ProjectWise Versions…Sauce or Gravy?

Ah, Sauce or Gravy.  That question has some Italian families squabbling.  My parents always called it tomato sauce, yet I have friends whom were taught that it is gravy.  I always thought of gravy coming from meat?  Sorry, I digress again – yet I cannot help but be reminded of that analogy when I start talking about a ProjectWise version.  Early in my career (largely as a Plant design/drafter), a “version” more referred to “what MicroStation version do you have installed” or “what version of Microsoft Office is deployed” than “what is the version of that drawing”. In that instance, a drawing always had “revisions”. Semantics perhaps, but it can cause confusion. Since it is called a version in ProjectWise, I’ll stick with that…at least for this post.

When working with users, one early topic we discuss are their particular requirements with respect to drawings and versions. Is the need to keep a historical, electronic copy that is editable (MicroStation, AutoCAD)?  If so, there are special considerations needed when establishing a firm set of version rules.

The immediate and glaring concern is obvious if you understand how versioning works in ProjectWise. On the surface, it is very straightforward; simply right click on a document and select the option New > Version. The user is presented with a dialog box where, among a few other options, they can choose to enter their own version designation or simply let ProjectWise number it for them. Once the command is complete, ProjectWise will create a new document version, which is linked to its master and has the same Name, File Name and Description as its original. The type of document does not matter – CAD, MSWord, MSExcel – they are all treated similarly. And there in lies the problem. There is no out of the box process to version all MicroStation (or AutoCAD) reference files when you version a master CAD drawing.  If you only version the master, are you truly creating a “record set”?  No, because in the absence of a reference file version, the master is preserved, but the references will keep updating.

It might be nice if ProjectWise could detect any attached reference file and prompt the user to version them along with its master.  But even if ProjectWise could, what version designation would you give the reference files?  For example, if the master drawing is moving to version “B”, “Issued for Client Review”, would you automatically version all references files to “B”?  Maybe not because one or more of the reference files might be a deliverable document, requiring its own version “B”.

One solution could be to use a “major/minor” version designation for the master/reference drawings.  For example, after you version a master CAD drawing to “B”, a user could select the ProjectWise option Set > Show References and, when the dialog box opens, highlight all the displayed references files and create a new version using the designation “B.01”, indicating that the attached reference files were versioned to support the master “Issued for Client Review”.  However, this is a time consuming and frustrating process.

A better solution might be the use of the ProjectWise Rules Engine, which can handle automatic version control strings.  In this scenario, the Rules Engine supports the format XYY.ZZ where X = Prefix Letter, YY = Numerical Revision (Major) and ZZ = Numerical Version (Minor).  Further, the Rules Engine can run a condition check called REFS_VALID, which is used exclusively for CAD Files with hierarchical reference sets in ProjectWise. A defined document attribute will be checked against all Reference files attached in a set and if any of them contain the value defined in Rules Engine (e.g. Unapproved), the Condition will fail and a new version of the Master document is not created.  But this is also a time consuming process.

The best solution might simply be to have ProjectWise, at time of issue, automatically create a PDF via the i-model Composition Service.  In this scenario, your ProjectWise Administrator can create a iCS “job” that is triggered by a ProjectWise Saved Search (“All Issued Project Documents”, for example) and, using an InterPlot Organizer setting file,  properly rendition a PDF and place that PDF in a predetermined location in of ProjectWise.  In addition, the iCS job can map the ProjectWise document attributes set on the CAD drawing directly to the PDF.

As with many other ProjectWise commands, there are several configuration notes that you need to be mindful of, including but not limited to:

– Datasource Version Settings :  There are several to consider and, since these are datasource settings, they are enforced for every PW Project.

– Rules Engine Behavior :  Some ProjectWise commands (e.g. New Version) and datasource settings (e.g. Use numeric version strings) work differently if a Rules Engine is applied.

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