CAD documents management without connector

Hi, we have done an Aras installation for demo/ test purposes. So we have the free downloaded version, no connectors. On the side of regular documents, parts, BOM etc. everything goes well. Where I get stuck is uploading/ managing CAD (Inventor) files. The question “can you manage CAD files and relationships without a CAD connector” has come up several times (1), but I have not found a clear answer. Aras states many times that it can manage/ vault any kind of file with or without a connector but a clear, concise tutorial is needed! The main question is: Without a CAD connector, do I upload the CAD files in “documents” or in “CAD documents” (“CAD documents are mainly used by CAD integrations. It was set by Aras to standardize the way CAD integrations were made.”). Either way, can you give a step-by-step instruction? If CAD models must be uploaded in “CAD documents” it is not clear what the relationship is between the “native file”/ “viewable file” fields and the “files” tab (lower part of the screen, where files are uploaded). Below is a link (2) – instruction that says to first upload the files into the vault and then connect them to the “native” and “viewable” fields. Link to earlier post: [1] community.aras.com/.../ [2] community.aras.com/.../
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  • Hi,

    I have the same question...since 3 years. There is unfortunately no clear answer available.

    The following represents my personal opinion and/or how I understood the topic. I am no PLM expert and I would be more than happy to get a better answer! (This is the main reason why I write this answer at all)

    • The CAD ItemType is optimized for being used with a CAD connector. In this case, the CAD file and it´s revision is handled by Aras. If you do not use a CAD connector, you will not have big benefits from adding all available native and viewing files to your CAD document. In this case, you will probably most of the time just upload files that are necessary for production.
    • Same for the Document ItemType. From my POV the Document ItemType is technically also (!) optimized for the use with connectors. Typically you would use the Office Connector. The Document ItemType would also work well as container for TechDocs templates and publishing results. The TechDocs option is not available right now, but it´s technically possible.

    So what we see is that CAD and Document ItemTypes have their real strength when using them in combination with connectors. In this case Aras stores the native files and handle the document revision. This is the ideal situation and for this situation standard Aras is optimized. Aras assumes you will use it that way, so they do not have an answer for alternative use cases (prove me wrong my friends from the bay state :-) ).

    When you do not use any connector, it doesn´t matter if you use the CAD or Document ItemType for storing your files. Despite a few properties and functions they are more or less equal. If you plan to use a CAD connector one day, it of course makes sense when you use the CAD ItemType from the start.

    But now a provocative question:
    When we do not use a connector, do we really need one of the two available Document ItemTypes at all? What is the practical benefit?

    Benefit: When you use floating Documents in your Part you can exchange files easier without touching the Part revision.
    Con: A Document ItemType without connector is just an empty shell for storing files. Much clicking for low benefits. And you might suddenly have three revisions for the same thing!

    Let´s assume we have a drawing file called ‘bike_frame_2.3.dxf’. The dxf has a revision (2.3) assigned by the not connected CAD system. If we now upload this file to a new Aras Document, we will have an additional Document revision (e.g. A-2) and later an additional Part revision (e.g. B-4)!
    What I have learned from the past: It´s hard to keep Document and external file revisions equal when using manual versioning. But stackholders will be confused by the number of available revisions, numbers and names. 

    So we have chosen an alternative approach:
    We do not use any Document ItemType at all! We hid the Document and CAD tab in Parts and added an additional tab for ‘Files’. The files tab contains additional properties for revision and other information of interest. Minor File changes can be done by changing a hidden Part revision, that has no influence to the main part revision.

    I would not say that this one is the best approach. But it simplifies at lot. It´s easy to use and more important: Easy to understand! And perhaps the most important point: We do not have to stick to this concept. If necessary, we can switch back to the original Doc-handling by adding the missing Documents Items and relinking the files. So from my POV it´s quite ok to start like this.

    But that´s actually not the end of the story yet.
    After some years situation has changed and we actually reactivated the Document ItemType, as we plan to use document connectors for certain documents.
    But I right now use a modified Document ItemType that allows users to choose if the Document is authored by an connector or manually by the end-user.
    The Document ItemType is mainly used for native files (e.g. docx) or internal documents. In contrary we use the Part Files tabs for documents, drawings or software files that shall be passed to external suppliers by a data package. These files may come from a Document Item (e.g. pdf converted from docx), but still can be added manually. It´s a very customer specific solutions, but it combines the best of both worlds.

    I would be happy to hear your opinion!

    Angela

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