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Support Windchill Documents in Windchill Workspaces

Support Windchill Documents in Windchill Workspaces

For many customers, documents are just as critical as engineering documents such as CAD models and drawings and require manipulation of mulitple documents at once. The only effective means of accomplishing this is to add the documents to a Windchill Workspace. Unfortunatley, this capability is not yet available and needs to be added to Windchill. Supporting documents in Workspaces would also allow authors, reviewers and approvers to collect documents from various locations in Windchill into a common collection that can be updated and modified at anytime without navigating to all the individual documents. Please vote if you'd like to see this capability in a future release of Windchill.

24 Comments
Newbie

This is not an request, it is a must. This must be fixed in the future for Windchill to stay in the competition! That is my opinion!

sm
Newbie

This is a common request from CAD users, but never from Document Management users. The most common use cases I am aware of are to support multi-document actions (Check out, Check in, Rename, Set State, Promote, etc.) and collection of documents from many locations, again, to support multi-document actions.

Windchill 10.1 offers multi-document support for the Set State action and PTC is currently working on multi-document support for Check Out and Check In with Windchill 10.2 M050. What's still missing is Rename.

Are there other critical actions that need to be performed on documents? It would be great to get some feedback from people who voted this up to understand any other use cases.

Regular Member

A comment I got from CAD-users that explore Windchill for document management, is that a working folder as equivalent for a workspace is less secure than a workspace.  They feel uncomfortable when documents, managed by Windchill, can be accessed simply be going to the folder.  Not so very relevant in my eyes.

Another comment is that workspaces are used a lot to gather working documents around a specific set of tasks or projects.  But again, Scott, maybe not so very relevant.

Aquamarine

We do have project management.  Hugo mentioned using WSs for gathering work around a specific task and this would be useful for documents also.  For example, putting cad docs and related content in a single WS to keep them together while manipulating them (sometimes simultaneously as when setting change attributes, project #s etc.).  It would even be useful to put a Change notice/object in a WS for easy and FAST reference while working on CAD objects.

We also have 10.1 and the multi-set state does not work well for every days use as you cannot do it from a search (and must be in the PDMLink folder/directory).  Once this is fixed it will be very nice.  IN addtion to the multiple check in/out and rename, other tasks like editing multiple attributes, even if some are cad objects would be very nice.  Many of the attibutes used for documents are also used on CAD objects.  Being able to change them both in the same dialog would speed up these tasks and really take advantage of the purpose of PDMLink (i.e.store, view, manage multiple pieces of business documentation all in one place).

Regular Member

In case workspaces also accept WTDocuments, users should have the option not to work in workspaces as well.  For non-CAD-users, the concept of a workspace is to difficult, and CAD-workspaces are limited when working offline.

Aquamarine

I agree with Hugo.  The purpose of WC is to be used by CAD, and all other non-CAD departments from on the manufacturing, through Engineering and all the way up to higher up management.  The Strength and the challange is that it really needs to meet the needs of all of them, while making it robust, secure and USER FRIENDLY, in order to achieve its purpose.

sm
Newbie

One of the primary reasons to support Documents in Workspaces is to enable multi-document actions such as Set State, Check In, Check Out, Rename, etc. At Windchill 10.2 M030, PTC has enabled Set State, Check In and Check Out directly in the Windchill browser interface. The one critical outlier is Rename which has an idea titled Renaming multiple objects in Windchill 10.0 which should be voted up.

Tanzanite

     "This is a common request from CAD users, but never from Document Management users"

That's just because they don't use CAD and therefore are not aware of how good it would be.

Emerald I

Our uses hardly ever work in commonspace.  They primarily use the embedded browser in Creo to access their local workspace.  Adding CAD objects to the workspace is a simple as "File, Open".  If a user can't easily manage all documents they are working on in one central place (aka workspace), then I just don't see us being able to use them.  No one is going to want to navigate all over the Windchill folder structure just to manage different documents.

Tanzanite

CAD files are not what this Idea is about.  I was trying to get across that Scott said no Document Management users request being allowed to add documents to a workspace. And the only reason they don't request it is because they are not CAD users and won't realize the benefits.

I agree that nobody is going to want to navigate all over the folder structure.  That would be silly for an assembly with part models in different folders.  For the most part our users don't.  They use the Search for the files they need to add to their workspace.  And they do it in the embedded browser.

If you are not sure of the file name you are looking for then a wildcard can be used.  You also have some control over what CAD files you add to a workspace in the form of the Collect button.  Neither the Collect button nor the wildcard can be used with the File Open to add files from commonspace.  Some of our users do open files through File Open but most do not.

Emerald I

CAD files are not what this Idea is about.

I know.  We're on the same page here.  WTDocuments.  By the way, our users leverage the search function as well.  I'm just making the point that if we want our CAD users to start managing documents in Windchill (in addition to CAD data), it will be much simpler if they can add the documents directly to a workspace.  I can imagine working on a package of documents (spread around in many different folders), getting approval, and then needing to go find each of these individually in order to set them to "released".  It would be much simpler if all the documents were already in the same workspace.

Tanzanite

I fully agree.  I even asked a product manger (forgot who it was) about documents in workspace support at the world conference in 2012 in Orlando.  He said they were looking into it back then.

Participant

One HUGE problem our document users are struggling with is the fact that as soon as you download a Primary-Content-File, Windchill looses control over it.

This means that our users are not being informed by the system if the Primary-Content-File is outdated (as you would with CAD-files in a Workspace), nor are they informed if the downloaded Primary-Content-File was changed locally (as you would with CAD-files in a Workspace).

I'm aware of the "Compare" feature in DTI 10.2 and the "Send to recycle bin" option, they are not the solution to this: we need something that guides the users, not tools for the users to guide the system.

The above results in Primary-Content-Files being "overwritten", which wastes a lot of time and money for our company, and is THE major reason for our company investigating MS SharePoint for our Production Documents.

Scott Morris sm could you please elaborate on the "Windchill Drive Folder" that you mention in this presentation: https://www.ptcusercommunity.com/docs/DOC-6062

Could that be the solution to our massive pains I've tried to explain above?

If so: how is it prioritized in the roadmap and when can we expect it?

sm
Newbie

The only quick solution to the issues you identified is the icon overlays introduced in 10.2 M020, however, these overlays only identify a document as "Windchill Controlled" and not the Windchill status.

The Windchill Drive project on the PLM road map is the consolidation of the all the download mechanism to a single, controlled cache on a user's local machine. When complete, it should have similar capabilities to the Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive and Dropbox apps where a single folder structure is used to replicate the "cloud" content and identify its status. These apps also have automatic and selective synchronization capabilities which is another key capability PTC would like to provide with the Windchill Drive project.

At this time, there is a high probability this project will not be delivered in Windchill 10.3 and will hopefully be completed for the next major release of Windchill. There is a lot of content identified in the product road map and it will take PTC a few releases to complete it all. I will do my best to continue to escalate the need to deliver this project at PTC and hopefully it will get approved sooner than later.

sm
Newbie

Keep asking. Its been on the road map for a while, but not prioritized for a release candidate. It's an odd paradigm for non-CAD users, but the collection of disparate files from various locations for common actions is a highly requested capability and a strong use case. There are some features and capabilities in Windchill Desktop Integration that could be considered "helpful" in this area, but not 100% compatible.

Regular Member

One major concern is that Windchill are managing documents with different object types. If Windchill should manage CAD data as text document in one common solution would solve many use cases as

- Starting with a scanned drawing (WTDocument), which becme a Cad drawing (EPMDocument). History and revisions shall be remained

- Link document to EPMDocument (As in Pro/I 3.x)

- Common Workspace mechanism

- More flexible mapping between document types and CAD types (Different drawing types need different numbering etc)

I understand this is a major object change, but wonder if PTC have this under consideration?

Best regards

Per

sm
Newbie

I just saw a technical support request from a large customer in Sweden looking for a better control over the relationship between wt.parts and wt.docs. By default, all the actions on the wt.doc in Windchill and DTI will not make changes to the associated wt.part, if it exists. If Workspaces support working with wt.docs, there would be a simple mechanism to manage and maintain the associated wt.parts. Just another good reason to consider this proposal and implement it in a future release of Windchill.

Aquamarine

Scott Morris,

Thank you for the info you have provided on this issues and continuing to escalate it?  What you describe sounds like it could be very useful.

I also want to reaffirm what Alexander Fabre said above.  Downloading content, controlling it, all while working on it and seeing what we are working on is essential.

  • The way many of us at our company work is to have a folder location (kind of like a WS, but outside of PDMLink) on the network that we store all our work in progress.  It is outside of PDMLink and completely uncontrolled by PDMLink. The process of getting it there, as well as checking it in is fairly manual and disconnected.
  • Then most have to have a view only folder of related reference content that we use to work.  This could be related project info that has already been uploaded, or it could be reference documentation on similar projects that we may need to refer to aspects of in order to duplicate in this project (in model terms this is like downloading another model to see how someone created a feature, or to copy/paste it into my own model).
  • Many of us prefer to open files as view only by allowing these extra files to go to the temp internet location instead of using CreoView.  The reason for not using CreoView is because
    1. Creo View does not open documents if you have your browser set to open pdfs in Adobe
    2. It is actually usually faster to open and close MS Office documents instead of the the Creo View equivalent,
    3. Creo View doesn't publish with certain types of files such as docm xlsm,
    4. If you notice something and want to edit or store that document in the above non-PDMLink WS then it is easier to do from this document.
    5. Many of us also have a desktop delete folder to hand when we delete a file we send it there instead of the permanent deletion that network folders force us to do.  Most people who do this have started after deleting a checked out file that they worked all day on and never want to do that again.  S

I acknowledge that these methods (workarounds) have a lot of downfalls, but the truth of it is that it is really the best balance of pros and cons that still allow us to function as Engineers and actually focus on doing Engineering work.  Most of us don't like these workarounds (because we would prefer it to work more seamlessly), but are at least glad that it allows us to stay organized and not delete anything we shouldn't.

I think all these same issues existed when users used to house their CAD data on a network drive and did not have any PDM system.  Then PDM came around and fixed most of these issues (though some new but smaller problems were created).  I think that is what we are hoping that PDMLink/WC does by the solution you are proposing...

Emerald I

After reading this similar idea: ECAD WGM - Create object types other than EPMDocs, I think the CAD tools should be able to interact directly with these other document types.  For example, saving a PDF from Creo to the workspace should automatically save it as a WT Document.  It doesn't make any sense to save it as a EPM Document since Creo can't open it.  Likewise, the CAD tools should be able to open both EPM Documents and WT Documents directly from the workspace.  If there are DXF, DWG, IGES, STEP, or STL files stored in Windchill as WT Documents, once added to a workspace Creo (and other CAD tools via WGM) should be able to open them directly from the workspace without needing them to be stored as EPM Documents.

Participant

Thanks Tom.  The best example that I can give is the ability to manage and change all of the supporting material for a design at the same time.  Today, if my CAD data changes, I most likely have a simulation that analyzes the new design, documentation on the cause for change, a root cause / corrective action report, and a new set of manufacturing support documents that incorporate the change.  The lack of the ability for supporting documents in workspaces (and checkin / checkout of content so I can work on it) means that all of the supporting material is either unintelligently managed in a single zip file, or kept out of Windchill entirely.

In summary, when a change is made, all of the affected objects should be included in the change to make sure all related content is updated to reflect the change.

Scott - Rename is important as well, since we prefer to have a prefix that consists of the document type, followed by the name of a thing.  For example:

Schematic, XYZ circuit card

Thermal Simulation, XYZ circuit card

Parts List, XYZ Circuit Card

That way anyone searching for the XYZ Circuit Card will get all of the related documents.

Another functionality that I would like to work with WTDocs and other object types is Save As.  We have a standard list of documents and supporting material that should be created during the design activity, and I would love to be able to setup a template with all of the correct relationships and object types so the structure is made when the design starts.  Using the examples above, I want something like this:

WTDoc - Schematic, <TEMPLATE> circuit card

WTDoc - Thermal Simulation, <TEMPLATE>circuit card

WTDoc - Parts List, <TEMPLATE>Circuit Card

EPMDoc - Layout, <TEMPLATE> circuit card

EPMDoc - Board, <TEMPLATE> printed circuit board

WTPart - <TEMPLATE> circuit card assembly

WTPart - <TEMPLATE> printed circuit board

That way I can do a Save As on the entire group of objects, do a mass rename, and checkin content for the entire design all at once.

Aquamarine

Our Current workaround to not having Workspaces for documents is that most of our users create a network folder outside of WC PDMLink which acts as a "Workspace" (WS).  Then they have a view only folder inside of that "WS".  Although this is a workable workaround, it is inefficient and brings along a host of other problems (most notably non-controlled).  Although I recognize this to be a bad workaround, I do it myself, and will continue to, because I have not yet seen a good option yet.  I'm willing to change but we need a decent solution!

Pearl

My question is what are PTC's plans with the workgroup manager? ECAD is moving away to direct integrations and MCAD?

Workspaces using another technology as the rest of Windchill. Also the workspaces are not supported to customize or only very limited. So I don't belief that PTC will change anything in this area, unless they will supprise us with a rework of the whole WGM and Workspace concept.

 

 

Community Manager
Status changed to: No Plans to Implement
 
Aquamarine

Sadly this item has been turned down by PTC, but I believe the changes in multi-object actions and Desktop Integration for 11.0 will help immensely. There is work underway to support Save As with WTDocs in 11.1 and hopefully PTC will add the same rename support they just introduced in 11.0 for WTDocs in 11.1.

 

For me, getting documents into a WC work space is parallel to getting Office documents into the Office Upload Center. Most people do not know what the Office Upload Center is all about and struggle to maintain documents in SharePoint. Its an amazing tool for a document manager, but a complicated tool for typical office users.

 

If there are considerations for new projects that sync WTDocs with their WTParts with the same type of capabilities as EPMDocs and WTParts in the future, the need to support documents in a work space is highly diminished. For me, I would like to see more parity in these two relationships and have PTC focus on making this more consistent and less unique.

 

There is definitely still a need to "collect" a set of documents from multiple locations and edit them one-by-one or as a group, but using a work space to do that may be too complex for most. This idea should probably be reborn as way to collect a set of documents, keep them in a common location for easy access and keep them under control while working on them using the simplest and lightest UX possible.