By Anthony J. Lockwood
Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:
A couple of years ago, I wrote a column about how Microsoft was doing some cool things with SharePoint and that engineers were going to be leveraging it before too long. I got an e-mail from a guy that said “yawn.” We were both right. Windows SharePoint Services has brought a lot of cool web things to enterprises like indexed search and office-collaboration functions. But it has been a yawner for CAD file sharing and collaboration. Basically, it can’t cope with the complex file structures of CAD. PTC, however, has done something about this with its recently announced Windchill ProductPoint.
To make a long story short, Windchill ProductPoint builds off the SharePoint platform to create a CAD collaboration infrastructure for small and mid-sized business. That means that small and mid-sized business can leverage the functionality in Windchill ProductPoint to even the playing field between themselves and the big outfits with megabucks to devote to such things.
So, what does that mean? Say you’ve been using things like FTP sites and shared folders for file sharing and e-mail for design collaboration. That is, no data management infrastructure, such as you may have within a workgroup. Safely vaulting files, searching files for parts to reuse, versioning, file use conflicts, and even part dependencies are probably not part of your life. With Windchill ProductPoint, you can have them cost effectively.
Or say you already have Windchill and leverage SharePoint for office operations. Windchill ProductPoint lets you bring SharePoint to Windchill, removing the walls that can separate effective communications between engineering and the rest of your enterprise. Data can pass back and forth in multi-CAD environments, and CAD users and non-CAD users can use the SharePoint browser to view and markup CAD files.
Windchill ProductPoint enables larger outfits to better collaborate with its suppliers, extended design teams, and customers through the web with its engineering-friendly collaboration functions such as blogs, wikis, calendars, and forums. These are all designed to function outside the firewall and to be easy to deploy and maintain.
So, what Windchill ProductPoint does for the small and mid-sized business is give you the infrastructure to leverage SharePoint to get the PDM features you might need and — if you’re young enough to see how you can use emerging technology today — deploy social networking for CAD product development. Cool. And that is why I suggest you check out the short PDF from PTC about Windchill ProductPoint. At the end of the PDF there’s a link to a bunch of short videos and extra data that are well worth your time working through.
Thanks, Pal — Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering Magazine