Automate documentation of ECOs in multiple documents using EPDM Variable Fields
We all know that SOLIDWORKS EPDM can store files created by Microsoft Excel, but what if there is information in the Excel file that we want to display in the file’s EPDM data card or vice versa?
SolidWorks EPDM allows the user to create a relationship between Excel, Word, and SolidWorks content and EPDM data cards, enabling the user to update multiple documents by editing just one EPDM data card field.
Is there anything special we need to do with EPDM variables to make this automated update process work? Is there anything special in Excel we need to do? In this article we will find out how to make EPDM data cards communicate with your excel file:
Overview: Entering ECO data in one EPDM data card to update many documents
A good example of why you might want to push data from a data card into an Excel file is if you are using Excel to document an engineering change. In this example, we will do just that.
I have created a template for new ECOs (Engineering Change Orders). This template brings up a data card that prompts the user to enter information about the engineering change:
This data should then be used to populate fields in the data card rather than the user re-typing all that information into the Excel file. Our philosophy should always be to create a single point of entry, meaning enter the data once and have EPDM leverage that data elsewhere automatically.
In this example, when I select the “Create File” button, this is what I get for my Excel-based ECO:
The text that has been pre-filled into the Excel file came from the data card:
So, how did all this loveliness happen?
Procedure: Link Metadata fields between your EPDM data card & Excel
Excel can store and use metadata just like EPDM and SolidWorks can (This is also true for Word). The metadata for Excel and Word is called custom property, just like in SolidWorks.
We’ll take a look at just one field in the data card: the “Description” field. As we can see, the “Description” field is storing its information in an EPDM variable called “Description.” This Description variable is linked to custom property information called “Description” and it applies to SolidWorks files, .docx, and .xlsx file types. Of course, in our case, we are most interested in the .xlsx file type.
That’s all that is needed on the EPDM side. Let’s get the Excel file ready to read the information in the EPDM data card:
In Excel, when you select a cell, the cell’s name is displayed in the top left corner, just below the toolbar. Typically, it’s something like, A11, B12 or G4… Hey, you sunk my battle ship!!
These are the coordinates of the cell you have selected. You can actually rename a cell and that is what we will do to communicate with EPDM data cards. In this case, the field that will contain descriptive information about the ECO has been renamed to “Description.”
To display an Excel file’s custom properties, go to the home button in the top left corner and select “Prepare” and then select “Properties.”
Select the “Document Properties” pull-down and select “Advanced Properties.”
In the property dialog, create a new custom property called “Description.” Then select the “Link to content” check box. This will allow you to choose from the list of named fields in the “Source.” In this list of names, you should see the field we named “Description.” Select “Add” and “Ok.”
Now, that field in our spread sheet is linked to the custom property “Description” which, when added to EPDM, is connected to the data card field “Description.”
And that’s it! Yet another way to automate our processes and make our lives easier through EPDM.