Around this time of year many Solidworks users are receiving the new 2012 DVD in the mail and trying to decide when is the right time to upgrade. One of the big changes from 2011 to 2012 is how toolbox data is stored, and this is particularly important for those of you with a multi-user environment and a toolbox located on the network. I’ll explain that in a minute, but first you should understand what changed. Toolbox component information used to be stored in an Access database (swbrowser.mdb). In 2012 that database still exists but it is only used for the hole wizard, it’s not storing the toolbox data any longer. This was done to make customization of the toolbox more flexible and to improve performance. The folks I’ve talked to about this are really happy with it. One toolbox user in particular used to get fed up with the lag time it took to load a toolbox component after he dropped it into an assembly. In 2012 that lag is almost non-existant for him. However, be sure you upgrade to 2012 SP1 not SP0 because there were some glitches with the new toolbox in the first release. In SP1 they seem to be all squared away. Now back to the implications for a network toolbox… The “Solidworks Data” folder that houses the Access database also houses all the toolbox components. The difference with 2012 is that the component information is now stored in each toolbox component rather than the database. You do still need to have a location where your toolbox components are stored, and that will still need to be a network location if you want multiple users to work with the same toolbox. The difference is in the upgrade process. When you use the default local toolbox and you upgrade Solidworks, the toolbox gets upgraded automatically. However, when you use a network toolbox you may need to manually upgrade it. If you’re paying attention when you upgrade a client machine you can choose a different toolbox location so that it upgrades the network toolbox, but a lot of people miss that, or don’t even think about it until they open an assembly and see toolbox errors. So here’s your big take-away: the manual process to upgrade the toolbox to 2012 is now a 2 step process instead of the 1 step it used to be. Before beginning though, remember to make a backup of the entire Solidworks Data folder. Then, follow these 2 steps:
- Update the swbrowser.mdb file using the UpdateBrowserData.exe utility you’ve used in the past. It’s located in your SolidWorks 2012 Installation Folder (typically C:Program FilesSolidWorks CorpSolidWorks) and then under Toolbox/Data Utilities folder.
- Update the toolbox content using the sldtoolboxupdater.exe utility. This one is just located in the root Solidworks 2012 Installation Folder (typically C:Program FilesSolidWorks CorpSolidWorks).
If you’ve never done a manual toolbox upgrade before be sure to take a look in the Solidworks Knowledge Base at solution S-056686 for more details on these steps. If you have any questions you can always contact your local VAR for more answers. The bottom line is, toolbox is more flexible and user-friendly than it used to be, but the manual upgrade process requires an extra step. Hopefully that clears up some confusion. Go design.