Thursday, June 19, 2008

STS#3 - I want my TDM

We are in the process of configuring Enterprise, and have bumped into what we perceive to be a major stumbling block. Actually, several, but I can't possibly do each topic any justice in a single post. I'm afraid I will have to compare to what we are currently doing in I-DEAS in order to define the issue. In the interest of space, I'm going to leave out the parts regarding "why" we do what we do, but if it matters I will be happy to provide that info in response to questions. For lack of a better description, I'm going to call this topic...

ACCESS CONTROL

We have I-DEAS configured with states that, in concept, are identical to states in Enterprise. I-DEAS does not have an equivalent of transitions. There is no workflow in I-DEAS, but how we move around between states is defined by procedures external to the software. The states that we have are:

1. Initial
2. Record
3. Review
4. Programming
5. Pre-Issued
6. Issued

Basically, "Initial" is wide open, and is the default state for all new items. "Issued" corresponds to our document release process, and is locked down pretty hard. All of the others fall somewhere in the middle in terms of permissions. All states have, at minimum, read-only permission for all users.

We do NOT allow check out of Issued items. The only action that can be performed against an Issued item is to create a new version. So if an Issued item needs to be revised, the user must first create a new version of it. The new version will be in the default state of Initial, and the user can then check the part out and make the required revisions.

So that is most of the data management piece of the puzzle, but there is one more aspect that pertains to geometry. When an assembly is marked for check out (CK), all components in that assembly - parts and/or other subassemblies - will be marked as read-only (Rfl). So once the data is transferred to the local workspace, the end result will look like this:

TopAssy - CK
...SubAssy - Rfl
......Part - Rfl

Assuming that the user had permission to check out "TopAssy" in the first place, then this is the behavior that will always happen, regardless of the individual states of the sub-items (again, all states have at minimum read-only).

I think that covers the preliminary information needed to define the issue. If I need to provide more, please ask.

It would be a huge stretch to say that we fully understand what we are doing in Enterprise. So hopefully, we are just missing some combination of checkboxes necessary to get what we want. The problem is manifesting in a couple of different ways.

First of all, as a starting point, we have created states in Enterprise to mimic what we have in I-DEAS. Same names, same permission levels. This means we have an "Issued" state in Enterprise that is read-only, and check out is not allowed. Following our normal document release process, we would issue data in a similar fashion, and thus wind up with the vast majority of our data being in this read-only state.

The other scenario we are playing with is taking advantage of the global capabilities that Enterprise has, and I-DEAS lacks. We will be sharing data with several locations around the world, and our first location to play with is Australia. They do things differently than we do here in the US, so we will have an alternate workflow for their use. Data in the US workflow will be read-only for Australia, and data in the Australia workflow will be read-only for the US. We will collaborate on projects; we'll use their parts, they will use ours.

In either scenario, the point is that I'm going to have a lot of stuff in a read-only state.

In order to reach the problem that we are seeing, here are the preliminary steps to perform:

1. Create a new part - Part1 - save it into the vault.
2. Check in Part1. Do not keep it checked out.
3. Approve Part1 into Issued state (read-only).
4. Create a new assembly - Assembly2 - save it into the vault.
5. Insert Part1 into Assembly2, save again for good measure.
6. Check in Assembly2. Do not keep it checked out.
7. Close all SolidWorks files.

Everything is fine up to this point. Now I would like to add another part to Assembly2.

8. Go to blueberry, find Assembly2, right-click Edit.
9. The Check Out dialog window is presented, however it has a warning on it. Part1 says "No check out rights." That's fine, I'm not trying to check out the part, I'm trying to check out the assembly. However, I'm dead in the water.

There is a setting in Enterprise about allowing users to ignore warnings, and I'm not allowed to ignore the warning. So I cannot go forward. I'm perfectly ok with the setting, what I don't understand is the reason for the warning. Why do I need check out rights on a part in order to check out an assembly? That makes no sense.

If we change the setting to allow users to ignore warnings, then I can get through this dialog and open the assembly.

In my head, the ability to prevent users from going through warnings is a fantabulous thing that I wish I had in I-DEAS. So I'm not comfortable at all with disabling this feature. Also, I'm not yet familiar with the gamut of potential warnings in Enterprise that may cause real problems if I allow users through.

This is only an issue because SW and/or Enterprise seem to want to have check-out on parts in order to check-out an assembly. If I am incorrect about this, please correct me, because this is ridiculous if true.

I'm only seeing a couple of options at this point. I can allow users to go through warnings (bad). I can prevent users from going through warnings (good), but then I have to allow check out for my Issued state (bad). I don't like either of those options.

Am I accurately describing the state of the world? Is there some other option we need to know about? Any assistance will be greatly appreciated.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

You're going to want to let users ignore the warnings otherwise everyone will be dead in the water. I'm pretty sure if you have it set it will not even let you check an assembly out if someone else has a part below it checked out (this was 2007). We turned it off right away. It's actually not a big deal. The user will still see the warning in the dialog box they'll just be able to perform whatever they were trying to do to begin with and if they're trying to check out a file that should be read only to them then they will still be prevented from doing so. If they really wanted a functional warning where you could say don't let users ignore there should be something in the dialog box they would have to check saying yes I read the warning but would like to proceed but alas there is not.

Anonymous said...

You're going to want to let users ignore the warnings otherwise everyone will be dead in the water. I'm pretty sure if you have it set it will not even let you check an assembly out if someone else has a part below it checked out (this was 2007). We turned it off right away. It's actually not a big deal. The user will still see the warning in the dialog box they'll just be able to perform whatever they were trying to do to begin with and if they're trying to check out a file that should be read only to them then they will still be prevented from doing so. If they really wanted a functional warning where you could say don't let users ignore there should be something in the dialog box they would have to check saying yes I read the warning but would like to proceed but alas there is not.