The SolidWorks Enterprise PDM preview pane gives us instant “quick peeks” at files in the vault. But if you allow yourself to linger just a bit, you’ll quickly discover the preview pane can do so much more.
Here is a small sampling of Preview Pane functionality!
#1 CAD Files – Name Your Priority: Performance or Power?
Enterprise PDM allows you to customize how you view CAD files based on your needs for performance or power.
You want to preview with power? Set Display -> Options to Show full UI in SolidWorks preview.
This will give you an eDrawings toolbar in the preview window, which allows you to perform various functions including taking measurements.
If you don’t need quite that much power un-check Show full UI in SolidWorks preview to get simpler faster loading eDrawings interface. It doesn’t include the toolbar, but a right-click includes some nice features and you can zoom, pan, and rotate the image with your mouse (depending on your mouse and what you select for settings).
Want your previews to load even faster, but still have that power under the hood for when you need it?
You can have the best of both worlds. Set Show full UI in SolidWorks preview to the most useful setting for you, and then select Show bitmap for SolidWorks files.
Bitmap previews will load instead (much faster than loading eDrawings), and when you find the file you want and need to kick in that extra power, a simple click on the image will start eDrawings loading.
#2 Seeing the “Big” Picture… And Shifting it Around
When previewing image files, often the initial glance will often not give you the full picture. By default the preview setting is set to “Original Size”. In most cases you’ll want to change that to see the entire image.
What You See By Default:
The Full Picture:
A right-click on the preview window will bring up a whole host of options for image files.
Selecting Size -> Best Fit is often a good choice.
The rotation and zoom features also available from that menu provide even more flexibility.
#3 Previewing PDFs (Even when the computer doesn’t know how…)
Not every system has Adobe installed on it (honest!), and as a result windows will not know how to open those files.
Even though Windows can’t open the PDF, in Enterprise PDM it can still be previewed.
#4 Selecting Text
Need to copy a quick text snippet, for example, from a Word document? No problem – you don’t even have to open the document. You don’t even have to have Microsoft Word installed on your computer.
Simply select the document, scroll down in the preview window to the text that you want, and then select the text right in the preview pane. A right-click brings up the menu with the Copy command (and a host of other functions worth peeking at), click on Copy (CTRL-C will not work here) and you’re ready to paste the snippet into another application.
#5 Audio Files
Did you know that Audio files can be played directly from the preview window? You can start and stop the recording, and adjust the sound directly from the preview tab.
These are just a few features of the preview pane. Have you discovered other ways the preview pane makes your job easier? Feel free to share your discoveries in the comments below.
(These features were test in part on Enterprise PDM 2011 and in part on 2012.)