Solid Edge ST9 Built-in Data Management

MLombard
Retired

ST9 has Built-In Data Management. A new tab has been added to the ribbon just for the built-in data management tools. This doesn’t have a name other than Built-In Data Management. It’s just part of the software. The more I realize how huge this is, the cooler it gets. This one little enhancement turns out to be like an entirely new product. You may have heard that the Revision Manager has been redeveloped as the Design Manager. Yes, that’s true, but it’s only the tip of the iceberg.

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Search and Indexing

Search is available through the Open dialog. But to make Search capabilities active, you have to get some Windows and Solid Edge settings set up properly first.

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The searching and Where Used functionality depends on Windows indexing, which is a separate Microsoft function that you have to enable. Indexing drives does take some time, but it’s the kind of thing you might allow to run over night or during lunch. Indexing makes much of the new functionality work, including Fast Search and Where Used.

 

To access the settings for Indexing and Windows Search, use the Control Panel. Control Panel in Windows 10 is most easily accessed by right clicking the Windows Start button, and selecting Control Panel from the list. In previous versions of Windows, the Control Panel is in the Start Menu. In the Control Panel, you’ll find Indexing Options.

 

If indexing is running, it will tell you at the top of the Indexing Options dialog. It should say “Indexing complete.”

 

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If it’s not running, you can start it with these steps. Press the Windows key + R, and type services.msc, then scroll down the list to Windows Search. You can right click on this entry to start it.

 

Warning: Windows Search and Indexing can be a resource hog on your machine or even on your network, so your IT people might need to be involved in the decision to use/turn on this option. You may need administrator access to perform some of these functions.

 

The idea behind indexing is that the Windows service searches your drive or whatever location you want to index, and stores the pertinent info (location, filename, properties). Then when you ask for a search, Windows just has to search its information cache instead of your drive again. This makes searches much faster.

You can go to the Modify button in Indexing Options and select a new area to index for search. This will help limit indexing and prevent some resource hogging.

Further, you can go to Advanced button in Indexing Options and control which file extensions get indexed. If you are unsure about any of this, you need to check with your IT people or CAD Admin to make sure you will not cause problems for yourself or other users.  

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You will also need to turn on the new setting Fast Property Search within the Solid Edge Options. These settings should be easy enough to set up, but again, you should consult your CAD Admin or IT professional before opening this can of worms. I don’t want to sound like I’m discouraging this practice, just that you need to be prepared and plan for a potential performance hit while systems are indexing. Your CAD Admin and IT pros should have experience needed to make these judgment calls.

 

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Indexing can be initiated from the Solid Edge Options > Fast Property Search > Solid Edge File Locations > Index My Files button. This will bring up the Windows Indexing Options dialog which will show the progress of indexing. It will also indicate if user activity is reducing indexing speed (although you are probably concerned about the opposite- if indexing is reducing user speed). This is something you should choose a good time for, such as lunch or over night. The speed at which your computer will index files depends on the overall performance of your computer, what else is happening on your computer at the time, the number of files to be indexed, and whether you are indexing network files, and the speed of your network. As an example, my computer indexed ~5000 files in about 5 minutes.

When the Index is up to date, your searches should be fast when searching for filenames, where used references, and properties.

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Search is available from the Open dialog or from Windows Explorer window. You can use any of the properties from the Property dropdown list in the Search dialog, shown below.

 

Searches can be saved and reused. Your last search is automatically saved, and listed as “LASTSRCH” in the My Searches list.

 

ST9dm7.pngThe Where Used tool is available from the Solid Edge Data Management ribbon or via right mouse button menu on a part in the Pathfinder, using the More > option. Results will look like the search results, but be indented to indicate dependency

.

 

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Check In/ Check Out

Easy to do. Shows green when you have it checked out, orange when someone else has it checked out.

 

Life cycle Management

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With the built-in data management, you can assign life cycle status to documents as they go through the system. You can change the status in the Property Manager or through the Design Manager interface in the SEStatus column.

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The assignable status levels are Available, In Work, In Review, Released, Baselined, and Obsolete. You can disable some of these statuses in the Solid Edge Options > File Management > Life Cycle area. The status is displayed as a symbol in front of the part name in the assembly Pathfinder.

 

File Naming with Save As and Revise

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Solid Edge still has the Document Name Formula where you can automatically build a file name based on various properties. You can find this at Solid Edge Options > Helpers > Document Name.

The new part in ST9 is under File Management > File Naming Rules.

 

 

Revision levels are controlled at Solid Edge Options > General > Revise and Increment Name. You can control the delimiter (i.e. _ , ., or -), start value, excluded characters, and minimum length (01 vs 1).

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Summary

There is way too much stuff here to cover it all in detail, but you get the idea. Solid Edge added a file management tool for those who don’t have one. It’s not hard to set up or use. You’ll be able to use this if you’re just a single user trying to keep track of versions.

 

In the next article I’ll keep going in this vein and talk about what many of you might have thought were going to be the big data management topics, Design Manager and Pack and Go.

 

Comments
Community Manager

All,

 

I have to say I am very excited about this part of ST9. We started with the notion "small companies don't have IT guys; what if you do basic PDM super fast, but without a database to adminster" -- of course this sounded impossible at first, but the team got it done. I think smaller customers -- 1-5-10 seats will really like this. Let us know!

Esteemed Contributor

Dan, I've got a group of about 8 that work unmanaged and I think this will be a great benefit.

Phenom

PDM-Free! That is a much bigger winner than Free PDM!

 

Some companies don't need a worflow for ECN/ECOs. A paper form with signatures works fine. So does an email with voting options and hyperlinks to documents and files. Or a simple cloud based workflow or an ERP workflow! Many options available for that.

 

Is SE actually using WIndows indexing or Windows Search Services?

Esteemed Contributor

@RyanM Yes, the second paragraph of the article explains that.

Legend

We have a machine designated as a server running win 7 (unless it has "updated" itself to win 10 without me looking). Can one index file be kept on the same machine and accessed all users? Or does each user maintain his own index?  The first way seems like the way to minimize network traffic.

Phenom

@Grundey

Ken- Yes, I read that but I was under the impression that Windows indexing was superseded by Windows Search?

Esteemed Contributor

@RyanM I see what you mean.  It is one in the same... Windows Search Service (WSS) provides the indexing and the Search function.  WSS also provides an API which is what I presume SE is using behind the scenes to perform it's searching.

Esteemed Contributor

@lking My understand of how Windows Search Service (WSS) works is that each Windows workstation/server has to have WSS setup and running (should be the default for workstations but not on server) and then when a Windows client attempts to search a shared drive from that machine, the index on that machine is shared with the client and thus a indexed search is perfomed.  The caveat is that any shared drive you use must be shared from a Windows workstation/server WSS running on it if it is to be indexed.  If you use a NAS/SAN or other storage appliance for your shared drive, then there is no WSS on it and thus no index to share so you are stuck with a slow "crawl" based search.

 

A shortcoming to Windows Search Service is that it will not allow you to index network shared drives, thus the reason each system must do it's own indexing.

Esteemed Contributor

One thing I like about PDM is the ability to filter for duplicate file names across the database. The other great benefit is forcing everyone to work from the same database instead of some server based, some workstation based files going into projects. Having worked both managed and unmanaged, small groups and large groups, duplicate file names can, IMO, absolutely kill the integrity of group CAD data. And it's not unusual that others get errors because drafts or assemblies are pointing to workstation files because people forget. If this functionality was in plain vanilla SE then, yeah, go for it. Otherwise, good luck.

Retired

@bshand

Oh, yeah, forgot to mention that there is a setting to enforce unique document numbers.

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Esteemed Contributor

@MLombard, Interesting. How does that work though? Insight, etc. has a controlled database to scan whereas Windows doesn't. Within an assembly structure I can understand. For Windows I can see a folder structure where this could be controlled from the root to branches but what about those outside the "tree"?

Retired

@bshand

 

It has a text .dat file. Remember this is simple file management, not enterprise PLM. A text file is sufficient to control part numbers.

Esteemed Contributor

I don't @MLombard, I'm skeptical that such a file could control what's going on with servers and several workstations across many parts and assemblies.

I suppose if a team is made well aware of the intent and agrees to do what it takes to make it work by staying within well-defined bounds then it can be successful most of the time with exceptions for forgetfullness, etc. It's certainly better than no such option.

Retired

Is there a reason why it couldn't work? It's not going to be bombarded with requests day in and day out with just a small team. It's a good solid step up from a manually run excel spreadsheet. For what it's meant to do it completely avoids the complications of a database, which I think are overkill for the target audience. I've seen text based files work fine in a previous life.

 

Tell you what. You start using it and try to break the text file. If you can, I'll buy you dinner in Indianapolis.

Esteemed Contributor

There may be lots of reasons for why it might not work. And maybe not. It probably will work where everyone wants it to. It's hard to know without knowing more about HOW it works. Anyway, I don't mean to ruffle feathers and I agree with you (which I thought was clear in my previous post) it should good for, as already mentioned, small teams.

Over and out.

Community Manager

Sorry, been tied up -- let me clarify a few (many!) things...

 

1. We do make use of "Windows Services" -- I don't know what its called, but its the thing that builds an index of your files so they can be quickly searched. The same thing you use to find an XLS quickly. We can not only do instant custom properties search, but we can do instant "Where used" as well -- the latter is a real blockbuster feature for small business.

2. There is no .dat or .txt file involved here other than what Windows might create mysteriously behind the scenes.

3. It does not work on an NAS because Windows can't index that.

4. The index is built ONCE on your shared server if that is the way you work. Any user search of that disk will use the index automatically.

5. You specify the folders to index. They can be distributed (rather than a single vault) but I would see a lot of companies designating something like C:\vault as where they put their CAD, with \released and \inwork folders under that and you'd just index the top level and all subfolders.

6. There is not only a concept of not reusing document numbers - there is also a duplicates finder. It finds not only duplicate file names but other duplicates based on an algorithm we developed.

 

Legend

That deserves Kudos! Long time in coming, but I'm not complaining. ;-)

Community Manager

Let me clarify the .dat file question. The way the discussion was going it sounded like people were thinking there was a .dat or a .txt involved in the indexing. There is not.

 

Where a .dat file comes into play is in the auto-part-number generator. We provide a completely customizable PNG (part number generator) in the CUSTOM folder in your SE install in ST9. It has all the source code included --- so in addition to generating most simple schemes out of the box, you can tailor it to your needs.

Creator

Our company has been using SE Insight for about a dozen years, but we are looking at moving to a new data management platform due to a couple of issues...one being response time.  We have also considered the advantages of incorporating a Change Control workflow, however this would not be considered critical functionality.  We have some fairly large assemblies ranging anywhere from 100 to several hundred components, so when opening a larger assembly you can be waiting around for some time until it opens.  It was mentioned in a previous posting that this software would be best suited for up to 10 users...would additional CAD users above this seriously hamper performance of the software, or was the comment referring to other issues?

 

We are also looking at MechWorks PDM, but believe Teamcenter to be a bit overkill for us.

Community Manager

@mburke -- There is nothing that inherently limits built-in to 10 users. Its just that sites larger than that tend to have more complex PLM requirements better served by Teamcenter.

 

Since there is really nothing to "set up" except to let the indexer run against your files, ,you could certainly try it out. I think you'll find it performs just fine for you.

Experimenter

Indexing files and trying to find them using Design Manager has been a pain in the neck... 

We have all our parts and assemblies stored in the server. We've installed FastSearch in our server but it works when it feels like. It has been virtually imposible using Design Manager and the Where used function even if the files are showing indexed by the green folder, the result will be 0 documents found, only when it shows a red folder meaning the files are not indexed, it runs the old search wich takes for ever but gets the job done. 

Now, I travel and work on the go with a copy of the parts from my server in an external hard driver which windows reckons it has been indexed and even Design Manager identifies it as a green folder, but lamely, 0 results. 

I Don't get it.

I've even spend more than a week trying all different types of configuration and index rebuilds but nothing. I've even tryied to not use it and just have the files not indexed so I can use deign manager and wait for longer searches but NO, apparently once the files have been indexed they'll stay that way and Whare Used won't find any.

 

If you've read all this about this indexing issue and have an idea that could get me up and running I will hightly appreciate it. I just want to use Design Manager and the Whare use function even if I have to wait like I use to in ST8.

 

Regards. 

Valued Contributor

When will Siemens produce an indexing tool that does not rely on windows search service but provides the data to their own fast search?  We need to implement this on a NAS/SANS.

Dreamer

I´m working on a document descibing how to use the built in Data Management in SE, so that we can start using it at my company (3 designers). However, when it comes to revising parts/assys I want their drawings to be revised simultaniasly. 

I saw the option to "automatically revise drawing that use the selected 3D document" but as far as I can see this option just links the drawing file to the revised 3D-file. I want the drawing files to be copied and renamed just like the 3D files (wich is how a PDM software generally works in my experience, so that you can visualize and reuse old revisions if needed).

 

The only workaround I can find is to uncheck the "automatically revise...." checkbox, use the revise-button for both the 3D-file and the drawing, and then update the link manually. This would be very time consuming and open up for mistakes. Is there an easier way?

 

I hope I made any sense.. It´s my first post in this forum and I´m pretty new to SE


BR

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