33 Replies Latest reply on Feb 7, 2013 8:19 PM by Jerry Steiger

    ePDM - Workgroup PDM - what do I need?

    Rick McDonald

      I posted a question last week in the Workgroup PDM section but wanted to post here in the general blog section also to get more exposure to the question since I have had no replies yet.




      I need to know what version of PDM will work for me and if there is any documentation that I can look at.


      We are looking primarily for Check in/Check out control, Saving all checked in drawings so we can go back and look back or use old versions for product repairs (saving all revisions), maintaining the link between parts and drawings and assemblies in SW, and being able to add non SW documents.


      Our biggest concern is that we have different users that have different directory structures.  They will check in the drawings, parts and assemblies into a common directory, but the assemblies will also use shared parts from different projects (directories) from their computers.

      Then another user will check out one or more of these items into a different directory structure on a different computer.

      We have been using Inventor and are switching to SW.  Our experience with Inventor is that the files are linked to each other based on the directory they were in during the last build.  Then a different user checks them out and opens them and all the links are broken and have to be re-established.


      Does SW work this same way (links based on the computer directory structure).

      Do Workgroup or ePDM maintain a link independent of the directory structure?

      I have seen indications that as long as SW explorer is used, the files will maintain their links if the files are moved or renamed, and ePDM will also adjust the file paths if the file names are changed within ePDM.  Is this true?   and will Workgroup act the same way.



      I would appreciate any feedback I can get.

        • Re: ePDM - Workgroup PDM - what do I need?
          Gary Radish

          I also came from the Inventor world.  Unfortunately I have never used workgroup.  Have always used EPDM. Yes EPDM will maintain the links.  I have had it come up a few times with lost links but that is far and few in between and easily fixed with references.  EPDM will do a lot more then what your looking for esecially with workflows,  I like the additional search capabilities and the use of data cards.  It is a lot better then the old Inventor Vault.  But if that is what you are use too workgroup might be all you need. Don't have time to list all I like about EPDM in one posting.

            • Re: ePDM - Workgroup PDM - what do I need?
              Rick McDonald

              Thanks Gary,


              I appreciate the input.

              We did not use Inventors Vault - it just never seemed to to be the right fit for us and would have confused too many people.

              We have been using Source Safe but it is old and only for file management - not geared toward cad drawings.

              We are also using SW Standard so we have no PDM and are trying to decide how to best move forward. We are not current on our subscriptions so to upgrade to Pro (that includes workgroup) we will have to pay the subscription costs in addition to the upgrade costs.

              We will not have to do this with ePDM but then we are still using standard and only getting PDM, but it is about 30% less overall cost then the upgrade route.  If we want to upgrade later then we have the full upgrade cost on top of the PDM.

              We are also small and the extra ePDM features would not be used (unfortunately) for a long time and the workgroup features appear to be enough for now and we would get much more use of the Pro. features.  - Decisions, decisions, decisions...

              I also am having a really hard time getting an literature, manuals, etc. that describe the features and differences with Workgroup.

              This seems to be one of those things where SW is pushing ePDM and not devoting much effort to Workgroup.  I just wish they would provide a downloadable manual of some type or better comparison data sheets.

            • Re: ePDM - Workgroup PDM - what do I need?
              Peter Farnham

              Pdmwork group seems to fit all of your requests. I would recomend you place the Pdmworks vault service on a server.


              Once you check an assembly in, all of the links to parts, assemblies and drawings stay, even when you check out the assembly to another computer.

              Though the assembly will not keep the nested folder (directory) structure that you may have used.


              Foe example, if you had parts or assemblies in different folders, (directories), this would not check out using this file structure, but instead check out to one folder. This is not a bad thing in practice.


              You can setup design library folders for parts or assemblies that you do not need revision control and this will show up as blue in the vault. You will also get Toolbox if you upgrade to Office professional for standard,(iso or din for example) nuts, bolts and washer ect..

              You can even make your own Toolbox Libraries.


              I can see that there is no data sheet relating to Pdmworks, strange indeed.

              • Re: ePDM - Workgroup PDM - what do I need?
                Todd Fehr

                I was told from our Solidworks reseller (Hawkridge) that PDM workgroup was being discontinued.  They said ePDM would be the only platform supported so if you need the PDM features then don't waste your time going to workgroup. Can anyone confirm this?

                • Re: ePDM - Workgroup PDM - what do I need?
                  Tom Strohscher

                  We use Workgroup PDM.  It's a good product for what it does.


                  We have 25-35 engineers using our vault.  There are also 6 or so NC programmers that pull files from the vault.

                  We've been using Workgroup for almost 8 years now.


                  Our mode of opertation is.

                  Reserve a drawing number from our other document system.

                  Create the part and drawing.

                  Create a Tif and upload to other document system.

                  Checkin the SW files into the vault.


                  If a revision is needed.

                  Checkout the model and drawing files from Workgroup PMD with ownership.

                  Make changes, make tif and check the SW files back into vault without versioning.

                  (It's left up to the engineer if a version in PDM is needed or not.  Most do not create them.  The main reasons we don't is that there is nothing to keep drawing revision in sync with model revisions.  Also we've been using CAD software of 28 years and only a hand full of times we wish we had the old files.  Most decided it's not worth the effort or confusion in PDM because we also have the TIF in our other document system which seems plenty for us.)

                  We then check the tif into our other system with revision info.

                  Everyone including engineers use our other system for drawing information.  The tif file is the master.  There are a few hundread users including vendors looking at our tif file database.


                  Workgroup PDM is great at keeping track or links.

                  If you take ownership of a file in the vault, rename it in the vault, all the links are updated.


                  The rule should be everythink goes in the vault.

                  The second rule is to release ownership when you are finished with the file.

                  Users should not have their own stash of files somewhere.

                  Filenames must be unique to be in the vault.

                  If you start a new file and you name it "part1".  It will go read only right away if there is a "part1" already in the vault and if you do not own it.


                  No one works on a file in the vault.  All files are checked out to a working folder.  You can only change the ones you have ownership of.

                  SW will look for links to parts in your current folder.  If it can't find them it then searches for them in a search path you configure in Tool/Options.  If it still can't find the file it will search for the original path which could be someone elses computer.  It will also ask you want to find the file yourself.

                  If you ignore the missing file errors SW will temperally supress the part.  You can check it the vault and the next time it will look for the file again.  Basicly if all the parts are in the vault in an area you have permissions to SW will find them and check them out with the assembly or drawings.  Broken links only exist if someone deletes the file from the vault. (toolbox is an exception.)


                  There is a "where used" feature in the vault to let you know where a file is used before make changes and destroy something.


                  You can drag part files from the vault into an assembly.  But you can not drag an assembly file. (What happens is the sub assembly file get checked out and put your assembly but the part of the sub assembly do not.)  The simple solution is to checkout the sub assembly to your working folder then add the file to your larger assembly.


                  There is a nice feature that helps you clean up your working folders.  It gives you a blue icon if the file is not in the vault.  A red icon if it's older them the vault file.  A green icon if it's newer then the vault.  And a yellowish icon if the file has the same name but the files did not originnate from each other.  (It can't figure it out.)


                  All working folders should be on a local drive.  Users should not share working folders on the network.

                  If you work in a team envirement everyone can get a copy of the file from the vault.  Only one can own it and make changes to it.

                  Everyone else can update their copy if they need to.


                  I get ticked off when I find users owning hundreads or thousands or parts.  The is no good reason.  If you check it in and release ownership it only protechs you from making a dumb mistake.  I regularly send out a report to humiliate the people not following our rules.


                  Workgroup is not a database and does not have workflow like EPDM.  There are no revision request processes.


                  There are no parts lists which I think enterprise can do.


                  Side note.

                  Don't use or grow a "Design Library" shared by everyone.  Instead create folders in the PDM vault for these files.

                  SW Design Library does nothing to protect a file like PDM.

                  A simple pipe fitting can be used in thousands of assemblies.  It becomes too important to not protect.  It may be simple but if it gets screwed up every assembly may have to be fixed.  In my opinion it's more important then a complex part that is only used in 1 assembly.


                  We have a few none SW files in our vault.  Our electrical team was looking at using it for AutoCAD but have not set a direction yet.  I don't know if it does anything with ACAD linked files.


                  I like Workgroup PDM and would suggest it even it you are a team of 1.  It's good protection making sure you only edit the part you took ownsership of.  Without it you may be changing a file in some folder you were not expecting.


                  I didn't understand your cost problem.  Are you saying it's cheaper for you to get licenses of enterprise vs upgrading SW which include Workgroup PDM.  What happen when you upgrade or pay maint later.  You will have to upgrade and pay maint on both enterprise and workgroup.


                  I seem to ramble and I hope I hit your question somewhere.

                  Let me know if I can help more.

                    • Re: ePDM - Workgroup PDM - what do I need?
                      Peter Farnham

                      Some great advice Tom!

                      • Re: ePDM - Workgroup PDM - what do I need?
                        Rick McDonald

                        Thanks Tom,

                        That was some great information and great advice.

                        I come from a background were every part used has a part number and every part number is in it's place.

                        This follows your example of parts should be in a vault, controlled and require approval for changes, not in a general use directory where they can get altered, deleted or tweaked without full acceptance of every part it is used in.


                        I have been fighting here for years to get people to put a part number on every item.


                        The cost issue we are facing is that because we are not current on our subscriptions we have to pay for that in addition to the cost of the upgrade. 

                        We can get a Workgroup stand alone for about $8K but we also have to become current on our subscriptions (about $9K) which will give us the 2013 version, but our total is about $18K and we would still be using standard -  Not a good option!


                        We can upgrade to Pro 2013 for $12K but we also have to become current on our subscriptions (about $9K),  which will give us Workgroup (along with a lot of other nice things). So our total will be around $21K. Much better than the stand alone since we get Pro.


                        Then we could go with ePDM only.  This does not require the subscription for the SW seats so we save $9K but the cost of ePDM is around $14K and all we get is ePDM - Still on Standard 2012 and no subscriptions, and we won't need the extra items (though they would be nice) for several years.  So for $14K all we get it the file management - $7K more and we get Pro 2013 and current subscriptions with all their benefits.

                        So the least costly is ePDM but the most effective for us is the upgrade and use the Workgroup PDM that comes with it.

                        Its hard to get cost justification for file management but much easier to get it for performance improvement that will give better payback and give us more tools and portal access.


                        I hope this makes sense!

                        and as you can see, I ramble on too.

                          • Re: ePDM - Workgroup PDM - what do I need?
                            Gary Radish

                            I would recommend EPDM. For the price it has a lot to offer.  I don't know if FeatureWorks, Photoview 360, Toolbox, Workgroup PDM are worth the price compared to what EPDM can do.  You currently don't use them so are they that important that you have to have them?  I would wait till solidworks has some upgrade deal anyway and you probably would be able to go all the way to premium for the same price! Instead of just Professional.  That is if those add-ins are that critical to your business.  And does everyone need those add-ins probably not.

                            • Re: ePDM - Workgroup PDM - what do I need?
                              Gary Radish

                              Also the ability of Non-CAD users to have viewing capabilities might be something your company is interested in.  EPDM controls a lot of different file types so you can control all your engineering documents.

                                • Re: ePDM - Workgroup PDM - what do I need?
                                  Rick McDonald

                                  Thanks Gary,

                                  You make good points and I have a lot to digest.


                                  I do like your suggestion of waiting for a deal.

                                  Do you know if SW have typical times they run specials?

                                  I know end of year there are specials (last Dec. was purchase a new seat and get a free upgrade).


                                  Our driving factor is PDM since our current system is difficult to use (files don't stay linked between users and not designed for cad files) The second in line is toolbox and then FeatureWorks.  We are not rendering (currently) so Photoview is not a current issue. Feature works is questionable.  We were (and still are to some degree) using Inventor.  However, we found that if we have a current Inventor license on our computer and drag an Inventor part or Assy. into SW, it will act like a scaled down version of Feature works and bring in the inventor files including the features (not just as a dumb solid).  There are some items that it has problems creating the correct features that Feature Works would (Probably) be able to handle but we can get around that without too much trouble.


                                  Because we are not current on our subscriptions ePDM is actually the lowest cost of the options as far as initial outlay.

                                  It does all our PDM needs and then some.

                                  But then all of us still are using 2012 Standard.


                                  If we want to upgrade any of our seats (to pro or premium) we will need to renew our subscriptions to all of the seats to have the version consistent (since the drawings, parts, assys are not backward compatible) - but then we get newer versions for all our seats.


                                  If we use Workgroup, we have to upgrade All our seats to use it, but ePDM does not require this.


                                  If we want to use ePDM and upgrade only a few seats we still have to renew the subscriptions of all seats and then the total cost (to even upgrade only 1 seat) becomes higher than any of the other options.  So this is not cost effective.


                                  We could get the stand alone but the cost is so close to the full upgrade of all seats it really doesn't make sense to stay with standard and use the standalone.


                                  My management will look at price, necessity and productivity increase (for payback of the price).

                                  I look at efficiency overall, production speed, versatility and accuracy of the final product.


                                  Unless something else jumps into the mix, it looks like ePDM only, or Upgrade all to Pro and use PDMW.

                                  Or we may just have live with what we have for now and do workarounds (but this wastes many hour and is stressful).

                                    • Re: ePDM - Workgroup PDM - what do I need?
                                      Gary Radish

                                      I personally hate the toolbox nothing worse then adding a ton of information into one file and insert it a thousand times.  Brings my systems to a stand still I hate that little circle thing waiting and waiting.  Best time is right before SolidWorks end if fiscal year I think it is end of September.  They always want to add those last minute sales.  Remember Rick everything is negotiable.  I have negotiated great deals.

                                  • Re: ePDM - Workgroup PDM - what do I need?
                                    Stephen Reed

                                    Rick, That price for EPDM is much lower than we paid. Are you including set up and user training.  My advice is don't try to install EPDM yourself unless you're very experienced with PDM type software or have someone on staff that is. I would also recommend user training from your VAR.  All this costs extra of course but can save you untold headaches. I'm speaking from our recent experience in migrating from Work Group PDM to EPDM.


                                    Work Group PDM worked just fine for us for along time but it seemed after we reached a certain point on vault size and/or number of users, we started having stability problems. I've heard vault the recommended maximum vault size is 100 gig for Work Group PDM but ours is currently well over 300 gig and still functioning. Work Group & EPDM are very different systems; EPDM is a true database, while Work Group is not. I'm not sure exactly how Work Group functions but seems to make use of a lot of metadata.


                                    Also, another consideration is that EPDM must match the SolidWorks version you are using and is currently only available for SW2010 and newer. You may have stated which version you are using somewhere but I missed it.


                                    Anyway, that's our recent experience in migrating to EPDM. Our VAR was very good in helping us get set up and going; however, as I said, that costs extra.




                                      • Re: ePDM - Workgroup PDM - what do I need?
                                        Rick McDonald


                                        Thank you for the advise,

                                        I have also heard about the need to training and setup assistance for ePDM from others.


                                        The Price I indicated is Software only - does not include the setup and training costs for any of the options.

                                        I have been asking so many questions to my VAR that I think I am overwhelming them with questions and options.


                                        I have actually gotten the best overall advise and understanding of the options, good points and bad points from the SW forums and other forums and blogs.


                                        The biggest problem I have found it that SW (and therefor the VAR's) have lots of information out there on ePDM and very little on PDMW so it is very difficult for my VAR to give me all the answers to my questions.


                                        The Forum users have been great in this respect compared to the VAR. 

                                        This is no fault of the VAR but they just have not had the level of exposure to PDMW as compared to ePDM - Probably partly due to it being a simpler system, not an add on and they probably don't get involved much in the full setup of it.


                                        I am looking at all possibilities and know that many hours of training, assistance and our own setup will need to be added.

                                        Up to now I have been focusing on the BEST bang for the buck - not necessarily the biggest.

                                        When I can determine the best to worst options I can focus more on the final cost and requirements for those.

                                          • Re: ePDM - Workgroup PDM - what do I need?
                                            Peter Farnham

                                            Hi Rick,


                                            There has been a hell of a lot of good advice posted here, but one glaring thing has been missed or I have missed it myself and that is time.


                                            I class myself as a designer and not a paper chasing bunny or a full time document manager.


                                            I wanted something easy as check- in, check-out revision control.

                                            I can even add notes at check-in time in required.

                                            I can check-in automatically at the next revision without having to make a conscious decision on what it should be.

                                            If I really needed to check-in at the same revision, I just had to log in as admin and do so.

                                            All this is recorded and can not be changed even by the admin, even a revision delete is recorded!


                                            The whole assembly together with the drawing are internally linked and so no chance of losing documents.

                                            You can attach external files like Pdf, Jpeg and dfx to name just a few.


                                            Pdmworks- works, no data cards to fill in ect.., more time for design work.


                                            No steep learning curve, If you have a good Var like mine, when you buy it , tell them what you want and they will set it up for you in minutes. Not all require you to take out a subscription to set it up, only to give support after setup..


                                            So it really comes down to what you want to be, a designer with a bit of document control or a full time document management bunny?


                                            What would be nice to see is a comparision to the time spent on each Pdmworks or Epdm and reasons to why would you need the higher version.


                                            You can buy licences for non Solidworks users to view and print documents in the vault also. The last price I saw was £2500 for 5 licences but it may have changed.



                                              • Re: ePDM - Workgroup PDM - what do I need?
                                                Rick McDonald



                                                I fully agree with your points and my needs are the same as yours.


                                                I said in an earlier post (or possibly a different post that is linked here) that we don't need all the bells and whistles - we need the basic functions.

                                                Some of the bells and whistles might be nice but will not be used (at least for a long time) so why pay for them.


                                                Another downside of ePDM that has been noted a few times is that the version of ePDM will only work with SW versions that are close (ePDM 2013 will not support earlier than SW2010).  That means that if we later upgrade 1 product we have to upgrade the other also (within a few years - version wise). This is a big negative for me as my company is usually of the mind-set of "if it still works you don't need an upgrade".  Having a linked product that becomes un-comparable is a bad reason to have to upgrade - Features, productivity and efficiency should be driving factors.


                                                If we get SW Pro, Workgroup is part of it, so no support issues.  It costs more for us to upgrade all our current standard versions but we also get added features with that slightly higher cost.

                                                ePDM is lower software cost, but as has been noted in Steve's post (and others), training and installation help is a must - so that is added cost.


                                                I have most of what I need to make my formal presentation and recommendations to my management but I just wish I could get a better Side by Side comparison of the two products PDMW and ePDM.

                                                SW does this for SW version products, it would be nice if they did it for these.


                                                I have heard that some people have had difficulties using PDMW as a Vault for non Cad documents (that are not linked to drawings or assemblies).  Do you have any experience in that regard?


                                                The bulk of our non cad documents are not stored in our current vault type system but there are some documents that are.

                                                  • Re: ePDM - Workgroup PDM - what do I need?
                                                    Gary Radish

                                                    Rick, IMHO I would ask my VAR to present the basics of both systems.  Our VAR came in during our initial and presented the in's and outs of all SolidWorks versions and EPDM.  Someone is going to make some money off your purchase make them earn it either way you go.

                                                      • Re: ePDM - Workgroup PDM - what do I need?
                                                        Rick McDonald

                                                        We have been working with them.  They are looking for some better documentation and we will have a more detailed presentation from them in a few weeks when they will be at our site for some training.

                                                        However, in our discussions with them I didn't feel they were really up on the PDMW side of PDM..


                                                        I always like to get the comments from the real people who use it rather than the sales people.

                                                        The point of view is a bit different and the bloggers are better on the details I want now.

                                                      • Re: ePDM - Workgroup PDM - what do I need?
                                                        Peter Farnham

                                                        We have had no problems with adding non Solidworks documents to the Pdmworks vault. If you give me a few file extention name examples that are causing other people problems, I will test them on my test vault to see if there is a problem.


                                                        I will test a few that I know as will be good for reference.

                                                          • Re: ePDM - Workgroup PDM - what do I need?
                                                            Rick McDonald

                                                            I don't have any specific file types that have had problems.  It was just some comments in assorted bloggs where people said they had problems.

                                                            I think it is more related to directory structures or file location structures then the actual file types.


                                                            On my end it would be standard type files like .doc, .xls, .ppt, .pdf, .txt, .jpg


                                                            Even most of these could be kept in our existing system as it works fine for those (just as a secure file saving location that automatically retains the old versions of the files).


                                                            We currently have our system setup in an explorer type directory tree format with a main folder called Products, then sub folders for Project specific names or types and under those we have sub folders for .dwg drawings, Inventor drawings, BOM's, supporting documents (The supporting documents are rare and are pdf, word, excel, text or pictures).

                                                          • Re: ePDM - Workgroup PDM - what do I need?
                                                            Jerry Steiger



                                                            I think one reason that you don't see much information on Workgroup PDM is that neither SW nor the VAR make much money off of the program, so there isn't much incentive to push it.


                                                            When we decided to switch to WPDM the total training costs were half a day for each user and an extra half a day for the part-time administrator. It would not be that difficult to send just the administrator to training and let him train the users. There was no need for the VAR to do anything on the installation. Just be sure that you work out how you want to organize the system and try it out on a small project first, as changing your mind later can cause a fair amount of pain.


                                                            Jerry S.

                                                  • Re: ePDM - Workgroup PDM - what do I need?
                                                    Christian Chu


                                                    From what my understanding from your mesg: you only keep the current revision on vault and archive all your old rev. in .tif?  if you check out a part from vault, how do you know  its rev. unless you look in your other system ?


                                                    and you said SW will look for links o parts in your current folder. if it can't find them it then searches for them in a search path in tool/opiotns - what happens if sw can find parts in your working folder (local) and these parts are not the same as  the parts in vault - if this is the case, then workgroup PDM is useless