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Windchill Index Search (Solr) Questions

TomU
23-Emerald IV

Windchill Index Search (Solr) Questions

I'm trying to understand the pros and cons of installing Windchill Index Search (Solr).  I don't see any way to create a poll here so I'll just start with this question:

Is Windchill Index Search (Solr) installed and operational in your Windchill environment?

 

If you said 'yes', then I have a bunch more questions:

 

Usability

  • What do you like and dislike about it?
  • How does it perform compared to the out-of-the-box 'Advanced Search'
  • Is it easier or harder to use than the built-in search?
  • How does your user community like it?  Do they prefer one over the other?
  • Is there value to Solr if the only objects in Windchill are EPMDocuments (CAD docs)?

 

Configuration

  • Are you running Solr on a separate server server?
  • What kind of resources are you giving it?  (RAM, vCPU, etc.)
  • Did you add any additional foreground or background method servers to Windchill for Solr?
  • Did you add any dedicated queues to Windchill for Solr?

 

Maintenance

 

Thanks!

15 REPLIES 15
rhart
14-Alexandrite
(To:TomU)

Usability

  • What do you like and dislike about it? Enables searching file contents
  • How does it perform compared to the out-of-the-box 'Advanced Search'? Didn’t notice a performance penalty
  • Is it easier or harder to use than the built-in search? It’s not obvious how to make use of it, there’s no additional UI component, the behaviour of keyword search is different. For example searching for a document number in the keyword search will return the document and any docs that reference that doc number in the content file.
  • How does your user community like it?  Do they prefer one over the other? They barely know it’s there until they’re searching for some content and need help
  • Is there value to Solr if the only objects in Windchill are EPMDocuments (CAD docs)? None that I’m aware of, not sure if the content of CAD gets indexed

 

Configuration

  • Are you running Solr on a separate server server? No, runs on master node in cluster
  • What kind of resources are you giving it?  (RAM, vCPU, etc.)
  • Did you add any additional foreground or background method servers to Windchill for Solr? Yes one additional MS added to master node for solar
  • Did you add any dedicated queues to Windchill for Solr? Don’t think so

 

Maintenance

  • This line from the help documentation is interesting:  "A system administrator must maintain the efficiency and usefulness of the search system as it change..."  What types of things do you need to do on a regular basis to 'maintain the usefulness and efficiency' of the system? Re-indexed it twice in the 4 years
  • Are you re-indexing after each critical patch set installation? The CPS rarely updates solr, solr CPS are separate the CPS bundle and never seen one.
  • How long does it take to re-index your entire system? 2-3 days
Chris3
21-Topaz I
(To:TomU)

We have it installed and it is most useful for tracking down drawings with particular notes. For instance if there is a GIDEP and you want to find out what parts use an alloy from the GIDEP, you can use the keyword search to find all of the drawings with that alloy.

 

Or if an engineer wants to copy some notes from a unique drawing and knows part the words that that were used, the user can search based on words in the drawing notes to find it.

TomU
23-Emerald IV
(To:Chris3)

So is the index search on as the default search method for all users or do they only turn it on when they have a specific need for it?

HelesicPetr
22-Sapphire I
(To:TomU)

Hi @TomU,

If indexsearch is installed all users uses it generally.

 If user doesn't want to use ISearch he can turn of it by preference. 

HelesicPetr_0-1643101690465.png

Best Regards

PetrH

Chris3
21-Topaz I
(To:TomU)

Its only used when a user runs a keyword search. Most users use the keyword search because being in the upper right corner of the interface it is the most visible. I personally do not use keyword search unless there is something in the field of the drawing I am looking for. I have a saved advanced search with created by, mod by, number, title, ect turned on and I use those fields instead.

avillanueva
22-Sapphire II
(To:TomU)

Usability

  • What do you like and dislike about it? Makes searching of file contents and drawing notes possible. If you do not know name or number, this is your Obi wan. Cons, based on search terms, can produce imprecise results or too much returns.
  • How does it perform compared to the out-of-the-box 'Advanced Search'? Fast for what it returns. 
  • Is it easier or harder to use than the built-in search? Easier to initiate a index search. Other requires extra click if you have preference enabled.
  • How does your user community like it?  Do they prefer one over the other? The always seem to want it to work the opposite of how they see it but I guess we are only hearing complaints.
  • Is there value to Solr if the only objects in Windchill are EPMDocuments (CAD docs)? YES, Drawing notes!

 

Configuration

  • Are you running Solr on a separate server server? Yes, we have a separate VM for it.
  • What kind of resources are you giving it?  (RAM, vCPU, etc.) 4GB, 2 Cores
  • Did you add any additional foreground or background method servers to Windchill for Solr? No. Not needed
  • Did you add any dedicated queues to Windchill for Solr? Just the Bulk Index and regular Index queues.

 

Maintenance

  • This line from the help documentation is interesting:  "A system administrator must maintain the efficiency and usefulness of the search system as it change..."  What types of things do you need to do on a regular basis to 'maintain the usefulness and efficiency' of the system? Reindex on upgrades but its worth checking every now and then to see if it missed objects.
  • Are you re-indexing after each critical patch set installation? No, just upgrades
  • How long does it take to re-index your entire system? 1-2 days
TomU
23-Emerald IV
(To:avillanueva)

Thanks!

lhoogeveen
17-Peridot
(To:TomU)

Usability

  • What do you like and dislike about it?
    • Like - Search also returns results from text within documents/drawings or Windchill attributes. No need to train users to add * wildcard to the end of search or have a small customization to auto add * to the end.
    • Dislike - You may have to wait a minute or so to see new object(s) in the search results when using indexing. It would be nice if Name/Number/File Name was indexed right away but it's general not a big deal to wait a minute or so. I also wish there was a quick toggle checkbox to switch between a indexed search or not rather than toggling in the Windchill preferences - https://community.ptc.com/t5/Windchill-Ideas/Windchill-Core-Search-Improvements/idi-p/461200
  • How does it perform compared to the out-of-the-box 'Advanced Search'. Performance of both seems fine. Index search can return a lot more objects and using the refinement tools ('Refine Results' or table search on the returned results) are sometimes required.
  • Is it easier or harder to use than the built-in search? Users get used to either but I think most users prefer the benefits of the index search. Some users may prefer to turn off index searching if they are used to the nonindex search.
  • How does your user community like it?  Do they prefer one over the other? Both companies I've worked for turned index search on by default but allow users to change this setting if needed.
  • Is there value to Solr if the only objects in Windchill are EPMDocuments (CAD docs)? Search drawing text or Windchill attributes in addition to Name/Number/File Name. Not sure if the  'text preview' column only applies to documents or would also work with drawing text.

Maintenance

  • Occasionally reindexing the entire system (which can take day or so) if it stopped returning the expected results.

 

Here are the Windchill 'keyword' search locations that I've found:

Windchill Keyword Search Fields.jpg

TomU
23-Emerald IV
(To:lhoogeveen)

It looks like adding Solr also allows faceted searching to be performed.  Do you by chance have that preference turned on as well?

https://support.ptc.com/help/wnc/r12.1.0.0/en/index.html#page/Windchill_Help_Center/search/LclSrchResultsFacets.html#wwID0ERGIO

TomU_1-1643743255590.png

 

lhoogeveen
17-Peridot
(To:TomU)

Yep. That is the 'Refine Results' I mentioned above if the initial search results returned too many objects.

RandyJones
19-Tanzanite
(To:TomU)


 

Is Windchill Index Search (Solr) installed and operational in your Windchill environment?

Yes. We have been using solr for several years now.

 

If you said 'yes', then I have a bunch more questions:

 

Usability

  • What do you like and dislike about it?
    • Easy to search - simply type in key words and hit enter
    • Also indexes the contents of many document types
  • How does it perform compared to the out-of-the-box 'Advanced Search'
    • The same speed
  • Is it easier or harder to use than the built-in search?
    • The same. You can still use the built in search if needed
  • How does your user community like it?  Do they prefer one over the other?
    • They liked it after getting it going
  • Is there value to Solr if the only objects in Windchill are EPMDocuments (CAD docs)?
    • Definitely
    • You can set it up to index the text, notes of Creo Parametric drawings

 

Configuration

  • Are you running Solr on a separate server server?
    • Nope
  • What kind of resources are you giving it?  (RAM, vCPU, etc.)
    • No limits on cpu - so it can use as many as needed
    • Limiting SOLR_HEAP to 8192m in Solr/SolrServer/bin/set_env.sh
      • Which is actually upping it from the ootb 2048m
  • Did you add any additional foreground or background method servers to Windchill for Solr?
    • Nope
  • Did you add any dedicated queues to Windchill for Solr?

 

Maintenance

  • This line from the help documentation is interesting:  "A system administrator must maintain the efficiency and usefulness of the search system as it changes over time."  What types of things do you need to do on a regular basis to 'maintain the usefulness and efficiency' of the system?
    • I have never had to do anything on a "regular" basis. It just works...
  • Are you re-indexing after each critical patch set installation?
    • Only if the critical patch set includes an update to Solr
      • Install cps in Windchill
      • Update (reinstall) solr only if cps includes a solr update. This actually happens every 2 or 3 cps updates. 
        • Re-index
        • I added more bulk index queues to try to speed this up however after adding up to 8 on a test system solr still was only using 2-3 cpu's (same as before I started). I could never get it to be a cpu "hog" and use many cpu's to speed the initial index time up.
  • How long does it take to re-index your entire system?
    • A little over 24hrs
    • Most of that is spent indexing the EPMDocuments (1.2m)
      • Due to indexing the contents of the Creo Parametric drawings
    • We have a total of 2.4m indexed objects in the system

 

 


 

TomU
23-Emerald IV
(To:RandyJones)

@RandyJones,

Thanks for the reply.  Seems like I'm running out of reasons not to install it.  😉

 

Sort of off topic, since you're running the Solr process on the Windchill server, are you by chance also running the Windchill database on the same server, or is that still separate?  I've always ran them on separate servers, but I'm wondering if maybe I would see a performance increase if the Windchill application didn't have to cross the network stack to talk to the database.  Thoughts?

RandyJones
19-Tanzanite
(To:TomU)


@TomU wrote:

@RandyJones,

Thanks for the reply.  Seems like I'm running out of reasons not to install it.  😉

 

Sort of off topic, since you're running the Solr process on the Windchill server, are you by chance also running the Windchill database on the same server, or is that still separate?  I've always ran them on separate servers, but I'm wondering if maybe I would see a performance increase if the Windchill application didn't have to cross the network stack to talk to the database.  Thoughts?


I am running the Windchill db on the same server.  Have done that forever and has always worked good for us. Originally on Solaris using zones and now on RedHat. As long as your server has enough cpu/ram/disk there is no technical reason to not run it on the same server.

TomU
23-Emerald IV
(To:RandyJones)

We use SQL Server and I'll have to check how the licensing works.  I think Microsoft may force us to license all vCPU cores for SQL Server which I definitely wouldn't want to do if running a monolithic setup.  I'm not really limited by available RAM, CPU, or disk.  I can pretty much throw whatever I want at these VMs.  🙂

RandyJones
19-Tanzanite
(To:TomU)


@TomU wrote:

We use SQL Server and I'll have to check how the licensing works.  I think Microsoft may force us to license all vCPU cores for SQL Server which I definitely wouldn't want to do if running a monolithic setup.  I'm not really limited by available RAM, CPU, or disk.  I can pretty much throw whatever I want at these VMs.  🙂


Maybe you could get clever with a docker container running in the same host:

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/sql/linux/sql-server-linux-docker-container-deployment?view=sql-server-ver15&pivots=cs1-bash

You can limit the number of cpus a container uses:

https://docs.docker.com/config/containers/resource_constraints/

--cpus and --cpuset-cpus

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