Backwards compatibility discussion with SW Dev Team

One thing that seems to come up constantly is the desire to have some sort of backwards compatibility between releases of SolidWorks.  It is mentioned on the various SolidWorks forum message boards at least once month (and sometimes almost daily).  Why does SolidWorks not provide for backwards compatibility.  Well, the cynic will tell you that it is intentional, as part of the overall SolidWorks Corp business model.  Others will say that it is due to new features and tools being added to each release which will not be supported by previous releases.

Right now, I cannot speak to reasons relating to business model.  I can say that the SolidWorks development team, some of which attended the T-VSWUG Sept 10th meeting, seem genuinely interested in users’ desires and ideas regarding backwards compatibility. 

One suggestion at the meeting was to provide a way to simply save models for older releases.  The problem here is that once an unsupported feature is reached in the FeatureManager, it and all subsequent features would have to be dumb anyway.   On the other hand, the advantage is that as least some of the information in the model would useful.

Another suggest that had been on my mind was actually proposed by the SW development team; open, edit and create files native to their release level within a single session of SolidWorks.  Features and functions not supported by the release level of a particular model would either be grayed out or (when selected) display an error message stating that it is not compatible with the release level of the active document.

You know what?  I like this approach best.  I can image there are some technical issues which will need to be over come.  For example, how will SolidWorks handle assemblies with mixed release levels?  Regardless, it seems the SW development team is on top of this issue.  Hopefully, a working solution to this issue will be available sometime soon (2 years?).

Author: fcsuper

As a drafter, mechanical designer and CAD engineer, I've been in the mechanical design field since 1991. For the first 8 years of my career, I was an AutoCAD professional. I utilized AutoLISP and many other AutoCAD customization features to streamline drafting activities for 6+ drafters and designers. I authored several custom functions, one of which was published in the March 1997 issue of Cadalyst Magazine. Since 1998, I've been used SolidWorks non-stop. I've worked to utilize the SolidWorks' user environment to simplify drafting and design activities for 20+ engineers. I've created this website to provide current information about SolidWorks from a variety of contributors. More recently, I am now employed by Dassault Systemes as SOLIDWORKS Sr. Product Definition Manager to improve drawing, annotation and MBD related areas.

6 thoughts on “Backwards compatibility discussion with SW Dev Team”

  1. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to at least save back to at least two prior versions? It would add more value to the program. Right now there is arm twisting to either make you pay up for each years new version and not everyone can afford to do that as we all know. However, for those that can they are out classing the people they mght be collaboratng with that can’t and the backwards incompatibility hurts even more. It is bad enough we still waste billions of dollars annually for little to bad incompatibilities between different MCAD packages from other Companies and it is almost an insult when you cannot have it with others that own little older versions of your same program. This is very bad.

  2. I am an AutoCAD user who is struggling with the handcuffs that SolidWorks places on me. The backward compatibility issue has bothered me from the beginning. I have found that you can save as a parasolid, asis file, and a couple of others and send to users who are not at the same rev as you. Currently we are the only company in the circle of businesses who support us who use SolidWorks. This has forced us into finding ways around the SoidWorks only attitude.

  3. How about direct editing? Direct editing is always current with all versions of software because it just works from the brep, there is no history tree. I think this may play into the solution they deliver.

  4. I’d love some sort of backwards compatibility. My machine shop is 2008, I’m 2007, the TechShop is 2008, and DeAnza college has just started with 2008 and is having teething issues. Anyway, most of what I do don’t require the latest and greatest, and if I could get my whole chain to work on 2007 format, I’d be much happier. As it is, my machine shop can read my files, but I can only view thier work as eDrawings. I would LOVE something like the Microsoft “compatibility mode” that is in office 2007. Life would be much easier….


  5. This is really unacceptable, if other CAD software can be backwards compatible why can’t soldiworks?

    Yes there might be some problems but they should fix it and make it work for the users.

    It is a total fail that they did not plan for users that would be working in collaboration with others, others who might not be upgrading all the time.

    No planning, or cash grab, either way it needs to be fixed ASAP not in many years’ time.

  6. Nelson, thank you for your comment. In 3D CAD software, there’s always enhancements added to each year’s format that prevents it from being natively opened in previous years versions of the software. Sure, you can load dumb models between versions, but there are big drawbacks that make this undesirable. Well, SolidWorks World 2012 announced that version interoperability will be available starting with SolidWorks 2013 for one release back. As long as you have SP5 of the previous release, you can open files of the next year’s release without being forced into using dumb geometry.

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