Some business challenges require accessing an application, but don’t necessarily need to run within it. There may be numerous and varied reasons for this, including limiting access for security, or infrequent but essential tasks needing access to information that only the SOLIDWORKS or PDM API can provide. The scope of a desktop application may be much broader than an add-in, macro or task script. You may need to access multiple applications or data from various sources per perform the operations you desire.
One example of a desktop application for SOLIDWORKS data is our Treeview Studio. This was developed as a means to visualize your CAD references, build new ones, and edit their Custom Properties without opening them in SOLIDWORKS. The inspiration came from the SOLIDWORKS Treehouse application, which began as a SOLIDWORKS Labs project, and was dead at the time. It uses a part of the SOLIDWORKS API called the DocManager. This toolset can read and manipulate the properties and reference data of the native CAD files. SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional uses it in the Explorer client. The benefit of an application like this is that the user doesn’t necessarily need SOLIDWORKS installed to use it. They do, however, need the DocManager installed.
Another example, this time for PDM, is our PDM Folder Permissions Editor. This began as an internal project to provide a quick way to change the folder permissions for large number of users, groups, and folder at one time. This can save PDM Administrators hours of tedious work if a recurring folder structure is changed, and permissions need adjusted. When a desktop application needs to connect to a vault, the user running the app does need a vault client and vault view set up. It will also consume a vault license, if it’s following the API guidelines properly. In addition to the PDM API, it also uses a SQL Server database. This provides another avenue of data collection for your desktop application. Often the application will leverage parts of both to optimize for performance. There are some queries that will run much faster directly in SQL, than they will through the API. Choosing which approach is best, depends on your requirements.
Desktop application development is easily the broadest category, with the most possibilities. Our customers don’t generally ask us to develop a desktop application directly. Instead, we thoroughly discuss the requirements and determine which development avenue is most effective in solving those requirements. If you have need of a utility or application that works with SOLIDWORKS or PDM data feel free to contact us to discuss your specific requirements.