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If you change the name in PDMWE, it should update the references. You may get a message that says you need to check in some parts, but not always.
If I RMC on the file and select SolidWorks>Rename it does not rename the file. It generates a new file with the new file name whether or not the file is checked in. This does not work as a rename, but a copy file to new name. What am I missing?
This is what we got from our VAR when we reported this problem:
After reviewing the information on the problem that you reported initially, SolidWorks has issued a bug report (SPR 356170). So, it seems that there are two problems with 'rename' in PDMWE 2008 SP3. Until you can upgrade to SP4 I recommend using the PDMWE 'rename' command and then immediately opening referencing documents in SolidWorks and updating the links manually (as you already have done).
There was another SPR (437115) that supposedly fixed the PDMWE rename command in SP 4.0 but we're still on 3.1 so I can't verify that.