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Manage Creo Parametric Files sans Windchill?


Manage Creo Parametric Files sans Windchill?

I've been asked to setup Creo on another network and at this point those folks don't have the time or money to setup a Windchill server to manage the design data.

There will only be a handful of users using this, so it should be somewhat manageable.

Thinking back to what we did before Pro/PDM, Intralink, & Windchill, I'm trying to think of the best way to manage the release of files and prevent changes to released files.

Obviously I'll need to setup a and define it's location in the config using search_path.

So I'm looking for good ideas on how folks manage their data without using a pdm system.

What's better,

  • having folders for projects or
  • folders for users?

Do you backup completed design drawings to a different folder, and archive a zip file of that folder?

Do you actually move completed designs to a folder without write permissions?



We have that situation here.  It is by far not recommended, and the longer it goes on the harder it will be to fix later.  I do understand the situation, we live it here.   In our situation, we have a network file share only the Designers have access to.   When working on a project that is pre-release, they work on it in a separate project folder. They have search paths set up to search for common hardware all stored in named subdirectories, under one main directory.  Then all manufactured part/assembly / drawing files  that are rev controlled are stored under another large file share.  During design stage, they are using common parts\hardware from the 2 common locations.  Any new parts \ drawings are stored in their project folder.   When their new designs are released the last version is moved into the common folder.    This is the improved version I have to say.   The site had a huge amount of duplicate files for years causing a lot of problems,    People would save common parts to their project folders, sometimes doing uncontrolled modifications to the parts.  Not a good thing.     In an uncontrolled environment, which is what your users will be working in,  as much as you make rules, and access controlled file shares,  there are always going to be those who don’t follow them, either by ignorance, or purpose. So duplicates happen.    Also keep in mind, Creo can see something as a change that a user may not see as a change.    We implemented Windchill here at our site, but resources were cut,  and no one had the time to take on the massive clean-up that had to happen to start putting everything into Windchill.   Nothing could bow to the project time line.     Sad actually.  


In regards to the common file folder for all Rev. controlled released parts/assemblies/drawings,   it was decided that the Designers had to have full access to the common file folders, because they put their new files there when they go to release.    Also when these files are changed, they are changed in place, they are not copied out and moved back in after release because other users might be using these files in their assemblies.    They also know they have to be very careful about what they change because a moving a datum or deleting it or deleting a hole can kill references in another assembly that the user may not even be aware of.   Lots of opportunities here to screw things up.  


You lose all visibility of where used in this environment as well.   We use our MRP system / Bill of materials to see where used.   We have had instances where a drawing was  sent to a customer where a part was flipped in the drawing because someone changed a datum in a part, and the designer didn’t realize that the change he did to his part effected another drawing he wasn’t aware of.  It was found on the next change of the other drawing.  The other drawing had another unassociated change on another sheet in the drawing so the designer didn’t notice a part had been flipped in another view on another sheet in the drawing.  So it can get dangerous real quick.   


In regards to the common hardware folders,  The designers do not have write access.  The design lead is responsible for adding parts to the common hardware folder.  For example, if a user needs to add an instance to a common screw part file,  the user will copy out the file,  add the instance then give it to the design lead who manages the hardware folders. He reviews the change.   A lot of trust is involved here, because I doubt that every aspect of the file is reviewed to make sure there were no undocumented changes.   Also, there is no official documentation happening to add a new instance to a common hardware part.   Usually just an email communication between the designer and the designer lead to check it and put it into the hardware folder.

So,   have to say,  you can make rules, but in this type of environment, it is very difficult if not impossible to police.   Depending on your customer base, controlling your cad files in an excepted PLM environment can be a contractual obligation. So even though it may not be an issue now, keep in mind it could later.     I hate hearing these stories because the troubles I have had to deal with over the years.


Just some insight and shared experience on the topic to think about.


Good luck to you.


Ilene Harris


22-Sapphire I

Just really, really painful to work in 3D without appropriate data management...

No easy answer for a small workgroup.  Intralink 3.x perfectly solved the problem for minimal cost and complexity - Windchill / WIndchill Essentials / Intralink 7 and beyond never really filled this gap.

It's doable, but you're going to have someone spend a significant amount of their time doing the job of Windchill.

I did think on a project by project basis at my old job with teams of a half a dozen or so.  We had a single master folder with all files and it had write permissions on it so that only myself and the IT guy could write files there.  A single folder is helpful because having multiple folders makes it easy for duplicates to hide in the wrong folder.  Also, you're going to be making the use of the backup command a lot to move files from WIP to master and backup is dumb, it just dumps everything in the new folder.  I found that managing multiple folders makes it harder.

Users would open files from the master and back them up to their own WIP folder to work.  Once complete, each user had an "incoming" folder where they'd put files to be"checked in."  They'd let me know and I then would go there and open them and back them up to the master.   I had to keep track of who was working on what as well.  Once I "checked in" their files, I'd move them from their incoming to an archive area emptying out their incoming folder.  The incoming folders were typically empty unless files were waiting to be checked in.

I'd guess on a busy project with 5 or 6 design engineers working on it I'd spend 25% of my time or more doing data management.  You need good processes, consistently applied to make it work, but that's true of Windchill as well.  The problem is that the human PDM will mess it up (I did more than once) and then you'll have a mess to clean up.  Depending on how long before it was discovered, it could be quite a mess indeed.

Doug Schaefer | Experienced Mechanical Design Engineer


disorder, disarray, disorganization, confusion, mayhem, bedlam, pandemonium, havoc, turmoil, tumult, commotion, disruption, upheaval, uproar, maelstrom; muddle, mess, shambles, free-for-all; anarchy, lawlessness, entropy; informalhullabaloo, hoopla, train wreck, all hell broken loose...

"police were called in to quell the chaos"

Follow Dougs advice... Good Luck

The main suggestion I have is to create Release folders and set up search paths in reverse order and make them read only. Have users back up to a 'ready to release folder when they think they are ready and delete all the files that are not candidate for release before opening to verify the file(s) retrieve OK. The person in charge of release is responsible for making sure it all works before moving the files to the correct Release folders.

Obviously, emphasize that no one gets to Rename anything and Save As should only be done by users that pay attention.

Thanks all, lots of good answers and advice here.

I went though the config options attached are the file save behavior options.

We currently have this is our config.sup when working with Windchill.

save_objects CHANGED

I'm most interested in these settings, but if you have comments on any of the others have at it.

file_open_default_folder working_directory

modified_objs_in_new_dir no

override_store_back no

prompt_on_erase_not_disp no

save_object_in_current no


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