What’s New in SOLIDWORKS PDM 2020

The most significant enhancement to SOLIDWORKS PDM 2020 is performance. The developers at SOLIDWORKS have redefined how data is loaded, so that the amount of time required to access information is greatly reduced.

Following performance, the next most significant enhancement to the software is with the Search tool. Searches have been made more flexible, and in certain respects are easier to configure.

There has also been a peppering of enhancements in many other areas of SOLIDWORKS PDM 2020.

Improved Browsing Performance

The developers at SOLIDWORKS have cleverly staged the way data is loaded. Information from SQL has to be loaded, and this can take a significant amount of time, especially in folders that have large numbers of files.

With SOLIDWORKS PDM 2020, users can access the required data while the remaining data continues to load in the background. It is also possible to stop the loading of data when a user is changing between different folders. In this way, a user does not need to wait for all the information in all the files in a selected folder to be loaded before they can access another folder. Below is how this process works in SOLIDWORKS PDM 2020:

  1. All the data relating to subfolders is loaded synchronously. Subfolders can be browsed while data is being loaded in the background.
  2. Next, files and their standard columns are loaded in the file list for the current folder.
  3. Custom columns are loaded next. Additional custom columns can be added without impacting browsing speed.
  4. After selecting a file and switching between the Bill of Materials, Contains, and Where Used tabs, SOLIDWORKS PDM 2020 loads the data related to these tabs in the background.
  5. If a different folder or file is selected, the data loading for the current selection stops and the loading of data for the new selection starts.

The performance gains will be more noticeable in folders with large amounts of files or servers with high latency.

Improved Performance with SOLIDWORKS PDM Add-In

Performance of SOLIDWORKS PDM has also been improved as follows:

  • Loading of the PDM data that is displayed in the PDM Task Pane Tree is performed in the background.
  • When a file is selected, database calls are eliminated, thereby removing much of the lag time when browsing through files.
  • When selecting a file in the graphics area or in the FeatureManager design tree, the file is selected in the PDM Task Pane Tree and the correct commands are instantaneously enabled in the SOLIDWORKS PDM toolbar.

General Performance Improvements

Beyond browsing and performance enhancements to the PDM add-in, SOLIDWORKS PDM 2020 also offers a number of general performance improvements. These are:

  • Logging into the PDM vault when large numbers of files and folders are set for automatic caching
  • Viewing the System History of a vault that contains a large number of files and/or folders
  • Opening a file from a folder that contains a large number of files
  • Creating a file or subfolder in a folder that contains a large number of files

These performance gains will be most noticeable where there are folders that contain a large number of files. In folders where there are fewer files, these performance gains may not be as apparent.

Search User Interface

The other area that has seen a significant improvement is searches. This includes the addition of Quick Searches and the revamping the Search functions.

Quick Searches, which can be performed without the requirement of a Search Card,are performed by entering text in the Quick Search field, which is at the top right of the Windows Explorer Vault View or by pressing Ctrl-F (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Accessing Quick Search in SOLIDWORKS PDM.

Predictive Searches are incorporated into Quick Searches. Once a user has performed a number of searches, this search criteria is stored and the last five can be selected for reuse. Clicking in the Quick Search box will list the last five searches.

After entering text in the Quick Search dialog box,a list of matching, previously used searches will appear. Using the up and down arrow keys allows you to select one of the filtered results. Clicking enter will select the highlighted result, and pressing ESC on your keyboard will close the search.

Quick Searches can also be performed from the SOLIDWORKS Open dialog box, if the PDM add-in is enabled in SOLIDWORKS (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. Accessing Quick Search in the SOLIDWORKS Open dialog box.

Searches can be further configured by clicking on the pull-down menu to the right of the Quick Search dialog box and selecting Search Criteria as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Specifying Criteria in the Quick Search dialog box.

Additional Search Criteria is defined in PDM Administration. In the Lists Node, there is an additional section called Quick Search Variable Lists. Right-clicking on this section gives you the option to create a New List. Like Search Cards, Quick Search Variable Lists can be assigned to Users and Groups. In this way, different Users and Groups can have Search Criteria that meets their requirements (see Figure 4).

Figure 4. Creating a Quick Search List.

Adding a Variable to the Quick Search Variable List is similar to adding columns to a BOM or Column set. Pressing Add will activate a pull-down menu, where you can select a Variable. The Name field can be used to change what is displayed on the Quick Search pull-down. Providing a different Name will not change the Variable that is being searched, but only what the user will see. This is useful when the actual Variable name is long or obscure.

Searches have been made much more powerful with the addition of AND, OR and NOT Operators. Now searches can be refined by combining or excluding Search Criteria, by stringing together multiple Variables. In addition to being used in Quick Searches, Search Operators can also be used in the Search Tool and Search Cards. The Search Operators are case sensitive and must be entered as they are capitalized. In contrast, Search strings are case insensitive. For numerical Searches, the Operators =, !=, <, <=, > and >= can be used.

In SOLIDWORKS PDM 2020, it is now possible to move and resize the Columns in the Search results. Double-clicking the right column Border will automatically resize the column. This is one of those little things that can add polish to an otherwise extraordinary solution.

As mentioned previously, searching using Multiple Variables can also defined in a Search Card (see Figure 5). This can be done when creating or editing an Edit Control. Checking Multi-variable in Edit-box Properties provides a list of variables that can be strung together for a hard-coded search. Unlike the Quick Search, which uses dynamic criteria, the Multiple Variable search within the Search Card is static.

Figure 5. Adding Multi-variable Properties in a Search Card.

Child Reference State Conditions

Another significant enhancement in SOLIDWORKS 2020 is the ability to define Child Reference State Conditions. With this enhancement, an administrator can define the State conditions of immediate child references that must be met before the parent file can be transitioned. With this enhancement, a parent file can be prevented from being Transitioned until all the immediate children have been Transitioned first. This is just one example of how Child Reference State Conditions can be used. This enhancement opens up a whole new series of possibilities for controlling Transitions.

The Child Reference State Conditions is defined in a Workflow Transition, located under the Conditions tab (see Figure 6). After choosing Child Reference State as the Condition Variable, selecting “Text Equal To” or “Not Equal To” makes available Workflows and States as Condition Values that can be chosen to define the condition. Being able select other Workflow and Workflow States is useful when files are moved between Workflows through a Transition.

Figure 6. Adding Child Reference State Conditions.

To accommodate this new Transition condition, there is a new selection for the Change State Affected Operation in the Warnings tab of User or Group Properties. If Child references do not meet state conditions is selected, Parent files will be blocked from Transitioning if the Child Conditions are not met (see Figure 7).

Figure 7. Defining Warnings for Child References.

Logging Out from Windows Explorer

It is now possible to logout of SOLIDWORKS PDM without having the use the flyout in the Windows task bar. This can now be done in the SOLIDWORKS PDM Windows Explorer interface. A balloon will indicate which user is currently logged in (see Figure 8).

Figure 8. Logging out of PDM.

Having the logout located within Explorer makes this process less confusing for new users, who may not know where to find the logout command.

Warning Users When Transitioning Files

If a file passes through a Transition that includes Dynamic Notifications, a warning is given if a User or Group is not selected to receive the notification.

Resizable Dialog Boxes

Additional dialog boxes are now resizable:

  • Edit Variable
  • Serial Number—New Serial Number
  • Indexing Settings
  • Cold Storage Schema
  • Dialog boxes in Data Import/Export node such as XML Variable Alias Sets, Export Rule, and Import Rule
  • File Type Properties
  • Customizable Columns
  • Dialog boxes in Bill of Materials such as BOM, Item BOM, Weldment BOM, and Weldment Cut List
  • Edit Template
  • Dialog boxes in Dispatch such as Administrate Actions and Properties

This enhancement will help with the battle to monitor real estate and reduce the need to switch between active windows.

Paper Scaling in Print Task

When defining a Print Task, the Print Scale can be defined as Scale to Fit, or Scale. Scale allows users to set the Scale when the Print Task is executed.

Web2 (as listed in SOLIDWORKS PDM What’s New):

  • When dragging a folder to the file list, the Check In File Structure dialog box opens automatically.
  • In the Details section of the data card, in Comment, you can see version comments.
  • SOLIDWORKS PDM Web2 lets you see a read-only view of the Bill of Materials.
  • In the large screen layout, the Bill of Materials tab is available in the file detail view. The supported BOM types are:
    • Computed BOMs
    • Weldment BOMs
    • Weldment cut lists
  • In the small screen layout, the Bill of Materials tab is available from the ellipsis menu. The tab contains two customizable columns.
  • The Bill of Materials tab displays the bill of materials of SOLIDWORKS PDM items or of a SOLIDWORKS assembly, drawing, part or weldment part.

Working with SOLIDWORKS PDM users regularly, I often hear how performance can be a hurdle. The increase in performance, as well as the compelling enhancements in the Search functionality, makes the release of SOLIDWORKS PDM 2020 one of the best I have seen since I starting to work with this solution.

About the Author

Joe Medeiros as 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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