Integrating SOLIDWORKS Composer and PDM

Article by Sarah Taylor updated January 29, 2024


SOLIDWORKS Composer and PDM are two popular tools within the SOLIDWORKS ecosystem. SOLIDWORKS Composer is used to create technical documentation such as assembly instructions, owner’s manuals, part catalogs, and more.

Collaborating on designs and manufacturing documents is streamlined when projects are managed by SOLIDWORKS PDM. Track changes, manage approvals, and stay up to date with the latest revisions of your CAD Model and Composer Project inside of PDM. Keep reading to learn how Composer users can work smarter with the help of PDM!

Save time creating Technical Publications with Composer

Save time creating Technical Publications with Composer

How do SOLIDWORKS Composer users benefit from PDM?

SOLIDWORKS Composer can be used by many people in an organization but is typically used by technical writers, manufacturing documentation specialists, and marketing professionals. Anyone using Composer can benefit from storing and managing their work securely in a PDM Vault. Here’s why:

Track File History of Composer Projects

  • Each time a new version of the Composer project is checked into the PDM vault, the File History is updated. This leaves behind a digital audit trail showing who made changes and when. As with any file in a PDM vault, versions and revisions are tracked automatically and can be retrieved whenever needed.
Composer Project File History in PDM

Composer Project File History in PDM

Stay up to date on the latest revision of referenced models

  • When there are changes to a CAD model, the Composer user can quickly search for the referenced model in PDM, get the latest version, and use the Update command in Composer to refresh their project to incorporate any changes.

Composer Projects can have their own approval process

  • Because Composer Project files are separate from the CAD model, they may require a different set of approvals. Using a separate PDM Workflow, Composer projects can go through customizable approval steps to meet your organization’s needs.
Approval Workflow in PDM

Approval Workflow in PDM

Composer User can check out files and Work Offline

  • If the technical writer or marketing specialist using Composer ever needs to be away from the office, PDM will allow them to take their files offline until they can reconnect to the server and check in their work.

Utilize Tasks in PDM to auto-generate .SMG files

  • When bringing a SOLIDWORKS model into Composer, the CAD file must be converted into a Composer Project (.SMG file). Tasks in PDM can be set to automatically convert a SOLIDWORKS CAD model to a Composer Project. For example, this could be triggered by the final approval of a model so that the Technical Writer can jump right into Composer without ever needing to see the CAD model.

Use Paste as Reference to make connections between files.

  • PDM’s Paste as Reference command can be used to attach files to one another in the vault. These files can then “travel” together when performing a “check out” or transitioning files to a different workflow state. This command can be used to connect Composer projects with output files like still images or video files.

Multi-site collaboration

  • In some organizations, engineers and tech writers may work from separate offices. With PDM, server replication can be utilized to ensure each department is working from the same source of truth, regardless of their physical location.

Multi-Site Collaboration with PDM


Viewing Composer Projects in the Vault

In PDM, the “Preview” tab contains a multi-purpose file viewing area for 3D CAD models, PDFs, and more. When a Composer Project is selected, a mini Composer Player window appears in the Preview tab. This allows any PDM viewer to look through and interact with the Composer Project without ever needing access to Composer. From here, the user can click through different Views inside the project, zoom/pan/rotate in 3D, hide and show parts, play animations, and more, without opening a separate application.

Preview Composer Projects in PDM

SOLIDWORKS Composer Add-in

With SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional, a PDM-specific toolbar is available inside of Composer. This allows the Composer user to easily check their work in/out of the vault, access past versions, push the project through to the next workflow state, and view other relevant data, all within the Composer application.


SOLIDWORKS PDM Add-in Ribbon in Composer

Want to learn more about SOLIDWORKS Composer and PDM?

Watch our on-demand webinar on Using SOLIDWORKS Composer and PDM »

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Sarah Taylor

Sarah is an Solutions Consultant at TriMech with 6+ years of experience using various CAD software including SOLIDWORKS, Creo and AutoCAD. She has previous experience in the biopharmaceutical industry as well as HVAC project management. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland where she received her B.S. in Bioengineering.