CAD / Office/ Vantage Integration

I will try to summarize in a short what we are looking to possibly do as far
as integrating Solidworks, Vantage, and our other applications, such as
Excel and Adobe.

FILE MANAGEMENT - we have over ten thousand Solidworks and AutoCAD drawing
files. We are still currently using and producing drawings in both formats,
(Solidworks for Mechanical, ACAD for Electrical.)
When we want to release a job, the first step is to print out an indented
BOM, and open each drawing file up, and print it. If we had the documents
associated in Vantage, we could print them out from Vantage, but we would
still have to do so for each individual part.
However, if you have an ODBC connection, or access to an up do date export
of the PartMtl table, you can write Visual Basic code within Excel that
would first extract an indented BOM, and then print all the files on that
BOM by automating their respective Applications. The files would have to
follow Vantage Part Number and revisions closely. We use a part number-rev
format (ie 21-123456 A.dwg). You could sort by part number, or by Bom
sequence. Using this same code, you could copy all the files referenced on
an indented BOM to CD, which we frequently need to do for backup and for
sub-contract engineering jobs.

FILE AUDITING - You can audit files in you masters directory to the PartRev
table, making sure that only current revision files are in that directory.
With some Visual Basic Code in Solidworks, you could audit all the files in
assembly.

PART BROWSING - You could potentially write code so that when a user right
clicks on a part file in an solidworks assembly, they could select "View
Vantage Info" and see the extended description, and the Vendor and Vendor
Part Number.

I've only written code for file moving and printing, and that code has been
based on parts lists imported from the text files created when you force a
print error on an Indented BOM print. This can be done by printing to a
text file, and hitting cancel. You will be notified of the location of the
file. You can dump that file into excel, and delete the extraneous junk.

The rest of the above are just some examples of things we might want to do.

TOOLS NEEDED - Microsoft Office applications and SolidWorks come with their
own versions of Visual Basic for Applications, and each application has the
power to automate other applications. However, I prefer using standalone
Visual Basic to automate, because it executes code faster, and you can
create standalone EXE's independant of any other application. However, you
can automate any OLE Automation compliant application (actually they dropped
the OLE and just call it 'Automation' these days) with visual basic.

To get started with this, you need a good knowledge of variables, functions,
subroutines, arrays, classes, loops, and the windows event-driven
programming structure. If this sounds foreign to you, a Visual Basic class
would be helpful. They're offered everywhere, even at my local junior
college.

However, if you have a grasp on general programming concepts, all you need
is visual basic, and the programmers references, often called API
(Application Programming Interface), for the applications you wish to
automate. the API help is usually included in the full install of an
Automation Enabled Application.

Be advised though, programming takes up alot of time, and you always have to
judge whether the time you are spending programming will really give you a
return in time saved.

Also, if you have a young computer nerd type hanging around the office, just
out of high school, you may want to send them to the classes. Give him/her a
chance. That's what my employer did for me.

If you are concerned with the security issues involved, I'm 19, and
therefore don't have any security clearance to look at real data, aside from
part tracker. We have devised a way for me to report, write programs and
all this, without me ever seeing the sensitive data on the Live Side. I
couldn't break in even if I was stupid enough to, without hacking NT itself,
and that's a whole nuther topic.

If anyone wants to continue this discussion, please MSG me off list, and
we'll create a little makeshift group of our own.

Best Regards,

Thaddeus Jacobs
Assistant LAN Technologist / Vantage Support
Kinematic Automation, Inc
mailto:tjacobs@...