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Productivity Enhancements on Windows Explorer Integration for Windchill Desktop Integration 10.2, Part I

Re: Productivity Enhancements on Windows Explorer Integration for Windchill Desktop Integration 10.2, Part I

In our company everything is clearly defined where stuff goes, and that is not ambiguous to people.  What I mean by duplication is stuff can get done in the sales application, then there is no connection to PDMLink so sales gives info to Engineering that route, and Engineering may or may not duplicate inside PDMLink depending on the need.  There is some inherent duplication meaning Project info may need to be manually recreated inside a project folder or a change notice whereas it would be nice if it were in the same system and just refer to the proper documentation.  Each system has its own access rights and is managed by the department that primarily uses it.  I really like the idea of combining stuff into one system, but I think the advantages would be a wash and the disadvantage would produce very unhappy users, even if the total change to the company efficiency was zero.

I mostly agree with you in that navigating/finding info in PDMLink is not the main problem when I mention UI.  It is more getting work done efficiently.  Examples: no save and keep working for change management, Cannot use the up or down arrows (nor formatting) in CM text boxes, no seamless handoffs between CR-->CNs, Useless tooltip boxes about number of allowed characters but blocks essential information while changing CAD attributes (and PTC calling this intended design functionality), tab key doesn't jump to next field, extraordinarily poor UI for admin controls of WC (on par with DOS!), no customization of icon UI for WS controls, cannot do to multiple objects what you can do to many (e.g. rename multiple CAD objects from search field without collection), removing ability to open CreoView files from Iteration History (this feature was evidently a (very useful) "mistake" and once they found out about it they removed it without any explanation!), Finding the right WS frames when restoring iteration is very challenging unless you know the time (then it is very useful), etc

Don't get me wrong, many of these problems are tied to very powerful features (so I wouldn't want PTC to "fix" the problem by just removing capability, rather tweak the UI).  In addition, I know that some of these things are getting better with newer versions but the problem is that at least 1/3rd of these problems actually were not problems in previous releases (and have gone multiple builds and releases without being fixed after multiple people have reported and mentioned on this forum)!  Quite honestly, it is a lot of the simple UI stuff that PTC misses (low hanging fruit) that could make a HUGE difference.

When I mean poor UI I primarily mean efficiency (Keyboard, mouse, and visual).  All too often it seems that PTCs features turn out to be bugs (like those horrid tool tips covering CAD Attributes and preventing seeing and selecting!), and there bugs turn out to be great features (like actually having menu options in the Version history so you can RMB open CreoView without opening the CAD page).

I really would like to have everything under one roof, but until WC fixes some of its basic UI problems that really hold it back, WC is just not ready to be that roof.  The sad part is that in many ways it is so close, but then ends up being so far a way.

Re: Productivity Enhancements on Windows Explorer Integration for Windchill Desktop Integration 10.2, Part I

Windchill DTI creates a top level folder under My Documents based on the name of your server connection. From there, it will create a folder structure that replicates the container and folder structure in Windchill. They structure is built dynamically, as you access different areas of Windchill. As documents are accessed and opened they are downloaded to their respective folder in the local cache.

What's important to note here, Windchill is NOT replicating all the folders and all the documents in the local cache like common file sharing tools; Google, OneDrive, Dropbox. It is only replicating the files a user accesses. So even though Windchill has thousands of files in the system, I may only have 5-10 in my local cache based on the frequency in which I am accessing and modifying documents with DTI using the Windows Explorer interface.

Users should not need to manage the files in the local cache. Windchill DTI understands how to compare the local files to the server files and always asks the user what to do if a conflict occurs. The local cache is a convenient way to store locally modified files that are still WIP and not checked in. Its also a quick way to access commonly used files.

Regarding disk space, check the properties of your local cache folder. Unless you are a heavy document user, or you are working with very large document files,  I would not expect the local cache to be very big at all. If it is an issue, this folder can be removed at any time, but there is a potential to lose unsaved (checked in) documents.

Re: Productivity Enhancements on Windows Explorer Integration for Windchill Desktop Integration 10.2, Part I

That last point you mentioned about no identifier of WIP is a significant problem.

I just checked and one user who uses the folder structure, and its current state in just 1-2 months of use (it was requested the all users delete everything in these folders and start clean again) is:1580 folders, 267 files and 237MB.  I agree that this is not much space, but files are buried in a haystack.  how do you know which ones have files that are WIP, or even which folders are actively being used?  A single perfect duplication, or maybe no duplication but live accessing PDMLink via Windows explorer, would seem easier to stay organized don't you think?  Or am I missing something?

In addition to being able to find WIP easier than the needle in the haystack, it would also be nice if folders with no files displayed differently..

Re: Productivity Enhancements on Windows Explorer Integration for Windchill Desktop Integration 10.2, Part I

Hello all,

I am back from my holiday and I am very happy to see so much interest and to read so many comments on my blog.

Thank you for taking your time to post your comments and thoughts. I will answer to them during the next few days.

Later today I will also post Part 2 of this blog. I am also very keen to hear your thoughts on Part 2.

Kind regards,

Björn

Re: Productivity Enhancements on Windows Explorer Integration for Windchill Desktop Integration 10.2, Part I

Hello Chris,

thank you for sharing all your experience and thoughts on Document Management and the Explorer Integration.

I fully agree that Document Management is so much more than just saving, accessing and loading a (content) file and yes the Explorer Integration can give the impression that "the power of a document" (as you named it) is reduced to a simple file managed in a folder.

But I think this is just one side of the coin. I see great benefits in the Explorer Integration in multiple ways:

  1. For users that only need to make changes to the primary content of a document i see great benefits.
    For them Document Management is reduced to something they are more familiar with. They get access to the most common functionality they need without "threatening" them with accessing the Windchill web application with a User Interface these users are most of the time not familiar, much more and powerful functionality that they do not need and often intimidates them.
    This way they get an access point to the world of Document Management and when they get familiar with the concepts these users can progress and grow to using the web application that will give access to document structures and the more advanced features.
  2. For the advanced and experienced users I also see benefit in the Explorer Integration.
    It gives them fast and easy access to the most common functionality. In case they have to make some change to primary content from Microsoft Word. It is much faster and feels natural to just open primary content from File > Open in Word instead or by double clicking on the file in Windows Explorer instead of opening the the internet browser, accessing Windchill, navigating to the context, downloading the primary content, opening it with Word...
    So for them I see the Explorer Integration as a shortcut to common functionality while they still have the Web application for the complete Document Management functionality.
  3. ...

And I definitely want to hear about the progress you made by promoting Windchill for Document Management in your new company.

Kind regards,

Björn

Re: Productivity Enhancements on Windows Explorer Integration for Windchill Desktop Integration 10.2, Part I

Hi Björn

I hope you had a good vacation.

We agree. The Explorer is for a slow introduction to document management (If people are afraid of the Windchill Interface, then I doubt they are proficient in Change Management to make changes to their doc/files. However, when a doc is released and they can t check it out, they need some understanding of what is going on. At least when they are in a new interface they are out of their comfort and are more alert to new concept.

For the proficient users, well they should know what they are doing. I personally, find it much quicker to download the content from the web interface.

I have no idea what your part 2 will talk about and if it has been influenced by what we are talking about but I look forward to read it

I also understand that PTC has also no other choice than to provide such functionality (Explorer Integration) as more or less all your competitors have something similar. Please let me re confirm, It is needed and needs continuous improvement.

It will be with pleasure to tell you and community about how I progress such concept in my company but it will take a good year to see measurable results.

Hope you are patient

What is supposed to be 3....

Bye now

Best regards

Re: Productivity Enhancements on Windows Explorer Integration for Windchill Desktop Integration 10.2, Part I

Hello Chris,

be assured... I am a patient man

Kind regards,

Björn

Re: Productivity Enhancements on Windows Explorer Integration for Windchill Desktop Integration 10.2, Part I

Hello Lawrence,

thank you for all your interest and questions; because of the length of my answer to them I will be sending you an individual message.

About your comments on the UI. I am not in the position to provide you an update on the UI matters, but be assured that I will pass along your comments.

Kind regards,

Björn