23 Replies Latest reply on Jan 5, 2014 12:25 AM by John Sutherland

    Is Folder Structure Important Anymore?

    Ash Combe

      This is a question for all the long term parametric/multi-file CAD users out there.

       

      I began on CADKey some 15 years ago and moved to Solid Edge about 12-13 years ago, (Solidworks last 6 months) and found that with Solid Edge it really helped to save the files using a folder structure that mirrored the assembly structure in CAD. I still use this idea today but simply can’t remember why it was so important (apart from making it easy to locate the files at a later date, which wasn’t the original reason) it’s just habit for me now. I’m trying to train some others in Solidworks techniques and am repeated asked why I insist on a neat and tidy folder structure.

       

      Question 1:

      Who amongst you still feels this is the way to go and who thinks it doesn’t matter, just dump every part and assy file in the same folder, and why? (not using the vault or any other file handling system)

       

      Also, the company I now work for used CoCreate because the engineering manager has used it for many years. Trying to get him to accept that multiple files are a better way to go is proving difficult. I know it is better, mostly for drawing creation and future changes without having to open the entire job, but I need to convince him.

       

      Question 2:

      Please give me arguments for convincing him or we’ll be forced back to CoCreate (boring, very limited tools) (OK, not so much a question)

        • Re: Is Folder Structure Important Anymore?
          Kelvin Lamport

          Maybe not what you want to hear but;

           

          I'm in favour of dumping all SW documents into one folder.

           

          It's easier to keep track of the last part number used, and to find a particular document. I use a "job number + sequential" numbering system.

           

          It's less work not having to create sub-assy folders. I assume you don't mean separate folders for parts, assys & drawings.

           

          Moving parts from one sub to another would be more problematic for references if sub-assy folders were used.

           

          Shorter path files.

          • Re: Is Folder Structure Important Anymore?
            Deepak Gupta

            +1 to what Kelvin said. Though I'm not against a proper folder structure but I would prefer a file handling system (like PDM or EPDM) as this would help to keep track of changes and revision.

              • Re: Is Folder Structure Important Anymore?
                Tom Helsley

                Even with a PDM system like WPDM or EPDM, you still need to have a folder structure.  Search works much better in PDM than windows, but most people in my experience are most comfortable browsing to thier files instead of searching.

                  • Re: Is Folder Structure Important Anymore?
                    Deepak Gupta

                    Tom Helsley wrote:

                     

                    Even with a PDM system like WPDM or EPDM, you still need to have a folder structure.  Search works much better in PDM than windows, but most people in my experience are most comfortable browsing to thier files instead of searching.

                     

                    I mean to say that in place of just folders on a local drive, I would prefer WPDM or EPDM (sorry for any confusion). And I would agree that people are more comfortable  in browsing to their files instead of searching but if someone leave, this can create mess if there is no proper folder structure or file handling system.

                • Re: Is Folder Structure Important Anymore?
                  Tom Helsley

                  I also like to keep neat folders - to some degree at least.  But, I also don't like having so many folders that it becomes a burden managing the files.  The main reason for setting up a folder structure is for ease of finding files (by browsing). Your folder structure should match your document numbering scheme, not your assembly structure.  For example, if your detail parts are 6-digit numbers, and your assemblies are a letter & number sequence, then you want to put those files in a predictable location.  Or if you do it as Kelvin described, then you may want to have your folder named to the project number with all of your models and drawings that use that project number in that folder.  Just think about the folks who didn't create those files, but may need to view them for production, etc..  Make it easy for them to find the files.

                   

                  Also keep in mind that Windows folder listings slow down when you have a relatively monstrous number of files in one directory (about 3,000).  Years ago, my company used to store all of the detail files in one large assembly.  We had thousands of files in that one directory.  So on those old computers, it took what seemed like eons to list the folder's contents.  Because the directory was so large, Engineers stopped storing the detail files in that directory just to speed up thier work.  Then, the manufacturing engineers, and other downstream users couldn't find the files they needed.  It was a nightmare.  Since then, we have moved all those files to directories divided into limited ranges by the type of drawing number.  Life has been much easier since then.  The only drawback is sometimes you have to jump around between a lot of different directories.

                   

                  SolidWorks doesn't care where you store your files, or how many different folders they are stored in.

                   

                  What you don't want to do is have drawing files stored in one folder, and model files (.sldprt, and .sldasm) stored in a separate folder.  When you attempt to open a drawing by RMB in a model window, SolidWorks looks for a file with the same exact name in the same folder.  Anything else, and the drawing won't be found.  Keeping your model files and related drawing files in the same folder, with the same names (except the extensions of course) is the only thing you want to do related to matching CAD structure.

                   

                  So, you want to find a nice happy balance between lots of folders and not having too many files in one folder.

                  • Re: Is Folder Structure Important Anymore?
                    Anna Wood

                    I am assuming Kelvin and Deepak are referring to one folder per project?

                     

                    We have project folders.  Think of it as the main top level assembly folder for the project.

                     

                    I like a few folders, per project folder, just to keep some semblance of order.  If needed, there is a Misc folder as well for other non-SolidWorks files.  This particular project did not need a Misc folder.

                     

                    I never use RMB within a sldprt/sldasm to open up the drawing.  I prefer to keep the slddrw's seperated from the sldpdt's and sldasm's.  Just my preference.....

                     

                    As Tom suggests, there needs to be a balance between the amount of files in any single directory and being so folder happy that you have too many choices on where to place things.  Too many files in a single directory and Windows Explorer slows to a crawl.  Too many folders and it gets hard to find files within the folder structure.

                     

                     

                    Folder Structure.png

                     

                    FWIW,

                     

                    Anna

                      • Re: Is Folder Structure Important Anymore?
                        Mike Swagger

                        Anna, what do you do when parts are used between two different projects?

                          • Re: Is Folder Structure Important Anymore?
                            Anna Wood

                            We never copy files to a new project.  We just bring the file into an assembly from the other project folder.  It only lives in one spot in our file structure.

                             

                            An assembly can have files drawn from many different project folders.  It is not unusual for us to use a part number in a bunch of different projects.

                             

                            All of our manufactured details have unique 6 digit dumb part numbers.

                             

                            Cheers,

                             

                            Anna

                              • Re: Is Folder Structure Important Anymore?
                                John Sutherland

                                Further to the OP and subsequent responders, I prefer browsing to searching, and here is the folder structure which I am implementing.

                                 

                                Root

                                     User

                                          Suppliers' Intellectual Property

                                               Supplier1

                                                    2D Profiles

                                                    3D Models

                                               Supplier2

                                 

                                 

                                               Standards' IP (supplier independent)

                                                    Standard1

                                                    Standard2

                                 

                                 

                                               User's own IP

                                                    2D Profiles

                                                    3D Models

                                 

                                               Library

                                                    Assembly Features

                                                         Holes

                                 

                                               Customers

                                                    Customer1

                                                         Project1

                                                              Current documents

                                                              Exploratory and milestone documents

                                                              Released documents (read only)

                                                         Project2

                                 

                                                    Customer2

                                 

                                               SW Document Templates

                                                    Assemblies

                                                    Parts

                                                    Drawings

                                 

                                 

                                Project documents include components from Suppliers, Standards, User and Library folders.

                                Nothing precludes customers from also being suppliers.

                                 

                                Windows sorts lists of files according to rules, so filenames should take advantage of this.

                                e.g. widget_properties_sequence.suffix

                          • Re: Is Folder Structure Important Anymore?
                            Ash Combe

                            Thanks for all your great opinions guys n girls.

                             

                            I've been tossing up for a while now whether or not to seriously simplify my directory structure as our machines can have 1000's of parts and heaps of sub-assys and sub-sub-assys and so fourth.

                            It does become a real chore house keeping all those dirs. Currently I store purchased items in their own dir and split that into suppliers etc. so that can stay. Customer supplied parts also get special treatment, much like what Anna said. Just need to come up with some sort of logical way to break up the rest of our parts because I don't really like the sound of 100's and 100's of parts, assys and drawings all mixed up in one dir. Easy to seperate the drawings but when to create another dir and start dumping in there... needs some thought.a

                              • Re: Is Folder Structure Important Anymore?
                                Deepak Gupta

                                How about creating a folder for certain range of part number i.e. SolidWorks files within certain range will be in that folder. After that range there will be a new folder and so on. And as you said, keep separate design library/bought out parts and different folder for Supplier's parts.

                                  • Re: Is Folder Structure Important Anymore?
                                    Ash Combe

                                    Yeah, was thinking along the same line. 1st named  0-50 2nd named 51-100 etc. This does kind of make it difficult to find certain assys without opening the entire job or  if a single part and its drawing needs updating to as-built. Maybe a single drawing in the top level dir with a BOM of the entire job simply showing  part names and numbers ordered by assembly...?

                                  • Re: Is Folder Structure Important Anymore?
                                    Peter De Vlieger

                                    For us it's folder structure all the way.

                                     

                                    We split them up not by PRT and ASM but by construction, iso and layout. which then get broken down in sub folders with DRW in the top level and the 3d model items in a sub folder.

                                     

                                    We also use seperate folders for those items we receive from other companies - for those things that get drawn that are for information only to help check certain possibilities, etc

                                     

                                    The main thing is that if you use a 'template' of the folder structure then there is no issue about the actual naming of folders and it makes finding things a whole lot easier when one needs to revisit a project after a period of time has pasted and especially when drawn by someone else.

                                     

                                    Your mileage may vary, as the saying goes, depending on the size that the average project has but in our case (average : +2 000 files, min. 500 - max 18 000) without a folder structure would be utter madness.

                                      • Re: Is Folder Structure Important Anymore?
                                        Ash Combe

                                        Hi Peter,Co

                                        uld you elaborate a little more about how you structure your dirs? Maybe post a pic of it.

                                        Cheers

                                          • Re: Is Folder Structure Important Anymore?
                                            Peter De Vlieger

                                            Ash,

                                             

                                            I'll see what I can do during my lunch break.

                                            • Re: Is Folder Structure Important Anymore?
                                              Peter De Vlieger

                                              We try to find a middle ground between not having to scroll for ages to find a particular file nor having to flip through more folders then necessary.

                                               

                                              In practice we build it up as follows

                                               

                                              CON (anything construction wise)

                                                   containing DRW's

                                                   FOLDER Void (2d void's)

                                                   Folder con (containing the actual 3d files)

                                                        further divided in VOID

                                                                                 TEST (for instance : an asm that is needed for design purpose but not for making a shop drawing)

                                                                                 standarized sup parts

                                               

                                              We do the similiar structure for lay-outs, with an additional one for Skeleton (ref. frame) elements as well as one for civil construction, one for parts (vessels - railing - stairs) and one for machines.

                                              Iso's, again the standaard with additionally one more folder namely sub-parts.

                                              another one for Transmittals sub divided by in and out going, and those divided by company/brand that receives or sends

                                               

                                              I know some swear by dividing everything up by file type, which to my taste means that you end up having to spend lots of time scrolling if you have to find something even if you do know the exact file name.

                                               

                                              All in all it's not anything like a PDM system but then the only thing that is anything close to being a PDM system is another PDM system.

                                                • Re: Is Folder Structure Important Anymore?
                                                  Ash Combe

                                                  Thanks Peter,

                                                  looks like it works for you in your industry, we design special purpose machinery where 90% of the parts are 1 offs, unique. I just can't think of anything that ties a group of parts together except for the assembly they are used in. Perhaps I could almost stick with my current structure but dump everything, including sub-sub-assys in dirs of the sub-assys of the top level. This would simply things a lot as I usualy only have sub-assys in my top level assy, no parts, except for any reference/construction parts. Might give that a go on the next project.

                                            • Re: Is Folder Structure Important Anymore?
                                              Greg Hynd

                                              FYi, 2013 has a quick filter system now for filtering between parts, drawings, assemblies and top level assemblies, so if you chuck everything in one folder its very easy to filter this.

                                               

                                              I tend to put have job files divided into two folders, Assemblies and Drawings. The assembly folder has all assemblies and parts, the drawing folder has drawings and pdf's and dwg's when required.

                                            • Re: Is Folder Structure Important Anymore?
                                              Pasi Entaban

                                              After years of using windows folders I've found wPDM worth the investment. There is still folder structure but since the file information can be displayed in the PDM screen -you dont need to have a description in the files name (as in Annas image). Its also much easier to re-visit pevious issues or versions of parts and assemblies. I always found that with windows folders things can get messy- especially when 3/4 people have different ideas and naming conventions.

                                               

                                              Within PDM we have seperate areas for running projects and production parts. Production approved parts are in seperate categories depending on type (turned components, moulded etc...) but its still easy to see where these were used and which project originated them.

                                               

                                              It takes a lot of dedication to manage windows folders and not everyone is that dedicated- hence from my point of view a file management system like PDM is a good option.

                                              • Re: Is Folder Structure Important Anymore?
                                                Pasi Entaban

                                                I'm actually quite curious as to why using a data management system like wPDM doesnt seem to be an option for you guys- especially with large assemblies and 2000+ parts? How will you manage previous issues? Isnt it easier to have a project folder which expands to show assemblies, with the assembly expanding to show all constituent parts- rather that a drawing with a BOM? After all the wPDM window basically shows a products entire structure in 'one hit'.

                                                 

                                                I used folders before and even though we have more products with lower component numbers- I would not go back to windows folders.

                                                  • Re: Is Folder Structure Important Anymore?
                                                    Peter De Vlieger

                                                    It depends on the field you're in, and how well it works, as well as the cost. Not to mention the time to set it up so that it works without a glitch and without the need to fiddle with it each time an update or so happens.

                                                     

                                                    We draw piping with the routing module, all things mechanically (supporting) needed for it as well as the basics of the buildings that it goes through, over, under, in and out. And this with piping that ranges from 1/2" to 16"

                                                     

                                                    It isn't as if we make a product that you can just ship in a box or even a container. With which I mean that most of our files are asm's of asm's of asm's

                                                     

                                                    Or in other words, it all depends on your needs.

                                                    E.G : Some people use SW toolbox constantly. We don't bother with putting in bolts, nut and washers. Instead we just calculate what's needed and type it into a table. It takes less time, less effort and it doesn't burden the drawings or 3d model.

                                                      • Re: Is Folder Structure Important Anymore?
                                                        Pasi Entaban

                                                        I guess I just dont understand why no one has given it a try since it comes with Solidworks Professional-set up is only complicated if you want to have full electronic revision mangement. We actually operate two systems for managing parts and assemblies- a folder structure for AutoCAD items (mainly historical data) and wPDM for Solidworks. From experience - folders just dont offer the traceability and the information required at a glance.

                                                         

                                                        Just looking at a folder with a part ' 1234567_Flanged nut' - I wont know anything else about it or where else it may be used. In PDM I get all the information needed to trace and re-use. In the image Anna posted I cant see if any part is dependant on another or if its used in another assembly-I also cant see file properties straight away-guessing thats probably why filenames have a suffix.

                                                         

                                                        Given the size of assemblies we work on + all the sub-asseblies- I definetely would not folder manage a project unless I absolutely had to.