must be in one directory, or at least start out in one root directory)
  • The client should be able to receive the full file path when deciding where to retrieve the archived files
  • When someone is getting files out of the archive, the files should be grouped and a message should be asked as to where the user wishes to put each group
  • The version system should be able to automatically figure out when a file is deleted, moved, renamed, or added

Repository Access

Utilizing Java servlets as the core functionality of the back-end, the CAD Data Archiving Tool Server allows for the stored file versions to be downloaded and viewed with a web browser. Most projects allow public read access and thus can be accessed without logging on as a user. The list of projects stored on the GICL web server can be accessed at the following web page. Files