With release 11 of its Solid Edge CAD software, EDS introduced Insight, a PDM application based in part on Microsoft’s Sharepoint Portal Server. In 2003 Microsoft introduced Sharepoint 2, which incorporates document check-in and check-out features directly into the Windows Server 2003 operating system. That means Solid Edge users no longer need to purchase the Sharepoint Portal Server software in order to set up a single-site PDM system. Sharepoint 2 also employs Microsoft’s SQL Server to store and index data about files stored in the Sharepoint system.
Solid Edge release 15 will be the first version to take advantage of Sharepoint 2. EDS claims that Sharepoint 2 will enable Insight to support larger numbers of users than was possible with the original Sharepoint software. EDS has also made important functional improvements to the Insight software with version 15.
Sharepoint 2 expands the number of roles administrators can assign to Insight users. In the original system, there were only three: author, reader, and administrator. In version 15, administrators may assign up to 20 different rights and permissions to users. For example, engineers and designers may be authorized to change drawings and models in the system but not to delete them. Users may be given reading and writing privileges for some project files and limited only to reading others.
Microsoft’s new Sharepoint Services lets administrators assign users more than 20 rights and permissions by selecting radio buttons in a Web browser form. (Click image for a larger view.)
The Insight software with release 15 has new tools to help load large numbers of files into the PDM system. A process called the “dry run” lets system managers analyze design libraries for problems prior to checking them into Insight. The dry run will identify files that:
- have missing or broken references.
- contain invalid characters in file names.
- duplicate file names already in the data vault.
Previous Insight versions forbade users from checking in files with broken references. The new system will, at the administrator’s option, accept such files.
A new administrator module for Solid Edge enables system mangers to establish the locations where files are saved on a network-wide basis. Previous versions required these preferences to be set at each workstation.
The assembly pathfinder tree of Solid Edge 15 give users cues about the status of assembly models they are using. For example, files that are checked out to the user are displayed in green while those checked out to other users are shown in orange. Files for which a newer version exists are shown in blue and files for which a newer revision level exists are underlined.