Understanding SOLIDWORKS File Compatibility

If you’re a SOLIDWORKS user then chances are high you’ve seen the dreaded “future version” file error. Perhaps you’ve even caused this grief for another user. So how does one avoid this problem in the future?

In this quick article we’re going to list the reasons SOLIDWORKS files aren’t forward compatible and the options we have to work around the file version.

Understanding SOLIDWORKS File Compatibility

Backward Compatibility

First let’s discuss SOLIDWORKS file compatibility. The SOLIDWORKS software has always been backward compatible meaning that the most recent version of SOLIDWORKS can open any previous version SOLIDWORKS file extension. (i.e. SOLIDWORKS 2018 can open files created in 2017 and older)

Forward Compatibility

SOLIDWORKS forward compatibility doesn’t exist due to the ever evolving software package. Every year SOLIDWORKS enhances their software with new tools or performance enhancements. Once a file gets saved with this new tech, it becomes locked, and this version can no longer be opened in previous releases. (i.e. In previous versions of SOLIDWORKS the Hole Wizard didn’t contain the slot option. Which would mean that opening a new file in an older version would surely create an issue in the code.)

An enhancement was implemented in SOLIDWORKS 2018 SP5 that allows the user to open and view future version SOLIDWORKS files. You’ll see the normal SOLIDWORKS feature manager but the tree will be limited to one feature. (Future version file)

Understanding SOLIDWORKS File Compatibility

When Do We See this Issue?

The most commonly experienced scenario is when a company upgrades SOLIDWORKS to the most current version, but their vendor is still operating in the previous version. What can we do to work around this disconnect?

  • Upgrade the system that is seeing the future version message
  • Install multiple versions of SOLIDWORKS
  • Export the file in a CAD neutral file type (i.e. stp, igs, x_t)
    • These file types can then be imported into SOLIDWORKS as feature-less solid bodies.
    • x_t (parasolid) uses the SOLIDWORKS kernel and can be leveraged when using Recognize Feature to better create an imported SOLIDWORKS file.
  • 3rd party SOLIDWORKS add-ins exist that will save a current file version as an older SOLIDWORKS version.

Understanding SOLIDWORKS File Compatibility

Alignex, Inc.
Alignex, Inc. is the premier provider of SOLIDWORKS software and partner products to the mechanical engineering industry in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Wyoming and Illinois. With more than 25 years of technical experience, Alignex offers consulting services, training and support for SOLIDWORKS as well as support for partner products. For more information, visit alignex.com.
Alignex, Inc.