More of What’s New SOLIDWORKS PDM 2020

In my previous article What’s New SOLIDWORKS PDM 2020, I covered many of the enhancements that are available in the 2020 release of SOLIDWORKS PDM. In that article, I focused on improved performance and the new Search functionality. In this article, I will look at enhancements that involve other SOLIDWORKS applications, as well some purely PDM Enhancements, that didn’t make it into my previous article.

A portion of what I’ll be covering in this article is related to the integration of other SOLIDWORKS applications into SOLIDWORKS PDM 2020. The first of which is related to the latest SOLIDWORKS data management offering—SOLIDWORKS PDM Manage.

The SOLIDWORKS Manage tab in SOLIDWORKS PDM Explorer Vault View now contains additional tabs, which provide more information stored in SOLIDWORKS Manage. These tabs are Properties, BOMs, History, Where Used, Tasks and Emails.

Manage in PDM Explorer View.

Plenary Web Client

The Plenary Web Client for SOLIDWORKS Manage is included in the SOLIDWORKS Installation Manager. In SOLIDWORKS Manage 2020, the Plenary Web Client can be integrated with a connected SOLIDWORKS PDM vault, without the need to install any software.

PCB Integration with SOLIDWORKS PDM

The next SOLIDWORKS application that has seen improved integration with SOLIDWORKS PDM is SOLIDWORKS PCB—In particular, the new SOLIDWORKS PCB-PDM Connector. The SOLIDWORKS PCB-PDM connector, allows SOLIDWORKS PCB to take advantage of SOLIDWORKS PDM-based workflows. This allows mechanical and electronic design information to be managed with a single environment.

The new SOLIDWORKS PCB-PDM Connector allows:

  • Creating SOLIDWORKS PCB projects and design files, which are managed within SOLIDWORKS PDM.
  • Using the functionality inherent to SOLIDWORKS PDM to check-in and check-out PCB files.
  • The ability to create versions of files using SOLIDWORKS PDM File Explorer.
  • The use of PDM data cards to input and access information regarding PCB design files.
  • The ability to perform Where Used for PCB design files.
  • A centralized storage location of electronic design data in a SOLIDWORKS PDM vault, an environment with which many users are already familiar and comfortable.
  • Notifications when a workflow process achieves a specific milestone.
  • Development of a formal release process, with electronic approvals and sign offs.
  • The integration of SOLIDWORKS PCB/PDM variables and parameters.
  • Access to a SOLIDWORKS PDM Bill of Materials.

Visualize SOLIDWORKS PDM Integration

The last SOLIDWORKS application that I will look at, which has seen improved integration with SOLIDWORKS PDM, is SOLIDWORKS Visualize.  Within SOLIDWORKS Visualize, a user can access vault commands and view file information. This does require that SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional is installed on the system as SOLIDWORKS Visualize.

The SOLIDWORKS PDM commands are located on the menu bar of SOLIDWORKS Visualize.

Visualize PDM Menu.

From the SOLIDWORKS PDM pull-down in SOLIDWORKS Visualize, users can Check in/out files, perform an Undo Check-out (providing the user has sufficient permissions), Get Latest, Get Version (again, providing the user has sufficient permissions), Show Card (the PDM data card), Change State and Search. Selecting in Windows Explorer will launch Windows Explorer Vault View, and show information such as Local Version, Local Revision, the Workflow State and whether the file is Checked Out. If the file is checked out, the computer will show where it is Checked Out.

The next group of enhancements pertain to both SOLIDWORKS and SOLIDWORKS PDM.

Improved Performance When Opening and Saving Files from a Previous Version

The performance of opening legacy files (that is, files last saved in earlier versions of SOLIDWORKS) has improved. While this not a PDM enhancement, the improved performance of opening legacy files may eliminate the need to update some files in the vault, without paying a heavy performance cost.

In order to update vaulted legacy files, these files need to be checked out, opened in SOLIDWORKS, saved and then checked back in.

While the SOLIDWORKS PDM File Version Upgrade tool can be used to automate the process, this can be time-consuming and in order to not effect production may require that it be done after hours. Furthermore, some files may not upgrade during this process, and would require manual upgrading.

I’ve seen many PDM implementations where vaulted files are not upgraded to the currently installed version of SOLIDWORKS because of the amount of work involved. In large assemblies this can impact performance considerably, so this increased performance will be very welcome by many PDM users.

This does not completely eliminate the need to upgrade legacy files. Better performance can still be achieved with upgraded files. Also, the conversion process that takes place when a legacy file is opened can in rare cases cause file corruption. The older the version of the legacy file, the greater the chance of file corruption. I would still recommend upgrading commonly used or recently used files; but older, rarely used files can now be accessed without having to pay a huge performance cost.

Open Modes from File Explorer or PDM Vault View

This new functionality will launch the SOLIDWORKS Open dialogue box, from either Windows File Explorer or the PDM Vault View. Previously, the Open dialogue box was only available from SOLIDWORKS File > Open (Ctrl + O). This does require opening the file by right clicking on the file and selecting SOLIDWORKS > Open.


Launching the SOLIDWORKS open dialogue box allows the user to choose Display States, Configurations and Modes such Lightweight and Use Large Assembly Settings. These setting can improve performance when opening and working with large assemblies.

SOLIDWORKS Open Options.

If SOLIDWORKS is already open, the file can be dragged into the SOLIDWORKS window from either Windows File Explorer or the PDM Vault View, while holding the ALT key. This will cause the SOLIDWORKS Open dialogue to launch.

Access to the SOLIDWORKS Open dialogue is available in earlier versions of SOLIDWORKS, but SOLIDWORKS 2020 must be installed on the same computer in order to update the SOLIDWORKS Launcher. For earlier versions of SOLIDWORKS (prior to SOLIDWORKS 2020), the ALT + drag method of opening files is not supported.

Installing Toolbox Software Without Installing Toolbox Data

In a shared Toolbox/Hole Wizard environment, such as where Toolbox is located on a network drive or in a PDM vault, the client installations can be set to not install or upgrade the Toolbox data at that location. This is useful when:

  • The SOLIDWORKS PDM local view was not set before installing SOLIDWORKS.
  • The files in the Toolbox/Hole Wizard location are in use and could block the SOLIDWORKS installation from completing.
  • The Toolbox/Hole Wizard location is unavailable, which could also block the SOLIDWORKS installations from completing.

When the client installations are set to not install the Toolbox data, the SOLIDWORKS software and settings will point to the default Toolbox/Hole Wizard location. The Toolbox/Hole Wizard data is still needed, though, for the Toolbox/Hole Wizard to function. At some point, the Toolbox/Hole Wizard data will need to be installed in a central location.

The ability to install the Toolbox/Hole Wizard without the Toolbox/Hole Wizard data is defined in a SOLIDWORKS Administrative Image, and therefore a SOLIDWORKS Administrative Image must be used for the installation of SOLIDWORKS.

In the Administrative Image Option Editor, click Settings and then expand Toolbox/Hole Wizard Options. Next, check ‘No, install the Toolbox software without including the data files’.

Toolbox Options in Administrative Image.

Support for Configuration-Specific $PRPSHEET Properties

This enhancement is one that many PDM users have been waiting for. When you change a configuration-specific property in the source document (part or assembly), the $PRPSHEET property in the linked drawing displays the updated value without needing to open and save the drawing in the SOLIDWORKS. This enhancement applies to the following:

  • SOLIDWORKS Quick View
  • eDrawings Desktop including the integration in SOLIDWORKS PDM Desktop client
  • eDrawings Web Viewer embedded in SOLIDWORKS PDM Web2 client.

This last group of enhancements are purely PDM enhancements that did not make it into my last article.

Reordering Columns in Search Results

Columns in the search results of an Embedded Search, can be reordered and these changes are saved.

Scaling the Paper Size in Print Task

When configuring the Print task, the Scale can be set to ‘Scale to fit’ and there is an option to ‘Allow the user to change the scale’.

Scale Options in Print Task.

In this article, I highlighted how other SOLIDWORKS applications are increasingly being integrated into SOLIDWORKS PDM. I also looked at how some of the new SOLIDWORKS functionality has enhanced the use of SOLIDWORKS PDM. Lastly, I described some additional SOLIDWORKS Enhancements that were not included in my last article. All of these enhancements, along with those in my article What’s New SOLIDWORKS PDM 2020, illustrate how SOLIDWORKS PDM 2020 is one of the most significant recent releases.

Joe Medeiros is a Senior Applications Engineer at Javelin Technologies, a premier SOLIDWORKS reseller, servicing customers throughout Canada, offers SOLIDWORKS customers expertise in implementing and using SOLIDWORKS solutions Joe has been involved in many aspects of the SOLIDWORKS product family since 1996, and as an award-winning blogger, he regularly writes about SOLIDWORKS CAD and Data Management solutions.

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