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How do you set up your Sandbox?

Question asked by Daen Hendrickson on Jan 22, 2016

I would like to know the general approach people are using to create a "Sandbox" environment for testing new versions of Solidworks products before adopting across the enterprise.


We are a small shop with 5 seats of SW2014 SP5. We run Workgroup PDM. All of our common SolidWorks support files reside in a shared area on the network - all the things you would find in Options/ System Options / File Locations. Our Vault is in a common area on the network. Our Libraries are also on a common shared area of the network.


Our projects tend to be long term - 12 to 24 months. We usually try to perform a major SW upgrade in between projects. This can result in running older versions for longer time and we are increasingly finding that the "in between" lull is a thing of the past. Our practice has been to be a late adopter and watch the forums for other's installation reports. Then say "GO", create an admin install image, update everyone and hope....


With the looming transition from Workgroup to Standard PDM, as well as trying to adopt a better practice in our upgrades, I am making this post. We are updating network infrastructure so we will have three new physical servers running WinServ2012.


Some of my questions are:

  • Do you create a virtual machine environment on your server(s) for your sandbox?
  • Do you set up a dedicated CAD workstation for testing or use a "production" / existing system?
  • If a production workstation do you create a different user account, or just install two versions of the software?
  • Regarding your shared network data - do you make a copy to the sandbox and then update or somehow work with the existing?
  • What steps and considerations when you "release" the upgrade to the users?
  • How do you transition any updated library / shared data back to the "production" shared area?


Any suggestion or other information to consider is greatly appreciated.