ePDM Tips and Tricks: Update References Tool

One of the benefits of EPDM is that it takes over responsibility for managing file references. Once you have files in EPDM and linked, you will not have to worry about the references again. If you bring files into EPDM with broken references, you need to use the Update References Tool.

User Interface

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The Update Reference Tool is a handy tool for cleaning up broken references on files as you bring them into EPDM. Before we get into the nuts and bolts of how we can use this tool, a word of warning: If you check in a file with broken references, those files will be removed from the reference tree. So, if you want to update those references, you will need to cancel and fix them before check-in.

Ok, with that out of the way let's talk about what references are and how they work. A reference is how SolidWorks links parts, assemblies, and drawings together. It is how SolidWorks knows what files make up a drawing or assembly and where they are stored. We call this the reference tree. In the reference tree, we have parent and child relationships. In the above example, The "iBeam.SLDASM" is the parent of all the parts (children) within the tree. The tree is stored within the parent file.

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Typically, the children do not get lost. But sometimes when you move files around or rename them, before check-in, those references can be broken. SolidWorks can find them because they are not where it found them the last time the parent was saved. This commonly happens when moving from a local or network folder structure to a new Enterprise PDM system (ePDM). If you were to reorganize your files without updating the reference tree, all those references would be broken. This is because Solidworks uses a relative path scheme to locate the files. If it can't find those files in the same relative path, SW will attempt to heal the broken references in three ways. First it will look in the last place it found the files, next it will look at the files you have open in SW, then it will look to the same folder as the parent. If it's not there, the reference is shown as broken. There is one additional step that is taken for ePDM users. Within ePDM, you can set an external reference folder location for SW to search as well.

Ok, enough with the inner workings of SolidWorks references. Let's take a look at the problem at hand. Three files in the assembly are currently broken. If I were to open this assembly, those files would not be there. So let's take a closer look and fix them without having to open SolidWorks or deal with "File not found" warnings.

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We have three tools at our disposal to fix these references. They are:

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Find Files

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Find files allows us to search the vault for the missing file. This is a shotgun approach. It will return every file that matches that name. You can select from the list of returns to update the reference. This is a good method to use when you are not sure exactly where the file is located. It is also good to get a feel for just how many duplicates you might have. In fact you can use the update reference tool to whittle down those duplicates by standardizing on one version of the file

Replace File

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Replace file allows us to navigate to the missing file. This is a surgical approach to locating the missing file. We can tell the system exactly the files we want to use going forward.

Add Files to the Vault

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If the file exists outside the vault, we can import the file to a location within the vault. We will not be prompted for card information, but you can push the

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Updating the Reference Tree

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Once we have all the files accounted for, we can press the update button to commit the modifications

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We can now check in the parent and all the children knowing that the references are correct.

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Now that these files are secured by ePDM, we can move them around and rename them without worrying about the references. This is because ePDM will automatically update the references in the background.

The Update Reference tool is great to use when bringing new files into the vault and changing their location, replacing files, or fixing long standing errors in old assemblies. This tool lets us fix these annoying issues without the need of SolidWorks.

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