Sunday, July 06, 2008

STS#4 - Can I have some control please?

The next issue we are seeing in Enterprise has to do with version control. I'm a firm believer in the value of pictures, so I'll try to incorporate them here to describe the scenario. This issue is pretty much a show-stopper, so any assistance in getting around it will be greatly appreciated.


I'll start with a new part in SolidWorks. I'll just use text for the geometry to help keep track of what is going on. (Please pardon the crappy screen shots)

I'll check this into Enterprise, and will not keep it checked out. Verify what is in Enterprise:

Version 1 of 1, preview looks good. Now I will create an assembly, and insert my part into it. I'm going to use an internal part to visually represent the versions.

For reasons I don't entirely understand, the initial save of the assembly that I had to do in order to work on the internal part actually performed a check in. So, the first version I'm going to be interested in after checking in will actually be version 2. Not a big deal, just a curiosity. Here's what it looks like in Enterprise:

Version 2 of 2, preview looks good. And the BOM...

...correctly shows that version 2 of the assembly contains version 1 of the part. So far so good. Let's assume that this part and assembly go through a document release process/workflow, and wind up in an issued state.

Now an Engineering Request (ER #1) comes through, requesting some enhancements to the part. No problem, Engineer Bob checks it out and makes some changes, then checks it back in.

Bob gets some feedback, and makes another change, and again checks it in.

Bob then goes on vacation, while he waits for further feedback, but it is important to note that he is not yet done with his work.

While Bob is out of the office, an emergency issue is discovered requiring immediate attention. Engineer Tom needs to add a new part to the assembly. Tom takes a look at the assembly as it sits in Enterprise.

Assembly version 2 still contains part version 1, though we note that a newer version of the part is available. Take a quick peek at the preview...

...which is correct. So Tom checks out the assembly via right click, Edit.

The form is a little curious, since it refers to the local version of the part as 3/3. I suppose I understand that, but I note that there is no mention of version 1 of the part. Proceeding...

Before even showing anything, SolidWorks wants to rebuild the assembly. Ok, that's a little suspicious, but sure go ahead.

And now this is really wrong. Version 2 of the assembly that I just checked out is now showing version 3 of the part. This is absolutely the wrong answer. Enterprise has, for some reason, automatically provided the latest version of the part.

I'm aware that Enterprise has a setting regarding this behavior (or at least I believe it is related), so let's take a look there:

The option is turned off.

Tom isn't as familiar with the assembly as Bob is, so he doesn't even realize he's looking at 1) information that is different than what is in the vault, and 2) potentially incomplete part geometry. He goes on about his business none the wiser.

This scenario would violate the rules that we have in I-DEAS (albeit manually enforced) for document release. Once we get our Enterprise workflows nailed down, we will want this enforcement to be automatic (if possible). So either way, Tom will have to correct this situation before he can go forward. The unfortunate thing is that he did nothing wrong to wind up in this position.

Under no circumstances do I want the software automatically grabbing the latest version of any sub-components.

Within the scope of my testing, I do not believe I have yet seen it where repeating this scenario correctly pulls out the older version of the part. It always grabs the latest version. I'm left with a couple of possibilities:

1. The "Always work with latest version of files" toggle is broken, and is actually turned on even though it appears to be turned off.

2. I don't understand what the toggle is used for, and it isn't even related to this scenario.

3. Enterprise is working as designed, regardless of toggles.

4. I suppose there could be a SolidWorks error here, but I don't think so. In my head, SW only knows about filenames and paths. It goes to look for a file, and can only grab what Enterprise makes available for it. Enterprise is providing the wrong file.

This is a major, major issue. If I'm doing something wrong, I need to know what the "right" way to do it is. If this is Enterprise working as designed, or a bug, I need a workaround or something. I need for assemblies (or drawings, for that matter) to bring out the appropriate older version as it was when checked in, not automatically skip to the newest version of everything.

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