When talking about custom variables (custom properties) in SolidWorks Enterprise PDM, one could argue that they are the backbone of harnessing the power of the tool. They are used to identify files, track approvals, and even provide quick reference without the need of opening the files in their native program. More importantly, they are in essence what powers the great search tools within SolidWorks Enterprise PDM. The problem is that whether your team is generating new files or importing legacy files, there is plenty of room for these variables to have not been filled in. Here are some tools and methods to identify these files and aid in cleaning up your variables.
The first step to cleaning up files that may be missing data is by defining search criteria to identify the files in question. The best option for this is to use of the built-in ‘complete search‘. To get to the complete search, the default locations from the Windows Explorer interface is either Tools -> EPDM Searches -> Complete Search or to click the arrow next to the search icon and select ‘Complete Search’. If you do not have access to this search, notify your system administrator to gain access.
On the complete search card, we’ll want to first address that we’re looking for. In this example, we’re going to look for files where the Number or the Description “is empty”. In other words, the value contains nothing. The variables tab can be a little tricky though – the ‘variables’ it is referencing has to do with a SolidWorks Enterprise PDM variable which does not necessarily have to match the custom property value in SolidWorks. So, what may be ‘Number’ in SolidWorks Enterprise PDM, in SolidWorks this might be PartNo or something similar. You may need to contact your system administrator to identify these variables if it is not immediately obvious.
By default, the variable tab has a governing ‘AND’ clause. We’re not going to be interested in files that have description AND number values that are empty; we want to find files that have either description OR number empty. So let’s create an ‘OR’ grouping.
Now, we can add our variables. In this case we’re going to add ‘description’ and ‘number’ with a comparison of ‘Text Contains’. Leave the value blank. This is the equivalent to nothing or an empty value! If you wanted to include other variables to check for a value, you can continue to add them under this same ‘OR’ grouping.
If we go back to the ‘Name and Location’ tab, there is some refinement that we should do. First, we have to remove the checkmark in the checkbox indicating ‘Search in all versions’. We do not want this selected because even if we fix a file that was not filled out, it will still show up in our list requiring fixes. An earlier version of that file will not have values! By removing the checkbox, we are telling SolidWorks Enterprise PDM we only want files that currently do not have a description or number value. You may also wish to refine your search by filename. Here, I supplied a value of .SLD, which would help filter for any SolidWorks file. You may wish to supply other values or even return a list of all files in your system. Modify this value accordingly.
Now we’re ready to run our search. As you can see on the next image, the search only returned 7 files.
For this demonstration, we have a fairly small number of files returned. However, there may be a good chance that your list is much longer. You could run down your search results and modify the data cards right within the search window. This is fine if you have only one person trying to amend these files, but what if you wanted delegate the task to different individuals to complete the task as quickly as possible? If you select the icon that looks like Microsoft Excel (circled in the image above), it will import the search results into a CSV file and open it in Excel. Now, you could split this list into something more manageable and have someone else work on rows 2-4 and you could work on 5-8.
When you can, it’s always best to have good clean data in your SolidWorks Enterprise PDM vault. This helps not only aid in searching but item reuse. If your engineers can find the part or assembly they are looking for, they won’t be spending time trying to find or, even worse, redesign their parts. The best part is you can save this search as a favorite and run it frequently to make sure the data you have in your system stays clean!
Until next time…