Updating with PDM: A Cautionary Tale

SOLIDWORKS Data Management

Written by: Royce Cole, Application Engineer

If you have been working in a PDM free environment or perhaps using SOLIDWORKS Workgroup PDM, you may have run into a situation where you can* upgrade SOLIDWORKS or Workgroup independently from other users. You might have been on service pack 3, the other users might have been on service pack 2. In fact, in most cases, as long as you were all on SOLIDWORKS 2015, life continued on without much issue. However, things get a little different if you are using SOLIDWORKS 2016 PDM (Standard or Professional) or SOLIDWORKS Enterprise PDM 2015 and earlier.

Newer Versions and the Background Downloader

For a while now, SOLIDWORKS has had a function to check for updates or even prompt you that a newer version of the software is available. By running the ‘Check for Updates’ under the installation manager, you might see a screen like this:

SOLIDWORKS PDM Installation Manager

Or, if you had the background downloader running, you might see one of the following:

SOLIDWORKS Background Downloader

This is when users would go ahead and download the newer version and still are able to interchange data between users without issue. Again, SOLIDWORKS 2016 SP 1 and SOLIDWORKS SP 2 should open and save each other’s files without issue. The new twist to the story is PDM. For SOLIDWORKS PDM 2016 (Standard or Professional) the client and server software MUST match major release to major release and service pack to service pack. See below:

SOLIDWORKS PDM Service Pack Chart

So What Changed? How Does This Affect Me?

Prior to 2016 (at least for Enterprise PDM customers), PDM was a separate install from SOLIDWORKS and in most environments required a coordinated or special plan when rolling out PDM. Users could* update their CAD seats, but leave PDM relatively unchanged. In 2016, the PDM clients for SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard and Professional are part of the installation manager. So if a user updates their CAD seat, there is a likelihood that ALL SOLIDWORKS products on their machine will be updated to the new service pack. As soon as that happens, that client will not be able to connect to the server on the earlier service pack. You can selectively choose which products to upgrade during the install, but default is all installed programs.

Bottom Line

The take away is if you are in an environment that uses SOLIDWORKS PDM, be aware of this if you are a user that likes to or is allowed to update your local install when new releases are available. If you SOLIDWORKS have PDM and you update SOLIDWORKS PDM, all of the other PDM clients and server components must be updated to the same version in order to still maintain connectivity.


*Just because you can doesn’t mean you should

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