Understand SOLIDWORKS PDM Data Cards

Tech Help / May 24, 2024


When utilizing SOLIDWORKS PDM, data cards manage variables and can provide additional functionality for populating properties in SOLIDWORKS files. However, the PDM data cards can be confusing, and a few scenarios may result in data card issues if you don’t follow proper protocols.     

Regarding data cards, SOLIDWORKS Parts and Assembly files (.SLDPRT and .SLDASM) differ from SOLIDWORKS Drawing files (.SLDDRW).

Default Tab and the @ Tab

Parts and assemblies can have multiple configurations. All SOLIDWORKS files will always have at least one configuration, and the default configuration is named Default.

You will also notice a configuration in the part/assembly data card named @. The @ tab will show values from the Custom Properties tab named Custom. These apply to the file as a whole, while you can populate other tabs with configuration-specific values.




SOLIDWORKS Drawing File Data Card

You can share data cards between Drawings, Parts, and Assemblies; however, the configurations will appear differently. Many users prefer to separate the SLDDRW data card and remove unnecessary variables that may not apply to a drawing file.

Since SOLIDWORKS Drawings have sheets and do not have configurations, you will not see a Default Configuration.

The @ tab still applies to properties applied to the whole file, but you will only see sheet tabs after the @ tab.



How Are Data Card Values Updated?

You can update the fields in the data card in several ways.

The preferred method is entering data directly into a data card. When using PDM, we recommend entering property values into the fields on the data card. If needed, add additional fields to the data card. If you map a variable correctly, the entered value will populate the properties within the file, which will show on a drawing in the title block.

Method 1: Enter data in the custom properties of a SOLIDWORKS file. This method only works when you map the properties to the data card.

o   When entering data using this method, the value entered only applies to that specific configuration tab. If you enter data in a single configuration tab but intend it to apply to all configurations, then this method would not work.

o   The data card can be set to use configuration-specific values or to apply a value entered in a field to all configurations.

o   If a file is read-only (checked in), then the custom properties window/fields in a file will still appear editable. You may spend a significant amount of time entering data into those fields; then, you will have to check the file out in the PDM Vault to save that version which erases those fields. The fields will then revert to the latest version checked in in the PDM Vault. This is a common problem and is another reason we recommend only editing fields directly on the data card.

Method 2: Data card values can also be set automatically in the PDM workflow. The image below shows this method in action.

o   During the process of a PDM Workflow Transition, we can create an action that sets a value on the data card, therefore writing the custom property in the CAD file properties as well.

o   In the example below, this action will set the ApprovedBy value in the @ tab to the user’s initials as set up in the PDM vault.



Method 3:  Mapping data card variables to Custom Properties.

o   To map data card variables to the custom properties within a SOLIDWORKS CAD file, navigate to the Variables section in the PDM Administration tool.

If one does not already exist, add a New Attribute, then select CustomProperty as the Block name. This signifies that this variable will be mapped, connecting the data card Value to the Custom Property value. Enter the Variable name again as the Attribute name, ensuring they match. Then, select the file types to which the mapping will apply.

If you do not have access or permissions to the PDM Administration app, contact your PDM Administrator. (Note: modifying the PDM Vault setup in the PDM Admin tool is intended only for PDM Administrators.) 

Configuration Setup for Variables on a Data Card

You can set data card variables to configuration-specific or apply the input value to all configurations.



You can also set the Default Value for a specific variable. Reviewing this setting when used is essential because it could overwrite values for new files.

If you check the default value checkbox, the system will use the default value when creating a new file from scratch or using Save As. This protocol can set values for specific variables and overwrite existing values. For example, you can use this procedure to copy a file, and the values in the properties will reset for the new file.

Data cards can be powerful tools when set up properly and utilized as intended. Be sure to consult with a PDM Administrator when using data cards to ensure they are working for you properly.

To learn more about repairing SOLIDWORKS PDM or get additional help with the repair process, contact support@converge.design.