Properties are fundamental building blocks to create information in OpenBOM. After you define properties you need you can create Part Catalogs, Parts and Bill of Materials.
You can create BOM in OpenBOM from scratch by using New Bill of Materials command, importing Excel or using one of OpenBOM CAD plug-ins. This is how most of our users start their journey with OpenBOM. With any of those methods, you build a self-contained BOM that keeps all information about Parts and relationships between Parts such quantity, instance information, etc.
Here is an example of such BOM.
It is a great starting point and also quick solution to start sharing information with your contractors, production shop floor or procurement. But… it can be sub-optimal solution if you plan your Bill of Materials and data management strategy for a long terms. Because data is terrible redundant in these BOMs.
OpenBOM offers a solution to this redundancy: the Part and Part Catalog.
Part is a line of information about anything you can buy, make or assembly. It can be standard, engineering, outsourced, purchased, etc. Part record is fundamental and can be used in Bill of Materials. The idea of Part Catalog is to manage data about Parts (sometimes called Items) and share this information between multiple Bill of Materials. The simplified picture below can explain the relationships between BOMs and Part Catalogs.
Think about this picture – you have Part catalog and 2 BOMs. But the information about parts isn’t redundant because it’s stored inside Part Catalog.
This organization of data in openBOM allows you to manage catalog of all parts and use part information in BOMs. OpenBOM is augmented catalog information in BOM — the grey colored data in BOMs is read only and when edited in the catalog will be automatically refreshed in the BOM. You can create multiple Part catalogs in openBoM and use different characteristics (properties) in these catalogs, for example, to manage electronic and mechanical components, etc.
Here is an example of BOM with parts brought from Part Catalog.