May 2006 Design Tip

Revision Control

This month, we’d like to suggest that you take a lesson from grilling machine mogul and former heavyweight champ George Foreman. Relax, we’re not suggesting that you step into the ring with Muhammad Ali or Evander Holyfield, but Mr. Foreman could teach us all a thing or two about version control. As you may know, The former champ has five sons, all named George. That’s not as confusing as it sounds, since the five “little” Georges are named Jr., III, IV, V, and VI, respectively. At Protomold, we’d like our customers to do something similar in naming revisions to their part designs.

The naming scheme can be any logical approach you chose, but if you use part names and numbers, please enter both in the “part number/name” field when you submit a design for a ProtoQuote. That way, when your buyer orders part number 123-456, we’ll know that’s Widget, Plastic. Also, be sure that the revision designation is entered in our name field and is part of your file name (see Figure. 1).

Figure 1:

Naming and numbering conventions may be mandated by the organization or developed by the designer. Either way, it makes sense to give a design a new name each time it is changed and saved. But even with such a system in place, changes can slip through the cracks. Suppose, for example, that a designer submits a saved 3D CAD model to Protomold for a quote. Later, the designer reopens that file, makes some small change to the design – perhaps in response to a change suggested in the ProtoQuote received from Protomold – and re-saves the file under its original name. The reuse of the name may not matter to the designer since there is still just one file for the design, and it contains the most current information. But if that design is resubmitted to Protomold, it could cause confusion. Here’s how.

In the interest of version control, if multiple versions of a file that a customer sends have the same name, we at Protomold add version designations to avoid confusion between them. Unfortunately, if the designer doesn’t accept our version designations, Protomold and the designer could end up calling the same file by different names. The simple answer is for the designer – you – to provide version designations, which we’ll be happy to accept and use. This ensures that when either of us refers to a file, we are “all on the same page.” When you get your ProtoQuote (or any other correspondence regarding a design), check to be sure that it references the correct name, number and revision. Take special care to do so when you receive an order confirmation.

In summary, give each revision its own unique designation. It avoids confusion and helps you get the right parts on time. That’s how George Foreman does it, and you wouldn’t want to be the one to tell the former world heavyweight champ that he’s doing it wrong. Would you?