34 Replies Latest reply on Nov 3, 2017 11:51 AM by Adrian Velazquez

    EPDM Configurations and Properties

    Andrew Deboer

      So without going into internal work drama, my company has finally decided to start migration to EPDM. Unfortunately, it was basically just installed and we were told to have at it. So the engineering team is having to set it up on the fly. Permissions, basic templates and cards, and a simple workflow are set up, but I have some questions about cards, custom properties and configurations.

       

      EPDM cards seems to handle @ (base part) and configuration properties a little differently than drawings handle them. In drawings, you can mix and match, but cards, display all the information from a single property tab at once.

       

      Since we don't have many configurations, it'll be easiest to just duplicate all the information from the @ properties into the configuration property tab so it shows on cards. But is there a way to mix the information from the @ properties and configuration properties on a card tab?

       

      Secondly, I know you can hide the @ tab, but I want to do the opposite. For all single configuration parts, I want to hide the Default/01 configuration.

       

      Basically, I just need to consolidate the card data, so the peons can just look at one single tab for one part number and have all the primary part information. Configurations get part numbers, hence the first question of trying to put all the information in one place.

       

      The other option is to completely ignore and hide the @ tab, push all required properties to all configurations that need it, and then only one tab per part number is displayed.

       

      I'm just trying to preserve what little information was actually properly documented as custom properties, so that my poor Admin/Document Controller won't have to re-touch every part and property field manually. They will likely end up touching most of them anyway, but having 50% of the information is better than none of the information.

       

      Would it be worth setting up a staging area for legacy imports and a workflow that copies the configuration data accordingly, then pushes into the production folder?

       

      Any tips or threads you can direct me to would be a great help, as we are starting from scratch and on our own. EPDM Revision Table Description has already been big help.

       

      Much thanks in advance,

      Andrew

        • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
          Charley Saint

          Hey Andrew,

           

          Best advice I can give you is to have your users turn off this option that's on by default:

           

          Untitled.png

           

          That way if they were looking at the @ tab on a datacard then the next file they look at will still be focused on the @ tab instead of switching back to the default tab.

          • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
            Adrian Velazquez

            I've been a EPDM (SW PDM Pro) Admin for 6 years now, to this date I have  no clear understanding of why the @ configuration exists or how it exactly works...

              • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                Charley Saint

                Hey Adrian,

                 

                Well the @ tab refers to Custom Properties, I'm pretty sure Microsoft Office was the one to blame for making it the '@' symbol. Then each configuration of the file adds its own tab to the datacard to fill in the configuration specific properties.

                Untitled.png

                  • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                    Andrew Deboer

                    I see the potential usefulness of the @ general tab, but only if the configurations inherited the general custom properties that weren't set in the configuration properties. That's why the pane in SW says, configuration specific. Not sure if/why MS Office drove that change, considering when I add Office files I don't get an extra @ tab.

                     

                    I just need to get it to One tab=One Part Number. Just like One Part=One Drawing.

                     

                    Looks like the easiest way is going to be hiding the @ configuration, and moving all our properties to the configuration properties tab, even for single configuration parts.

                     

                    Guess I'll create a dispatch script to move all the variables in @ to the active/default configuration. Then have it run on initial check in based on whether it finds a variable (isLegacy) that I'll preset in our part/assy templates for future new parts created in EPDM. I can probably also use that to spin off into a legacy workflow, as well to match the Revision levels as well before setting them as Released.

                     

                    EDIT - Just wanted to add; one this is confusing, and two this should work considering SW drawings pull from the view's configuration properties first, and if the property doesn't exist then it checks the @/General properties for a value. But if your configuration has the variable spot and is blank, then all you get is a blank. So even if I push all the properties to the configuration specific tab, no drawings should need to be changed.

                      • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                        Charley Saint

                        Hey Andrew,

                         

                        Well MS drove this standard: Compound File Binary Format - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that SolidWorks used until 2015 when it changed the file formats and that's what said Custom Properties are denoted with an @ symbol. At least I remember hearing that and Google isn't helping me since you can't include @'s in search queries haha.

                         

                        Hopefully that works out for you, it will complicate things like transition conditions and columns off the top of my head so be wary.

                        • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                          Brian McEwen

                          Here is a similar discussion.

                          Re: Why does data card save data to Configuration Specific tab and not custom property tab

                           

                          "it will complicate things like transition conditions and columns"

                          But Charley's point is a good one. Another place where this could show up is Dispatch Actions. It is hard to run for a specific config, when you don't necessarily know the name of the config...  I doubt it will be easy to change legacy config names.  I guess if you have all fields set to "update all configurations" then it should work out (to ignore the @ tab).  Charley - can you think of a case where that would not work? 

                           

                          Another thought - hiding the @ tab in File Explorer can be done, but what happens in the embedded EPDM tools?  Test everything.

                           

                          As far as why they used the character "@" I think it was because in the sorting scheme they use @ comes near the beginning (it certainly comes before all the letters and numbers). So the @ tab will almost always be first in the data card tabs.  One character I have seen show up before @ is a quotation mark. So when users do something annoying like putting a config name in quotation marks it will appear first on the data card. 

                            • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                              Andrew Deboer

                              Well fortunately 95% of the single part configurations will most likely be named '01'. But even if that isn't the case, I can always grab the active configuration through %CurrentConfig% in Dispatch. I haven't seen a function to pull in all configuration names to test whether or not there is only one configuration or not, but that would be useful for error checking. I could then just have it skip and flag parts with multiple configs for manual entry.

                               

                              What is everyone else doing then? Are you just telling your users that the data can be split between the @ and configuration specific tabs or are you filling out both to cover your bases? Because it makes absolutely no sense that configurations don't inherit the @ general properties through cards. Cards essentially treat @ properties as a false configuration that isn't actually there. If SW wanted them to be treated as general file properties, then they should push to configurations assuming there isn't a configuration specific override. That's the whole point of configurations, simple variations of a base part controlled through one file. Drawings with $PRPSHEET variables work this way, I don't see why Cards should function differently. Am I wrong here? Am I just not seeing the one random case where you wouldn't want it to function that way? I realize I'm probably going against the tide here, but its just important I have clear understanding of what's going on because of the changes EPDM is about to have on everybody's workflow here.


                              I can almost guarantee that if i leave the @ visible, people are going to wind up on the configuration tab and end up typing in the information because "it was blank and should of been filled out". I can explain it to Engineering, but Purchasing and Manufacturing is another story.

                               

                              I'd like to hear more though about "it will complicate things like transition conditions and columns".

                                • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                                  Charley Saint

                                  Hey Andrew,

                                   

                                  Pretty much anything in EPDM that reads from the datacard, like transition conditions or columns, likes to read the @ tab if the variable exists there. So you may get some goofiness where the active configuration says the description is "Bracket" but the description column says "McMaster PN XXXXXX" because that got filled in on the custom properties somehow and the user has no idea why and can't even see the @ tab if you hide it from them to diagnose. Transition conditions pretty much require you to fill in a configuration name to be reliable, for some reason they sometimes work and sometimes don't if you leave that field blank.

                                   

                                  As for us, we have a gentleman's agreement not to use configurations in our parts and I set all the fields on the projects CAD files card to "Updates all configurations" and I setup a secondary card for library CAD files that doesn't update all, this includes toolbox files for obvious reasons. I also use a hell of a lot of programming to maintain the whole system, pulling SQL reports to validate standards and using API calls for cleaning up messes, but that's probably not for everyone haha

                                    • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                                      Andrew Deboer

                                      Thanks for the quick responses.

                                       

                                      But sadly this all just confirms my suspicion that configurations were a hack on top of the hack that already is PDM. Sigh. That's ridiculous for how much this software costs. The upside is that I can hack around it at least. /rant

                                       

                                      If I move all our properties to configurations specific only,that will work seamlessly for legacy drawings because SW BOMs and Drawings both first look to the configuration first for properties then to the @ properties if its not found. So even if the @ properties get out of date they won't matter as long as the configuration specific fields are filled out. Wonder how that will affect searches though...guess I could always purge the properties from @ after copying but then I'm left with another blank tab in the data card if anyone un-hides the @ tab.

                                       

                                      Except I'll need to use the @ tab for Revision variables...wait no I can make the Revision field always update all configurations. So it won't matter where I write it to.

                                       

                                      More and more I plan this out my hatred for this @ tab is growing. It has yet to provide me with a feature I can't get some other way.

                                      • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                                        Chris Appleby

                                        Hi Charley,

                                         

                                        Just curious if you have given up on your agreement to use configurations?  This seems like leaving behind a very powerful and time saving tool if you have parts that are perfect for configurations where one or two dims change and the rest remain constant.  Imagine if you had 30 or more parts like this to make drawings and models for all would seem like a waste. I'm curious what you think.  I am researching this now as this topic applies to us figuring out the best ways to manage configs right now.  Any thoughts would be appreciated.

                                         

                                        Chris

                                          • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                                            Charley Saint

                                            There is no right answer when it comes to managing configurations in PDM, it comes down to what works for you. I have a sort of rule of thumb with configs, if your organization is part focused then configs work great, if it's assembly focused then they'll probably cause more harm than good. For instance think of how much of a pain it would be for McMaster to add a new pitch spec to the threads on all their SHCS if each was a unique file and how easy it would be if all diameter/lengths are configs of the same file. On the other hand think of a heavy equipment manufacturer that only tracks off-the-shelf hardware and all their custom hardware is highly unique, so configurations only muddy the water for them. Additionally if you are using PDM as just a data management tool and you've got a PLM system that's your single source of truth and the metadata on each configuration is clean so it generates pdfs and steps that PLM keeps, then configs are probably pretty useful when you've got a lot of slightly different parts. If you're using PDM as your single source of truth then you probably want to exercise caution with configs since you can't individually control revisions on configurations.

                              • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                                Adrian Velazquez

                                Yeah by definition I know it represents the "General" Custom Properties of Doc, but in practice it's confusing and annoying since EPDM is a primarily a SW Vault system, and most Files don't have "Added" configurations (Default Only).

                                • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                                  Ray Nicoli

                                  I'm fine with the @ tab and config specific tabs. It makes sense. @ applies to the entire part/assembly/drawing.  The system works pretty well...as long as you only have ONE configuration.

                                   

                                  My issue is that I want to have different fields or values between the @ tab and the multiple config tabs.

                                  Examples

                                  • The description on the @ tab is "Bracket, Angle" and the configuration specific descriptions are "Bracket, Angle, 0.5m", "Bracket, Angle, 1.0m".
                                  • The drawing description should map to the part/assembly (prpsheet) @ tab description, NOT the first configuration tab description.
                                  • The Windows Explorer Description column should display the @ tab description, NOT the first configuration tab description.
                                  • If there is a "Client", "Project", "Make/Buy", "Revision", for example, field on the @ tab, these boxes/fields aren't necessary on the configuration specific tabs at my company and would be nice to hide/delete on config tabs.

                                   

                                  If I can change my set up to do this, please let me know.

                                    • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                                      Brian McEwen

                                      My issue is that I want to have different fields or values between the @ tab and the multiple config tabs.

                                      Examples

                                      • The description on the @ tab is "Bracket, Angle" and the configuration specific descriptions are "Bracket, Angle, 0.5m", "Bracket, Angle, 1.0m"

                                      1) This is possible as far as I understand what you are saying.  Data cards must be set up so that they do not write to all configs.

                                       

                                      "The drawing description should map to the part/assembly (prpsheet) @ tab description, NOT the first configuration tab description."

                                      2) This can be done by selecting which view to use to drive the drawing title-block properties (right click to drawing properties), and using an appropriate config for that view.  

                                       

                                       

                                      4) Data card editor is weak, there is probably a way to do the last point, but it would be a bit convoluted... You could set some variable that indicates the config is not the primary one (not sure how to do that).  Then use control logic on some fields.  2014 SOLIDWORKS PDM Help - Adding Control Logic to a Control

                                    • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                                      Chris Guerrero

                                      Hi Andrew,

                                       

                                      Learn to create a Dispatch so that every time a part is checked in, checked out, or tansitioned (depending on your needs),  it copies the values from the @ tab and pushes them into every configuration.  This will automatically override any pre-existing values in the configurations too.

                                        • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                                          Brent Hannah

                                          Brilliant! Has anybody done this? Is there an example or would I have to start from scratch?

                                           

                                          BTW - We use the @ tab for everything. We only use configurations for internal assembly states (raised, lowered, tilted, etc.) so the configuration data cards are superfluous at best, and a giant paint at worst.

                                            • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                                              Chris Guerrero

                                              I set this up where I work and it works rather nice.  Do you have Admin rights in the EPDM Administration tool?  You have to know how to create a Dispatch in the EPDM Administration tool. 

                                               

                                              We use the @ tab too (Default configuration).  I customized our SolidWorks with the Property Tab Builder and all those values are added to the @ tab (Default configuration).  Like you, I really needed this.  This Dispatch action updates every configuration, It doesn't matter how many configurations you have.

                                                • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                                                  Brent Hannah

                                                  I do have Admin rights. I have a programming background and have written several scripts, but I have not looked at Dispatch at all. Could you send the code?

                                                   

                                                  Thanks

                                                    • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                                                      Chris Guerrero

                                                      Programming is a little more sophisticated than what you'll need to do.  Within the Admin tool, expand the vault that you want to work in.  This will be added under Add-ins.

                                                       

                                                      While this isn't complicated, there's a little bit more to it than I can explain right now.

                                                       

                                                      Call your VAR and see if they explain how to add the Dispatch action to your Add-ins  (I did this six years ago so I'd have to spend some time figuring out how I set that up so it'd probably be quicker to have Hawk Ridge Systems, Go Engineer, or whoever get you going).  Once you have the Dispatch Action setup, I can share with you the settings I added to make this work.

                                                        • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                                                          Elisabeth Daley

                                                          Hi Chris, I've got essentially the same problem - I'm trying to delete all the configuration specific properties that might otherwise incorrectly show on our drawing titleblocks (leaving just the value from the @ tab), but I'm having trouble finding how to access those variables in a dispatch script. Could you post a hint or two about how to do that?  It doesn't have to be full code or anything, and the Add-In is already enabled.

                                                    • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                                                      Brian McEwen

                                                      Brent and Chris - why do you need this Dispatch?  If you use the @ tab for everything, why not just leave the config specific properties blank.

                                                      Or... just select "updates all configurations" (on data card editor) so any time the data card is changed it changes the property for every config. 

                                                       

                                                      ...There is probably some advantage to your scheme, maybe if you are not changing the properties on the EPDM data card, but using SolidWorks interface instead. 

                                                        • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                                                          Brent Hannah

                                                          I'll answer your question with a question. Why do you need the data spread across so many data cards? Perhaps I just don't understand how they work. All I know is - I want my drawing title block populated with data from the model, and I want to export the data from the data cards to build a bill of materials. This should be the same data, and the "@" tab ALWAYS contains that data (out of the box - no changes to the system required). BUT for some reason you cannot force EPDM/Solidworks to refer to the "@" tab information to populate the drawing title block, it will ALWAYS draw from one of the other configurations. This usually results in blank fields on my drawings. It's very frustrating. The only way I have found to make it work is to have changes in one card propagate across all the cards. But this requires remembering to edit the card before saving, and very manual process that I don't feel is reasonable.

                                                           

                                                          I have never understood why people would want to use configurations to created substantially different parts. The logistics of trying to track all that just seems like a nightmare to me.

                                                            • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                                                              Adrian Velazquez

                                                              This been the case, I would do it in SW not EPDM!  I have have a SW macro that grabs the Custom Properties of the Model (Part or Assembly and copies them to the Drawing Custom Properties.

                                                               

                                                              The reason for this is that I want to make sure my Drawing Properties (which populate Title Block and Notes) are final before I close it and Check-In

                                                            • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                                                              Chris Guerrero

                                                              Hi Brian,

                                                               

                                                              Wish it was that easy.  Configuration properties in a drawing view will populate attributes and override the values in the Default configuration (so the Default configuration values won't display).  Drawing numbers, descriptions, bill of materials all pull from the configuration instead of Default.  It's fine if the configuration fields are empty, but that isn't always the case.  We can tell users to delete all the values in every configuration, but then you're depending on users.  Having a Dispatch push the fields ensures that any files with same attributes in configuration fields won't over-write the fields from the Default configuration.  This happens when users use SolidWorks "Save As" command, using files from contractors, or downloading files from external sources such as Thor Labs or 3D Content Central.  This doesn't explain all the possibilities, but this gives you an example of why such a tool is beneficial (especially when you're setting up EPDM for many users).

                                                                • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                                                                  Brent Hannah

                                                                  Chris - Exactly. I'm glad I'm not the only one experiencing this issue.

                                                                  Adrian - In our set up, the model is king and contains all the variables. The drawing is merely a view of the model. Also I don't want to have to worry if the drawing data card is in sync with the model data card (I have enough trouble with one set of configurations).

                                                                   

                                                                  What I find odd is that all of the properties get written to the "@" tab in the data card by default, but there is no way to have data read from that tab exclusively (and ignore any other tabs). This makes no sense to me, or am I missing something? I mean - it's always there, can't be renamed - yet you can't set it to be the default read/write location.

                                                                    • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                                                                      Brian McEwen

                                                                      I totally agree with the last paragraph, there are a number of ways it could be improved - on both the SolidWorks and EPDM sides.

                                                                      • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                                                                        Aaron Torberg

                                                                        We look at it a slightly different way.  We are part based and cannot make different part numbers based on configurations so the @ tab is king.  The @ tab on the data card is equal to the custom properties of a part or assembly, where the tabbed configuration pages of the data card are configuration specific properties.  We use the @ tab exclusively and entering properties on other tabs is taboo!  Most of our users check the option to hide the data card when new parts are created and strictly use the properties fly-out tab in the SolidWorks interface to enter part properties (the forms made with property tab builder).  This interface is configured to only enter properties on the @ tab (custom properties) of parts and assemblies, so the user does not accidentally muck it up by adding properties to the wrong tab on the card.

                                                                        • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                                                                          Aaron Torberg

                                                                          Configuration specific properties always take priority over standard custom properties because a specific configuration is dictated by the drawing view.  This is a little annoying for sure...

                                                                        • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                                                                          Brian McEwen

                                                                          For what it is worth...

                                                                          We also had model properties as king. Drawings pulled from the model using the SolidWorks property syntax.  After EPDM we basically did all our changes from the data card, which is not so bad if you open it from within SolidWorks (also easier if the data card really contains relevant fields).  If there were values in the config specific then we simply had to clear them out. In our case it was not onerous (we had a small group of users), but it did require a bit of cleanup and awareness.

                                                                           

                                                                          The hierarchy of where drawings get values from is weird, there should be a setting in EPDM and SolidWorks to really make the default custom prop the @ tab stuff.

                                                                           

                                                                          We did use config specific for things like bolts, material was dictated by the configuration.  But there were no drawings of those toolbox parts anyway.

                                                                           

                                                                          Also, don't get me started on the extra tabs on the drawing (one per sheet) - that messed me up for a bit, since some variables were showing up on the drawing non-@ tabs, and then not getting changed, and some of the workflow logic (revision changing) was sometimes finding the value on a tab we never looked at - and setting the wrong revision. Fixed after I realized what was happening.

                                                                  • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                                                                    Paul Hines

                                                                    We just went through EPDM start up and I had the same question about the @ tab.  At first we considered the @ tab worthless.  Then I learned how EPDM uses the @ tab.  All values from the EPDM vault workflow are only placed in the @ tab.  Values put in with SolidWorks go into the config. specific tab.  SW copies @ tab values automatically if it is referenced in the configuration.

                                                                     

                                                                    We link everything together in the title block $PRPSHEET looks in both tab's for the values.  I hope that helps.

                                                                    • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                                                                      Paul Wyndham

                                                                      Has anyone ever submitted an enhancement request to have it so that the Default card is never created and a configuration tab is only created when and if there is actually a configuration present?

                                                                       

                                                                      I think that would fix all the issues that everyone has with the @ and Default tabs. It is ridiculous to force there to be a default tab by default when it is not a configuration part. It should be like everything else like where it only becomes a configuration dimension when you specifically tell it to be one.

                                                                        • Re: EPDM Configurations and Properties
                                                                          Aaron Torberg

                                                                          Yeah I know what your talking about, but at the same time there is always at least one configuration and most of the time it is named "Default" - hence the "Default" tab.  If you rename this configuration the tab changes as well, so this is not really the default tab, but the tab for the configuration "Default", oddly enough this sort of makes the "@" tab the default tab, but it is called "@" for some reason...???  Seems to me it should be called "Custom", because it gets the values from the Custom Properties most of the time.

                                                                           

                                                                          It would be cool to have a document specific option to ignore configuration specific properties within the drawings... It would save us some headaches...