Now that your data has been cleaned up and organized, you should already be noticing an improvement in your processes.  Even without implementing the data management tools, having improved data integrity from:

  • Consistent file naming,
  • No duplicate files,
  • Easier to find needed files,
  • Fewer broken links,
  • Ability to monitor file I/O performance,
  • Possibly tweak and improve file access,

should be realizing returns due to less time spent searching for the right document.  Process improvement is the critical first step. Now that the processes are in place and working, we can start setting up the built-in data management tools in order to automate some of the steps and realize greater efficiencies in the process.

A Quick Clarification

This article focuses on the server settings. In this case, “server” is defined as the location where you created your top-level folder to store your CAD files, your “CAD_Vault.” These settings must be set on the machine that contains the files, whether it be your local drive or a network file server.

To reiterate, the reason these data management tools are referred to as built-in is because there is no additional software to install. These settings take advantage of standard Windows and Solid Edge abilities. All you must do is turn them on and get them working together, which is what this series of articles is about.  So let’s get back to it.

Windows Search Index

Have you ever searched a directory structure for a specific file, and waited and waited as that progress bar on the top of Windows Explorer slowly filled to the right?  Did you ever notice the hint from Windows that told you to include that directory into the index for faster searching?

  • From the Windows Taskbar, click the search icon and type Services.
  • Click the Services app to start it.
  • Scroll down and look for the service called Windows Search.
  • Make sure it is running and that it is set to automatically start.
Make sure Windows Search is Running and Automatically Starts on the file server.

Make sure Windows Search is Running and Automatically Starts on the file server.

The next step is to make sure the actual top-level folder that contains your CAD library is getting indexed.

  • Right-click on the top-level folder and select Properties.
  • On the General Tab, click Advanced.
  • Make sure the “Allow files in this folder to have contents indexed in addition to the file properties” option is checked.
  • If prompted, apply to all the subfolders. Depending on how the folder hierarchy was created, you may need to manually verify every folder.
Allow complete content indexing on all folders and subfolders in your CAD library.

Allow complete content indexing on all folders and subfolders in your CAD library.

Fast Search

If Solid Edge is installed on the same machine as your CAD library, indexing can be configured via Solid Edge Options.  If your CAD library is on a network file server, then the Fast Search utility must be installed onto the server.

Install the Fast Search utility on the network file server, unless Solid Edge is already installed.

Install the Fast Search utility on the network file server, unless Solid Edge is already installed.

Since I’m using my local machine, I will use the Solid Edge Options to Configure Fast Search.

With Solid Edge running,

  • Select Settings then Options

The Fast Property Search tab is the top-most tab.

  • Click on Set Locations…

If the buttons are greyed out, check the box for Solid Edge File Locations (I am just starting…).

From the Solid Edge Options dialog, the Set Locations... button will take you to Windows Indexing Options.

From the Solid Edge Options dialog, the Set Locations… button will take you to Windows Indexing Options.

By clicking on Set Locations…, the Windows Indexing Options dialog appears.  This is the same dialog used by Windows.  For example, in the taskbar search for Index and you’ll see Indexing Options from the Control Panel available.  It brings up the same dialog.

Windows Indexing Options. Shown here are some default locations already added by Windows.

Windows Indexing Options. Shown here are some default locations already added by Windows.

Most likely, there are some locations already added to the index.  Now would be a good time to clean up any extraneous locations.

  • Click Modify.

In the upper pane of the Indexed Locations dialog, browse to the location of your CAD library. Remember, this setup is run on the computer that stores the CAD library, not a client machine. The CAD library should be on a local drive.

Select the CAD library top-level folder and all its subfolders for indexing.

Select the CAD library top-level folder and all its subfolders for indexing.

Back at the Indexing Options dialog,

  • Click Advanced

Then click to Rebuild the index.  You can hold off on this step if you plan on adding custom properties to the index.  Also, rebuilding an index can take a long time depending on the number of files and the speed of the disk.  For examples, SSDs are much faster at indexing that hard disk drives.

The Advanced Options for indexing is where you can go to rebuild the index with the new location.

The Advanced Options for indexing is where you can go to rebuild the index with the new location.

Alternatively, you can click on the Index My Files button in the Fast Search Configurator (Solid Edge Options).  This also forces a rebuild on the index.

Summing it up.

So far, all we have done is to make sure Windows indexes the CAD library. Even without Solid Edge, or the Fast Search Utility, installed, any user could have created this index with the standard Windows tools.  As a matter of fact, that’s all that was done using Solid Edge.  The one difference though, is that the Solid Edge file types have been added to the index.  You can verify this in the Advanced dialog, under the File Types tab, and scrolling for .par, .asm, .psm, and .dft.

But since the indexing, to this point, is only the standard Windows index, only the standard Windows content is indexed, such as Title, Subject, Author, and other File Properties and any text that the index can “read” as it parses the file.  But what about all your custom properties: material, gage thickness, and the like?  I’ll go over those in the next post.