Working with Collaborative Briefcases

Collaborative Briefcases enable designers to exchange design specifications in a compact and precise manner. Briefcases are created using one of the Share commands and contain abstract feature specifications the capture the designer's intent. Additional information describes the briefcase and determines who should be able to access and use its content. Briefcases can contain other data like the owner's document viewpoint at the time of the share operation.

The Briefcase command ()is a tool used to list the briefcases exchanged in the current workspace, analyze their content, and merge its content in to the active part.

Listing the briefcases of the current workspace  

The Briefcase command () shows the briefcases to which the current user has access in the active workspace. Briefcases are grouped in three tabs:

  • The To Merge Tab list briefcases not yet merged by the user.
  • The Merged Tab list the briefcases already merged by the user.
  • The Shared Tab lists the briefcases owned by the user.

The list can be sorted by any of the columns in the table. The refresh button updates the list with briefcases that may have been posted on the server while the local command is running.  For each briefcase the following information is shown:

  • The owner, the name of the briefcase creator.
  • The creation date, the timestamp of when the briefcase was posted to the server.
  • The merged date, the timestamp of when the briefcase was last merged.
  • A short description, free text of up to 20 characters max.
  • The size, displayed in KB.
  • A long, free text, narrative description.

From this command it is possible to perform several useful tasks. The most commonly used commands are available through the button, others are accessible via the contextual menu associated to the right mouse button. The possible actions are:

  • open a briefcase to analyze its content
  • merge one or more briefcases
  • delete one or more briefcases (restrictions apply)
  • change the merge status of one or more briefcases

The Merge Viewpoint checkbox can be used in conjunction with the Merge button to specify whether or not to apply the viewpoint contained in the briefcase after updating the model. This checkbox temporarily overrides the values assigned in the Collaborative Design customization option.

Preparing a Briefcase  

The preparation of a briefcase to share design with other people requires these steps:

  1. Choose which features to share.

  2. This can be done interactively selecting them from the specification tree or the graphic window (see Selecting Features for Sharing) or with the assistance of the software (see Share Recent Changes and Share Again). The features candidates for sharing are listed in the Share Briefcase dialog.

    The Remove button removes an item from the selection. The Add All button adds to the selection every object in the part. The Clear All empties the selection.


  3. Select Show all parents checkbox to validate the content of the briefcase.

  4.  For each entity the following is shown:

    • The object Type
    • The object Name
    • The object Mode: Explicit or Automatic
    • The object Path

    In addition to the explicit selection, the briefcase also contains additional features that are necessary to reconstruct the model in a different document. These additional objects are typically the parents of the selected features; information concerning the body or set to which the feature belong are also included, so that the merge command can properly place them in the receiving part. The full content of the briefcase can be inspected before approving it using the Show all parents and Show all checkboxes.


  5. Describe the content of the briefcase in the short and long description provided.

  6. Select Add button to choose the Receivers of the briefcase, who have access to this briefcase. If no user is explicitly indicated, the briefcase is treated as public and all members of the workspace will have access to it.

  7. Optionally, you can use the Locked checkbox to prevent receivers from modifying the effect of the merge via the Merge Assistant. When the briefcase is locked, Merge Assistant is temporarily disabled.

Once all the information is prepared, click the OK button. The briefcase is posted to the server for later retrieval by the receivers when in client/server mode, or is sent immediately to the receivers that are on line when in Peer-to-Peer mode.

See also the documentation of the Share Assistant for additional advanced topics related to preparing a briefcase.

Understanding and Merging the content of a Briefcase

The Open button of the Briefcases dialog invokes a dialog that shows the content of the briefcases. The feature included in the briefcase with the action that will be performed with the merge operations. The list can be sorted by any of the column of the table.

For each feature, one of these actions is determined by the logic of the application:

  • Merge: a version of the same features exists in the part; the version in the briefcase will replace the one in the part.
  • Create: the feature does not exist in the part and will be created.
  • Delete: the  features exists in the part and will be deleted.
  • Discard: the feature exists in the part and will be kept; the version in the briefcase is not used.

Normally only the features that will be merged, created or deleted are listed. The Show All checkbox shows also the discarded features, which is sometime useful to understand the dependencies among features.


The Show Conflicts option filters the list to show only features marked in the Impact column as having a Conflicting changes with your copy. See the Merge Assistant for a description of the Impact column and for tips on how to handle conflicts.

Additional information on the features can be obtained using the context menu. The Center Graph option locates the features in the specification tree, the Properties option displays a set of property specific to the collaboration status of the object. You can display the properties of the feature in the briefcase or those of the corresponding feature in the part, or both sets at the same time.

Optionally, the same features are highlighted in the specification tree using the Graph Decoration option. The Extended Impact option additionally highlights bodies that are indirectly and ultimately modified by the merge as a result of the associations of the model. These graphical feedback options are activated from the Collaborative Design settings panel.

The Merge button performs the actual merge, which results in performing all the merge actions and updating the part. A checkbox makes it possible to specify whether during the merge the viewpoint contained in the briefcase should be applied after updating the model.

See also the documentation  of the Merge Assistant for additional advanced topics related to understanding and merging a collaborative briefcase.

Deleting a Briefcase

To delete a briefcase, highlight it and choose Delete from the contextual menu. You can only delete a briefcase if you are the owner or you have joined the workspace in an administrative role. Once the briefcase is deleted, it will disappear form other members view when they refresh their list. However, if the briefcase had already been applied to a part the deletion will not revert the effect of the merge.

Working in Product Context

Collaborative Briefcases can be prepared, shared and merged while in Product mode without need to open a part document. Simply activate the part from which to select the features to be shared via a briefcase or to which to merge existing briefcases. See also Inserting Features Linked to External References.