SOLIDWORKS PDM Professional contains a useful add-in for automating certain actions like file conversions and printing. For exa
mple, this is widely used to convert SOLIDWORKS CAD drawings into PDF files for use by other departments, or uploading into another
system, like PLM or ERP. These tasks can be run on-demand by the user, or launched as a workflow action automatically. They can even be set to execute on specific Windows PCs. This allows large batches of tasks to operate on a dedicated workstation, rather than tying up a user’s PC and interrupting their productivity.
The Task engine allows custom Tasks to be launched using the same methods, as well as an option to schedule them. The full power of the PDM Professional API can be then be leveraged using the Task framework. If you find that the options provided by Dispatch are too limited, a Task add-in might be a better option. Generally PDM Add-ins have their trigger events encoded within them, or within their settings. Since all add-ins are executed on the user’s PC these can sometimes get interrupted and not execute reliably, depending on the user’s permissions or installed software. The Task architecture uses a queue to stack up the task requests for execution. This reduces the need for extensive error checking and messaging, since they are captured by the task if it fails.
While an add-in is generally available to all users, Tasks have a permission architecture and a Task Host setup requirement. For a task to run a certain PC the PDM client service must have a special permission set to allow it run Tasks. Since these tasks are run automatically and often launch other applications (like SOLIDWORKS) this requirement ensures you know exactly where these tasks will run, and where they will not. After all, you don’t want a SOLIDWORKS convert task to run on a low powered PC that doesn’t have a seat of SOLIDWORKS installed.
One example of a HawkWare Task Add-in is our Sync Card Variables. We developed this to give more specific control over exactly which model variables get pulled to their respective drawing data cards. We initially developed this as a direct add-in, but found some instances where it just didn’t launch reliably for some PDM clients. By recreating it as a Task, we are able to execute it through a workflow transition, rather than through check-in. This reduced the potential performance overhead when many drawings are checked in or transitioned. The trade-off is that the update doesn’t necessarily appear immediately, since the Task needs to connect to its host and execute the Task. In return you get a fairly detailed history of exactly when the task ran, who initiated it, and if it was successful. They can even send success and/or failure emails.
If you have a need for some special operations to take place in your vault on a schedule, or during a workflow transition, and the built-in tasks don’t provide them, feel free to contact us to discuss your options. We may be able to develop a custom Task to suite your requirements.