The difference between SOLIDWORKS Desktop and 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS / Connected

Article by Dassault Systèmes updated October 14, 2020


There are now two distinct types of SOLIDWORKS software available from Dassault Systemes. SOLIDWORKS Desktop and 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS / SOLIDWORKS Connected, which is a full version of SOLIDWORKS that installs on your computer from the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform and gives you access to all the platform capabilities granted by your 3DEXPERIENCE role.

In most ways, SOLIDWORKS Connected behaves the same as SOLIDWORKS Desktop, but there are important differences that you need to understand, which are listed in the article:

Installation and Licensing

3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS is licensed from the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform with named user licensing. A license is assigned when an administrator grants a role to you. A role determines the 3DEXPERIENCE services and apps that you are entitled to use.

Your license does not issue a serial number. The license is not tied to a particular machine. There is no need to activate, deactivate, or show licenses:

  • SOLIDWORKS Connected installs from the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.
  • Only English or your local language (if supported) is installed.
  • The Compass lists the apps and roles to which you have a license. Products are available according to the Platform Management dashboard on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.\

Core Functionality

SOLIDWORKS Connected primarily works the same way as SOLIDWORKS Desktop but with a few differences in the user experience and how it handles files and configurations:

User Interface

Quick Access Tools are available in the Menu Bar, or in the CommandManager.

  • Uses tagging scheme on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.
  • These Task Pane tabs are replaced by 3DEXPERIENCE platform features:
    • SOLIDWORKS Resources
    • File Explorer
    • Custom Properties
    • Search
  • The Task Pane is always visible.
  • Use 3DSpace and 3DSearch to browse and search for documents instead of File Explorer.

Opening Files

Each file that you open is compliant with the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. Two tools are available for opening files:

  • Open uses 3DSearch to find models stored in any collaborative space on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform that you can access.
  • Open from opens models (SOLIDWORKS files and other supported file types) external to the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

Saving Files

Three save tools are available:

  • Save saves files to any collaborative space in 3DSpace that you can access.
  • Save with Options saves with additional PLM options.
  • Save Locally saves a local copy of a file that is already saved on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.
  • Files that you can save locally include blocks, templates for drawings and BOMs, and dimension styles.

Parts & Assemblies

  • You can control all part configuration properties concurrently.
  • You can add library features. Linking to external library features is unsupported.
  • You can use equations. Linking to text files is unsupported.
  • You can use forming tools but you cannot maintain a link to forming tools if you change the parent forming tool. Forming tools use .SLDFTP files only. You do not have to specify forming tools folders.
  • Assembly features always propagate features to parts.
  • All files are stored in a collaborative space.
  • Forming a new subassembly saves the new subassembly directly in the FeatureManager design tree.
  • Make Independent creates the new instance directly in the FeatureManager design tree.


Configurations appear as physical products and representations on the CAD Family / PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) tab. A physical product is a configuration with a part number that you can order on a bill of materials. A representation is a child configuration of a physical product that represents a state of the physical product:

  • Alternate position views appear as a representation on the CAD Family / PLM tab.
  • Supports one level of derived configurations for new parts.
  • To create a custom PropertyManager using Configuration Publisher, the assembly must have two or more configurations.


Two export options are available:

  • Export SOLIDWORKS Files exports SOLIDWORKS files from the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.
  • Export As exports SOLIDWORKS data as non-SOLIDWORKS file formats from the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.

Other Functionality Differences

Additional functionality differences you will experience with SOLIDWORKS Connected add-ins and templates:

  • 3D Interconnect
    • 3D Interconnect functionality is always turned on.
    • While importing neutral CAD files in SOLIDWORKS, the 3D Interconnect references for assemblies are dissolved and corresponding SOLIDWORKS assembly and part files are created for each component reference. The SOLIDWORKS part files contain the 3D Interconnect feature link to the neutral CAD part file.
  • Access to 3D models from component suppliers and individuals is now through 3DEXPERIENCE Marketplace Part Supply which replaces 3D ContentCentral to access 3D models and configurations from component suppliers and individuals.
  • The Design Library contains items such as annotations, blocks, and forming tools. You can manage common, reusable files such as .SLDPRT, .SLDASM, and .SLDDRW files in a 3DEXPERIENCE collaborative space.
  • eDrawings uses 3DPlay.
    • 3DPlay is available as a widget in 3DDashboard.
    • It is also built into many 3DEXPERIENCE apps such as 3DSearch, 3DSpace, and 3DMarkup.
  • Use Remove Local Files to manage your cache.
  • Publish saves SOLIDWORKS templates, sheet formats, library feature parts, and forming tools. Publish supports: .PRTDOT, .SLDFTP, .SLDLFP, .ASMDOT, .DRWDOT, .SLDDRT.
  • SOLIDWORKS Routing:
    • To open the Routing Library Manager you first need to open SOLIDWORKS Connected.
    • You add components from the 3DEXPERIENCE platform using Insert Component instead of the Design Library.
    • Template files are kept locally, not on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.
    • The following Routing functionality is not supported:
      • Highlight Search
      • P&ID
      • Reuse routes
      • Route Properties
      • Tag Scheme Manager
      • In Routing Library Manager, Route Properties, Piping and Tubing Database, and Tag Scheme Manager
  • The Summary Info and Custom tabs are replaced with the Configuration Properties and Properties Summary tabs in the Properties dialog box. You can apply custom information to configuration properties.

Alternate Functionality

The following tools and add-ins have alternative solutions in the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform:

FunctionalitySOLIDWORKS Connected
Administrative Image Option Editor3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS apps are not installed by administrative images. The administrator grants user roles. Users download and install their granted software on demand. Users also download and apply updates on demand if the software requires updating.
Browse Recent FoldersUse My Content in 3DSearch to list your content.
Find ReferencesUse the MySession app for tools such as Properties and Related Objects for finding parents, children, where used, and other related items.
Icon Color SelectionAll icons use the same color scheme.
Inserting FilesYou can insert files that are stored on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.
LoginUse your 3DEXPERIENCE ID. You can log in with your existing SOLIDWORKS ID if it uses the same email address as the one your administrator used to invite you to the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. Otherwise, you need to create a new 3DEXPERIENCE ID.
Linear Static Analysis for Parts and AssembliesYou can load the SOLIDWORKS Simulation add-in if you have the 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS Premium and 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS Simulation Designer roles.
Make Part from BlockUnsupported.
Open Drawing toolUse the MySession app to find related drawings.
Pack and GoUse Export SOLIDWORKS Files.
PhotoView 360Use SOLIDWORKS Visualize Connected.
ReloadUse Reload from Server.
Save AllYou can only save the active model.
Search for files, models, commands, help, and MySolidWorksYou can search for content using the search box at the top of the 3DEXPERIENCE Task Pane in SOLIDWORKS Connected and throughout the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. You can also use the Open tool.
Send ToUse 3DEXPERIENCE platform collaboration capabilities.
Show in FolderUse 3DSearch.

Tools on the MBD Dimension toolbar are supported.

Time-based MotionYou can load the SOLIDWORKS Simulation add-in if you have 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS Premium and 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS Simulation Designer roles.
SOLIDWORKS PDMUse the MySession app as the gateway to data and lifecycle management on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.
SOLIDWORKS VisualizeSOLIDWORKS Visualize Standard, Professional, and Boost are unsupported. The Professional and Premium roles include SOLIDWORKS Visualize Connected. You can manage Visualize projects on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.
TreehouseUse the 3D Product Architect role for similar functionality.
Virtual componentsYou cannot create new virtual components. When you open an assembly with virtual components from:

  • Your local computer (using Open from), components are no longer virtual when you save the assembly to the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.
  • The 3DEXPERIENCE platform, components remain virtual when you save the assembly to the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. This scenario applies if you first saved the assembly to the 3DEXPERIENCE platform in the legacy SOLIDWORKS software and PLM services, then opened it in SOLIDWORKS Connected. You can save legacy virtual components as external components. This does not mean they are saved outside of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. It means they are no longer virtual components but are handled as regular components managed on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.


Unsupported Products

The following products are unsupported in 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS / SOLIDWORKS Connected which is an important consideration to make when choosing between SOLIDWORKS Desktop and 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS:


Contact us for the latest pricing and implementation and adoption options from Javelin.

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