What’s New in SOLIDWORKS 2017: PDM

While the number of enhancements in SOLIDWORKS PDM 2017 does not match the number of enhancements in SOLIDWORKS 2017, the enhancements make up in quality what they lack in quantity.

Some of these enhancements will benefit PDM users, while others will benefit PDM administrators. Some of these enhancements apply to all levels of PDM, while others apply to PDM Professional.


Latest Version Overwrite

Users can now choose to overwrite the latest version of a file when they checkin, or transition (change state) a file. This can be useful when:

  • There are minor and/or unimportant changes;
  • You are checkingin files at the of the day;
  • You are updating the version of files to the latest version (i.e. 2016 files to 2017) and
  • There are automatic operations that would normally generate a new version, such as a transition action.

A column labeled “Overwrite Latest Version” has been added to the Check-in and Transition dialog boxes. This allows a user to identify which files will have their versions overwritten.


Overwriting version during checkin.

The latest version of all files can be overwritten by right-clicking inside the Check-in or Change State dialog box and choosing “Overwrite the Latest Version on all Files.”The same can be accomplished by pressing the Ctrl-R keyboard combination.

In the file history, an overwritten version is denoted as shown below.


File checked in with version overwrite.


Copying Group Permissions and Groups

When creating a new group, group permissions and members can be copied from an existing group. Existing groups are available from the “Copy from Group” pull-down menu. This enhancement can reduce the amount of time needed to create new groups and, more importantly, helps to ensure that members and permissions are configured correctly.


Copying permissions and members on group creation.


Rolling Back a File with References

If a user has rollback folder permissions, they can now rollback a parent file, such as an assembly, with its child references (parts and subassemblies). The rollback option is still located in the history of a selected file, but it has been modified to include a Rollback column and Rollback Point column. The rollback point will indicate which state the selected file will be rolled back to. This allows a user to see which versions of the referenced files are being referenced by the parent file, and which are being rolled back.


Rollback options in PDM 2017.

In previous releases of PDM, there was no option to rollback a file with its references.


Rollback options in PDM 2016.

Also, in previous releases, parent references were removed.


Warning that references will be removed.

When there are configurations in the files that are being rolled back, the same configurations will be referenced, if they exist. If the configurations do not exist, the last active configuration will be used.


Server and Client Service Pack Compatibility

The PDM client and server no longer need to be on the same service pack. This will greatly help administrators, as they can update the server to address fixed bugs without having to worry about updating the clients as well.

Many companies hold off updating to the latest release of PDM until there have been a few service packs. They do this to avoid being forced to perform an update in order to correct a potentially critical issue in an earlier service pack. Now companies can jump in early in the release cycle to take advantage of new functionality.

It is important to note that while a majority of issues are corrected on the server side, there can be issues that would still require updating the clients.

This service pack compatibility only applies to service packs within the same major version—it does not extend between major versions.


Searching Local Files

Files can be added to the local vault view while in the offline mode. These files are not added to the network vault and are known as local files. In PDM 2017, you can now search local files by right-clicking inside the file’s folder.


Searching local files.

The ability to search local files is controlled in the user settings of the PDM Admin tool. The option to search local files can be added to users’ PDM interface from the Menus tab of the User Settings dialog box.


Adding “Search Local Files” to the user interface.


Changing a Category of a File

When logged in, the administrator can change the category of a checked-in file. This can be done from the Modify pull-down menu in the local vault view or by right-clicking on a file.


Change Category from the Modify pull-down menu.


Change Category from the right-click menu.


Adding Custom Columns

Custom columns can now be added from within the Transition and Get dialog boxes. Custom columns can be added by right-clicking on any column heading and selecting “More.”


Adding custom columns by right-clicking on any column heading.

Custom columns can also be added by right-clicking within the dialog box and selecting Columns>More.


Adding custom columns by right-clicking in dialog box.

A dialog allows the user to choose which columns they wish to add.


Adding custom columns.

The available custom columns available reflect the variables contained within the vault. Custom columns can be reordered and resized. These changes are remembered for each PDM user.


Local Vault Preview Enhancements

With Display>Options in the local vault view set to “Show Full UI in SOLIDWORKS,” the exploded view of an assembly can be displayed in the preview panel.


Option to show exploded view from full UI.

The card preview on the right of the preview panelcan now be turned off and hidden.


Preview panel with card preview.


Card preview turned off.

In the Windows Explorer, this is controlled from Display>Card Preview.


Controlling Card Preview.

In the file viewer, this is controlled in View>Show Files.

In the item explorer, this is controlled in View>Card Preview.


MBD 3D PDFs from Convert Task

The Convert task can now generate SOLIDWORKS MBD 3D PDFs. The option for generating these PDFs is available on the Conversion Settings tab. Themes can be specified for both parts and assemblies. These themes include the 3D PDF theme path, the 3D views to be included and the primary views. As with other tasks, the administrator can determine if a user can change these settings. Tasks are only available with PDM Professional.


3D PDF—MBD conversion settings.


New Tasks to Convert to PDF

PDM Professional ships with new tasks that convert Office files and DWG/DXF files to PDF.

Microsoft Office 2010 or later must be installed on the computer that will be running the task to convert Office files to PDF.

For DWG/DXF to PDF, the task requires the application programming interface that only ships with DraftSight Professional or Premium. Therefore, DraftSight Professional, or Premium, must be installed on the computer running the task.

The PDM add-in in DraftSight must be disabled for the task to be completed.

The executables for these tasks are in the same location as the Convert and Print tasks. This would be in the installation directory for PDM in the Default Data folder. Importing any task is completed by right-clicking on the vault in PDM Admin.

Below are the available conversion settings for DWG/DXFand Office options.


DWG/DXF conversion settings.


Office option settings.


Vault Database Replication

Archive replication has always been available in PDM, but a single common database has always been used until the latest release. While a single common database can still be used, databases can also now be replicated between multiple locations.

Database replication requires Always On Availability Groups (AOAG) from MicrosoftSQL Enterprise edition 2012 or higher. Each AOAG has a single read/write database and multiple read-only secondary databases. The secondary SQL servers are updated periodically by the primary SQL server.

Since secondary SQL servers are read only, only the read operations are directed to these servers. Write operations are still directed to the primary SQL server. Nevertheless, significant gains should still be realized.

For additional information on AOAG, please click on this link.

Web Portal and Web2 clients cannot take advantage of a secondary SQL database.


Web2 Download Permissions

By modifying the configuration node of the web.config file, download permissions can be controlled for users and groups as follows:



Web2 Viewer Enhancements

Dynamic previews are now supported in Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safariwithout loading plug-ins.

For more information, check out the SOLIDWORKS 2017 launch page.

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