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RE: Database For Controlling Engineering Drawings

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Parag

There are a variety of document management and contract management systems
available, a while since I looked into it so cannot remember any names.

Specifically for drawings, I remember DRCArch replaced the AutoCAD open
command with its own database interface, the data in the database could be
linked directly to drawing sheet attributes, with transfer of data in either
direction. That was back at Acad R12, not sure where DRCArch is at now.

WorkCenter was another package, I last used with Acad R14. It provided a
controlled vault it could be used for any kind of document, but place I was
at only used it for Acad drawings. It required drawings to be checked in and
out, and kept copies of each revision. But only one person could check the
drawings out for modification. It was more hindrance than benefit, it was
abandoned when the place upgraded to Acad 2000. Not sure Workcenter is still
around.

Designing and developing own software always seemed more sensible option to
me, since have more control and flexibility over what can do. Namely I can
adapt it on the fly to cater for new circumstances. I have attempted to
build a document control application in the past, but projects I work on are
not that demanding in terms of document control.

For database design I would also add to suggestions, a table for "issue" and
possibly another for "variations". That is differentiate between issue of
documents and revision of a document. Variations cause documents to be
revised, which then have to be issued to various parties.

Depending how complicated you choose to make things, and whether "Normalise"
the database, may also want tables for managing projects, contacts, and
locations. Projects have locations, and contacts have locations, and each
project may have many contacts. These contacts are who documents are issued
to and who cause the variations. The contacts may also be the people who
revise the documents, and approve. The projects are what the documents
belong to. Can also go further and connect technical data tables to the
project, making it easier to retrieve past projects for use as a technical
reference. Hyperlinks in the tables can also be used to locate actual
documents on the fileserver/harddisk. The thing which keys everything
together is the project number, and can create as many MS Access files, and
tables as want keyed to the project table.

If building the system yourself using MS Access, then can build it slowly in
stages, testing each stage by actual usage. Start simply by matching as
close as possible current paper based systems; it keeps it easy for everyone
else to understand. Then consider more efficient data storage and more
flexible searching and reporting options, and "Normalise" the database,
deleting redundant data and using simple integer "keys" to mesh related
tables together. Splitting the MS Access file into two, a front end user
interface, and back end data file, is also useful. MS Excel can also be used
to collect data, and VBA used to push that data into the MS Access tables.
This removes the need to have MS Access or Access Runtime on all the users
machines. Ultimately can convert the front end to VB or C++ and make the
program stand alone.

Only the simplest of databases do not require any VBA code. Document control
requires a lot of tables, and a lot of relationships to be set to mesh those
tables together. Also database management systems are not well suited to
representing complex data-structures like 'trees' and 'graphs'. Multilevel
assemblies use trees, such as in an exploded bill of materials. Complex
document packages, become assemblies, the database design may then become
complicated.

Good luck!

Regards
Conrad Harrison
B.Tech (mfg & mech), MIIE, gradTIEAust
mailto:sch.tectonic(--nospam--at)bigpond.com
Adelaide
South Australia

-----Original Message-----
From: Parag Bande [mailto:pabande(--nospam--at)npcil.co.in] 
Sent: Tuesday, 5 February 2008 21:48
To: seaint(--nospam--at)seaint.org
Subject: Database For Controlling Engineering Drawings

I wish to develop a database in MS access for controlling and managing 
in house and consultants' drawings. I would like to know if any standard 
package or sample database is available on net. As well as your inputs 
and suggestions are also welcome to design database. Initially I am 
thinking of four tables viz. Drawing Details, Revision Details, Schedule 
Table and Comments table.
Thanks in advance,
Parag Bande
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