Converting from Metaphase

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I love moving data. I guess that is just what we Engineering Data Specialist Men do. Lately I have been doing Inventor Vault migrations into SOLIDWORKS Enterprise PDM, but last month I finished a migration from Metaphase (the old TeamCenter name) that I thought was rather fun and would tell you a little about it.

The first challenge was that no one knew the administrator password for the Metaphase system. The IT guy who knew it was “several IT guys ago” so there was originally a pretty big concern! It looked like we might have to get the files out through the user interface and have no access to the database. Though this was a possible plan, it would have been very slow. As it turns out, after all this time, the password was still the default Metaphase password. Jackpot!

I don’t know if you know much about the Metaphase architecture, but bottom line, everything is an “object”. These objects may or may not have a file associated with them. This is different than how EPDM works because EPDM is primarily file based. To combat this difference, we first considered using EPDM’s item master, but decided to use EPDM’s Virtual Items to represent each object instead. Both options have their merits, but we felt the users would be more comfortable with virtual items because they behave a little more like Metaphase’s objects.

We used SolidWorks’ XML import tool to do the actual import. Though it is not very good at resuming progress if you have to stop it, (or if the power goes out, which it did with only a few hours of the import left) I felt it did a very good bringing the data over. The actual XML import file was about 161 MB which was way bigger than my favorite XML editor (Notepad ++) can handle. As a result I didn’t open the file directly very often for debugging, I created a few little .NET apps to manipulate the XML file.

For all of you numbers junkies out there: 234,000 total files (132,000 became virtual documents) in 143,000 directories and just under 300,000 XREFs. We used a humble Windows 7 machine to do the actual import over a gigabit network -took a little over three days for the XML import routine to complete. I was expecting the import to consume a lot of RAM but it didn’t. It just sat there very slowly moving its progress bar while I twiddled my thumbs.

Since no one knew the password, they couldn’t upgrade their server, which was an old Windows NT machine that was on serious life support. That server has now been put out to pasture, and the end users are thrilled to be using an interface that was written in this decade. “You mean we can use the mouse?!”