Feature Feud: SOLIDWORKS PDM Rollback vs Checking in a Previous Version

Article by Enrico Tolentino on Feb 08, 2023

In this SOLIDWORKS PDM tutorial, we look at the difference between Rollback and checking in a previous version of a file. Both processes allow you to use an older version of a file as the latest version, but they have unique limitations and uses. Let’s look at both features, their differences, and how they should be used.

What is the SOLIDWORKS PDM Rollback Feature?

Rollback is a command in SOLIDWORKS PDM that is controlled by permissions. Rollback allows users to undo the version of a file or roll a file back in time. Rolling back a file reverts the file back to a selected place in time from the file’s history. Rolling back can also delete revisions and workflow transitions from that file.

An example of a good use of Rollback is if you’ve made a mistake and transitioned a file to a released state before it was ready. Using the Rollback functionality can return a file to a previous version.

How to Rollback a File

To perform Rollback, first select the file you’d like to roll back and Right Click > History. (Figure 1)

SOLIDWORKS PDM Rollback File History

Figure 1: Accessing the file history

Select the version you’d like to roll back to and select Rollback. (Figure 2)

Rolling back to a previous verion in SOLIDWORKS PDM

Figure 2: Rolling back to a previous version

Select if you only want to rollback that file or that file and its references. (Figure 3)

Select the Type of Rollback in SOLIDWORKS PDM

Figure 3: Only selected file or it with its references

The next window shows what referenced files will be affected. If an assembly is being rolled back, the components will be listed on what will roll back as well. (Figure 4)

Rolling Back with References in SOLIDWORKS PDM

Figure 4: Rolling back with references

The next window shows which files will be rolled back and a warning that the rollback will permanently delete the file after the rollback point. (Figure 5)

SOLIDWORKS PDM Warning Rollback Cannot Be Reversed

Figure 5: Understanding that this cannot be reversed

Back at the file’s history window you’ll see the rollback event and the comment. (Figure 6)

SOLIDWORKS PDM File History with Rollback

Figure 6: File history with rollback

Checking in a Previous Version of a File

An alternative to the rollback feature is using a previous version of a file. This method achieves the same result without having to delete any files. A limitation of this is that the files remain in the same workflow state as they were.

In this example, there are two versions: Version 3 with a cutout and Version 2 without the cutout. The file is in the Work in Progress state and we would like it to revert to Version 2. If we use the Rollback feature, it will delete Version 3.  But, we would like to keep it to have a reference to its design history. (Figure 7)

File History with Rollback SOLIIDWORKS PDM

Figure 7: File history with rollback

Check out the file which will get the latest version of the file (3/3) onto the Local View. Now right click the file and select Get Version 2. (Figure 8)

Getting a previous version when having the file checked out in SOLIDWORKS PDM

Figure 8: Getting a previous version when having the file checked out

In addition, SOLIDWORKS PDM gives you a warning that the file is checked out and will ask if you are sure you want to replace what you currently have on your Local View with a file from the Vault. (Figure 9)

SOLIDWORKS PDM Confirm Replacement of Checked Out File

Figure 9: Confirm replacement of checked out file

Check in the file back into the vault. In the file history, Version 4 now exists and is a replica of Version 2, all the while having Version 3 available in the history. (Figure 10)

Previous Version is Now the Latest Version in SOLIDWORKS PDM Rollback Tutorial

Figure 10: Previous version is now the latest version

Final Thoughts on SOLIDWORKS PDM Rollback vs Checking in Previous Version

The Rollback action may not be available to all users depending on the permissions set by the Administrator. Rolling back can bring files through different workflow states of their existence, whereas checking in a previous version can only work in the same way as the workflow state.

Checking in a previous version of a file preserves the history of all versions of a file and any user with check out and check in rights can perform.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published in January 2020 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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About Enrico Tolentino

Enrico graduated from California State Polytechnic University with a degree in Engineering. He is a data management specialist at GoEngineer based in Southern California. A car guy, Enrico frequents the SoCal open track days to test his limits. And, of course, his corgi's name is Rally. :)

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