Workgroup PDM, SolidWorks longtime integrated data management tool, has not been the recipient of very many enhancements over the past 3 to 4 releases. In fact, many of the "enhancements" addressed limitations or issues that the tool had as new features were added to the SolidWorks core product. One of these limitations came with the support for Windows Vista.
One of the more powerful uses of the Workgroup PDM is when it is used with SolidWorks Utilities. This toolset includes a line of comparison tools like feature/geometry compare, document compare as well as DrawCompare. When these compare tools are used with WPDM you gain the ability to compare the same document but using different revisions of the file instead of differnt files all together.
In Windows XP, the left side of the open dialog displayed a Workgroup PDM vault icon along with the usual shortcuts to the desktop, my documents, pictures and other personal folder locations. This would let you browse inside the WPDM vault, navigate to a file and select various revisions to run the compairson on. Windows Vista changed all this and the ability to have this browse icon was eliminated. Since the relase of Windows Vista and even with Windows 7, the current flagship OS from Microsoft, this browser feature never returned, leaving all of us that utilized this tool in the dark.
Now typically a regression like this would require either a major relase or a hotfix, however this was not the case.....that is untill SolidWorks introduced 2012. If you use XP, nothing has changed but those of us using Windows 7 or Vista will see a new button in the open dialog when the Workgroup PDM add-in is enabled. This will then allow you to browse inside the active Workgroup PDM vault and select files and revisions to perform various actions on.
Although I would categorize this as a long time SPR that has now been addressed and not an "enhancement", it was a feature that was missed and I am glad to see it return! This functionality is also outlined in the SolidWorks help for XP and Vista/Windows7 methods. Among the other changes in 2012 WPDM:
- Rebuilding of vault metadata (improve startup times)
- Pack and Go improvements
- Progress bar
- Cancel button available after start or Save (Nice!)
- Improved support for non-ASCII chars in filename
Compare tools have always been a feature I use a lot with PDM systems and getting this functionality back in 2012 is fantastic and about time! ~Lou