Matching PDM Vault Users to the Right Client

By Tony Bucchino on

SOLIDWORKS PDM client types determine the level of access each person can have to the Vault. Do you have your Vault users set up with the right client type? Choosing the right license and number of licenses for your company’s needs can be a difficult and costly task. Each license has an official product name relative to the data management solution that your team has chosen. In this article, we will work backwards from generalities to the more formal ways to classify these clients. 

The biggest thing to understand is the level of access represented by each client type. It’s also important to know that each client license is “floating” and distributed by the SolidNetWork License Manager. From here, you can determine the best combination of licenses for your environment.

The Viewer

Engineering_Services_GuyThis license is for users who require read-only access to the vault. A typical Viewer client will spend their time on simple, but often critical missions to search, view, copy, and print. This user is prohibited from adding or editing files, so you may find that this is a solid match for departments outside of engineering or for manufacturing personnel on the shop floor. This license comes in a 5-pack and is commonly shared among several users throughout the workday.

The Contributor

Engineers-1A conventional Contributor will add and edit documents, primarily working with non-CAD files like PDFs or Microsoft Office files. This license may be a great fit for managers and cross-functional teammates who participate in the document approval process. We anticipate these users will have intermittent use of the vault and not require constant access.

The Editor

SOLIDWORKS Simulation 4Of the three client types, the top of the food chain is the Editor. This license is intended for the Engineering staff and includes an add-in for SOLIDWORKS alongside other CAD applications (shown below). The add-in allows check in/out operations, data card visibility, and the ability to get previous file versions from both the SOLIDWORKS task pane and the right click menu within the graphics area.

>> Read TriMech’s Complete Guide for SOLIDWORKS PDM Client Breakdown

This add-in also enables the user to see the active workflow state for a file and its references, launch a workflow transition, perform a Where Used query, and view the file history. These features are available while files are open and being modified, giving a productivity boost to the user (who can essentially manage their data while still designing). The expectation is that engineers and designers will stay logged into the vault all day every day to perform their job functions.

With this basic understanding of what differentiates one client type from another, you can now begin to categorize each vault user as Viewer, Contributor, or Editor, based on how they will interact with vaulted files. Be mindful that what each user can and cannot do in the vault is ultimately governed by the vault administrator.


Understand the Specifics of PDM Standard

The Editor client for PDM Standard is officially known as the “SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard CAD Editor”. It is bundled in with SOLIDWORKS Premium and SOLIDWORKS Professional licenses. It is not included with SOLIDWORKS Standard, and it is not sold separately. If your license pool consists solely or partially of SOLIDWORKS Standard licenses, then you have options for obtaining a PDM client license for those users:

  • An upgrade to SOLIDWORKS Professional or SOLIDWORKS Premium is a straightforward solution, with the added benefit of SOLIDWORKS CAD productivity tools like Toolbox and Simulation.
  • The purchase of a SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard Contributor seat would allow the SOLIDWORKS Standard user to access the vault via Windows Explorer. There is no SOLIDWORKS add-in for PDM with this license type.
  • The SOLIDWORKS Standard user may cannibalize the floating SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard CAD Editor licenses, if available. This will undoubtedly leave another CAD user without vault access. The productivity implications make this option a last, hopefully temporary, and certainly discouraged resort.

Know the Perks of PDM Professional

Web Access

The Editor license for PDM Professional is identified as the “SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional CAD Editor & Web” client. The Contributor client for PDM Professional has a similar name, indicating that these licenses may access the vault via the Internet.

SOLIDWORKS CAD Editor & WebIf your PDM Professional environment has Web2 installed and configured, then any of the client types can log in through the Internet – even the Viewer which does not have the “& Web” designator. Note that the web client is considered a “thin” client for lack of an installation requirement or an independent license. The user interface is different from the Windows Explorer “thick” client and therefore has some operational limitations.

Microsoft Office Add-In

The Editor and Contributor client installations for PDM Professional include a Microsoft Office integration option. This add-in allows check in/out operations, data card visibility, and the ability to get previous file versions from a toolbar within the Microsoft Office application.

Processor Site License (PSL)

Larger user environments may have dynamic needs for vault access. When it is tough to determine which users need a certain type of access and in what quantities, there is a license option that supports logging into the vault from any combination of client types. Bundles of 25, 50, 100, and 200 concurrent users are available, providing flexibility in your license pool to support extended and perhaps fluctuating needs among Editors, Contributors, and Viewers.

>> Choosing Between PDM Standard and Professional: 5 Things You Need to Know

It is worthwhile to assess your vault usage expectations and determine the right blend of PDM client licenses for your team environment. Getting this right will contribute to the bottom line of your software investment. You will spend money where it makes sense, while giving your engineering group the resources and the tools that they need. It will also make daily access to the vault seamless and efficient for the end user. 

SOLIDWORKS PDM client types determine the level of access each person can have to the Vault.  Stream the webinar to learn more!