Question on Tools/Options/File Locations...

Does, or is there a way to make SolidWorks look at subfolders for finding it's missing files in Tools/Options/File Locations?
I haven't had luck getting it to do that, but it's functionality I'd like, at least for making purchased part model libraries.
With that functionality I then wouldn't have to add new folders to the referenced documents file locations list every time we come up with a new manufacturer to add to our list.
Currently we arrange purchased parts by maker, Bimba, 80/20, SKF, Boston Gear, etc.
All contained in a folder called purchased parts, or something along those lines.
Any thoughts?
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Yes there is. (tricky though - read on below)
Short answer - Use Inventor I feel that Solidworks does a poor job of finding referenced files. (sorry for the cynicism, but Solidworks really sucks at project management.
Long answer - read on.

I do the same thing - works great.

Yep just like that:
\..\..Purchased Parts\ABB \BTM \Misumi \Omron \Parker \SMC

I have my options set this way:
"Tools - Options - External References" - "Search file locations for external references" - unChecked and "Tools - Options - File Locations - Referenced Documents" has at least one search path listed. (and it dosen't seem to make a difference.) (scenario 2 below)
I have a projects folder and within that all my different jobs are organised to sub folders. Also My Purchased parts are in this folder. The various suppliers are then organised in a sub of that one. and subs deeper still.
I insert purchased parts either from within the Solidworks Assembly environment or drag and drop using Windows explorer into the assembly. Once placed I never move the part from it's original location. Solidworks does not search sub folders (not that I have seen)
Solidworks knows where to look for referenced files by recording the path information within the assembly document.
After months of asking around, a bit of reading, tinkering with options and frustration I finally conducted my own little experiment.(not so little - took a few hours) Using a small assembly (I copied the whole folder) and with varrious Options Settings . I copied one part file to several locations and hid each instance of it by renaming them one at a time. ( I did a "Save As" on the part into a sub folder of the copied project from where I conducted the tests) I found the following results
Several possibilities in three search senarios here.
Three search senarios determined by option settings in: "Tools - Options - External References" - "Search file locations for external references" - Checked or unChecked and "Tools - Options - File Locations - Referenced Documents" (search path present or not)
Senario 1
"Tools - Options - External References" - "Search file locations for external references" - Checked and "Tools - Options - File Locations - Referenced Documents" has at least one search path listed.
Assemblies will search for referenced components in three places in the following order"
1. - Search according to path in "Tools - Options - File Locations - Referenced Documents" 2. - Search according to path recorded within the assembly file itself. 3. - Search within the same folder where the assembly document resides. Does not search sub-folders.
Senario 2
"Tools - Options - External References" - "Search file locations for external references" - unChecked and "Tools - Options - File Locations - Referenced Documents" has at least one search path listed.
Assemblies will search for referenced components in two places in the following order"
1. - Search within the same folder where the assembly document resides. Even if the file had previously been "Saved As" into another folder" 2. - Search according to path recorded within the assembly file itself. Does not search sub-folders
Senario 3
"Tools - Options - External References" - "Search file locations for external references" - Checked and "Tools - Options - File Locations - Referenced Documents" has no search path listed.
Assemblies will search for referenced components in two places in the following order"
1. - Search within the same folder where the assembly document resides. Even if the file had previously been "Saved As" into another folder" 2. - Search according to path recorded within the assembly file itself. Does not search sub-folders.
Most every one I've spoken to on this didn't have an answer I could sink my teeth into and so they just plop all files into one folder. Yep hundreds and even as high as several thousand files in one folder. YUK I couldn't stand for it.
Solidworks records file location data of referenced files within the parent document. (It's visible using a text editor such as notepad - NOT reccomended) (- drop a file into notepad and the path is there to see. - a bit tricky to find, but it's there. including a reference to each component of an assembly)
Conclusion:
Checking or Unchecking the "Search file locations" does little for projects where "What If" scenarios are used much.
Having a path in the File Locations also does little.
Plan your project file locations carefully Do not move files to sub folders nless you use "Save As" and have all documents using the file open whan you do it. Rely on the assebly file internal reference data. Hmmm, but how would that work in a multi user environment. Guess they would all have to create a duplicate folder structure. Avoid network drives if possible
I don't know
Inventor does it better. In my experience. I've used Inventor and although it's a bit of a chore to understand, Inventor's project managemet is greatly superior. (IMO)
But what do I know, Hey, I've only been working with computers for 20 years (some programming) and CAD reference data for 15 years.
I may be missing something about Solidworks project management. But it hasn't served me and I just work around as usual.
Cheers Steve
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