Neater Approvals: It’s All in the Transition Name!

Let me start with a little story of my week. Last Monday – Wednesday, I attended SolidWorks World 2014 out in sunny San Diego, California. If you haven’t had a chance to attend, I would strongly suggest doing so.

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This was my first year attending SolidWorks World. It is an unbelievable opportunity to meet other SolidWorks users who are passionate about the design work they do. The event also includes dozens of different technical breakout sessions to advance your SolidWorks knowledge, and make you a better user overall.

What I’m going to show you today is a neat little trick that I actually picked up from one of the EPDM breakout sessions. It’s a fairly simple way you can clean up some of those more complicated transitions.

Below I have a screenshot of a workflow approval section. Depending on what type of project this file is, it will need to go to the appropriate person to be approved. For example, if it’s a medical device there’s one person who approves it, versus other designed products that simply go to the engineering manager, or not require approval at all.

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This scenario can create a mess in terms of transitions that the user sees, as seen in the change state dialogue in the image above on the right. The user has four different choices, and can easily send the file to the wrong person. Instead, let’s clean up his options. By changing all of the transition names to the same thing, we now see only one option for the user: submit.

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There is however one more important step. You have to set up conditions for each transition, or the files won’t know where to go, or will end up in the wrong state.

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I did this by creating a variable on the data card, which was used to specify which type of product the file is; thereby driving who would approve it. This variable itself was used in the condition for the transition, meaning only files of that type could go through that transition.

As with any change, it is very important to test before applying to your production vault. Try a few files and make sure they go into the correct state. This will verify that your conditions on the transition are set up correctly.

Give this trick a try, and I’m sure you’ll find your users appreciate you making their lives a little easier. In addition, you’re actually removing the choice from their hands, so they’re less likely to make a mistake; it’s truly a win-win situation! Hopefully you see some of the benefits from this trick. Lastly, I’m sure you’ll pick up dozens more like this when I see you all at SolidWorks World 2015 in Phoenix, AZ next year!