Product Data Management (PDM) Basics III – Versioning and Revisioning – Rich Allen

Thanks for reading and commenting on this Blog. In this installment, we will explore the concepts of versioning and revisioning or the incredible PDM Time Machine.


The Design Process

As you work on your designs in the form of parts, drawings and assemblies, you go through many design cycles and changes. You try out different ideas and concepts and react to input from other departments for clearance and analysis constraints. You may also get input from your clients and supply chain on usability and manufacturability issues. This is how you optimize and provide innovation to your design, the more changes and input you receive, the better the final design.



Each time you check in a document (part, assembly, drawing), it is automatically stored in the vault as a different Version, typically starting with the number one (1) and moving in increments of one (1) i.e. 1, 2, 3, etc. You may choose to check in your documents daily or weekly. However often you make these changes, the system will create complete backup copies of each version. This allows you a safety net or time machine if you will, that allows you to go back in time to a previous design.

For example, if you are working on a design and try out some new ideas and design direction for several days or weeks that later don’t pan out, you can simply roll back your design to any point in the past by retrieving an older version.



Closely tied to the concept of versions are Revisions. The key difference is that versions are managing your day to day design changes while revisions are used as part of a release process. In conjunction with an electronic workflow process, new designs go through approval processes that move them from a non-released state to a released state. This approval process used to take place in either formal review meetings or by printing and distributing a set of blueprints to all required stakeholders. Using PDM, this process can be automated using a flexible electronic workflow process that allows multiple users to view, comment and approve via electronic signature. Typical workflow processes are New Product Development (NPD) and Engineering Change Management Request, Order and Notice (ECR/ECO/ECN).

To easily differentiate Revisions from Versions, Revisions may use a different scheme such as letters, starting with A and moving through the alphabet B, C, D etc.

Just as with Versions, you can roll back Revisions if required as well. So if you need to go back from Revision F to Revision D, you can easily do it with PDM!

Get – The Incredible Time Machine

 In order to go back in time, you can use the Get command with SolidWorks Enterprise PDM. This command allows you to see the complete version and revision history and simply choose how far back in time you would like to go.

Get version - left housing

In the example above, there are two (2) major revisions A and B as well as 7 versions that are available using the right mouse button and selecting “Get Version”. The Get Latest Version command is a shortcut to quickly make sure you are working with the latest release, while the Get Version command shows the complete history of both versions and revisions.


Versions and Revisions are two automated tools tied into the New Product Development, release and change process that give you greater control, safety and the ability to go back in time! By providing more freedom and flexibility in the design process, you end up with better and more innovative designs.

Stay tuned for the next issue when we talk about how to handle Bill of Materials (BOM) using SolidWorks Enterprise PDM!

Rich Allen

Rich Allen

Senior Director, Product Management at Dassault Systemes SolidWorks Corp.
Senior Director, Product Portfolio Management that manages the team that focuses on the SolidWorks integrated desktop product portfolio, including SolidWorks CAD, SolidWorks Simulation, SolidWorks Enterprise PDM, eDrawings, SolidWorks Electrical, SolidWorks Plastics, SolidWorks Inspection, SolidWorks MBD and SolidWorks Composer. Rich has been with SolidWorks for the past ten (10) years, working in strategic accounts and then leading the data management products for the SolidWorks brand, including SolidWorks Enterprise PDM and ENOVIA Collaborative Design for SolidWorks. Prior to that Rich spent over 25 years in the PLM industry leading teams at United Technologies, IBM, CoCreate and was the founder and owner of several technology companies.
Rich Allen
Rich Allen