The User Interface for Manage
In a previous article, we looked at the administration options for SOLIDWORKS Manage. In this article, we will look at how a user interfaces with SOLIDWORKS Manage.
Let’s start this introduction to using SOLIDWORKS Manage by defining it. SOLIDWORKS Manage offers companies a project management solution that can be easier to implement and less costly then a full-blown product lifecycle management (PLM) solution. SOLIDWORKS Manage includes SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional and can be integrated with SOLIDWORKS PDM vaults.
Once SOLIDWORKS Manage has been implemented, user’s access it through a login screen that provides options such as which SOLIDWORKS PDM vault to connect and the license type that will be used. Like SOLIDWORKS PDM, the license types are editor, contributor and viewer.
Once launched, the user will have access to the SOLIDWORKS Manage interface. The main components of this interface are:
- The ribbon bar is a collection of drop-down menus that provides access to items such as Administration and User Options (My Options) and configurable Dashboards.
- Modules are the main areas of SOLIDWORKS Manage.
- Module Objects are components used with each module.
- Module Configurable Structures contains the details that make up the modules.
- The side pane contains Advanced Search, Document Information and Shortcuts.
The ribbon bar provides many ways of interacting with SOLIDWORKS Manage. One of the first areas a User will encounter is My Options (User Options).
In My Options, aspects of the user interface can be fine tuned. The aspects that can be modified are controlled by a SOLIDWORKS Manage administrator.
Some of the items available in My Options are:
- Ability to choose from available dashboards
- Configure some aspects of the active dashboard
- Define some aspects of the interaction between SOLIDWORKS Manage and SOLIDWORKS
Different dashboards can also be accessed from the Dashboard tab of the ribbon bar.
A dashboard provides information about areas of the SOLIDWORKS Manage environment such as tasks, notifications and project status.
The SOLIDWORKS Manage ribbon bar also includes tools for searches, creating new records and opening existing records. The ribbon bar is also integrated into the main areas of SOLIDWORKS Manage, referred to as modules, which we will look at next.
The modules that make up SOLIDWORKS Manage are Home, Documents, Processes and Reports. While the modules themselves are individual items, there is a great deal of overlap and interaction between them.
The first is the Home module, which consists of My Dashboard, My Work, Tasks, Favorite Reports and Time sheets.
The My Dashboard module object allows access to SOLIDWORKS Manage dashboards. As seen earlier, dashboards can also be accessed from the Home module or Dashboard tab of the ribbon bar.
The next Home module object is My Work, which lists all documents, projects, processes and reports a user is currently involved in.
After My Work, the next is Tasks, which are actions assigned to a user or group or that is processed automatically as part of a process, case or project. The Tasks module object displays tasks and information such as percent complete, owner and lifecycle status. Aspects of the task, such as percent complete, can be updated from this module object. The funnel shaped icons in the below graphic are filters. These filters will only display information that meets certain conditions.
We will look at reports in more detail later on in this article. For now, I’ll just mention that reports can be accessed from the Home module. As is shown, a user can have favorite reports. This allows a user to quickly access information that is significant to them or a project.
The last Home module object displays Timesheets assigned to the logged in user or other users. Timesheets as are used to track task progress.
Next is the Documents module. This is the defined container where documents and records can be accessed. As we’ll see later, documents and records can also be accessed from other modules and the ribbon bar. Documents are physical files while a record is a SOLIDWORKS Manage object that may or may not contain a related document.
After selecting a document or record, the lower-right panel will display the property card for the selected document or record. The property card displays the properties associated with the selected item such as project and user information.
As well as the property card, the lower-right panel gives the user access to related files, configurations of the file (if applicable), selected BOM items and selected To Do items list.
Double clicking a document or record will open a separate window that provides the same information as the lower-right panel. This separate window contains icons to perform operations such as check in/out.
Many of these operations are also available from a right mouse menu.
Since different file types are often related, documents and records can be linked to one another. For example, a photo of a physical part could be linked to a CAD file.
The next module is Processes, which are used to move documents and records between a lifecycle states. A lifecycle defines the stages that a document or record will follow from inception to release and possibly to obsolesce. A lifecycle is created by a SOLIDWORKS Manage administrator and controls access to documents and records. The administrator also defines who can move items to different lifecycle states.
As mentioned earlier, there is a great deal of overlap between modules. While lifecycles are accessible through the Processes module, they can also be accessed through other modules such as documents. For example, a document or record can be advanced through a lifecycle by right-clicking on it in the Documents module.
After initiating a lifecycle state change by selecting Send to Process, a user can select the available state(s) from a pull-down.
Beyond the lifecycle, the Processes module provides access to a project’s objects. An object is a data structure used to either store or reference data. These objects are defined by the SOLIDWORKS Manage administrator.
The project’s objects are displayed on the left side of the Processes module panel. Selecting an object will display the records associated with that object on the right side of the panel.
Selecting a record in the Process module panel will provide similar information to what is available in the Documents module. Additionally, there is a graphical representation of the lifecycle.
As with the Documents module, a record can be opened in its own window. This window offers access to commands such as flagging a process as complete or advancing a record through a lifecycle by selecting Send to Next Stage.
The user also can quickly access information about the process, such as the users involved and any notes associated with a lifecycle stage, by selecting Process Information.
Projects are the nexus of SOLDIWORKS Manage. Projects are integrated throughout all of the other SOIDWORKS Manage modules. The Projects module provides a centralized location for a User to create, edit and view project information.
Projects are created by entering the project details
and selecting a project template or creating a project from scratch.
Once created, the Project module provides easy access to information related to a selected project.
As with the Documents module, double-clicking a project will display the same project information in a separate window. This separate window also contains icons to perform related commands. Like the Documents module, many of these commands are available from a right-mouse menu.
Reports are a key aspect of SOLIDWORKS Manage and are touched on in all areas of it. Reports are a means of querying information contained within a company’s SOLIDWORKS Manage environment. Reports can be associated with files, or they can be internal to SOLIDWORKS Manage.
While reports can be accessed through multiple areas, the Reports module centralizes the tools for working with them. The Report module interface allows for the creation, editing and viewing of reports.
One of the key features of the Report modules is the Report Designer. This module object allows a user to configure the appearance of a report.
One of the strengths of SOLIDWORKS Manage is the ability to interact with SOLIDWORKS PDM. This is accomplished by integrating SOLIDWORKS Manage with the SOLIDWORKS PDM local vault view.
SOLIDWORKS Manage is also available as an add-in for SOLIDWORKS.
Once added in, as with SOLIDWORKS PDM, SOLIDWORKS Manage adds a tab to the SOLIDWORKS task pane.
This article is a brief overview of SOLIDWORKS Manage and only touches on a few of the capabilities of this program. Still, it highlights some of the key features that SOLIDWORKS Manage possess to help a company move from product management to project management.
About the Author
Joe Medeiros as a Senior Applications Engineer at Javelin Technologies, a premier SOLIDWORKS reseller, servicing customers throughout Canada, offers SOLIDWORKS customers expertise in implementing and using SOLIDWORKS solutions
Joe has been involved in many aspects of the SOLIDWORKS product family since 1996, and as an award-winning blogger, he regularly writes about SOLIDWORKS solutions.