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Small Scale Data Management - Search Paths


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I have 4 designers that are about to begin a project in which they will share the same top level assemblies. Instead of investing in a PDM software package, I was wondering if anyone has tried sharing specific directories on their computers (read-only) and using search paths that look on the other computers to gather the required models. What has been your experience with that?
That's an excellent way to work. Use the option search_path_file and have all the users point to a common file. In the file, put directories to the standard parts library, released models, models pending release, and the different user directories. Remember that the order of directories is something to be concerned about. Like you mentioned, permissions on the user directories are important. You don't want users to be able to save changed models (not owned by them) back into another users' directory. Also, set the config options override_store_back to no and save_object_in_current to no. Now, every user will have a directory that the others can read from but should have their current work stored into another directory. Managing projects using search paths takes diligence by the users and system administrator. In the end, you will have a thorough knowledge of what you expect a PDM software to do.
Before we set up Intralink, I did this with a project shared between 3 engineers. I included an Excel spreadsheet where the designers could check out parts. The directory was not read only, since that would make it difficult to check back in. Any library parts were in a read only directory with a person assigned as gatekeeper.