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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Embedding vs. Lilnking images in Autodesk Inventor - The Poll's have Closed

“I'm not going to have opinions. I'm not going to cause problems. I'm going to go with the flow.”
Milton Bradley

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a blog on embedding images to title blocks in Autodesk Inventor, and stated that embedding is my personal preference.

That blog received comments from a few users who strongly favor linking images in, for a variety of reasons that are completely reasonable.   Those comments can be seen on the original post linked above.

I also got responses on my Twitter account from users who had equally strong opinions favoring embedding.

Inspired by this I tried my hand at creating a survey on embedding images into Autodesk Inventor's drawing resources, or linking them.  Just to see what the "interverse" would say.

 I left the survey open for about a week, and the results are in!

The responses to the survey weren't huge.  26 people in total responded to my poll.  Of those 26 responses, 23 favored embedding images, and 3 favored linking.

The results are in!

So from this small survey, what conclusions do I draw?  That is, other than 23 out of 26 people prefer embedding? 

While my inbox wasn't flooded with responses, I would say the results are consistent with my experience "in the field". 

I could also say that I've been validated, seeing how embedding is what I prefer to do on my personal files. 

Yay me. 

But in this respect, I'm no different that the average CAD jockey.  I'm just a user that's made choices based on my own, personal needs.

So validating my personal opinions isn't what I was after.  And for those of you who might be wondering, I did not cast a vote on this poll!

I've learned that there is a strong minority that does prefer linking.  Those who prefer that method have thought this out, and are also drawing conclusions based on their design needs.

So, to quote corporate America, "What's our takeaway?' 

Most users seem to favor embedding, but there is also a minority that strongly prefer linking images in. 

My ultimate, personal, conclusion?  Keep calm and carry on.

I'm perfectly happy embedding my images, and I'm sure most of the 23 who voted for embedding agree.

For those 3 who represent the "linkers"?  Link away!  If linking makes your jobs easier, then by all means, LINK!

It was never my intention to change any one's mind.  Only to find out what choices users are making, and share those results back out to the user community.

So thanks for those who took a few minutes out of their day to share there responses.  I appreciate the participation!  Maybe I'll try another poll on this later on.  Just to see how things have changed!

Thanks again everyone!


  1. Hi Jonathan,

    I cast my vote, and said that I link rather than embed. Truth is, if I use a raster image, I embed.
    The real poll question should be; 'If linking an image to your drawing would work properly, not just within Inventor, but with other systems like Vault, would you rather link or embed?
    That's the real issue, linking doesn't work properly.

    I tried a workflow where I linked a bitmap to an Inventor.dwg file, and it was rubbish. Inventor created some funny duplicate bitmap file, with a filename similar to the drawing filename with the suffix '0').
    This additional bitmap loads into Vault upon check-in, is then immediately marked as 'Edited out of turn', and is apparently no longer required by the drawing file after check-in, i.e. I can delete the local copy of this duplicate bitmap file and the drawing does not complain about resolving to it.

    If it worked properly, I don't see why it should be any different to the way any other Inventor assembly works, which is a collection of seperate files consumed by whichever assembly needs it.

    If Autodesk gave you the option, a tickbox, upon inserting a component to 'embed' rather than link that component, how many people would use that? Probably none of your 23 respondents, because the sheer suggestion to embed parts is just a very silly one. Or is it?

    Why not embed all your washers and other fasteners? They're standard right? Never going to change? Why not embed them so they won't ever go missing, won't ever cause naming conflicts in Vault or even your local workspace, and can never be messed up should your zombie colleague decide to turn your M12 washer into an M16 washer because he didn't know or care someone else was using it as well?

    Mind you, I'm not proposing we should have this option at all, I'm just saying that I know plenty of AutoCAD users who would do just that if they had the chance, because managing a single file is a lot easier to understand than managing a visual database of 100's if not 1000's of separate files.

    An bitmap should really be no different, and should be just as easy to manage and understand as any other native Inventor file.

    There is technical documentation software out there that allows for any documentation to be xreffed wherever needed.
    Company logo in the header of your document? With 1000's of Word documents with technical documentation, I'd rather link a single bitmap to all of these 1000's of headers, or front pages etc., instead of embed this bitmap in 1000's of documents. It may never change this logo, but at least it's controlled centrally and the same everywhere, and should the unthinkable happen, can be changed to a different design across all your technical documentation at the press of a few buttons.
    Or you could hire an intern to go grind through all of your documentation and cut 'n paste a new logo in there. Or ask your employees to cut 'n paste a new logo in there when they happen to come across or be working on an out-of-date document.

    I suppose my perspective and desired outcome as cad manager is different to yours.\
    You really offer a workaround to something that doesn't work the way it should, and are happy to leave it at that and move forward. (Which I really appreciate by the way, it's why I follow this blog)
    I wish the tools worked in such a way that I could derive everything bit of information into a single source of truth, one that everyone can tap into and consume whenever, and wherever required. Whether that's washers or logo's, shouldn't matter.

    1. David,

      As always, thank you for your thoughts. But my curiosity lay in what users are currently doing. I wasn't focusing on what they'd like do to.

      Perhaps I'll venture into something like that at a later date, but for now, I'll leave that to those (much smarter people) in development at the Autodesk Feedback portal.

      Thanks for participating!