The Cost of a Big EPDM Data Card

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I’ve seen little SOLIDWORKS Enterprise PDM data cards, and I’ve seen huge data cards. Tab controls within tab controls, more than 100 buttons, boxes and lists…amazing!

How do you decide what you should put on a data card? It is fun watching new EPDM administrators when they first see the value of data cards -like a kid on Christmas morning. They want to create a variable for everything!

There are some basic performance issues you’ll run into if you have a huge card – it may take a second or so for the card to load, but if you get a card that big, your users will be a bigger bottleneck than the data card refresh rate.

You have to remember that each control you add to a data card has a “cost”. Your users spend time populating the fields. This can cost you twice. They spend time populating the card, you have to spend time enforcing that they do it! -if you don’t enforce it, the users won’t do it…if they don’t do it, you’ll have incomplete cards and at that point, the value of the data is much less.

Typical reasons someone puts a variable on an EPDM data card:

  • Variables can be used for searching or in reports
  • Variables can be displayed on the BOM or Windows Explorer for sorting
    • …then exported to other systems
  • Variables can be displayed on the titleblock

Think about each control. Does it add value to your data set? Does it add enough value to offset the cost of collecting it in the first place. If the answer is “yes” put it on the card. If the answer is “maybe” or “I think someday in the future someone may want to know something like that” you probably should leave it off of the card.

One last thought…make your cards as easy to populate as possible. Use PigeonHole, droplists, radio buttons, check boxes, etc. whenever possible. Users can populate these faster and more accurately than simple edit boxes.