Cloud-Based RockWorks Project Collaboration Using Microsoft OneDrive (Formerly SkyDrive)


The Microsoft OneDrive cloud capability is great for collaboration with individual Microsoft Office data files (e.g. Word “docx” and Excel “xlsx”). Unfortunately, this is not the case for non-Microsoft products such as RockWorks that access multiple, non-Microsoft files (e.g. grid and block models) that reside within a project folder. We recently discovered a work-around that allows multiple users to share the same, cloud-hosted RockWorks project simultaneously. This is a welcome alternative to the classic (expensive) method of hosting the database on a corporate network server and accessing the network via a VPN (Virtual Private Network).

JimR (left) at his office in Svalbard, Norway looking at an I-Data model that was just created by TomB at his office in Bouvet Island, Antartica. Simultaneously, TomB is looking at a stratigraphy model that was just created by JimR. Both users are editing and modeling from the same RockWorks database! Ok, this is an exaggeration. We’re actually in the same office in Golden, Colorado but it does work for all locations with Internet access.


  • Cloud: Yeah right, like we’re going to provide a formal description for “The Cloud”. Fat chance. Here’s a pretty good description/rant from Alex Barnett:
  • Owner: The person who initially sets up the RockWorks project folder on OneDrive.
  • Subordinate: Someone who was “invited” by the Owner to collaborate on the RockWorks project.  Don’t use this terminology if one of the subordinates is your boss.

Pros & Cons

We’re not saying that OneDrive is a perfect solution. There are some advantages and some disadvantages to using OneDrive for collaboratively working with RockWorks data.

Microsoft OneDrive

Network Server & VPN







Setup Complexity



Requires Microsoft Account For All Users



Project Owner Can Work w/Data Offline



Subordinates Can Work w/Data Offline



  1. The first 7 gigabytes are free.
  2. Assuming that you don’t already have a network server and VPN capability.
  3. Speed depends upon the VPN connection.
  4. Typically requires a network/internet administrator.
  5. Notice the “Owner” caveat. Offline users who are accessing the data via drive-mapping cannot access data.

Microsoft OneDrive

The Microsoft OneDrive cloud capability is an integral part of Windows 8.1. If you’re a Windows 7 or 8.0 user, you’ll need to install the free OneDrive software from Microsoft and create a Microsoft user account if you don’t already have one.

Creating a Cloud-Based RockWorks Project Folder

  1. Select the Create New Project option from the Project Folder pull-down menu.

  1. Click on the file-folder icon within the Create New Project Wizard.

  2. Click on the OneDrive folder within the Browse For Folder menu.

  3. Here’s where things start to get a bit “squirrely”. You’ll notice that the folder is called “SkyDrive”. This is a vestigial remnant from the former name for OneDrive. To make a long story short, Microsoft lost a trademark case with Sky Broadcasting Group of Britain.

  4. Add a backslash (“\”) character and the name of your new project to the name of the New Project Folder.

  5. Continue with the remaining steps within the New Project Wizard until the main RockWorks menu displays the name of the new project.

    At this point, you may be thinking that the project data is stored within your C-drive. Well (leap of faith moment), it’s not. The data is actually stored in “the cloud”. The actual information that’s stored within the C-drive is just a “re-direct” to some server(s) within a server farm in Southern Timbuktu. Microsoft has gone to great lengths to integrate this cloud linkage directly into the Windows 8.1 operating system to make things fairly transparent especially if you are the person who initially stuck it there (the owner).

    Microsoft server farm in Southern Timbuktu. Ok, this really isn’t a server farm, but it’s better than those overused cartoons of clouds. Image source:

Setting Up a Local, Automatically-Synchronized Copy of the RockWorks Project Folder

If you anticipate that you may need to access this RockWorks project when you don’t have access to the Internet (e.g. that sleazy hotel in Baker, California), Microsoft’s integration with Windows provides a very cool feature that differentiates it from Google-Drive, I-Drive,, DropBox, etc. Specifically, you can designate that the project folder will be available when you’re offline. Here’s how:

  1. Activate the Windows File Explorer program (formerly called “Windows Explorer”) and right-click on the RockWorks project folder that you just created with the OneDrive group.

  2. A popup menu will appear that includes an option labeled “Make available offline“. Clicking on this option will make the project folder available when you’re not connected to the Internet. In addition to the obvious benefits of this configuration, Windows will magically synchronize this version with the version in the cloud when communication is re-established. Another advantage of this configuration is that RockWorks will run much faster for the “owner” of the project.

    Note: This off-line/on-line capability only applies to the Owner of the data in regards to RockWorks projects.

Making the Cloud-Based RockWorks Project Available To Other Users

  1. The aforementioned Windows File Explorer popup that appears when you click on the folder that contains the cloud-based RockWorks project also includes an option labeled “Share with“. Click on this option and then select the “OneDrive” sub-option.

  1. At this stage, Windows will load your Microsoft OneDrive management screen into the default web browser and present you with the sharing invitation screen. Enter the email address for whoever you want to collaborate with (a “subordinate”), along with an optional greeting/instructions and press the Share button.

  1. The default sharing condition when you invite someone to share your project is “Can only view“, meaning that they can look at the project but they can’t change anything. This is obviously not “collaboration” in the war-crimes sense of the word. To allow the invited party to actually add and edit data, you must;


    1. click on the project folder from within the OneDrive account manager,
    2. select the invited party,
    3. click on the pull-down option labeled “Can only view”, and
    4. change their “privileges” to “Allow editing”.

Mapping a Drive to the Shared Project

Note: The following information applies only to subordinates. It does not apply to the owner (person who created the RockWorks project within the OneDrive cloud).

 The invited party will now receive an email that looks something like this:

This is very nice if we’re sharing a single file but with RockWorks, we need to share an entire project folder. That’s where things fell apart and we just about gave up on RockWorks project collaboration via OneDrive until discovering a work-around that involves “mapping” a drive letter to a URL. The following steps are admittedly clunky so pay attention.

  1. At this stage, we need to determine the CID (Content-ID) for the project folder. This is accomplished by the following steps:
    1. Return to the OneDrive account manager,
    2. right-click on the project folder to be shared,
    3. select the “Share” option from popup menu,
    4. click on the “Get a link” option, and
    5. notice the “View only” URL.



  2. Copy everything between the “=” character and the “&” character to the Windows clipboard. In the example above, this would be “73D3124233C588F!8846”.


  3. Launch the Windows File Explorer program, right-click on “This PC” and select the “Map Network Drive” option from the pop-up menu.



  4. The next step is to designate the URL that contains the RockWorks project folder as the location that the “Z” drive will be assigned to. In the following example, that should read;

    Notice that the letters within the CID number must all be in upper case and the address should be terminated by a forward slash (“/”).


  5. Assuming that the URL was entered correctly, the invited party will now be prompted to enter their Windows account ID and password. If their email matches an email address within the owners invitation list, the Z-drive (or whatever drive was specified within the previous menu) will now be mapped to the designated URL address.



  6. If everything went well, you’ll be able to see the newly mapped drive within the Windows File Explorer program.



  7. Finally, the subordinate collaborator(s) will be able to access and edit the shared RockWorks project by selecting the newly assigned drive.



Whew! After writing up this blog entry, this process seems to be much more difficult that it really was. Although I’m sure that this has something to do with describing it in detail, it certainly wasn’t intuitive. We’re hoping that Microsoft will eventually streamline the process so that folders (not just files) shared with other users (subordinates) can be more easily integrated into the subordinates’ Windows folder listings. It would also be very useful if the subordinates could have the same automatic synchronization capabilities with an offline-version as the owner.


We are deeply indebted to Olivier Fontana ( for posting the drive mapping “work-around” on his blog site.