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Renaming a complete assembly and keeping all references

Question asked by Andrew Wright on Aug 9, 2019
Latest reply on Aug 13, 2019 by Glenn Schroeder

UPDATE:  (Preface to the preface) - I have since found this functionality mentioned in a few places on the forum, but frankly the search had to be ~just right~ to get the information required, and in many cases the core function mentioned below was more 'referred to' than explained.


Preface - the task in question has been pursued using Solidworks 2018 SP04, with no PDM, EPDM, etc.  I understand that this process may be a breeze if a person has EPDM, but I also understand that many smaller companies and freelance designers do not – but could still greatly benefit from this functionality.


There have been many times over the years that I’ve wanted to simply rename a full Solidworks assembly, perhaps because of a project name/number change, or even just to update revision status (i.e. _Rev1 to _Rev2).  To this point, I was led to believe you could use ‘Pack and Go’ to add a prefix or suffix to an entire project (assemblies, subassemblies, piece parts and drawings), but not simply change it.  Many searches of the Forums, Solidworks Help, Google, Solidworks Explorer, and even calls to Tech Support did not produce a complete end result.  As is typical in this fast-paced industry, I never had spare time to pursue a good solution to this problem, and went about the standard of manually renaming the files then correcting the (now deleted) references.  Each time I begrudgingly followed through with that task, I grumbled – confident that Solidworks must have made that option available, although neither obvious nor simple.  Finally, I came across an assembly too big to knuckle under to the time-consuming, old-school method, and decided to make the time to search out an answer that I knew deep down existed.  I found it right there in Pack and Go.


The following series of screen shots is what I finally discovered after playing around for quite awhile and only after creating a full-blown Pack and Go backup of my project.


First – bring up the top level assembly of whatever project or part of a project you want to change.

Second – set up the Pack and Go to copy the files into a designated folder (I suggest creating a new folder)


Now follow the screen shots:


The first screen shot shows the (underutilized) “Select/Replace” option that I should have seen years ago.  Most of us should be familiar with this type of button from using the ‘ctrl-f ‘ (find/replace) while searching web pages, pdf catalogs, etc. when looking for specific text, part numbers, etc.  It’s also a commonly used function when editing your own Word.doc or html files.  Needless to say, it was indeed the life-saver here.


In the next window you’ll see that I’ve chosen to (Select/Replace) within the “Save To Name” column, which becomes obvious once you’ve beaten your head on your desk for awhile.


Next – change your text from old to new – which could truly be anything.


But first, here’s a little more insight to my strong desire (need?) for this function.  As you’ll see below, I’m simply changing the end revision notation on my pre-release documentation.  That’s because with each prototype build, I want to clearly establish the benchmarks and capture any and all changes, updates, improvements, etc.  A lot of us work in a very fast-paced “get to market first” environment, often using outside fabricators, welders, contract manufacturers, etc.  In my current situation, I have more than one outside resource fabricating and building the machine, therefore receiving change requests from each resource.  When I take things to the next revision, I want each of those vendors to have the exact same copy of the updated documentation, so there’s far less confusion about repeating the same mistake over and over.  Unfortunately, as many of you have probably experienced, informal redlines and even formal revision requests don’t always get the post-build follow-up they need, so when ABC Company asks for their full documentation package, or orders another machine built, repeated errors are inevitable.  I’ve hated that phenomenon for my entire 32+ years in this field.  Although we all know it’s never going to disappear completely, as a freelancer, I feel an obligation to do my best to steer client companies toward paying the extra hours – internally or externally, to assure that follow-up.


Okay, back to the subject at hand:


As you can now see, you want to select the “Save To Name” column, then choose the text to replace and the text to replace it.  Also note that I (always) check “Include Drawings” in the upper left, which is common for this sort of Pack and Go.  Another note – some people may prefer to “Replace” one file at a time, and there may be reasons for that on a per-project basis.  In this case, it’s the whole ballgame, so I’m going for the “Replace All”.  Last excellent benefit to remember is that only the parts that have the text you choose to change will change.  So, for example, depending on how you name/number your purchased components, you won’t have to go down the list and deselect certain parts that you don’t want to change, which could take a long time.


In the next screen shot, you’ll see that the function performed as desired, and all the parts are highlighted to ‘Save To’ the revision I typed in.  The ‘Select/Replace’ box remains, so if you want to make another update, you have that option.  That could come in handy if you’re renaming a project as well as revising it.  In my case, perhaps I would first change “BR-“ to “CP-“, as well as “_Rev1” to “_Rev2”.


Once you’re done with all the ‘Select/Replace’ you need to do, just click ‘Close’, then ‘Save’, and your (new) folder should populate with the new file names – a maintaining their appropriate assembly-to-part and part-to-drawing references.


Last note on this process:  I have tried this on a medium-sized, top-down assembly of over 250 individual files, and it worked perfectly - maintaining all references mentioned above.