Hands Off PDF Conversions


Written by: Bryce Hooper, Application Engineer

We all want to take tedium out of our day. Creating PDF copies of drawings for those without SOLIDWORKS can be a daunting task some days. But there is hope if you have PDM Professional!

SOLIDWORKS PDM has a neat add-in included out of the box for running scripts to convert SOLIDWORKS files to other formats. This is called the SWTaskAddin and can be found in the installation directory under the “Default Data” folder. To import it into our vault, we must first log in to the Administration tool as the Admin user. We can then drag and drop the file “Convert_gb.cex” into the tool. This will open the import screen with an add-in and a task listed. You can drag and drop the task and add-in into your vault. This will add the items to the list under their respective nodes.

Once we have this installed, we can play around with the task that came with it. We open the task by double clicking Convert. As we click through the screens by hitting next, we see that we can enable this task to run on specific machines. Each machine must be set up in the Task Host Configuration before it can be enabled here.

SOLIDWORKS to PDF Conversion Properties

In the next screen we can decide if we want an option to manually select the task to run. For this example, we’ll leave this defaulted on.

Clicking next again we come to the conversion settings of this task. Here we find that we have a list of options available to use as our output. For this example we will select PDF and leave the rest of the options as default.

SOLIDWORKS File Conversion Output Options

Clicking next twice will put us on the screen where we can select our output path. Here we use PDM variables to designate where the file is going and what the file will be called. It is important to consider how we do this as we may find a time where we are selecting multiple files at a time and may or may not want the resultant files to be in a path relative to them. For this example, let’s assume that we are fine putting the files next to their source files.

SOLIDWORKS File Convert - Primary Output Path

After setting some permissions and any notifications if we’d like, we are done creating the task to create PDF files for our SOLIDWORKS documents.

But wait, isn’t this supposed to be “hands-off” PDF creation?

To fully automate the creation of our PDF files, we will want to trigger them somehow. The best way to do this is through a workflow transition. Tasks can be added to workflow transitions as an action. This means that while we transition the files through our normal work, the PDF files will be generated without any additional clicks or thought.

Automated creation of PDF from SOLIDWORKS

To make sure that things run smoothly, we will need to make sure that the user transitioning the file has permission to run the task or that the task is set to run as a different user. Of course, it will also be very important to be certain that the user executing the task in any case has the ability to check in files at the specified location (unless the target location is outside the vault).

We did not fully explore this tool as there are many other options for conversions. There are many different files types as well as different ways to export different facets of each file. I recommend that you play around with this to get the exact export of a file that benefits you the most.