Version control is one of the most important function in PDM. Regardless on what type of data you are managing, the capability to manage changes and to have an access of history of versions is important. Version control was the first functionality every PDM system developed in the past. The following video can show you how SolidWorks Enterprise PDM is solving version management challenges
The functionality like you can see in EPDM is provided nearly by every PDM system (or maybe I should say, good PDM system). In the following video, you can see how you can compare parts in CATIA V5.
What is important and I guess you’ve seen it on both example – comparison of geometry is an important element of versions comparison. For many of us, the fact that somebody made a change is almost meaningless and we want to understand what was the change and to have an access to more specific information which is geometrical when it comes to 3D design.
The modern cloud based PDM systems are focusing on good user experience. Compare versions is a functionality that can become a significant differentiator for customer to purchase a product. In one of my previous blog posts about GrabCAD Workbench, I put an example of how GrabCAD Workbench is visualizing differences between CAD file versions.
You may ask what happens if you don’t have PDM environment. In that case, versions are just different files on the disk, server or cloud storage like Dropbox or Google Doc. You can use available 3D CAD file comparison products. The following CAD Digest blog – Overview of CAD Geometry Comparison Tools gives you a list of products to compare 2D/3D CAD files. The article is a bit long, but I found very useful.
One of the tools you can consider to use to compare revisions is KeyCreator Compare by Kubotek. Watch the video below. The interesting aspect is the list of CAD formats that KeyCreator Compare can support. Navigate here to see the list
If you want to integrate revision comparison in your own solution, you can consider a product from LEDAS – a software outfit located in Russia with a history of providing development services for companies in CAD/PLM industry domain. The product LGC (Geometric comparison) can give you a library of functions to use in your project. Product is available for OEM.
The following video shows Autodesk Fusion360. You can clearly see how revision management became a natural part of Fusion360 functionality. You can browse revisions and visualize it. Unfortunately I didn’t find an example how to compare versions (If you’re aware about such command, please let me know in comments).
Onshape is providing an integrated product data management (PDM) functions. Recent Onshape release introduced new “compare function”, which can give you a possibility to compare versions and see what happened during the changes. Onshape user experience is slick. However, as I can see from a video, Onshape is probably only capable to compare changes made using Onshape (I will try to discover more about this functionality in the next weeks).
What is my conclusion? Versions comparison is an important function. In the past the functionality was often split into two domains. PDM was managing versions and storing history of changes and files. Viewing technology was focusing on how to compare 3D files visually and functionally. New trends in cloud CAD development made PDM functions embedded into design environment. It improves usability and makes it easier for customers. At the same time, it might not cover all functional use cases such as comparison of CAD files created without history of features, which can be a case for supply chain systems sharing files. I can see an increased role of versions comparison to streamline design workflows and change management. Just my thoughts…
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net