LinkFixerPlus for AutoCAD (First Look Review)1 May, 2007 By: Ron LaFon
Fix file links rather than redoing them.
One of the extraordinarily useful capabilities of modern computing is the ability to link files to other files, which saves users from reinventing the wheel each time they need data that they've already created. In AutoCAD, this referencing of data allows users to embed precreated or purchased blocks of design elements in several drawings as needed. This ability is a wonderful time and work saver—at least until you need to move several files and find that your links no longer work and must be reconstructed.
LinkTek develops software for automating the management and repair of links, including the ability to automatically fix broken links when files are moved or renamed. I reviewed LinkTek's new version of LinkFixerPlus for AutoCAD, which works with both DWG and DXF file formats. Supporting AutoCAD versions from R13 through R2007, LinkFixerPlus for AutoCAD can automatically repair links and safeguard healthy links in files, which allows them to be automatically repaired should they become broken.
LinkFixerPlus for AutoCAD
Using LinkFixerPlus, users can rename or move linked files, in batch, using sophisticated renaming rules without casing broken links. Users also can generate various reports on link status. LinkFixerPlus can determine whether any supported file type is pointing to a file anywhere on a system, as well as whether it's safe to delete the file. Typically, reports are generated in HTML format for easy viewing in a Web browser, although they can be generated in CSV (comma-separated value) so users can import the information into Excel or a database for manipulation and viewing.
In operation, LinkFixerPlus for AutoCAD performed without any problems and worked through files in a relatively brief period of time. The only problem I encountered was during installation, when I had a problem with an older version of the OCX file used by Link FixerPlus that was already on the system (part of a networked HP printer installation). This prohibited LinkFixerPlus from fully installing the required OCX file component. This problem is atypical and unlikely for most users. A newer version of the OCX component that resolves the issue has been released but has not yet been fully integrated and tested into LinkFixerPlus; it should be ready in May.
LinkFixerPlus for AutoCAD comes with some AutoCAD sample files and a PDF-format quick start guide, which contains a few lessons that will help you become familiar with the main features of the product quickly.
LinkTek offers several licensing options for LinkFixerPlus for AutoCAD. For the single-user license, you can get versions that support as many as 5,000 links (xref paths) each time you run the application for $687.70. If you need to process more links per session, you can get a license for various increments or an unlimited version for $2,750.80. After each use of LinkFixerPlus, the link counter is reset when you close the application, so you can perform operations in batches as needed for larger groups of files. If you're working with large groups of files, however, the higher link versions will save you enough time to be worthwhile. Discounted options are available for 5-, 10-and 20-user licenses and site licenses. Licensing includes one year of technical support and software maintenance.
Request a 30-day evaluation copy of LinkFixer Plus for AutoCAD from LinkTek's Web site at www.linkfixerplus.com, by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 727.442.1822. The trial version of LinkFixerPlus only allows a maximum of 1,000 links to be processed at a time, and some functions such as Rename/Move, Inoculate and Cure are limited in the number of links that they can process. A separate trial version with different limitations is available for users who need to evaluate LinkFixerPlus for use during a large data migration.
LinkFixerPlus for AutoCAD does what it does very well with an easy-to-comprehend and easy-to-use interface. If your needs for managing linked files extend beyond AutoCAD, LinkTek has other products worth investigating as well.
Ron LaFon, a contributing editor for Cadalyst, is a writer, editor and a computer graphics and electronic publishing specialist from Atlanta, Georgia. He is a principal at 3Bear Productions in Atlanta.
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