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Using Your SOLIDWORKS PDM Licence Offline

Friday March 27, 2020 at 10:00am

To help you maintain your productivity, we have put this blog together with step-by-step guidance on how to use your SOLIDWORKS PDM Licence offline.

To use your SOLIDWORKS PDM Licence offline you will need to connect your workstation to your SOLIDWORKS PDM Vault remotely. To do this visit our recent blog ‘Working from home with your PDM Licence’. Once you have successfully linked the two programs together you will have options on how to interact with your vault.

Performance of SOLIDWORKS PDM over a VPN will be different than you are used to when working in your normal workplace. It may take longer to get files, check them in and out, get responses from the PDM server(s) when browsing around your vault and within your PDM task pane within SOLIDWORKS.

One option to consider is the ‘Work Offline’ function available to users of SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional and SOLIDWORKS PDM Standard.

Offline mode breaks the link to your PDM server(s) and allows you to work with files in your local cache. Therefore, before taking your PDM connection offline, your local cache should contain the files you will need to work with.

Before initiating the ‘Work Offline’ option, use the ‘Check Out’ function to bring the files you will need to edit over to your local cache and use the ‘Get’ function to move those files that you will need to reference (but not edit). It is also worth ensuring that common, standard or template files stored in your vault are also in your local cache (e.g. a SOLIDWORKS Toolbox, Design Libraries, SOLIDWORKS Part, Assembly, Drawing Templates etc.). Vaults set up by Solid Solutions are typically arranged so that ‘Admin’ and ‘Library Parts’ folders are automatically selected.

Once the ‘Work Offline’ process has been initiated via the menu, you will see the following graphic;

Once complete, the first thing you will notice is that the folders in your ‘Vault View’ will change colour from green to blue, this is the immediate visual indicator that you are working in offline mode.

You will also see that the files in your local cache will be labelled ‘Writeable’ (Yes / No), indicating whether a file has been checked out or not.

In the example above, both files are ‘not writable’ indicating they are not checked out to the current user. If you need to check out or get any files that you don’t have in your local files, you will need to either reconnect to your PDM server via the ‘Tools’ ‘Work Online’ menu.

Alternatively use the ‘Actions’ or ‘On-Line’ commands as shown below.

If we execute the ‘Actions’, ‘Online’ and ‘Check Out’ operation, you will need to log onto the vault, from this you will be prompted to ‘Get’ or ‘Check Out’ files as usual.

In this case, we are unable to ‘Check Out’ one of the files as another user has already checked it out but we are still able to get files and remain working Offline.

Don’t forget to ‘Check-In’ any files you have edited by using Tools >Work On-Line > Actions> Check-In or Actions> Online> Check-In. Otherwise, your edited files only exist in your local cache.


The above method for checking in works for files that were already in the vault, which have been edited in offline mode. The method to ‘Check-In’ files newly created in offline mode is slightly different, for example, where the vault is not yet aware of the existence of these newly created files.

When first saving a new file in the ‘Offline Vault View’ SOLIDWORKS can present an error message.

This means that the file has been saved in the local ‘Vault View’ only. The process to ‘Check in’ is outlined below:

Firstly, use ‘Tools’ then ‘Work Online’ to reconnect to the vault. Next, locate the newly created files. In the example below, 00085.SLDPRT was created offline – once back online the file shows in the ‘Vault View’ as a 'Local File'.

This ’local file’ needs to be added to the vault, by using the right mouse button on the highlighted file then selecting ‘Add to File Vault’.


Another option, depending on how your vault is configured, could be that you may face a situation where the file you saved in your ‘Vault View’ whilst offline seems to have disappeared as soon as you go back online. In the example below, 00089.SLDPRT is a new file that has been created whilst offline, the vault has no awareness of this file.

Once ‘Tools’ and ‘Work On-Line’ have been selected, 00089.SLDPRT seems to have vanished. This is because the ‘Explorer’ settings of your vault user ID or vault group membership have the following option selected:

To work around this, in the ‘Vault View’ right click on a blank part of the explorer window to find the command ‘Search Local Files’.

Then use the ‘Add’ button to add the missing file(s) to the vault.

Once added to the vault the newly added file can be checked in.

Whilst working offline with SOLIDWORKS PDM, certain other functions that require a live database connection are not available to the user, including:

  • Searching
  • Interrogating file history
  • Contains
  • Where Used
  • BOM
  • Change State
  • Set Revision
  • Copy Tree
  • Move Tree (PDM Professional)
  • Branch/Merge (PDM Professional)
  • Automatic File Numbering (PDM Professional)
  • File/Folder Templates (PDM Professional)

Working offline with SOLIDWORKS PDM, in conjunction with Branch/Merge

From SOLIDWORKS PDM 2018, ‘Branch/Merge’ functionality was introduced to SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional. This works in a similarly to the ‘Copy Tree’ feature as the user can make copies of whole or partial file structures, including or excluding files as required. However, the key difference is that a branched file recognises its link to the source file and its history, even if the source file is subsequently moved or renamed.

Multiple design branches of the same source file(s) can be created, colleagues can work concurrently on different design branches. A branched file can then be edited independently of its source file and merged back into the main design branch when the design iteration is complete. To complete the merge operation, you must have read file permission and check out file permission for the source file.

A short demonstration can be found here.

Consider branching files before to taking the connection to your SOLIDWORKS PDM vault offline Take your connection to your SOLIDWORKS PDM Vault back online before merging the branched files back into the main design branch.

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