Before using the feature on a project, be certain to check the Project Properties, under the ADVANCED Category, File Check In Options, to verify that they are set as desired. The Maximum Backups property controls the maximum number of previous versions that will be saved. Once exceeded, the oldest previous backup will be deleted. You will have to determine the appropriate number of backups taking into consideration the likelihood of needing to revert to a previous version and the amount of network storage space you have available. The Comments property determines whether you will be able to add a comment when checking the file back in ("Yes") or not ("No"). You can set the User Profile Type to either "Local Profile" or "User Name Only". Typically, this would be set to Local Profile, unless you are working on a computer that is in a different network domain from the domain in which the project files are stored, in which case you will want to select User Name Only.
With the Project Properties set to your liking, you are ready to make use of the Version Management feature. You can right-click on any file in the Project Navigator and use the context menu to Check Out a file.
When the revisions are complete and you want to make them available to the rest of the project team, you do so by saving the file and then right clicking on the file in Project Navigator and selecting Check In. This automatically creates a new version of the file. If the revisions were "experimental" in nature and the experiment "failed," you also have the option to Undo Check Out, in which case the previous version of the file remains current and the checked-out copy of the file will be deleted.
Here is a look at what is happening in your project folders. At the time the screen capture below was made, 00 Interior.dwg was checked out.
- A copy of the current file is created, with ".co" appended to the file name (00 Interior.co.dwg in this example), and is made hidden, to reduce the odds that anyone else would find and open it outside of Project Navigator. When you open a file through Project Navigator that you have checked out, the ".co" version is what is being opened.
- If you make changes and save the checked out file, a ".co.bak" is created (not shown in the image).
- When you check files back in, the previously current file is renamed, with a date-time added to the file name, and the extension is changed to ".bak". There are five of these in the image above, including 00 Interior.2014-04-02-00-48-04.bak.
- The XML file of the same name as the drawing file, which Project Navigator has always generated as a means of storing the project information for that drawing file, now has an additional section called CheckInRecords, where the Check-In History data is stored.
- Finally, the system generates a file with the drawing name and a ~co extension. I do not know exactly what the function of this file is, but suspect it aids in identifying which files have been checked out; do not delete these files.
Keep in mind that you are not required to use the check-out feature; files have not been checked out can still be opened, edited, saved and closed, as in previous releases. But you will not get the benefits of being able to work on the checked out file without generating external reference balloon notifications and you will not get backup versions that can be restored.
The Check-In History and currently available backup files can also be used with the new Visual Comparison feature. More on that in a future article.