13 Replies Latest reply on Sep 4, 2018 2:29 PM by Paul Wyndham

    Drawing Signoffs in PDF

    Devon Berman

      Our company recently incorporated electronic signatures on drawings, whereby a workflow pushes each drawing through a set of predetermined individuals, and they approve the drawing and their name gets typed in by EPDM. Then we get to the scary step, where someone opens the approved drawing, adds a visual stamp, then saves the drawing as a PDF.


      Issues seen so far include: Users' symbol library wasn't right so all the <MOD-DIAM>, etc show as plain text; Users' view settings were different so all the lines showed up as different weights & colors; Views move or are absent entirely. All of this is to say that the drawing that gets released might be different, in several ways, from the drawing the engineer submitted for approval.


      The safest fix I can think of is for the originating engineer to save the drawing as a PDF, and then submit that PDF for approvals. I've figured out how to create dynamic stamps, so that you can drag a stamp onto the PDF and then sign that stamp. But the stamp has to be manually placed, and resized, and still allows a lot of room for improvement. Ideally, signatures could still be added to the PDF, and preferably be digitally signed (I did this with my mortgage paperwork), and the signature fields would be in a sort of template format so that all the stamps or fields are properly sized and located over the drawing artwork.


      Anyone ever done that?? Thanks!

        • Re: Drawing Signoffs in PDF
          Mark Kaiser

          We don't have any PDM, but we do save sign our drawings digitally, with Bluebeam.  It (Bluebeam) integrates into SW, saves and creates signature blocks from SW drawing.  Engineers signing the drawing (pdf) open it with Bluebeam, review, sign, re-save.

            • Re: Drawing Signoffs in PDF
              Matt Peneguy

              Ditto.  The engineer opens PDF and adds their digital PE stamp with signature in Bluebeam.  If you want to automate it, get the Extreme version. It supports scripting and you can make a script that will apply the stamp at a certain location on all of the sheets in a drawing file (PDF).


              And if you have review stages for plan sets, Revu's Session capability is amazing.  Multiple people can be editing a pdf at the same time and everyone in the session can view each other's comments.

              • Re: Drawing Signoffs in PDF
                Devon Berman

                Thanks, that looks like a great program. Maybe a bit more than I was looking for, but I could see us growing into it. Doubtful I can push additional software cost though. We already have seats of Acrobat that I was hoping to leverage.

              • Re: Drawing Signoffs in PDF
                S. Casale

                The best thing an organization can do is have templates that all users have. This way consistency is kept between seats. User settings and System settings should be differentiated so that you don't have the issue you are having.


                I close out 99% of our SW files, and add the approvals by date. If I open the file and it differs from the one that was approved, then I know a user has screwed the pooch during the review process. Review will restart.


                The safest fix you can do as an organization is have one network location for all templates. User and systemS It's 150% worth using the vault for the templates because it can control users to get the latest templates on log-in without them having to do anything but log-in and let the cache refresh.

                  • Re: Drawing Signoffs in PDF
                    Devon Berman

                    All of our templates are stored in EPDM, but that doesn't fix the settings on individual computers. In theory all those settings would be the same on every machine, but with rolling updates and hardware refreshes something always seems to be non-conforming. I'll be pushing for use of the SW Copy Settings Wizard so that we can at least create a "master list" of system settings and hopefully use those to set up people's machines. But these are all band-aids to the real issue, which is there's no way to show that the engineer submitted drawing matches the approved drawing at the other end.

                  • Re: Drawing Signoffs in PDF
                    Victor Frauenfeld

                    Are the "predetermined individuals" approving the drawing through PDM? If they are, you could just set up the drawing to enter their initials automatically in SolidWorks and then once the SolidWorks drawing is approved, PDM generates the PDF and it already has the initials on it.


                    Now, if the "predetermined individuals" do not have access to PDM and they are signing the PDF itself, this is another story.

                      • Re: Drawing Signoffs in PDF
                        Devon Berman

                        We've floated this as an idea. No one at our company (myself included) has a good technical understanding of how EPDM creates PDFs. When I go into EPDM, I can right click a drawing, click Tasks, Convert, and try to convert to PDF, but the PDF never shows up. So this seemingly doesn't do anything.


                        How do I convert drawings to PDF without opening them in SolidWorks?

                      • Re: Drawing Signoffs in PDF
                        Paul Wyndham

                        We recently acquired a new business group. I helped setup their new SWPDM vault. One of the things they needed was to have a verified stamp put on a PDF but not show up on the drawing slddrw file itself. They needed this to make sure that the drawings sent to a vendor were processed through the workflow and not just created by a user.


                        The stamp is a little weird, but at the same time unique. It is placed in the lower left corner of the drawing with the word "VERIFIED" and 4 circles with half lines through them.


                        They already had a macro that could put the stamp on the drawing, I just had to figure out how to get it on the PDF that was released in the workflow.

                        I found that I could go to the "Advanced Scripting Options..." button on the "Output File Details" tab.


                        Editing the text of the script in the built in editor is a little tedious, but can be done. I like to copy the script out and open it in Notepad++ so I can see it better.


                        The first thing I did in the Sub Convert (docFileName) function is add a call to the stamp function. The Sub Convert starts on line 188 of the PDF converter. It could be different in your script depending on how you have the convert task configured.


                        I found that the script starts working on outputting the files after line 250 or "modelExtension = Mid(modelPath, InStrRev(modelPath, ".") + 1)" so I added my function call there.


                        I used a extremely basic if statement for it.

                        If CreateStamp Then

                            End If


                        I probably could have just called CreateStamp, but I wanted it to match the rest of the convert sub. Then, once I had it working I didn't want to mess with it.


                        I then added the stamp portion of the macro as a new function just before the Sub Main() at the bottom of the script.


                        The CreateStamp function gets sheet 1 then adds a note to it at the specified location using the swDrawing.CreateCompoundNote call. The note says VERIFIED of course. The function then creates some lines and some circles on the drawing using the swModel.CreateLine2 and swModel.CreateCircleByRadius2 calls.


                        This convert task is run by a workflow transition and is completed on the archive server. Sure it takes a couple minutes for the PDF to show up, but it is very cumbersome to have it created on the users machine that did the transition. The users have access to a different convert to PDF task that does not have the stamp in it.



                        The great thing is that the create stamp function does not actually modify and save the drawing so the stamp only shows up on the PDF.


                        We have other things in the workflow that modify variables that are tied to drawing properties to set notes on the drawings, as in the above screenshot sets a status variable to released. This task is done before the convert task so RELEASED shows up on the PDF but is also shown on the drawing itself. Since the status variable is tied to a file version the task must checkout/in the drawing to change that variable.


                        If you are interested in the text of the stamp function just let me know I could send you a copy or modified version of it.