Did you know? Today

That NJW designed and developed ‘idrawings’ for Diamond

Diamond Light Source is the UK’s national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.




By accelerating electrons to near light-speed, Diamond generates brilliant beams of light from infra-red to X-rays, which are used for academic and industry research and development across a range of scientific disciplines, including structural biology, physics, chemistry, materials science, engineering, earth and environmental sciences.

Diamond is housed in a striking doughnut-shaped building over half a kilometre in circumference, covering the size of 5 football pitches. The facility currently has 22 operational research stations, used by scientists from around the world, and will ultimately host more than 30 of these stations.


The client’s problem:

Throughout the design, construction, build and operation stages of Diamond, the Engineering Department had to produce and manage large volumes of detailed design drawings.

Diamond Light Source required a method of electronically managing this information through a register, which could work closely with existing databases. The ultimate aim was to have a central repository of all design data, which was also accessible across the site by all users and staff.



NJW created iDrawings; an application tailored to Diamond’s needs and bespoke requirements. The application imports drawings and their metadata at regular intervals, and presents an always up-to-date, friendly search interface for locating them. Engineers and scientists can conveniently locate, download and print these drawings as part of their work in designing and maintaining the synchrotron.

NJW worked with Diamond, before designing the solution, to understand the problems of managing complex drawings. Features include:

  • Linkage and automatic import of drawings from CAD systems into the iDrawings application.
  • Versioning support so that the system is always up-to-date with providing users the latest version of a particular drawing.
  • Intuitive search features based on source database structures.
  • Administration interface for maintaining user accounts, maintaining security levels etc.
  • A reporting interface allowing for privileged users to view tables and graphs of statistics on drawings and associated metadata (users, versions, dates etc.).
  • Browsing of drawings by directory or category.
  • Creation of drawing packs for grouping documents.
  • E-mail alerts notify interested users when a particular drawing is updated.


Key Functionality:

Directory structure replication: – In order to simplify navigation and to maintain familiarity for existing users, it was decided to implement a directory style navigation system, which would contain the same directory and sub-directory names as those within the original CAD systems.
Drawing packs: – During initial consultancy, it became apparent that a simple way of bulk-printing drawings would be of significant value to end-users and greatly increase the efficiency of information retrieval. The system was designed to enable individual users to create packs of individual PDF drawings and print them in one combined PDF document. System capabilities were extended to enable users to share their personal drawing packs with other users or submit them for publication, enabling a central manager to publish packs as public. This was further extended to enable the central manager to create public drawing packs for general access.
Integration of legacy systems: – Two main legacy systems were in use within the organisation, each with their own release and access mechanisms. One of the key deliverables of the NJW solution was the design and implementation of the data transfer mechanisms to provide a near-seamless transfer of drawings from the under-lying legacy system to the central portal with minimal intervention. This enables drawings to be transferred into the portal on release from the underlying system. An enhancement of this automation was to ascertain the original location (i.e. in the directory structure) of the drawing. This system integration tool was designed to automatically replicate the location by creating a replica of the original directory structure within the portal.



Diamond finds the system invaluable to the day-to-day running and forward planning for the synchrotron. The time and resources it has saved are immeasurable, because of the type of system it is. It has streamlined the processes the company uses and has allowed all areas of the business, from staff to contractors, to access the integral drawings needed to carry out their work. The software is continually updated depending on the requirements of the CAD team based at Diamond.  iDrawings has become an integral part of the document release process within Diamond, and is updated and accessed daily across the whole user base.