PDM: Versions and the exclamation mark

In this article we will discuss several notifications we see when using the PDM add-in in SOLIDWORKS. These revolve around versions and how each version is used in assemblies or sub-assemblies. During customer support I notice that this question comes up every now and then for different level PDM users. This article intents to give insight into what versions are and how they are used.  We will not discusses revisions.


To talk about a version is to talk about the basic working principle of PDM. Files are stored on the archive server, when you check out a file a local copy is made on your system. When you check in a file, your local file is copied the archive server. This copy is a called a version; each time you check out a file, make a change and check in, a new version is created.

In the PDM explorer you can see which version is in the vault and which version you have on your local system. In the figure underneath we see the Main Assembly has version 3 on the server and no local version.

We now check out the files Main Assembly and Switch and see 3/3 which indicates we have the versions local. In SOLIDWORKS we make a change to the Switch. The edit icon appears  and we save our change. The local file is now newer than the file on the server and this icon  appears. We now check in both the Main Assembly and the Switch. We see that the version on the server is increased to 4: the local file is copied to the archive server.

In general it is always advisable to work with the latest version of files. The PDM administrator can set this option for users and groups in the User Settings:

The exclamation mark

The exclamation mark is seen in the SOLIDWORKS PDM add-in and alerts the user when a newer version exists. In short, this indicates that the assembly is referencing an older version of a Part. We will discuss an example, consider the following scenario:

A colleague changed the switch of the flashlight to be round and red. He only checked out the part, made a change and checked it back in. The switch is now version 3/3.

We open the main assembly in SOLIDWORKS and see the following situation:

The used switch is version 3/3 in the assembly tree (1), which means on our local system we have the latest version and we see the red switch in SOLIDWORKS (2). But version 4 of the Main Assembly does not have the red switch as we can see in the preview (3). It still uses version 1. This is why PDM alerts us with the exclamation mark, we can check this on the Contains tab in the PDM Explorer (4).

To create an assembly which uses the red switch we need to do a check out of the assembly, save it and check in. We have created a version 5 of the assembly, which contains version 3 of the switch.

Overwrite previous and get version

It is possible to overwrite the latest version. Your PDM admin can enable this function in the administration tool and you will see this option during a check in. When you overwrite the latest version, the old version is removed and replaced with the new version. In our previous example if we would check in the red switch and use overwrite, version 2 would be used in the assembly.

We can also enable the command Get Version, this enables us to see and use previous versions. For example, the red switch our colleague made is not correct and we want to use the original version 1.  We check out the files and use the Get Version option. Each version is a copy of the file so we can use this.

We get a notification that warns us that we are overwriting our local check out version 7 with version 1 from the server, this notification is a final warning. We’ll now destroy our local version, all unsaved work in that file is lost. We want this to happen, so accept yes. We check the file back in and version 10 is created with version 1.

Both of these functions should only be used when you are familiar with version and can oversee what the consequences are on other files when overwriting and removing previous versions.


SOLIDWORKS PDM provides the tools to see and re-use version of files you make, versions are all stored on the server. On your workstation you have 1 local version. In this article we discussed a hands on example of how a change to a part influences an assembly and that if you want a change to be in the assembly you should check-out the assemblies tree the part is used in. In this situation we did not take into account revisions and workflow statuses, these influence when you can make a change.


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