I don't know how to automatically link files, probably an API thing.
Alternative: you can do operations (Change State, Check-in-out) from the search results. So if you have a project number on the data cards of the relevant files then you can capture all the files in a search, and run Change State on all the files at once.
Right now for our EC we are using a combination of Paste as Ref and the search method, and we will see what we like better.
Hawkware has an Add References tool that is supposed to make the linking process a little easier, I haven't tried it.
If do you find that a file has been missed, or added to the project, it can always be transitioned separately to catch up to the others.
Our VAR has written an API call to allow us to automatically link modified files to the ECO/ECN such that when you approve the ECO it also approves the files linked to it.
This uses a form of paste as reference to allow it to work.
Following up on the Paste as Reference approach.
We are moving away from Paste as Reference. At the SolidWorks World 2014 Joy Garon expressed to me that she didn't like it, too messy, but I didn't really understand why until recently. And it seems to be the method most people use for projects and EC tracking.
Instead I'm going to focus on getting the EC number on every item going thru an EC. That way we search by EC, select the results, and Change State on all of them, no checking of boxes required. Looking at a parent EC file with pasted references - the Contains tab does provide some info, but it is buried in other semi-random junk, and there are no useful actions you can perform there. From a search you can do all the usual stuff (check-out or in, change state, and Dispatch actions).
By junk in the Contains tab, I mean we see a whole mess of files that were never pasted. See the image.
Do others know what I'm talking about with this?
Could you elaborate?
I have our "Jobs" organized so that each related file has a "Job Number". is this a similar approach?
I like the "Paste as Reference", but dislike the manual aspect. I like that you can control a "Project" with one symbolic file.
That being said, I haven't set up our search cards yet, so i do not know how comparable these approaches are.
Yes, as long as it is a common value on all the files of the project or engineering change you can use that in your search. You just have to make sure you put it on everything relevant. If they are in the same folder this can be done to multiple files at once with a Dispatch right-click action. User does need to be careful about what they add the tag to, but in every process there some point where they need to be careful and pay attention.
I'm considering adding a Version Free variable - to hold the EC value and make it an easy to change tag, and copy it to the regular ECO variable at certain points. Then it could be added even when the files are Released (can't be checked-out or in). But this a fancy extra (if I set it up right), the basic principle of using the search to gather your work is pretty simple.
For searches I suggest starting with the Complete search, and trim it down to fewer tabs. Put all the stuff you use a lot on the first tab (or even always visible). For example add your Job Number variable to the first tab. Also set your defaults (eg I turned off "All Versions").
Interesting. I have my "Job Number" variable draw from the folder Data card, for which the "Job Number" is assigned upon use of the "New Job" template, therefore every file in that folder has a "job number" variable that is pulled from the folder it is created in. This seems like a Jump i could make at a later date if i want, I just recently trained everyone in on our "Paste as Reference" method, and don't really want to throw even the slightest wrench in the system at the moment.
I will be diving into search cards soon once we really establish what we want to search. Thanks for the tips!