Solidworks PDM Card input Formulas: Capabilities and Limitations

This topic will be most useful to those with some experience working with Solidworks PDM administration.

I intend to clarify questions about an aspect of Cards and PDM capability that often arises during new implementations and PDM configuration.

Cards provide a large part of Solidworks PDM’s capability. They are often both familiar and confusing to those looking to build a vault that best fits with their internal operations. The are familiar in that they appear to be a form that contains data which are common in all aspects of our business and personal lives. The full capability however is not easily discerned as the mechanics are very specific to PDM functionality and may not be similar to other types form mechanics that are more common.

One of the more advanced mechanics in Card Design is the input formula. You will notice this on the bottom right of your control properties when selecting an edit box in your card editor. The “carrot” on the right of the input box offers pull down options that provide you with prebuilt functions and variable options.


Here are some of the more common capabilities used with input formulas:

1. Combine Elements into a string.

You can combine the values of multiple variables/data elements on the card into a single text value. This may be useful for building smart numbers or just indexes that aid in searching.

 2. Use Alias to control and assist entry based on a table of values.

You may have a pull down on your card that when selected fills in a specific value from a table based on that selection. The alias allows you to use any index number to correspond to a simple sequence in pdm based on the order of your cards drop down selections.

3. Use simple Arithmetic or String functions to create data.

Simple functions are available to manipulate data to create a variable value. Examples are Add, Multiply and Mid (which lets you use only part of a string to strip out extraneous characters).

Note: the details for these capabilities are available in solidworks online help which includes examples.


1. Input formulas are driven by Manual Entry.

For the formula to trigger a user must perform an entry on the card. The value or calculation by the input box will not be performed otherwise.

2. No Direct way to create conditional “IF” type formulas.

While you can create some limited conditional like statements through some complex nesting. Most likely, this will be a capability unavailable.

Alternate Options

While you can do many useful things in Card Design with an input box, you may run into these limitations. Understand that PDM always offers other options to accomplish your configuration goals. The API (Programming) is available in PDM Pro when a feature is needed that is not “out of the box”. There is also a feature in PDM called Dispatch which is a type of PDM Macro Language. It allows you to string together and automate some common PDM commands.

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