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Using a 'Virtual Document' Template in EnterprisePDM to manage scanned data

Wednesday October 30, 2013 at 3:00pm

A conversation I often have with EnterprisePDM (EDPM) Customers is one around the topic of "How do I incorporate scanned data into my Vault's metadata rules, naming conventions and Workflows?". The document in question could come from a number of sources; marked-up printouts, posted documents, material certificates or (the example I will use today) a 'Calibration Report' which is completed by hand but needs to be stored in the Vault, with a reminder for next time the Machine in question needs to be calibrated again.

There is a standard function within EPDM to create a Virtual Document within the Vault. These have a built in file extension of .vcd but on creation the user is prompted for a name and file extension which determines which DataCard to display alongside it.

Menu: New / Virtual Document New Virtual File Dialog Box

In the screen shots I have created a 'virtual' PDF.

Once created the User can then 'Replace' that Virtual Document with a 'real' document at any time. When the user selects the replacement file the document is copied to the Vault location and takes on the name, metadata and lifecycle status of the Virtual Document it has replaced. A suitable comment is also added to the file to record this.

Select Virtual File and from 'Actions' choose 'Replace'

As useful as it is, the user still needs to create the Virtual Document in the correct Vault location and define a suitable name for it. If however we create an EPDM Template to utilise a Serial Number and our existing Metadata rules we can automate this process too. The following Checklist will describe the process I have used to create a Template for the creation / management of a Calibration Report; a form filled out on the shop floor then scanned in for storage with a reminder of when the next calibration is due.

  • I have created a new Virtual pdf Document within the folder in my Vault that I use to store Templates.
  • I have created a new 'Template Input Form' (DataCard) with a Serial Number generator and any other Metadata I wish to collect on creation (including a next due date).
  • I have created a new EPDM Template based which copies the Virtual Template File and uses the data from the Template Input Form to generate a new Virtual Document in the folder I store my Calibration Reports, using the Serial Number as the File Name and adding the required metadata to the new file.
  • I have assigned suitable permissions to the Template to allow it to be accessed by the User's who will need to add the Calibration Reports.

Execute the Template to create the Virtual 'PDF'

When I run the Template the Virtual 'placeholder' is correctly named, stored in the correct location within the Vault and all the (searchable) Metadata assigned.

Virtual file created in correct folder with suitable filename

I can then simply locate the placeholder and 'replace' it with the pdf scan of the physical document.

By adding a 'Calibration Date' Variable to the DataCard I can now set up a my Search Favourites to alert me on the Calibrations required in any given time period.

Favourite Serach based on Custom Card with 'Variable Control'

The Custom Search Card shown above uses the Variable Search Control. The topic of searching in EPDM, and the flexibility of this particular type of search, is something that I will be presenting as part of my What's New /  Hints and Tips presentation at our 2014 Launch events this year and something that I will be revisiting with some additional Tips in my Webcast later this month.

Thanks for stopping by. For more information about EnterprisePDM be sure to visit the product pages.

by Wayne Marshall
Customer Support Manager


Jennifer Bahnsen | October 31, 2013, 9:10pm
I'm not clear on why you need to create the virtual document first. Why can't the scanned document just get added as a new document in the vault? Is it just because you want to use the template and template card?
Wayne Marshall | November 1, 2013, 5:17pm
Hi Jennifer, Thank you for the feedback. You are correct that I could simply drag and drop any existing files into the Vault, so my objective with using a 'Template' was twofold. Firstly I wanted to enforce some metadata rules (so I could make use of it later in searches & reports) and secondly to automatically create the name and location of the file in the Vault. We quite often get asked how to 'enforce' the Vault location for a file being added to the Vault and this is simply a way of achieving this when the file you are adding is not something you are actually saving from a desktop application (i.e. a Word Document or CAD file). Using a template input form, with metadata validation, to generate the Virtual File 'place holder' gives me this control. All the best Wayne

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