First, what is the new 2018 PDM Pro Branch/Merge? Say you have a spreadsheet file that you want to experiment with. You may make a copy of that file, make your changes. Then later if you want these changes “permanent” you save the new file on top of the original. It’s easy if you have a single file, but with an entire assembly with many files, branch/merge helps you keep track and automate the procedure.

Even at first glance, the PDM Branch/Merge function looks great. It is a fast way to do what-if scenarios. If you attended one of our What’s New in 2018 rollouts, you saw a nice example of making a cushion design, branching it off to three new concepts, choosing the best option, then finally merging the new design back to the main assembly. Nice and easy, everyone will be using this new tool soon in this case scenario.

If you think about it, this tool can also be used to solve a problem that PDM users have been dealing with for a long time. Consider this, imagine you have a released assembly and all your parts are read only. You decide you need to make a change. You choose the parts you think will need modified by the change and put them in a work in process workflow state. What happens if you later change your mind and you do not want to make the modification? You are going to have to roll the files back, or perhaps bump the file’s revision even though the part didn’t change. It takes a big commitment before you are even sure you want to make the change.

Now, with Branch/Merge, you can work like this: Create a branch of the files you think are going to change. These new files can have a life cycle of their own. They can be changed, go through any type of approval process that you would like. Then IF you decide you like one of these new branched designs, go back to the original files, bring them out of the released state, and merge the winning branched design back to the original. A single new version of the original branch is created and can be approved.

What now happens to the branched files? They are just dead branches at this point. Maybe you make a special workflow state for them, move them into another folder, I suppose you could even delete them unless they contained information that you may want to recover in the future.

Jeff Sweeney
Application Engineer
InFlow Technology
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