23 Replies Latest reply on Mar 26, 2018 6:08 PM by Thys Coetzee

    best folder structure for vault

    Helmie Van Der Westhuizen



      I'm looking for some advice on the best approach for folder structure inside the PDM Vault. We're planning to migrate parts, assembles and drawings that are currently stored in Windows folder structure as Part Type/Model Number and also in Project folders/Part Type.


      For the Vault , should we just keep a flat structure and solely rely on Searching of Properties and filters or are folders still useful in organizing and because we're very used to the format?


      Thanks in advance for your input.



        • Re: best folder structure for vault
          Shaodun Lin

          The folder structure could be like this:


          Project 1

          - CAD file

            -- Top Assembly

            --- Sub Assembly 1

            --- Sub Assembly 2

          - PDF file

          - Project documents

          -- Manual

          -- Quotation

          -- BOM

          Project 2

          Project 3

          Commercial Part

            - Supplier 1

            - Supplier 2

          Toolbox Part

          • Re: best folder structure for vault
            Ravi Teja


            There is no one best way of doing it.

            How would you describe your projects ?

            Are they customer specific ? like Machines made to order etc ?


            You make each project is a product and you sell them to different customers (Customer asked for a specific model here and you deliver ?)


            Once you have this concept down,You will be able to set the folder structure correctly.(Top level will have either customer names or Product Names)

            One more tip : Having Folders more than 3- 4 levels deep is not good.


            Also plan  how you will be reusing the data in future and plan the folder structure accordingly.





            Ravi T

            • Re: best folder structure for vault
              Craig Schultz




              Copy Tree/Template starter files


              Library Parts


              -->SubCategory 1

                   -->Product Line


                             -->Data Reports




              -->SubCategory 2

              -->SubCategory 3

              SW Tempates


              Previous place (job shop):



              Radan Files

              -->Customer 1

                   -->Part Number1

                        -->Our CAD(SW, PDFs)

                        -->Customer CAD(SW, DXFs, PDFs, other CAD)             

                   -->Part Number2

              -->Customer 2

              -->Customer 3



              Also consider how you break down folder permissions by groups and what info you put on drawings.  It makes admin a lot easier by simplifying permissions.  It makes populating drawings easier if you can drive folder data card variables.

              • Re: best folder structure for vault
                Christian Chu

                I'd try to break as many folders as I can -  each folder is a sub-assembly

                Here is how I organize for my company vault (product is machines)

                if your product is custom--part then this won't work

                Main Folder1 (for project 1)

                     Main assembly


                          Sub-assembly1 and its parts


                          Sub-assembly2 and its part

                and so on ...


                Design Library main Folder

                     Sub-Folders for each type of standard parts


                Non-SW files folder

                     sub-folders: each for PDF, dwg, Step, excel, word, and so on ...

                • Re: best folder structure for vault
                  Helmie Van Der Westhuizen

                  Thanks all for your input.

                  I was thinking a flatter folder structure would be more common in the Vault due to Search function of Properties, but the broad consensus seems to be that a multi-level tree based on Projects or Products still make sense.

                  I think we'll probably not stray too far from the existing Explorer structure, but will experiment with a couple of slight variations during Beta testing.

                  • Re: best folder structure for vault
                    Tim Webb

                    Hi Helmie,

                    This is really a broad but fun discussion! I enjoy seeing what each customer will do. Over the last decade I have seen numerous folder layouts for SOLIDWORKS PDM.


                    Speaking in round numbers only, I recommend the following:

                    • Use folder names to represent a Project number, Project Name, Project ID, etc. But be consistent.
                    • Use folder cards to store project level metadata (i.e. project name & project ID from ERP, project manager, client name, PO number, start/due dates, etc.)
                    • Use file data cards store file level metadata (i.e. part number & ERP part number, description, revision, owner, created/released dates, etc.)
                    • Use file names to represent either a descriptive name OR assign it a part number. We have tools to handle this so it does not matter if a filename is "Mike's magneto idea for new flux capacitor.sldprt" or "114-25067-001.sldprt". As long as the file card has the appropriate meta data, it works. Basically engineers need the flexibility to create and change engineering data as cost effectively as possible. No matter what though, DO NOT ever use the Revision in the filename! Put that in a data card field.
                    • Pull part numbers when the idea is more than an idea (i.e. when the part is going to go to production). Don't burn part numbers on ideas, pull them when you're ready to go to manufacturing.
                    • Use workflow states to indicate the status of the files (i.e. Work in Process, Review, Pending Release, Released, etc.) But you can also use states to indicate the physical location of the data if your operations are big enough.


                    As the PDM administrator, you can talk with your users, stakeholders, and reseller but it will really fall back on your shoulders to make the decision that will create a system you will either grow into or grow out of. Choose wisely


                    If you need ideas, let me know! I'm glad to help.


                    Here are some examples:

                    vault structure 1.png vault structure 2.png

                    sample file card 1.png

                    sample file card 2.png


                    sample folder card 1.png sample folder card 2.png


                    advanced folder card.png


                    Hope this helps,

                    Tim CEPA

                    Believe in The Q!

                      • Re: best folder structure for vault
                        Christian Chu

                        It's awesome - Thank you for sharing, Tim.

                        • Re: best folder structure for vault
                          Brant Westfall

                          Hi Tim,


                          How exactly do you "share" a file with another folder?

                            • Re: best folder structure for vault
                              Tim Webb

                              Enable permissions to share file to another folder in the folder permissions and State permissions of the group you want to allow to share files then copy the file(s) and paste shared to another folder. Here's how.


                              First, enable the group permission to share files to another folder in the "Folder Permissions" properties

                              folder share.png


                              Then, enable "Share file to another folder" permission in the "State Permissions" properties

                              state share.png

                              To share the files:

                              Right click on one or more files to share and click "Copy"

                              copy shared.png

                              Navigate to the folder where you want to share the files and right click in that folder and click "Paste Shared"

                              paste shared.png


                              shared files.png

                              A few things to note about shared files:

                              1. Notice the newly shared files now have a yellow plus sign on them. This is a visual indicator the files live in multiple folders
                              2. The shared files will inherit the data card that governs the folder where the files get shared to. As a result, you can limit the datacard fields that are shown to the user who has permissions to view those files in that folder. As such, you can tailor the user experience for the shared files to be only what you want them to see.
                              3. The files stay in the same workflow and state of the source file so the transitions available to the groups who can see these files in the shared folder will be available to them.
                              4. To remove the share on a shared file, destroy the shared file (in every location it exists).


                              If you need to see where files have been shared, check out our paid app called 'where shared tool'.Where Shared Tool - SolidWorks App - EquivaQ Software

                              The advantages this add-in offers compared with the out of the box "right click > properties > links" functionality is 1) fewer clicks 2) a re-sizable window and 3) each file folder share is a clickable hyperlink that will browse to that folder where shared. It's $10 per month or $120 per year with a 10 day free trial.

                              where shared tool.png


                              Hope this helps,

                              Tim CEPA

                              Believe in The Q!

                          • Re: best folder structure for vault
                            S. Casale

                            One bucket!!!


                            Not what we do, but it's the truth!

                            • Re: best folder structure for vault
                              Shane Suffolk

                              Doesn't the number of files per folder also dictates the folder structure?


                              I've found that, when looking at the contains tab of an assembly, the 'Browse to file in New window' option to view a file in the assembly fails to locate the file if the folder where the file is located contains a lot of files (around 3000). It opens a new window with the correct folder but doesn't select the desired file. In folder with less files this function seems to work fine.

                                • Re: best folder structure for vault
                                  Tim Webb

                                  Shane, the number of files per folder can be large or small. I've worked with this system for 10 years without seeing a huge impact to performance. However, folder depth (number of characters in the folder path) has caused heartburn for many admins.


                                  When you click the "browse to..." or "browse to in new window...", even though it appears PDM doesn't select the file, PDM is still selecting the file, (without clicking in the file window) roll the scrollbar up about 3 files and you will see your file is indeed selected. This is a known issue. Give it a try, you will see it is selected.


                                  Hope this helps,

                                  Tim CEPA

                                  Believe in The Q!

                                  • Re: best folder structure for vault
                                    Jason Capriotti

                                    The number of files in a folder will affect performance. I just restructured our vault (not fun) from all engineering drawings/model being in 9 folders (1-9) based on the part number they start with, to 500+ folders based on part types (Brackets, Screws, Plates, etc). The problem is we have a very large series of interconnected products (elevators), a lot of mix and match so it can be difficult to have folders based on "Products".


                                    The previous structure of 9 folders was a problem because some folders had 10,000+ files and it took 30 seconds just to display the contents. Insert part command, wait 30 seconds, save as - wait 30 seconds...etc. We also noticed that transitions to another state was also affected by files in these folders.....not sure why but I guess behind the scenes it was pinging that folder when transitioning.


                                    Even with the new scheme, there are a few folders with 2000+ files which is a little slow. We have 55,000+ total drawings and model files.


                                    You might separate purchased off the shelf components into their own area and sub-folders from the designed parts/assemblies.

                                      • Re: best folder structure for vault
                                        Shane Suffolk

                                        Hello Tim,

                                        Yep, I'm aware of the 'scrolling up' bug but I'm seeing something else happen.

                                        The behaviour I'm getting when I click the "browse in new window.." is that PDM opens the correct folder in a new window but then doesn't select any file (let alone the correct one) and displays the folder with the scroll bar at the very top displaying the first files.

                                        This only happens when browsing to a file in a folder containing a large number of files (3300).


                                        I'm thinking to split my vault up into more folders like Jason has done but perhaps there is something else I can do to stop this behaviour?

                                          • Re: best folder structure for vault
                                            S. Casale

                                            Shane Suffolk wrote:


                                            "...The behaviour I'm getting when I click the "browse in new window.." is that PDM opens the correct folder in a new window but then doesn't select any file (let alone the correct one) and displays the folder with the scroll bar at the very top displaying the first files..."

                                            This has been the behavior we have experienced since we implemented EPDM. It's been hit or miss. Nothing that makes us worry as we can just scroll to the file desired after the new window opens.

                                            • Re: best folder structure for vault
                                              Tim Webb

                                              I have seen this before but don't think SOLIDWORKS has an answer to this. I searched the KB for this and it has been reported under SPR# 631576 and SPR#653088 (semi-related when clicking folder link in notifications). You can ask your VAR to add you to this SPR so you will be notified when there is a response to it.


                                              Hope this helps,

                                              Tim CEPA

                                              Believe in The Q!

                                        • Re: best folder structure for vault
                                          Bryan Nathan

                                          We have a number of components and subassemblies which are used in numerous custom top level assemblies. Thus we have a folder for each type of part for the models (parts/assemblies). We then have a single folder for all drawing files (drawing files all have the same file card). The logic is that we have different file cards which reside in select folders. This allows us to put different custom information for certain components and allows us to search more easily.


                                          For example our screw folder has custom information of Thread/Length/Head Style/Drive Type on the card (on top of all the standard variables we need). Not only do they have custom File Cards, but they have custom Search Cards and Column views. We really couldn't be happier with the results although there are probably numerous ways to get the same result.


                                          We also have a Project folder, ECN folder and Procedure folder because they have different work flows.


                                          A few lessons learned:

                                          - When doing a copy tree you'll have to select Preserve relative paths, but make the destination folder is the lowest folder which all files share in common. If you don't EPDM will create new folders for you and you'll be annoyed.

                                          - Our heavy use of version free variables gave us problems initially because when we used copy tree the variables stayed. So, if for instance I copied a M3 x 10 screw into a M3 x 12 the variable "length" would read 10 unless the user remembered to fix it. We solved this by clearing select variables during the copy tree (through user group settings). Thus we might have missing information, but we won't have wrong information.


                                          Good luck.

                                          • Re: best folder structure for vault
                                            Stephen Lapic

                                            I think it is going to be dependent on your business and personal choice.


                                            We have many top level folders but the main two are for projects and component & assemblies.  Since we have many departments and people that access the vault, our project folders are created with a template so each project has about 50 folders inside.  For our components, I try to break them up into meaningful groups just because it looks better for me.  Everyone usually uses the search card but sometimes when your in the vault you just want things to be in order.

                                            • Re: best folder structure for vault
                                              John Dymesich

                                              I recommend using as many directories as possible for each product type, commercial parts (and sub commercial parts), job folder (sub folders for customer specs, vendor quotes other type cad drawings, SW drawings) etc.  Too many file in a directory will take a lot of time to return the directory information.  I have seen 30+ seconds for directories with 1000's of files in them and it is a huge waste of time (same as a save as will take the 30+ seconds). Files can be shared across all the directories with minimal impact.   Think about it and plan wisely as you will may be stuck with your structure as it fills up with files and it is difficult to get a group of users to change to a new structure.


                                              Moving files can be challenging because it will only work when all files are checked in and everyone should clear their local  cache to update locations (and delete local files).  (Grayed out file names in the vault folder are not in the vault and have been moved.)


                                              Another tip is to use a part number log in excel that concatenates the cells (Like =CONCATENATE("Path","\","part number").

                                              I add the path into my excel log for the job and file location and when I do a "save as" I paste the complete path and part number in one shot.  No searching through a directory tree to save a part to a new job folder.  This has save us ALOT of time clicking to directories over the years.  The log is only for personal use and the data is entered into our system.  I also copy the file information that I am saving a copy of  to a cell to track back where a part originated from.




                                              Wish you a wise choice.

                                              John D

                                              • Re: best folder structure for vault
                                                Michael Ferraro

                                                The way we have our vault laid out is as follows:



                                                • Design Library
                                                  • All the associated substructure
                                                • Engineering Standards
                                                • EPDM Templates
                                                • Projects
                                                  • Year
                                                    • Project #
                                                    • Project #
                                                  • Year
                                                    • Project #
                                                    • Project #
                                                  • Etc.
                                                • Vendor Catalogs


                                                The nice thing about this set up is when you do Copy Tree's we have the whole Design Library Folder set to not be copy treed. So you can quickly copy an assembly to start redesigning while maintaining all of the library files.

                                                  • Re: best folder structure for vault
                                                    Thys Coetzee

                                                    Creating bazillions of folders presents so many problems.  Users will not store files the same way twice in a row at the best of times.  Michael's project folders are elegant and simple. No need for different structures for different stages of a project -- just us a folder variable to indicate status.  Within each project I typically create four folders which handles 99% of the documents and files for the project.  Users can of course add more if the need arises.


                                                    For the Design Library, I have two levels.  Design Library would contain 1000 folders (added as needed) numbered 000 through to 999.  Each of those folders contains up to a thousand folders.  They are named 000-100 through 999-999, where the first three digits mirror the name of the parent.  Each of these folders then hold 1000 parts and assemblies and their drawings, giving me perhaps 2000 files per folder.  All in all, two layers deep and I can handle a billion unique parts and assemblies.  The files themselves started with a six-digit serial naming and will grow automagically to nine digits as the need arises.  I started with two folders and the templates generate the new folders as the part numbers increment into the next thousand.

                                                    I meet:

                                                    * limiting any folder painting to around 1000 to 2000 items max

                                                    * complete automated numbering and storage

                                                    * no user decisions needed