Version and Revision – What’s the Difference?

By Patricia Bar on

When companies switch to PDM, there is often confusion regarding versions versus revisions. Are they the same? Do you need both? How do you increase them? Can I delete them? Can I change their style? Can there be multiple types of them? So, let’s take a minute to dive a little deeper into them.


Versions, in SOLIDWORKS PDM terms, represents the number of times a file has been checked into the vault. So, as a user works, they click the save button. This keeps the local version on their system only. Once the user decides they want to share the changes or create a point they can return to, they check the file into PDM. This will increase the number of the version automatically. The style of these versions are numbers that cannot be configured any other way.

SWX PDM Versions


Revisions, on the other hand, represent files that have been published. This is not just your daily work. Revisions are ways to capture when you release a file to production, purchasing, etc. They can be prototype releases or full-fledged releases to make a new product. In this instance, when a user checks in a file, they push the file to a new revision by either changing the state or choosing the set revision option in PDM. Also, revisions can be any style you want, alpha, numerical, alpha numerical, or your own company standard. Your choice. Oh yeah, and when you increment your revision, it also creates a new version to go with it.

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SWX PDM RevisionsSWX PDM Revisions -2

Perks of Using Versions and Revisions with Permissions

Can you just use versions? Sure, but your version numbers will get high, and it won’t be easy to know when you passed those crucial milestones in your system. There are other benefits to using versions and revisions. For one, you can choose to only share revisions with others in the company. It’s a permission that stops users from seeing “in work” files. The next thing I like about versions and revisions is that an admin can force users to type in comments at a version, state change, or both; it’s your choice.

Admin permissions

The last thing I will say about the benefits of using versions and revisions is cold storage. How do you safely move files off your working server? You can set up rules to only keep a certain number of files active at a time with cold storage. However, if you use revisions, you can tell the software to keep all revisions active and just move the middle steps from the active server. You can also delete them, but I would be cautious about doing that.

cold storage schema

Please do not confuse cold storage with rollback. The rollback function in SOLIDWORKS PDM is to permanently delete all versions (including revisions) between two versions.

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