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Uploading and Linking to LXF Files


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#1 Brickdoctor

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 06:01 PM

One of the most common questions I get asked during out Relay Community Builds is how to upload an LXF file (file used by LDD) and link to it in a post or PM. It's really quite simple, not unlike uploading and linking an image. LXF files can be uploaded to a variety of file sharing sites, and can even be attached to EB posts, (as will be shown in this topic) but I find Brickshelf to be the best option, because most builders already have an account, and because it offers unlimited space. Whenever you have larger files, or have the time to navigate to a second site, Brickshelf is the way to go with LXF files.
Note that this tutorial assumes you have a general idea of how the board functions and of how to use Brickshelf.

Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image


Posted Image Windows

  • Navigate to Brickshelf and enter your Username and Password.
    Posted Image
    This should be simple enough. Enter your username and password in the fields under 'login to your folder' and click 'login'.

  • Select the folder you want to upload in and click 'Upload'. You'll be presented with this screen:
    Posted Image

  • Click 'Browse' and select the file.
    Posted Image

  • Click 'Open' and the file name will appear in the field next to 'Browse'. Double-clicking the file works as well.
    Posted Image
    Click 'Upload'.

  • Once the file is uploaded, it'll appear in the folder with the icon of a text document:
    Posted Image
    Unlike with an image, you can't click on the file to access it, because doing so initiates a download. Instead, right-click on it and select 'Copy Shortcut'. ('Copy Link Location' in Firefox)

  • Insert the copied URL into a post as you would any other link:
    Posted Image
    That is, click the Posted Image insert link button and paste the copied URL into the field, 'URL'. Click Insert Link and treat the resulting code like a normal link.

Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image


Posted Image Mac

  • Navigate to Brickshelf and enter your Username and Password.
    Posted Image
    This should be simple enough. Enter your username and password in the fields under 'login to your folder' and click 'login'.

  • Select the folder you want to upload in and click 'Upload'. You'll be presented with this screen:
    Posted Image

  • Click 'Choose File' and select the file.
    Posted Image

  • Click 'Choose' and the file name will appear in the field next to 'Browse'. Double-clicking the file works as well.
    Posted Image
    Click 'Upload'.

  • Once the file is uploaded, it'll appear in the folder with the icon of a text document: (in this example, the file I just uploaded is on the far left)
    Posted Image
    You can either right-click and copy the link as on a PC, or you can just click on the link as you would an image. A download will not start either way.

  • Copy the URL of the file.
    Posted Image
    You'll know you've navigated to the file itself when you're presented with this page of gibberish. Copy the URL of the page.

  • Insert the copied URL into a post as you would any other link:
    Posted Image
    That is, click the Posted Image insert link button and paste the copied URL into the field, 'URL'. Click Insert Link and treat the resulting code like a normal link.

Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image


Attaching LXF Files to posts at EB
Attaching files works the same way for both Operating Systems, save for styling of the buttons and things like that and specific wording on the buttons. You used to have to compress an LXF file as a ZIP file before EB would accept it, but now that the board accepts LXF files as they are, attaching is easier than ever. The limitation, of course, is the attachment space. Nevertheless, attaching a file can be convenient when you want to add one quickly without navigating to another site.
  • Find the Attachments section when you add a new post or start a new topic. Or use the full editor while editing a post; they all work.
    Posted Image
    It's pretty easy to find, right below the Topic section where you write a post, choose emoticons, add links, etc. Click 'Choose file' (Mac) or 'Browse' (Windows).

  • Find your file and select it.
    Posted Image
    As with uploading to Brickshelf, once you've selected the file, click 'Choose' (Mac) or 'Open' (Windows). Double-clicking the file works also.

  • The file name will appear next to the button:
    Posted Image
    Click 'Attach this File'.

  • Add the file to the post.
    Posted Image
    You have two options: 'Add to Post' or 'Delete'. Click 'Add to Post.

  • The file appears in your post as code:
    Posted Image
    You can write around the code now, if you want.

Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image



#2 Aanchir

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 06:34 PM

Great tutorial! I'm sure it would be helpful to many people!

One thing I'd like to point out that might be worth adding is that the way to get an LXF link is different in different browsers. In Firefox, the correct item on the drop-down menu is "Copy Link Location" rather than "Copy Shortcut". Firefox users should be careful to click "Copy Link Location" and not "Copy Image Location", or the link will just go to the text document thumbnail.

Posted Image recommends the following sites:
Posted Image Posted Image Posted Image


#3 Brickdoctor

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 06:45 PM

View PostAanchir, on 03 August 2011 - 06:34 PM, said:

One thing I'd like to point out that might be worth adding is that the way to get an LXF link is different in different browsers. In Firefox, the correct item on the drop-down menu is "Copy Link Location" rather than "Copy Shortcut". Firefox users should be careful to click "Copy Link Location" and not "Copy Image Location", or the link will just go to the text document thumbnail.
Okay, I hadn't thought of that. I'll add that, and I'll get to Chrome and Opera eventually.

#4 legolijntje

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 07:15 PM

That's funny; everytime you have a picture of the Brickshelf homepage there is at the random stuf a folder called some stuff"". Thats my most visited folder.
Yesterday I thought; why I'm never on the homepage  :laugh:

But anyway; a great tutorial for the ones who don't know what to do  :thumbup:

#5 vynsane

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 10:00 PM

As an alternate solution to using Brickshelf, I find Dropbox to be a really easy way to upload files in a web-accessible way. You simply drag-and-drop files into a specific folder on your computer and it's automatically synched with your Dropbox account. You can then copy the publicly-accessible link for that file and paste it anywhere on the web you want to share it, including EB posts.
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#6 Brickdoctor

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 09:25 AM

View Postvynsane, on 08 March 2012 - 10:00 PM, said:

As an alternate solution to using Brickshelf, I find Dropbox to be a really easy way to upload files in a web-accessible way. You simply drag-and-drop files into a specific folder on your computer and it's automatically synched with your Dropbox account. You can then copy the publicly-accessible link for that file and paste it anywhere on the web you want to share it, including EB posts.
I'll have to look into that, especially with how many problems Brickshelf's been having. The main problem for me would be that I do use Dropbox for sharing non-LEGO files with non-FOLs.

On a related note, I did get LDD to run on Wine on an Ubuntu 11 virtual machine, and also on a Windows 8 virtual machine, (though the graphics are messed up right now in the latter) so I might be updating this tutorial in the near future.

#7 vynsane

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 05:51 PM

View PostBrickdoctor, on 09 March 2012 - 09:25 AM, said:

I'll have to look into that, especially with how many problems Brickshelf's been having. The main problem for me would be that I do use Dropbox for sharing non-LEGO files with non-FOLs.

I don't think there would really be an issue there - you can use the 'Public' folder for sharing LXF files with the masses, private/invite folders for sharing other (non-LEGO-related) files with specific people. I created an 'LDD' folder in my 'Public' folder just for that purpose. There is also a lot of protection even on your 'Public' folder - people can't just browse your directories there, they can only access a file via a full link directly to that file. Therefore, you can't access

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/62625880/LDD/ (you'll get a 404 error)

but you can download

http://dl.dropbox.co...interceptor.lxf (works like a charm!)
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#8 Brickdoctor

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 08:39 PM

I wasn't aware of that feature. Okay, I'll look into that. :classic:

#9 zinfinion

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 01:06 AM

Regarding Dropbox, you can also create a new top level folder (on the same level as Photos and Public [i.e. not within either of these]), then either hit Get Link, or create a subfolder within that one and then hit Get Link.

To clarify, my Dropbox looks like this:

Photos
Public
Shared (I created this and all subfolders)
-LEGO Shared
--LEGO
---LDD
----And so forth

I used Get Link on LEGO Shared so that I can add other folders I wish to share under Shared and keep them all in one spot, but separate.

So that said, the public link to my LEGO Shared folder is http://db.tt/NpbsVynL and anyone can drill down to the subfolders. Before the recent update, they could also backtrack up (only to the LEGO Shared folder, no further upwards, obviously), but that is no longer the case. So if I link directly to say, SpacePoliceIII, that's as far up the folder tree as they are going to get.

The hash for the shared folder is static and will never change, so once you know that, creating links to files and images is easy. It is also different than your user number, so it's even more obfuscated against anyone attempting to pry. Instead of a /u/####### url which is your user number, it is a /s/######## url which is a completely unique hash to that folder. Mine being /s/a6wh1q274flo4lf/ in this case, as seen below.

Some examples:
dl.dropbox.com/s/a6wh1q274flo4lf/LEGO/LDD/Sets/Space/SpacePoliceIII/Space-SpacePoliceIII-05974-425.604-0512-GalacticEnforcer.png
dl.dropbox.com/s/a6wh1q274flo4lf/LEGO/LDD/Sets/Space/SpacePoliceIII/Space-SpacePoliceIII-05974-425.604-GalacticEnforcer.lxf

Once you know the unique hash of your shared folder, it's quick and easy to link to files.

And on top of that, if you click on any image while browsing the shared folder through Dropbox, you get a nice, if minimal, gallery that handles transparent .pngs perfectly. Try it out on the Space Police III link above and you will see what I mean.

The only major caveat I can think of is avoid using spaces, so you don't get a lot of %20 garbage in URLs. Also, being able to use caps and CamelCase is a huge upgrade over Brickshelf. Not to mention the ease of of just copying files over in Windows Explorer. I've been quite pleased since I made the switch during the last major outage.

Edited by zinfinion, 11 March 2012 - 01:07 AM.


#10 Calabar

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 10:11 AM

Dropbox seems very good, not only direct links but gallery too.

Bot hash and filenames in the url has have interesting properties.

The advantage of the filename is that you can replace the file (with a file with the same name) without changing the link, and that's very useful to avoid to edit all the posts in the forum when you update a file.

The advantage of the ash is that you can change the name maintaining the same url.

In DropBox it seems you can rename folders and update file without changing the link, and that seems very good. Can you test if it is really possible?

Another thing: I was looking for a portable version of DropBox software, but it seems the development has been abandoned. Do you know about a working portable version?
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#11 zinfinion

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 03:22 PM

View PostCalabar, on 11 March 2012 - 10:11 AM, said:

In DropBox it seems you can rename folders and update file without changing the link, and that seems very good. Can you test if it is really possible?
I tested renaming folders, and here's what I found. If you rename the top level shared folder on which you used Get Link, the link will be removed, and when you use Get Link again, it will create a different hash. This is not that bad though, since the folder name is hashed anyway, no one can see its name. So basically, if you don't like the name, don't mess with it, no one will see it but you.

In my case, I used Get Link on the LEGO Shared folder, and this folder name is replaced by the hash and does not appear in my links. Which is why I created a LEGO subfolder beneath it. Though it seems redundant, this way LEGO appears in the link after the hash, giving people a clue to what is being linked to.

So, top level folders can not be safely renamed. Subfolders however can. For example, if I misspelled Architecture. I could change the folder name, but I would then have to update any posts that would be affected by this change.

Files, meanwhile, can be updated (as long as the filename stays the same), without breaking any links or posts. I have done this numerous times to correct minor issues with images or sets (nothing erroneous enough to warrant a post pointing out the changes, obviously).

So to sum up:
- You can not safely rename the top level folder on which Get Link was used as it will be unlinked. A new hash will be created when Get Link is used again.
- Subfolders (and files) can be renamed. These changes will be reflected in the links to those files/folders, so any posts/links pointing to those will need edited.
- Files can be safely updated if the name is kept the same.
- Get your naming and spelling right the first time. Otherwise, it's a pain to fix. This is not really unique to Dropbox though, and would be a similar issue on all file hosting services.

In comparison to a few other file hosts I have tried, Dropbox seems to be both the most user friendly, and full featured. As well, Dropbox tacitly approves of hotlinking directly to files, even though it bypasses their interface. In comparison, I tried both minus and SkyDrive and they both had major issues. I tried Mediafire also, but they do not permit hotlinking or image embedding, so that eliminates them instantly.

minus, even though they promote hotlinking, is problematic for a few reasons:
- No subfolders. Which makes for messy organization.
- Wildly variable response times when trying to download non-image files. It took more than a minute to even get a response in some of my tests.
- Everything is hashed, including filenames.
- Every time a file is updated, even if the filename is maintained, a new hash is generated.
- All this hashing and changing of hashes makes it annoying to create/edit posts as well as update files.

Skydrive, meanwhile, has one major flaw:
- The hash in urls that point directly to files/images is occasionally changed at random. This is to prevent hotlinking, and basically makes it useless for linking images and files publicly. I have not experienced this personally (since I only used it for a few days), but there are numerous reports of this being the case. The intended use of Skydrive is to link to a folder (rather than files), which isn't really useful for placing images and direct links to files in posts.

Edited by zinfinion, 11 March 2012 - 03:24 PM.


#12 Calabar

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 04:15 PM

View Postzinfinion, on 11 March 2012 - 03:22 PM, said:

I tested renaming folders, and here's what I found. If you rename the top level shared folder on which you used Get Link, the link will be removed, and when you use Get Link again, it will create a different hash. This is not that bad though, since the folder name is hashed anyway, no one can see its name. So basically, if you don't like the name, don't mess with it, no one will see it but you.
I didn't thought the problem could be not shown folder's name!  :tongue:
Simply sometimes could happen I have to rename a folder for better organization, and it would be very uncomfortable if that would cause the change of the links.
Anyway, if the problem is related to the top folder only, it should not be a problem in the great part of the situations.

Another service I've seen is good is box.
Has someone the time to test it?
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#13 legolijntje

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 07:45 PM

I do have an Box account, but I never had tht time to test it, because the day after I made my account, my computer crashed (and it is till not repaired).
One big advantage in comparison with Dropbox, is the 50 GB I've got. There was some sort af promotion, and one was able to get 50 gb and invite others to get also 50 gb free. Maybe you're still able to get it.

#14 Superkalle

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 09:55 PM

The question/issue I have with Dropbox is the longlivity of files there. In my version of free Dropbox, I could only have one file public/being synced with the folder on my computer. At one time I decided to remove the file, and then it was gone from public view.

In brickshelf I get a feeling of more "stability", in the sence that once you park pictures/LXF-files there they are basically there, as sort of a collective memory (and I'm only talking about Brickshelf, not Flickr etc, since it's the only place that allows storage of other then pure image files). Also, Brickshelfs stability is in my mind really not that bad.

Basically I'm wondering if not Dropbox is in its core just what the name implies, a place to temorarily put files for someone to pick up later.
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#15 zinfinion

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 12:13 AM

I currently don't even have Dropbox installed on my computer. Before I formatted, I deassociated my computer from my free Dropbox account (free and paid have identical functionality btw), formatted, and all my files are still happily on the Dropbox servers. I even used the web interface to upload the Galactic Enforcer pics and .lxf file the other day. The sync software is not a requirement to make good use of Dropbox, it just makes it that much more convenient.

So how well it serves as a permanent file host is mainly determined by how it is used. For me it does everything that Brickshelf does, and does it better, faster, easier, and more reliably. Nothing against Brickshelf, they've clearly done a great thing for the LEGO community. But presented a better option, I'll take it.

#16 Superkalle

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 08:42 PM

View Postzinfinion, on 14 March 2012 - 12:13 AM, said:

But presented a better option, I'll take it.
I agree.
It was just that I was wondering if for this forum it might be better to recommend Brickshelf. For example there are all the LXF-files shared in the "Official sets" topic. If they are placed on brickshelf, they will mostly likely stay there independent if local computer settings, sync options, free vs. paid version and other stuff you have in DropBox.

For example, what happens if a user does not use his DropBox for, say one year. Is the account removed? I know this is how it used to be with Hotmail (Skydrive). If you didn't log into your account regularly, it would be deleted.  

I like Dropbox - I have an account, but for certain purposes (like the above mentioend Official sets LXF-files), I'm wondering if it's not better to go with Brickshelf?

Sorry if I'm sounding old-fashioned and backwards thinking here - I'm just thinking of avoiding those "file couldn't not be found" when clicking on links...
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#17 zinfinion

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Posted 14 March 2012 - 10:47 PM

I completely understand your points. And if Dropbox did not exist, I'd still be using Brickshelf. As to Dropbox's user friendliness and the ease of accidentally deleting everything at once through Explorer, you are not wrong. Great power, great responsibility or something like that.  :tongue:

Regarding accounts and their longevity here are the terms for both Dropbox and Brickshelf:

- Dropbox reserves the right to terminate Free Accounts at any time, with or without notice. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, if a Free Account is inactive for ninety (90) days, then Dropbox may delete any or all of Your Files without providing additional notice.

- You agree that Brickshelf, in its sole discretion, may terminate your password, Brickshelf folder, use of the Service or use of any other Brickshelf service, and remove and discard any Content within the Service, for any reason, including, without limitation, for lack of use or if Brickshelf believes that you have violated or acted inconsistently with the letter or spirit of the TOS. Brickshelf may also in its sole discretion and at any time discontinue providing the Service, or any part thereof, with or without notice.

In essence they say the same thing, only Dropbox is more specific about the period of inactivity. Basically all files hosted on a 3rd party site are there at the whim of those that run the site. Whether or not either site actually enforces these terms is another matter. There's really no free file host that is "forever" so to speak.

Given all the above, I don't really recommend that people use Dropbox, also because some aspects of it are a bit obtuse, mainly getting folder sharing setup, and finding the right path to your files. It works for me though, and I see no reason not to suggest it as an alternative for those so inclined to take a look, going in with the knowledge of its strengths and weaknesses.

Short of Eurobricks setting up a file host for forum posters, there's no 100% bulletproof free file host out there.

#18 vynsane

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 05:00 PM

Interesting points, all - thanks for continuing the discussion.

Personally, I feel like adding LXF files to Brickshelf is basically using the service in ways other than intended - it's mainly for housing galleries of pictures, which an LXF file is not. If they support it or encourage it, then that point is moot.

That said, I was already active on Flickr when I found out about Brickshelf, so I didn't feel the need to create a new account there. Flickr, of course, does not support LXF files, so I found Dropbox as a feature-rich filesharing system to handle that part of the process. I also have my own webserver and was originally uploading files there, but I would have to use FTP then manually copy and paste the url, which was a bit annoying.

As for the impermanence issue - nothing is permanent. Both Brickshelf and Dropbox could be closed down tomorrow and we'd have to find some other avenue, so it's really a personal preference thing at that point. I find Dropbox to be really easy to use, especially through the local folder synching for adding files and their web interface for copying/pasting links. Really rich user experience.
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#19 zinfinion

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 05:07 PM

One other point about Dropbox. As long as you have the app installed, you are logged into the site/your dropbox, so the 90 day counter is kind of a moot point. The only way to actually go 90 days with no activity would be to uninstall the app and never log in to the website for 90 days. Even if my interest in LEGO faded (not that that would happen) I would still be using Dropbox for other things, so no worries on my part at least.  :laugh:

#20 Superkalle

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Posted 17 March 2012 - 07:02 PM

View Postzinfinion, on 17 March 2012 - 05:07 PM, said:

One other point about Dropbox. As long as you have the app installed, you are logged into the site/your dropbox, so the 90 day counter is kind of a moot point. The only way to actually go 90 days with no activity would be to uninstall the app and never log in to the website for 90 days. Even if my interest in LEGO faded (not that that would happen) I would still be using Dropbox for other things, so no worries on my part at least.  :laugh:
I only start the Dropbox app when I need to share something so I have that running when not needed.
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#21 vynsane

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 09:53 PM

View Postzinfinion, on 11 March 2012 - 01:06 AM, said:

Regarding Dropbox, you can also create a new top level folder (on the same level as Photos and Public [i.e. not within either of these]), then either hit Get Link, or create a subfolder within that one and then hit Get Link.

Just as an update - I couldn't find 'Get Link' anywhere, I could only find 'Copy Public Link' on files within my 'Public' folder. I finally found a KnowledgeBase article and, after glossing over the finer details multiple times, noticed the text "All you have to do is enable shareable links by clicking this link." ("clicking this link" being the link itself - this is why links shouldn't be named "click here" but actually be the verb in question - linking "enable shareable links" would have drawn my eye right to it).

Anyway, only after clicking on that link will you be able to use "Get Link". I think they should make that a little more readily apparent...
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#22 vynsane

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 04:53 PM

Dropbox just announced last night that they've doubled the amount of space referrals award you with! My quota was adjusted accordingly, so it's not just "from this moment forward" but they honored previous referrals!

Thank goodness they didn't post that on the 1st ;)
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#23 Sato

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Posted 16 October 2014 - 04:00 PM

My apologies for dusting of this topic, But I can't find an answer to my question anywhere and don't think it requires a new topic to be opened.

I'm looking for a place where I can upload LDD files for my Lego Creator Alternates and keep track of the number of times they're downloaded.


Because (some) people request for instructions/LDD files when I don't add them, But never comment on my creations when I do add instructions/LDD files.
I don't mind that they don't comment or leave a rating when I post instructions/LDD files with an alternate, But would prefer to have some insight in how many times it's downloaded.


Any help will be appreciated,
It has to be free of charge and the amount of storage space doesn't have to be much.
If this can be done with either Microsoft's Onedrive or Google's Drive, I'd love to hear how.




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