Bravo, Brava! An Overview of OpenText’s Engineering File Viewer
Michael Alba posted on September 23, 2019 |
Exploded view of a backhoe in OpenText Brava! (Image courtesy of OpenText.)
Exploded view of a backhoe in OpenText Brava! (Image courtesy of OpenText.)

PDF, GIF, JPEG, DWG. These are but four of the many, many types of files that populate our digital universe. The sheer variety can make collaboration difficult. Two people who want to share a file must first ensure that they can each open said file.

Fortunately, file viewing software can ease this burden. File viewers allow users to open many types of files, even without having their native parent. For instance, an engineer could send a DWG file to a salesperson, who could then pass it along to a client, who could then share it with her colleagues, with only one seat of AutoCAD needed among them all. In this way, file viewers make specialized file types accessible to all.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at OpenText Brava!, a file viewer that goes beyond mere viewing. It enables document markups, drawing measurements, file comparisons, document creation and much more.

The Basics of Brava!

There are two versions of Brava!: the Desktop version, hosted on a local machine, and the Enterprise version, hosted on a server and accessed through an HTML interface. Both versions have largely the same functionality, though with slightly different UI options. We’ll show a mix of each throughout this overview.

Brava! begins with a plain but straightforward interface. It’s a file viewer—you start by specifying a file to view. The program supports over 100 file formats in the realm of 2D CAD, 3D CAD, images, documents and more. Here’s the full list of supported formats for the Desktop and Enterprise versions. Highlights include DWG, PDF, IGES, SLDPRT, STL, JPEG, CSV, and DOC. Of all the file types we tested (and our testing was not exhaustive), the only extension that caused us some trouble was SLDPRT. Many such files returned a “Model load failure” error.

Once you have a file open, you can do many things with it. You can change the background color between white, gray and black. You can set the file to monochrome to provide better contrast with any annotations. You can pan and zoom and review layers or parts—file type permitting. All the controls you’d expect to find in a file viewer are there.

The Brava! Desktop interface with a DWG file loaded. Color options are available in the bottom left side of the screen. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)
The Brava! Desktop interface with a DWG file loaded. Color options are available in the bottom left side of the screen. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)

Brava! Enterprise offers the same features as Brava! Desktop, but with a cleaner interface that OpenText calls its Smart UI. Any desktop migrants pining for a more familiar UI can switch to the classic layout at any time.

The Brava! Enterprise interface with the same DWG file. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)
The Brava! Enterprise interface with the same DWG file. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)

Now let’s get to some of the features of Brava! that go beyond merely viewing files. One of the most useful features for engineers is the ability to compare two versions of a file, such as a drawing, to determine the differences between them. Brava! accomplishes this with its graphical overlay feature.

With a file open, users click the Compare option to select a new file to set against the first. The two files can be overlaid atop one another or set side by side. If the side-by-side mode is chosen, any panning and zooming done on one file will apply simultaneously to the other. If the overlaid mode is used, each file will be given a distinctive color so that any differences will be readily apparent (blue and red, in the screenshots below). There’s also a slider that can move focus from one file to the next, clearly animating any differences between them.

Two DWG files side by side in Brava’s Compare mode. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)
Two DWG files side by side in Brava’s Compare mode. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)


The same two DWG files in graphical overlay. The left drawing is tinted blue; the right red. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)

The same two DWG files in graphical overlay. The left drawing is tinted blue; the right red. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)


Moving the slider (top left) to the far left or right brings focus to the respective drawing. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)
Moving the slider (top left) to the far left or right brings focus to the respective drawing. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)

Another of Brava!’s utilities is DocMerge, which allows users to create custom documents out of any mixture of Brava!’s supported file formats (in Brava! Desktop, this feature is called Batch and is sold as an add-on). For example, if you’ve got a DWG, a PDF, and a DOC, you can arrange them into a single document to be published as a PDF, TIFF, or CSF (Brava!’s own proprietary file format).

“You can take a bunch of different files that are different formats and you can combine all those documents into one final document,” explained Kris Carrasco, a solution specialist at OpenText. “While you’re doing that you can apply specific markups for the files, you can apply watermarks, you can apply banners, and you can actually pick what pages you want from each particular document and put them in whatever order you’d like."

Brava!’s drag-and-drop DocMerge interface. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)
Brava!’s drag-and-drop DocMerge interface. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)

You can also export any individual file as a PDF, TIFF, or CSF, to more easily share it with others. And if any part of that file is top secret, Brava! also provides tools for redaction. For example, in the drawing below, there’s a part that we don’t want to share. We simply use the Redact tool to draw a rectangle over the sensitive section.

The gray rectangle denotes a redacted area in Brava! (Image courtesy of OpenText.)
The gray rectangle denotes a redacted area in Brava! (Image courtesy of OpenText.)

On second thought, we want that bit in the middle to come through. With Brava!, we can add a window to the redacted rectangle.

Adding a redaction window in Brava! (Image courtesy of OpenText.)
Adding a redaction window in Brava! (Image courtesy of OpenText.)

When the file is exported, the redactions are burned in, so there’s no way to view what’s behind them.

Markup Madness

One of the biggest advantages of using a file viewer like Brava! is the ability to enable collaboration with a wider group of peers. Brava! is built with a variety of markup and annotation features to facilitate exactly that.

On any file, users can overlay their comments, questions and concerns to easily share with a colleague. Brava! provides tools such as the ability to add text boxes, lines, arrows, shapes, images, hyperlinks, stamps and more. Users have full control over how they want to mark up the file for maximum clarity.

Example of a textbox, arrow and cloud annotation in Brava! (Image courtesy of OpenText.)
Example of a textbox, arrow and cloud annotation in Brava! (Image courtesy of OpenText.)

All markups are saved separately to the underlying file, so one file can have many different markups associated with it. “We’re not editing or making any changes to the actual drawing or document that gets viewed. Any of these markup objects that I bring into the display or create are there to facilitate communication with teammates,” explained Minesh Patel, a solutions consultant for OpenText.

Brava! also offers the flexibility to manage markups in whatever way works best for an organization.

“Brava! supports multiple types of annotation modes,” Patel continued. “I could create my own annotation layer and every object in there is mine. Or, depending on my company policy, we may need to have only one single markup and everybody comments on that, and it gets managed and passed around. Maybe our company is set up where our comments are based upon departments. We can do things like have everybody in accounting use the color green, and that one file is shared with everyone in accounting. And so forth. So, we have this flexibility for how you want to manage the markups with teammates.”

To make the above annotation easier to read, Brava! allows users to selectively hide layers of a DWG just as one could in AutoCAD itself. That way, users can hone in on just the relevant areas and cancel out the noise.

The same DWG file as above, with irrelevant layers hidden and a number of additional annotations, including pictures and stamps. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)
The same DWG file as above, with irrelevant layers hidden and a number of additional annotations, including pictures and stamps. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)

In addition to these types of overlaid annotations, Brava! offers a markup tool called changemarks. Patel described these as “digital sticky notes,” and that’s exactly what they look like. In the example below, there are two changemarks, one green and one yellow:

Changemarks in Brava! (Image courtesy of OpenText.)
Changemarks in Brava! (Image courtesy of OpenText.)

The changemarks contain information, including a title (e.g., Dimension Change), description (Change this from 4 inches to 5 inches), type (Action, Change, Agreement, Issue, Status, Missing, or Project), and a further classification based on the type (for Action, these include: For Discussion, An Idea, Investigate, Typo, Revision Error, Confirm, and Urgent).

A flyout panel on the right helps users manage all the changemarks for a file. Users can search through changemarks based on author, date and time. Clicking on a changemark in the list will automatically locate the changemark in the file—a useful feature for very large documents. Users can also respond to changemarks in an ongoing comment chain.

“It really saves a lot of navigation time with people looking at your comments, so the team can collaborate and effectively communicate,” Patel said. “It’s an excellent way of communicating very quickly.”

If you want to export the file to a PDF (or TIFF or CSF), you have many options, including how to handle the markup. You can burn the markup right into the PDF or insert it as PDF comments. You can also choose to append changemark notes to the end of the document.

Options for publishing a file to PDF in Brava! (Image courtesy of OpenText.)
Options for publishing a file to PDF in Brava! (Image courtesy of OpenText.)

Measurements and More

In addition to its markup and annotation tools, Brava! provides users with measurement tools to extract information from drawings and other models. Users must first calibrate the measurement tool. If there are any dimensions present in the drawing, they can be used as a yardstick. If not, knowledge of a single dimension will do the trick. For example, there were no dimensions in the drawing below, but the user knew that double doors always have a width of 6 feet.

Working from a single dimension in Brava! (Image courtesy of OpenText.)
Working from a single dimension in Brava! (Image courtesy of OpenText.)

After clicking on calibrate, the user navigates to a double door and draws a line across its width. Brava! automatically snaps to entities in the drawing to make it easier to measure the precise distance. The program also zooms in automatically to simplify the placement. Once the line is drawn, the user inputs the known dimension and Brava! is calibrated.

Brava! can calibrate based on a single dimension. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)
Brava! can calibrate based on a single dimension. (Image courtesy of OpenText.)

After calibration, there are several different measurement tools, including line, open polygon, closed polygon, rectangle, circle and count. Similar to redaction windows, these can also be used to measure negative area to exclude enclosed regions within an area measurement.

Groups of different measurements can be joined together in what Brava! calls a takeoff. You can assign names, colors, and measurement types to takeoffs to keep track of different properties. For example, we could create a takeoff called Door Count that holds a tally of all of our doors.

Takeoffs are listed on the right-side flyout panel (the same location as changemarks) and they can be exported to a CSV file or copied to the clipboard. Here’s a quick example of what that looks like from our sample drawing:

"Door Count," 12, count

"Hallway Area," 44.8, sq. ft

In this way, takeoffs provide a convenient way to keep track of a drawing’s measurements when they’re not available on the drawing itself. Just another way Brava! can be useful for engineers, according to Patel. “Brava! is an excellent resource for the engineering process—working with drawings as well as documents,” he said.

OpenText Brava! is a comprehensive and feature-packed file viewer with built-in tools that enable collaboration. For interdisciplinary teamwork between engineers, accountants, sales professionals, and colleagues in other departments, Brava! provides the canvas on which a multitude of design documents can be painted.

Learn more here: opentext.com/explore-brava.  


OpenText has sponsored this post.  All opinions are mine.  --Michael Alba

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