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File Management


File Management

We are a small company with 2 seats and I want to know how to share/manage files between two engineers. There is one common folder with all the files how can one engineer work on one file without the other one working on it? or how dose the other know he is working on it? Exsample on an Excell spread sheet if have a file open and someone else tries to open the same sreadsheet it tells you "read only"


It's all about communication. You need to determine what you two need in order to know who's working on what.

We have no PDM here either. For us, no one works in the master folder. We all have WIP folders and we copy what we are working on there. That also lets users have a copy of whatever other files they need to reference in their WIP folder without fear of overwriting the master files.

One person, typically the project manager, controls what gets put back into the master. Someone will say they have completed files or the project manager wants to get the master database updated and he'll manage getting those into the master database.

For larger projects with several people working simultaneously, we will use an incoming folder where engineers can put their files for check in and the project manager can go there to retrieve them and integrate them into the master.

You have to understand how Creo finds files, which get loaded first from where, and how things are saved when doing a save as or save as backup. It's easy to make a mess, but if you understand the rules and your careful, it's also easy to manage. The good thing is, unless you purge your folders al the time, it's also easy to recover since Creo saves a new file every time and the old versions are still there.

Know who 'owns' what, know the rules of file retrieval and saving and be careful and deliberate and you'll be fine.

Doug Schaefer | Experienced Mechanical Design Engineer

Ok that sounds like it is good but when someone copies / moves files you do that within Creo or do you do that within the drives/folders outside of Creo?

Both, depending on the situation, but mostly within Creo. The Save As > Backup used on the assembly will put the entire assembly and all the components in the target folder. Very useful when a new user is starting on a project to put the relevant files in their WIP folder.

I can't overstate how important understanding the working directory concept and where Creo looks for files is.

Doug Schaefer | Experienced Mechanical Design Engineer

I use to work in this environment with 4 engineers. We used a common file strategy on a server. We did not copy our files, but worked directly from the server.

We also did not work on the same files at the same time and it was easy enough to see if someone had a file open or had access. The system was amazingly reliable.

One thing is that all 4 engineers were highly disciplined in assuring database integrity. But just in case, IT did do a daily archive -and- purge processes happened infrequently.

IT also made sure the file structure was maintained where only the appropriate files were in the appropriate folders (part number segregation).

We could -backup- and entire assembly from Pro|E into a server folder and IT had a routing that cleaned it up on a weekly basis. ...but this also means that an engineer didn't tweak or replace a library part like a screw because they all knew the implications.

With two people and a few very simple rules, you should have no issues. I can only ad that "skeleton" or "master" models could be used for external references if needed. That way you are not dependent on each other's parts on an ongoing basis. You can both reference a "locked" or "frozen" model.

Yeah, I worked for years in a team of 4-6 with no PDM/PLM/whatever. The key was that we all sat in the same room, and our check-out procedure was "Hey, does anyone have xxxx assembly in session?".

Possibly also key was that the chief engineer was part of that team in the same room, and generally you only needed to work on a drawing when he told you to. Because we had quite a few parts which had become common across multiple projects, you didn't change an existing part without careful thought and discussion, so mostly you were only working on new parts unless expressly told to change something.

We also worked on the live folder structure (no WIP copy), although for manufacturing we created PDFs of the drawings and they were stored somewhere else, thus leaving a model or drawing in a half-finished state wasn't likely to affect manufacturing.

Like Antonius said, purging was done infrequently and only after consulting anyone else who'd worked in that folder recently. Back when IT ran a Friday night backup, we also tried to purge on a Monday morning - on a handful of occasions we did need to ask IT to pull some old versions from the backup, but it was very rare.

When you say “We also did not work on the same files at the same time and it was easy enough to see if someone had a file open or had access” did you mean that it was easy to see if someone had a file opened because of physically looking at the station or was there a way through the network?

Right, we could see each other's screen from our chairs. We pretty knew what project each of us were accessing files for.

If you have a budget for a file management program, PTC introduced PDM Essentials last year. We are a group of 4 and implemented that last spring. It cost about $850 per seat, so not real cheap, but much cheaper than other PDM software's. The PDM Essentials is a basic version of Windchill. You get the file management of Windchill, but not all the advanced functionality.

Here is a link with more information on PDM Essentials.


we have windchill 9.1 and it is really bad in performance. Do you know if it is possible to migrate from it to essential? I know it is SQl based and not Oracle...we ahve about 60k objects in database


I would think so, and I would imagine it would save in cost as well. You would have to talk to your Windchill supplier about that though.

FYI about PDM Essentials, it is Windchill with some of the functionality turned off. So if you are not happy with Windchill, I can't imagine you would be happy with Essentials, as they are the same program.

No, no migration path from full Windchill to PDMEssentials. If you learn otherwise, let me know. We've been forced to buy PDMLink for years as a part of the Proe/Creo package we needed. We could use a simple package like PDMEssentials, but full PDMLink is way overkill. I've asked since we've paid for PDMLink and have been paying for it, but no dice.

If we want PDMEssentials we have to buy it and pay maintenance on it and no way to get the Creo functions we need without continuing to pay maintenance on PDMLink too.

Doug Schaefer | Experienced Mechanical Design Engineer

I'm going to skip the other replies and tell you my unfiltered thoughts.

First, determine if you are required to use a managed file system for the native Pro/E files. (.prt, .asm, .drw, etc).

In our company, only the published drawing files are available to the rest of the company and we use .TIF files for that. The TIF files go into the document management system, which has no productivity effects on Engineering because we mostly push TIF files into this rather than work within it. Our Quality System is happy with that since the only company access to engineering drawings is by way of the TIF files.

We store our native Pro/E files on a network drive. We have a neatly organized area where Pro/E files for released documents are stored, and individual areas where work is kept and developed before the drawing and it's supporting files are released. We use the SEARCH_PATH function to keep common parts available in subfolders - stuff like fasteners, bearings, and other common widgets. This is great as long as the users are organized with their file locations / file names and don't need to revise the same files at the same time.

Our other big option is a database-driven system that stores/controls all native Pro/E files. Pro/PDM (obsolete), Pro/INTRALINK (obsolete), and Windchill can do this for you. My experience has been with Pro/PDM and Pro/INTRALINK. If you consider these systems, carefully evaluate the traditional challenges they present:

1) They add cost. Server side licenses and per-client licenses.

2) They can be buggy, especially when they run integrated to Pro/E / Creo

3) They are often cause a company to stay a release or two behind due to compatibilty / bug issues

4) They can impose additional steps for special file links and structure such as family tables, merge/inheritance, and large assemblies. This results in users limiting their usage of such functionality simply because the file control system makes a productivity-enhancing feature less productive.

5) PERFORMANCE. Checking out and checking in files must be thoroughly tested.

6) Administration. You need to dedicate some time to handling administrative tasks and troubleshooting.

7) How to get your native files back out. This is a major risk in my opinion with any system and it's vitally important that you know your exit strategy and re-test this step before any software upgrade.

Many of the challenges I outlined above may have been resolved in Windchill / Creo, but these are the things I would absolutely torture test before subjecting my company to a PDM system.


Be careful about using shared folders. It may be safer to only use files in your working directory (ie. copy screws, etc into your working directory). A user may need to create a plane or axis in a common part and modifying parts in a common folder can cause unforseen failures.

Matt, that is similar to a check-out process. You can get into serious trouble with that too. If you accidentally change on of those local screws, and then upload you project where the screw again comes from the library, you could loose a lot of work due to a very simple failure.

The fact that versions are maintained by Creo by default, at least you have a chance to backtrack.

Also as I noted in another discussion, you can remove the version value on your library parts. I think this should be looked into further as a viable option. Purge does not affect those parts. A nice way to make sure they don't accidentally disappear too.

However, no matter what the system you choose, you need some robust rules. I do not see this working across different departments where the users are not within close proximity.

Are there not 3rd party checkout programs that would suffice for small working groups? in reality, this should already be built into core Creo. It would be a great selling feature for small organizations of less than 10 seats. ROI is critical to many small companies. This is the demographic that PTC is loosing market share too. Or maybe they are not interested

For all that don't have to use Windchill, count yourself lucky.......

Intralink was awesome, much better than using network folders, I wish I had mine back.....

Wasn't Intralink part of the core product? Is it still available? Is it an option?

We never deployed it in the company I refer to earlier in this thread.

22-Sapphire I

I'm pretty certain it was an additional $$. It was the old PDMLink, which, even with it's quirks and limitations, was STILL better and much easier to operate than Windburn. Intralink was just another major level better. Yes, no software is perfect, but it really was great, powerful, and easy to use. Not to mention far more stable. Working in Windburn makes me want to throw things......

Once you got a level or two above "Foundation" Intralink or PDMLink was included. We needed Advanced Surfacing and Advanced Assy and that put us in a package with INtralink. So we've paid for Intralink and later PPDMLink for years without using it. It was simply overkill for us.

Doug Schaefer | Experienced Mechanical Design Engineer
22-Sapphire I

Well, Intralink was so easy to use, even for just a couple users, I'd recommend using it. It makes renaming files, for instance, SO much easier. It was also great for looking at assy structure, ect. If you were already paying for it, I'd never NOT use in vs. working off a network drive.

23-Emerald II

The only problem with using a data management program is the necessity to be up to date on maintenance. Years ago I worked for a company and it was decided that we didn't need to continue pay for maintenance. It was fine for a year or so but then we started having little issues with our Intralink database. Let me tell you, when you have all your data tied up in a database that is starting to corrupt and you don't have the ability to get help from tech support, you really start sweating. Other than that, Intralink was much easier to maintain than PDMLink/Windchill. It did have it's quirks though.

22-Sapphire I

I'll take a day in Intralink vs. 5 min. in Windburn any day and twice on Sundays.....

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