Pushing EPDM Metadata Into Forms

A huge piece of managing documents inside of a PDM system revolve around the pieces of data called metadata.  Metadata, in general, refers to the attached bits of intel about that file that the vault creators have determined important for tracking and search, among other reasons.  These "bits" are also referred to as file properties, variables, attributes, etc., depending in what context or application this data is created.

Enterprise PDM, for example, calls metadata "Variables",  SolidWorks refers to it as "File Properties" , and "Attributes" within AutoCAD.  Metadata can be found in many states: public, private, read-only, editable and is considered the nervous system of any document management tool.  

Enterprise PDM reads this data, regardless of form, and allows it to be organized in a file card.  EPDM Cards are  the way of presenting this metadata to the user for entry, edit, review, and organization. Whether the user inputs the data into File Properties in SolidWorks or enters the values within EPDM, that data is now an integral part of the EPDM system.  

Since this metadata contains the most critical information about the document, it is not uncommon to require it to be displayed in the document itself.  In SolidWorks users do this by adding a placeholder that reads the File Properties which populates the title block but what about a form?  Access to this information is built into most Windows files and, more importantly, Microsoft Office documents. Here are the steps to pull the EPDM metadata (Variables) into a Microsoft Office document: (Instructions for 2007 but will work the same with other versions)

  1. Open the form (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, etc.) hit the "Office Button" (upper left)
  2. Click on "Prepare", Properties
  3. Click the "Document Properties" pulldown and Advanced Properties.
  4. Go to the "Custom" tab and add the properties to pull into the document (The default list might not include them so typing in the name and value will add them to the list below) when finished, hit OK.
  5. In the form, place the cursor where the property is to be mapped then hit Insert, Quick Parts, Field..
  6. Select Field "DocProperty"(left) which will reveal the document's file properties added in Step 4 
  7. Repeat steps 5 & 6 for other properties in the form.
  8. In EPDM, ensure that each Variable has a Block called "CustomProperty" with an attribute name matching the file property name added back in Step 4.  Also make sure the file extension list includes the proper extensions separated by a comma. (doc, docx for Word, xls, xlsx for Excel, etc.)

Once these are mapped, the current variables will map into the form immediately however these are updated manually after the initial mapping by selecting the field and hitting F9.  This can be automated upon open with a little macro that can be found in the Administration Guide.  Here is how to add it:

  1. Start Word/Excel, etc.
  2. Click on the View tab, Macros, View Macros
  3. For the Macro name type: AutoOpen then click Create
  4. Once the Code window opens, place the below code in between the Sub AutoOpen() and the End Sub 
Dim aStory As Range
Dim aField As Field
For Each aStory In ActiveDocument.StoryRanges
For Each aField In aStory.Fields
Next aField
Next aStory

Now when the metadata is filled out in the EPDM file card and the document is checked in, these variables are written into the documents file properties and pulled into the document automatically when it is opened.  This should remove another step in duplicate data entry and propagate the important metadata from one central location.  ~Lou