20 Replies Latest reply on Nov 3, 2016 9:02 AM by Craig Schultz

    Why is PDM so complicated ?

    Michael Bardwell

      After a number of hours installing reconfiguring, editing windows credentials, firewalls, and so on... it struck me... there is no need at all for most of these steps when setting up any other database... why does pdm want to use non-standard ports ? - why is PDM viewing only available if you have a full license on each computer that wants to view it ? ... honestly I just cannot see the point of it, it's a highly overpriced concurrent versioning system, nothing more. You can get much better from Grabcad for free for unlimited users who can view and comment anywhere in the world...


      I'm a software engineer and CAD administrator and I have never seen such an overcomplicated useless bit of software in my life. Personally I think it's engineered the way it is to make people give up and pay the VAR the thousands of dollars it costs to have them come and install it for you.


      After all the effort put into getting it working to find out it's just a basic CVS that does nothing for anyone who isn't specifically using solidworks ... pffft.


      like I said, much better free offerings our there to manage versions / notes / descriptions ..etc.


      I think it's fairly unlikely that any developers would read this.. but if you do, you need to go home and have a long think about software 'should' be created.


      It's easier to setup a relational DB or even SAP was easier than this, again my only conclusion is that the difficulty if artificial and deliberate.

      /rant over

        • Re: Why is PDM so complicated ?
          Michael Dekoning



          I'm sorry you've apparently had a bad experience getting your system configured. I wholeheartedly disagree with everything you've said. We've been using the SOLIDWORKS PDM system since 2008. I am a CAD Admin and a developer and know that PDM is more than just a CVS system. Our vault contains many file types other than SOLIDWORKS. Our company doesn't want our IP in the cloud. And I can't believe you said SAP is easier to set up! Our company still has many contractors who just maintain our SAP system.

          • Re: Why is PDM so complicated ?
            Craig Schultz

            I haven't seen an SAP system set up in less than 18 months.  But hey, to each their own.

            • Re: Why is PDM so complicated ?
              Jeff Holliday

              Like some other companies, we are looking at a replacement for our WPDM vault system and have begun demos with some possible solutions. Thank you for your comments. I am curious as to how many other choices you had and what led the final decision?


              From what I have seen so far, there is a wide range of capabilities available. Not all are needed in every company but it is nice to get a system that is open-ended enough to not excessively limit the future uses. Generally the more features available, they are likely more complex to setup. Many years ago we were deciding between spending money for EPDM (essentially now SW PDM Pro) or using the free WPDM. Our VAR provided a well thought out presentation and an honest suggestion that if we chose EPDM we should spend a sizeable time laying out a usage plan before starting the implementation. The reason is that a more feature-rich solution will take more time/cost to change after starting down a path.


              Best of luck.

                • Re: Why is PDM so complicated ?
                  Michael Bardwell

                  I just found many of the steps to be overly and needlessly complex, why for instance would the ports be non-standard ? - there is absolutely no advantage to doing that, the only thing it does is make the installation more complex for people are not familiar with how to change such things. The thing that really annoyed us the most was that in order for anyone to view the files / pdfs / other documents we need a license for each user, it just seems that solidworks products are designed to get the maximum amount of money out of the customer, it's just a constant "oh that's an extra <insert at least $1k) to do anything or get any kind of updates - in fact it costs over $2000 a year just to get updates / bug fixes which are free with virtually every other software package. PDM does nothing I could not accomplish with OpenCVS (which is free).

                  Maybe I'm being overly paranoid, but it certainly seems like dassault just keeps squeezing for more money more money (maybe it's the VAR ?) - but it's put us off the product and many other engineering firms I work with are now looking at alternatives since the change where you have to backpay your subscription to update if you have let it lapse, again it seems like a money grab, extortion.


                  PDM was the straw that broke the camels back, when I told the boss that "No you will need a license to view the files in the PDM system" - the response was "get rid of it - I never want to see that <expletive> again". - So now I have a boss who is extremely hostile towards solidworks, and is pushing me to investigate the autodesk ecosystem (which is much cheaper and accomplishes the same thing - free updates / bug fixes etc)

                    • Re: Why is PDM so complicated ?
                      Jeff Holliday

                      I'm sorry to hear you are not pleased for a variety of reasons.


                      There is a viewer license available that gives anyone (up to 5 concurrent users) view-access for the vaulted files. This could help with the concern of needing a license for each user. Although irritating, I know there are other pdm systems which also require a fee to view the files which are being managed by the pdm system.


                      Please do us a favor and provide a list of the "virtually every other software package" that do not charge for updates. I completely agree with the responsibility of providing bug fixes for free which SW does in most cases.


                      Good luck in your search.

                      • Re: Why is PDM so complicated ?
                        Craig Schultz

                        Go over to the ADesk/Fusion message boards.  It's scary.  Everything is a "future plan/consideration".  No sheet metal, 1 page drawings.....


                        You could put the PDFs on a network location with read only permissions.




                          • Re: Why is PDM so complicated ?
                            Michael Bardwell

                            Fusion is not the one we have been looking at, it's inventor. (which I am not really a fan of) - I think solidworks has a much better user interface and is just easier to use in general. The sheet metal functions in SW are superior I think (unless you want to put an edge flange on a rolled part). If you purchase a standalone license of ACAD or Inventor - the updates / bug fixes are free forever. Our VAR told us once we are off the subscription that we cannot download updates, service packs or bugfixes. (we have a license for ACAD 2008 and we still get service packs and updates for it.


                            Software that gives free service packs and updates are (and this list is by no means complete) :

                                 Autocad (all version)





                                 Electric Image





                            I could go on, but I think you get the idea. The Dassault range of CAD products is one of the very few who require a paid sub to receive updates and service packs for a product you have bought.


                            Don't get me wrong, I think solidworks is the better product, I've tried a whole range of CAD products, It's just the expense, $14000 for the software and 1yr sub, and the package still doesn't include simulation or composer and the PDM is not useful unless you have a license.


                            We have setup on Grabcad and find it to be great - no license required - cloud based so anyone with access can view 3d files / pdfs whatever - on any device as long as they have internet access. With offerings like that out there I would have thought SW would be a bit more giving in it's PDM.


                            We are a small business and can't keep forking out thousands for every little thing.

                              • Re: Why is PDM so complicated ?
                                Michael Dekoning

                                So my understanding now is that you just don't like the price of SolidWorks, PDM, etc. I guess I can understand that. But Autodesk now only sells subscriptions to their products, not perpetual licenses. If you don't continue to rent their software, it will no longer be available for you to use. What will you do with your Inventor files if you stop paying the subscription?

                                  • Re: Why is PDM so complicated ?
                                    Michael Bardwell

                                    My main issues are the complexity of the PDM installation, needlessly at that - and the fact that after going through all that we find out that you need a license for each person to even view files, the cost thing was grating on us but we were almost ok with it until the PDM debacle. (I should mention that it took 6 months to get the key for PDM from the VAR with constant reminders that "you won't get any support if you do it yourself" - always pushing to pay them $`1800 to come and install it for us. (being a software engineer I have no need of their help, but it still didn't stop them from pushing and pushing until I lost my cool and demanded the key). Admittedly that isn't dassaults fault, but it does leave a bad taste.


                                    I know I'm basically just whinging, (thanks to mods for putting up with it) - I just hope solidworks becomes a bit less hungry for every dollar and opens up their products a bit - the general consensus in the workshops / businesses that I frequent is that once the current version of SW is out of date they are all moving to an alternative like inventor or OnShape (this one seems to be the favourite now but everyone is waiting for them to have sheet metal functionality).


                                    We would have been ok if PDM allowed users to connect to view / comment on files without having a license for each and every one. I might be missing something but I really cannot see anything that PDM does that grabcad workbench does not. (in fact it does a whole lot more) - we also have the plugin for SW so it syncs directly between local drives and the cloud system. If you haven't seen it check it out, it's well worth looking at rather than spending thousands on the ability to make a comment on a part. 

                                      • Re: Why is PDM so complicated ?
                                        Craig Schultz

                                        At my current place IT did the server side of it, and I did all the workflows and templates based of my experience at my last job.  No help on the initial set up.


                                        If they say they won't support you, find another VAR.  You can do that.  Some simple paperwork from Dassault and you can switch.

                                        • Re: Why is PDM so complicated ?
                                          S. Casale

                                          Who's your VAR?


                                          I did the install and updates myself and very closely in communication with our VAR (CADimensions - go look up their reputation), without extra cost.

                                          Some problems I encountered:

                                          • During migration: various file types were said to be un-supported or corrupt (EPDM didn't like .xml files). Post migration these files were added to the vault without issue...
                                          • (On install) Haven't been able to figure out why some users have access to the WORD/Inventor Add-in and some don't. (We have since dropped Inventor **our one license** as we refuse to update and have a far better program called SolidWorks).
                                          • I suggest anyone who is about to start EPDM, find out out about an EXTERNAL REFERENCE tool to grab all the folder structures before you pull your hair out. Had I have known in depth how difficult it would have been without a tool I received from my VAR, I probably would have said no to EPDM- really. BUT, there is a and are tools out there.
                                          • The only problem real we have had consistently was EPDM's (SPDM) communication with the ToolBox (and it has to be a bug - aside from my predecessor having messed up our toolbox DB prior to my knowledge in integrating with EPDM).


                                          I agree that there ought to be easier methods for setting it up, but the integrity of the data is great. I'm planning on rolling out 2017 from 2015 very shortly and anticipate very little trouble.


                                          If we talk about ADesk products and think that you won't be charged or expect ease of use, you're fooled. In order to not upgrade every year and receive service, you have to pay an additional fee. The only worthwhile program to come out of that group is REVIT.

                                                                    I'll put a thousand dollars behind SW to say: If SW were to offer a product similar it would be 10x more user friendly for similar if not better results...                (a challenge - perhaps a plea).

                                  • Re: Why is PDM so complicated ?
                                    Steve Ostrovsky

                                    Michael Bardwell - You mentioned "The thing that really annoyed us the most was that in order for anyone to view the files / pdfs / other documents we need a license for each user". I've been in the PDM business for almost 20 years and have worked with Autodesk, SolidWorks and other PDM tools. Absolutely none of them allowed any access to their vaults without some kind of license. The idea of a vault really does need to have some form of licensing and client access otherwise how do you control who has access to what, where and when. Of course you could argue that they should provide free viewer licenses. As a software engineer wouldn't you want to make money from anyone who wanted to use your product? We are all in business to make money after all.


                                    Now, this doesn't preclude you from viewing files that are in the SolidWorks PDM vault if you were to use it. Since you're a smart software engineer and don't need the help of a VAR I'm sure you could figure out how to access your files. It's just some simple database work really.

                                      • Re: Why is PDM so complicated ?
                                        Wayne Schafer

                                        Steve you trying to be sarcastic?  If not it comes off that way.

                                        • Re: Why is PDM so complicated ?
                                          Michael Bardwell

                                          "we want to make money" - so the $14000 dollars paid for software that becomes outdated in 1yr isn't enough ? ... The $2500 per annum on top of that isn't enough ? 


                                          If microsoft windows required you to buy a license for each user that logged into your computer would you see it as "needing to make money" or would you see it as ridiculous ?


                                          Steve Ostrovsky : Access control is easy, users have a login and password to access any files, I currently have this setup using the GrabCad site and resources, online browser based 3D model viewer, assemblies can be exploded, points can be pinned and commented on, dimensions checked on tablets in the workshop / PDFs viewed even dxf, No cost.


                                          I guess I could write my own front end but PDM is actually a lot more than "just a database",  Autodesk vault allows you to have as many web client users as you like (unlimited) at no extra cost, ... someone so obviously knowledgeable about PDM (a veritable master it seems) would know these things, I'm sure it was just a momentary lapse of memory though. . .


                                          We don't mind a license for each CAD contributor, but to have to purchase a license to simply view the files . . . that's something else.

                                    • Re: Why is PDM so complicated ?
                                      Manuel Morales

                                      HI EVERYBODY






                                      GOOD LOOK, HAVE A NICE DAY.