A potential point of confusion among new Windchill users centers around the meaning of a Windchill “workspace”.  This term pops up throughout the entire Windchill environment and is many times misunderstood by users.  The following attempts to explain the term “workspace” in an understandable way.

When using Creo Parametric stand-alone; i.e. not connected to a Windchill server, it is a “best practice” to “set your working directory” immediately upon starting Creo.  Generally speaking, the “working directory” is where you would typically open parts, assemblies, and drawings from. More importantly, it is also where new parts, assemblies, and drawings will be saved to once they are created in Creo and saved. In addition, the default working directory defined by the “Start In:” property of the Creo desktop icon, is also where Creo looks for various configuration files when starting.

When using Creo Parametric along with Windchill; parts, assemblies, and drawings are no longer maintained and managed in a directory on the user’s local computer.  Instead, they are maintained in a central repository and are downloaded as needed into a workspace instead.  In some ways, a workspace can be thought of as a local directory however it is more than this. Furthermore, while the Windows Explorer functionality might be used to peruse a directory structure containing Creo objects when working outside of Windchill, it is generally not used to access a local workspace.

While every Windchill context has a default workspace, it is a best practice for users to create their own workspaces which are associated with a particular product or library. When a workspace is created, Windchill actually creates two one on the user’s local machine also referred to as “local cache” and a second on the Windchill server. Understanding the interaction between these two is vital in understanding and using Windchill effectively.

Understanding the 2 Windchill Workspaces – The Users Local Computer and the Windchill Server

For the purpose of understanding this interaction, let us assume a user needs to make a change to a Creo part. They might start by creating a new workspace connected to the product context the CAD object resides in on the Windchill server. They would then find the object by a Windchill search or by browsing through the “common space” folder structure.  After finding it assume they perform an “Open in Creo” operation.  Behind the scenes, Windchill would copy all associated CAD objects from the “common space” folders into the server side workspace, download them to the users’ local workspace and then start Creo with the “found” object displayed in the graphics window.

At this point in time prior to making any changes to the part in Creo, the contents of the server side workspace match the contents of the local workspace. Now the user makes a change and performs a “Save” operation from Creo. This would cause a new copy of the object to be saved to the local workspace.  After this first save, the local workspace no longer matches the server side workspace because the saved part has only been placed in the local workspace and not copied to the server side workspace.  It is also important to remember that the changes made are not viewable to other Windchill users until the object has been checked in.  Assuming the user is satisfied with the changes they perform a “check-in” operation.  Behind the scenes, Windchill copies the changed objects to the server side workspace and then places them into the “common space” at which point others can see the changes.

During the check-in process, the user has the option of removing the objects from the workspace upon completion of the check-in or leaving them in the workspace. If removed, Windchill will delete them from both the server side workspace and the local workspace otherwise they are left in the workspaces.

Thus the “check-in” process is one way for objects in the local workspace to be copied to the server side workspace.  A second way is performing an “upload”. When performing an upload, modified objects are only copied to the server side workspace but not to the “common space”.

Admittedly, Windchill could have possibly been developed using just the concept of a common space and local workspace without the server side workspace. However, this server-side workspace does provide a huge benefit to users.  While Windchill servers backed up on a regular basis, few organizations automatically backup the user’s local computers.  By performing an upload of modified workspace objects at the end of the day those modifications will be backed up automatically hereby providing a degree of protection.

A final point to remember concerning workspaces involves the browser. Accessing Windchill from a stand-alone browser will only provide access to the “common space” and server-side workspace. To view the local workspace it has to be done within the embedded browser from Creo.

Best Practices – Workspaces

  • Upload all local modifications to the server side workspace at the end of the day.
  • Create workspaces as you need them.  Delete them when you are done.
  • If you do not delete a workspace and its contents after a check-in, perform a workspace “update” prior to doing more work out of it to ensure you have the latest versions of objects in the workspace.

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