Throughout the year, the SOLIDWORKS development team conducts rigorous manual and automated QA testing to ensure stability and performance as each service pack and new release goes through it's product development cycle. Despite this focused effort on their part, creating a custom test plan that is specific to your environment is a good idea. As organizations and IT policies evolve and become more secure, they often introduce more variables to their computing environment. Each of these variables make their environment unique.
This guide defines the common reasons for environment testing. A template test plan is also attached at the bottom of the article. This is just a template, which means it does not cover all potential workflows, just the most common. Each organization will have their own unique workflows that should be considered and added to their own testing regimen.
Reasons for Compatibility Testing
SOLIDWORKS does participate in ISV testing with major hardware companies and releases hardware requirements and video card testing results. Despite this testing, things like hardware level encryption, bios, firmware differences can potentially contribute to unknown variables. Before upgrading a large group of users to a new hardware platform, testing on a single device is recommended.
New SOLIDWORKS Releases
SOLIDWORKS makes the most significant changes to the code with each major release in October. For example, version 2020 will differ significantly from 2021 including new products, new features, modified existing features and options, and bug fixes. This means that upgrading from an even older version will introduce even more change to your users. Upgrading from 2017 to 2020 for example is 3 years worth of changes and would be a great example to conduct additional testing.
SOLIDWORKS is generally safe to update service packs within the same year. For example, going from 2020 SP0 to 2020 SP5 would be generally recommended and typically only involves bug fixes. However, there are times when new products and features are added between service packs which means that service pack testing is still prudent.
Windows Feature Updates
Windows 10 introduced a new type of update beyond the weekly hotfix and windows updates called Windows Feature Updates. These are semi-annual and are a collection of feature changes and bug fixes. SOLIDWORKS offers support for all versions of Windows 10(per the system requirements) and does not certify specific Feature Updates. However, these Feature Updates should be considered significant changes to the OS and would be a great reason for testing.
SOLIDWORKS does not test for specific anti-virus applications and recommends using a trusted AV product. They also recommend keeping the application updated and to refer to the Knowledge Base for known potential compatibility issues. Testing between definition updates is not required since those are typically daily and typically do not introduce that much change. However, introducing an entirely new security or anti-virus application to a network would be a great example for testing.
General Testing Guidelines
The following are just best practices when building and conducting a test plan. Each organization's changes and requirements will be unique so feel free to pick and choose from the following list.
- Introduce one variable at a time if possible. This makes troubleshooting issues easier if problems arise in the testing phase. For example, testing on a new model laptop, a newer Windows Feature Update, and a new service pack of SOLIDWORKS would be three major changes and would be difficult to identify which of the changes introduced an issue.
- Work closely with IT to identify current and potential future changes to the network.
- Upgrade to the latest version of SOLIDWORKS if possible. SOLIDWORKS is a Microsoft Gold Partner, which means they introduce Microsoft best practices with newer versions. This means better performance and better stability, in addition to the typical new productivity improvements added each year.
- Build a sandbox environment. Make a copy of your SOLIDWORKS computing environment to conduct testing. This means a copy of the computer hardware specifications, Windows version, and test files that would be used in production. Work with HawkSupport for a sandbox licensing if required.
Sample Test Plan
The "SOLIDWORKS Test Plan.PDF" attached is a sample test procedure that includes common workflows with parts, assemblies, drawings and basic PDM operations. Sample files can also be found here on any computer with SOLIDWORKS installed at the following location.
- C:\Users\Public\Documents\SOLIDWORKS\SOLIDWORKS 202x\samples\tutorial\assemblymates