SOLIDWORKS PDM – What’s new in 2018

In this blog, we’ll take a look at some of the new PDM features and enhancements for SOLIDWORKS 2018.

PDM Standard

The first major change which occurs in 2018 is a change to the PDM naming scheme and support. From SOLIDWORKS 2018 onward, Workgroup PDM is no longer supported and has been replaced by SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard. This means that if you are currently using SOLIDWORKS 2017 (or earlier) with Workgroup PDM and want to upgrade to SOLIDWORKS 2018, you will also have to upgrade (or migrate) to PDM Standard.

Remember – SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard is included with SOLIDWORKS Professional and Premium, and if you are looking at getting all the benefits from PDM, we can perform the creation, set-up, installation, user and admin training as part of our quick start implementation. We can also assist in the migration from Workgroup to PDM Standard or even Professional if you are moving to SOLIDWORKS 2018.

The first change comes with PDM Standard now having a function that was previously limited to PDM Professional, the ability to automatically create a PDF of a SOLIDWORKS drawing file during a transition in the workflow. To achieve this, you can either import the task (Convert Task) into your existing vault or have it imported during the initial creation of your vault. Once added this can be set up by editing the task and controlling the “Execution Method” and “Conversion Settings” where you pick a transition of the workflow that would have an action of performing the required task. Please note that some other tasks still require the use of PDM Professional and/or PDM API.

It should also be noted that for a machine (client) to perform this task they must have a license of SOLIDWORKS available for the conversion to take place, and to perform any task the client/host must “Permit” the SOLIDWORKS Task Add-in for their machine so that the task can be allowed to run on your machine during set up.

PDM Enhancements

The next change is one that can provide a lot of relief for the PDM Administrators or someone who may need to make a change to your data card. That is the infamous, and sometimes lifesaving “Undo” button (Ctrl + Z). This inclusion in SOLIDWORKS PDM 2018 allows you to undo your last action when modifying cards using control properties and card properties, adding, deleting, resizing or moving card controls.

The ability to Undo may seem like nothing significant but if you’ve ever been editing or creating a new data card and accidentally made a mistake, clicking undo rather than closing the card and reverting back to your last save is very high on the wish list. Rest assured you can sleep easy now, knowing you don’t have to worry about making an accidental click that could set you back potentially hours.

If you have ever tried to pass a file through a transition and had it ‘fail’ with a generic error message, it may be a little hard to tell why it has failed without asking your administrator (or someone with access to the Admin dashboard) what condition must be met for the transition you are trying to make. Now in 2018, a more detailed error message should appear giving you more information as to why the transition has failed such as comparison criteria, configuration details, condition type and value. An example can be seen in the two images below where a transition fails due to a conditional requirement which must be met.  Clicking the blue link in the warning section gives more details as to what conditions have failed.

Enhancements have also been made to the “File Version Upgrade Tool” where you now have various new options and capabilities when you want to upgrade your files to the latest version (e.g. 2018) including but not limited to:

  • Add or remove folder/s to upgrade.
  • View the summary of the file versions.
  • Monitor the progress of the update and check how the upgrades are going by seeing the number of parts/drawings/assemblies still to be upgraded.
  • Know the number of files in each work instruction file or the total number of SOLIDWORKS file versions to upgrade.
  • You can also stop the upgrade should you need to, and then resume the process from where you left off rather than having to start the process over again.
  • Have users be notified of the upgrade process, so a user knows when the files they need to be working on have been upgraded.
  • There is also the ability to have files which are currently checked out to be upgraded if they are not on the host machine. SOLIDWORKS have created a small table showing the file handling process should a file be checked out.

Another nice enhancement comes with SOLIDWORKS PDM having the ability to read and write revision table values to or from a SOLIDWORKS revision table. Due to the slightly more complex nature of revision tables and the setup required, if anyone would like us to create a separate Blog (or even a Webinar) dedicated to revision tables, revisions, versions or what the difference between these are please do get in touch with us to show your interest.

SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional now comes with several improvements when it comes to “Design Branching and Merging”. Branching an existing file structure is like the “Copy Tree” command, but with PDM Professional you can maintain the history of source and/or branched files. No matter if a modified version of a branched file has been moved or renamed from the source, a new version of the source file can be created.

Additional Enhancements

Some additional enhancements or changes include:

  • The ability to set explicit folder permissions on multiple folders at the same time where previously you could only do one at a time. This is achieved by selecting multiple folders at the same time using any of the following methods:
    • SHIFT + Click
    • CTRL + Click
    • Left Drag
  • Previously only the vault Administrators could undo a “Check-in” or “Check-out” by another user but this ability has been expanded to all users, subject to them being given the appropriate permissions by the administrator where they could:
    • Undo a “check-out” or “check-in” of a file that is on the same machine and same vault view.
    • Undo a “check-out” of a file that is on a different machine and in an alternate vault view.


Craig Girvan is an Applications Engineer at TMS CADCentre, a SOLIDWORKS Value Added Reseller in Scotland.

You can read more from Craig on the TMS CADCentre blog

TMS CADCentre is a SOLIDWORKS Reseller based in Scotland providing CAD Design Software, analysis software & product data management software. Founded in 1981, TMS CADCentre is the only UK SOLIDWORKS Reseller based and funded within Scotland and have been providing SOLIDWORKS software, training and support since 1996 when the product was first launched in the UK.