There has been a lot of chatter in the SolidWorks community recently into what the future holds for Workgroup PDM. Since I don’t work for SolidWorks, I don’t know exactly what the answer to that question is but I thought I would share some pretty valuable insights to help users come to an educated conclusion.
I want to start this blog entry off by saying that SolidWorks has NOT announced an end of life date yet for Workgroup PDM, nor has it been confirmed to anyone here at Hawk Ridge that Workgroup PDM is being discontinued in the near future. SolidWorks is very good about treating their customer base with respect, and I know they would never pull a product from their portfolio without ample notification to the user community – so for the time being you can rest assured that Workgroup will live on.
That being said, there are a few things you should keep in mind when thinking about the future of Workgroup PDM:
- Workgroup PDM was originally written many years ago (circa 96), and it was written on a very old and limited architecture compared with today’s standards. The limited architecture really dampens the potential for enhancement with the tool, which is why you see very little mentioned about Workgroup PDM from release to release. When the largest enhancement in the last few years is a minimize button on the Admin tool, you can get a feeling for just how much development effort goes into it. This is also why the Workgroup PDM server application does not run as a 64-bit program.
- A large number of Workgroup PDM users experience performance issue with the tool based on the outdated architecture. The way the server program accesses file information is not meant to handle large loads of data, especially because it can’t run as a 64-bit program. Changing this fundamental process and updating the architecture to support it would be a monstrous job and relatively inefficient given that SolidWorks has a tool with the proper architecture already (Enterprise PDM). Don’t expect to see any performance improvements in Workgroup PDM anytime soon.
- The most interesting observation is that SolidWorks has started a Registration/Validation process for Workgroup PDM server installs. It used to be you could just install the Workgroup PDM server and be on your way and SolidWorks had no idea who was using the tool. With the new validation code requirement during installation (if you have tried to install Workgroup PDM server 2012 or 2013, you’ve seen this requirement), SolidWorks is tracking just how many people are actually using the software. I’ll leave it up to your imagination as to why they would want to know that.
Again, I want to reinforce the SolidWorks has not officially announced an end of life date for Workgroup PDM yet so Workgroup PDM users can rest easy for now however the information above should speak volumes as to what the future will hold.
If you’re interested in seeing side by side performance differences between Workgroup PDM and Enterprise PDM, you won’t want to miss this webinar on April 26, 2013 – register now.
You might also want to check out the Learning Paths for Enterprise PDM.