How to use PDXplorer™ PDX reader software

A PDX package is a selected item's point-in-time snapshot: parts, documents, BOMs, approved sources, file attachments and other data. It's exported from a PLM (product lifecycle management) system for use by other computer systems, particularly MRP (manufacturing resource planning) software. PDXplorer lets you view the items in this snapshot. You can search for items; view parts lists, BOMs, and sources; run queries in a local database, and extract text-based lists and the design file attachments.

Current PDXplorer 5.0 download and install

PDXplorer 5 Help Topics

PDXplorer PDX Viewer 4.2 on-line help

PDXplorer 5 reader/viewer operation§

PDXplorer release 5.0 can open, show and extract product data from an industry-standard IPC-2570 file, called a PDX (product data exchange) package.

PDXplorer 5

The application window displays four main areas:

PDX packages contain IPC-2570 elements such as Items, ManufacturerParts, Changes, and Attachments. Similar elements are grouped in tables. In most cases, each table shows the IPC-2570 element's attributes as columns. Attributes are sometimes displayed in panels of name:value pairs such as Unit of measure: EACH.

Package file and folders controls§

PDXplorer package controls

Open PDX package Open PDX package file

Opens a window that lets you select a PDX package to open.

Package name
This is the current open PDX package. Click on the package name to show the package information, and all package queries, in the details panel.
Open source folder Open PDX package folder

Opens the folder that contains the current PDX package file. If no package has been opened, the default Documents folder opens.

Open saved query results folder Open saved query results folder

Opens the folder that contains the most recent query results saved as comma-separated values ("CSV"). If no query result files have been saved, the default Documents folder opens.

Open saved attachments folder Open saved file attachments folder

Opens the folder that contains file attachments that were saved from the PDX package. If no file attachments have been saved, the default Documents folder opens.

Open working folder Open package working folder

Opens the temporary folder where the PDX package file has been converted into a SQLite database file. PDXplorer exports SQL query results from this temporary database.

Each temporary SQLite database file is named PDXplorer{Id}-{original package name}-{local date/time}.sqlite. The {Id} value is normally not needed unless the same package was opened at the same time in another PDXplorer instance.

The temporary database for every PDX package that you open in the current session is not deleted when PDXplorer is closed. The next time PDXplorer is started, and if no other PDXplorer instance is open, then all previous temporary database files are deleted.

To keep a temporary database file for your own purpose:

  1. While PDXplorer is open, click on Open working folder Package working folder button to see the folder contents.
  2. Close all PDXplorer instances, including the current instance.
  3. Copy or move the file from the package working folder to another location.

In Windows File Explorer, this folder is %LocalAppData%\PDXplorerDB\Working\

Summary panel§

The summary panel shows the main elements of the PDX package. The columns show basic identification data, such as part number, change description or contact name. When you click on a summary table row, more data about the selected row is shown in the details panel on the right.

You can find a specific part, attachment or other row by entering text into the Filter: box at the top of each table.

Very few PDX packages include all possible elements defined in the IPC-2570 standards. Elements may not include some IPC defined attributes, or may add new attributes as extensions.

Tables shown in the summary panel§

Most PDX packages do not include the full set of elements defined by the IPC-2570 standards. An element's summary table is displayed only when the PDX package contains the related element.

In a package created by PDXpert PLM software (9.1 and later), the tables are

  • The Item Master combines the IPC-2570 elements Items, Manufacturer Parts, and Changes in a single list
  • Attachments for all elements
  • Contacts

In packages created by all other PDX generators, the summary panel tables may be

  • AsBuildProducts
  • Items (parts and documents)
  • Manufacturer Parts
  • Supplier Parts
  • Changes
  • Contacts
  • Attachments for all elements

In PDX packages with change markups, the Attachments table may include both released files as well as canceled or obsolete files. See Viewing and saving file attachments: Save all files.

Details panel§

This shows more information about a row you've selected in the left side summary panel. The summary row for a Contact will show different information than a row selected from the Attachment table.

See PDX packages created by PDXpert software for other detail tabs.

General

Contains the element's attributes. In PDXpert packages, this tab includes other additional attributes tied directly to the element that aren't shown in their own tab (such as Custom, Materials, References).

Attributes

Contain the AdditionalAttributes not placed elsewhere.

BOM items

Lists bill of material rows for the selected Item assembly.

AML

Contains the approved manufacturers list.

Files

Contains file attachments.

Query

Contains related SQLite queries for the selected element. The package element's Query tab contains all queries related to the entire package contents. A selected element's Query tab contains queries that are related to that one selected element.

Status bar web links

The PDXpert® PLM: website link includes technical information about how PDXpert software creates a PDX package. The on-line PDXpert user guide describes the package content. PDXplorer exports data to complement PDXpert's data import tool, making it easy to use PDX packages as the foundation of a new PDXpert system.

PDXplorer Online Help takes you to this help page.

PDXpert application release (PDXplorer X.X.X.X) takes you to PDXplorer's current download page, which may have an upgrade for your release.

Using PDXplorer 5§

Filtering table rows§

Most tables have a Filter: textbox. To find rows with matching text, enter one or more search terms, with each term separated by a space.

  • The filter is enabled only when the table has more than one row.

  • All of the table rows are shown when the filter is empty.

  • Only element rows that contain the filter are shown.

  • Remove the current filter by clicking the Clear filter button at the end of the filter textbox.

    This button is not enabled when the filter is empty.

  • When you change or remove the filter, selected rows in the related table are unselected. When the details panel is showing details of a row in the related summary table, it's also cleared. The details panel is not cleared when it's showing row details for an unrelated summary table.

  • Searches are case-insensitive. For example, filter term Part matches PART, Part and part.

  • Partial matches are displayed automatically, without using a wildcard character. For example, filter term ART matches rows with part, art, artwork and particle.

  • Using more than one filter term shows only rows that have both terms. Separate each filter term by a keyboard space. For example, filter terms ECN 1001 match element rows that contain both ECN and 1001.

  • Most PDX package elements do not include the full set of attributes defined by the IPC-2570 standards. Along with the element's non-empty standard attributes, PDXplorer searches most elements' AdditionalAttributes.

  • Attributes that are Yes values are searched using the attribute's name. For example, when the file's isFileIn is Yes, the filter term isfilein is added to the file attachment's index. The isfilein term is not added when the attachment's isFileIn is No.

  • When a PDX package is generated by PDXpert PLM software, "helper" tags are added to the element's index:

    • Home items — parts, documents and changes — have a home tag.

    • Manufacturer parts have a partner tag.

    • Change elements have a change tag.

    • The class tag is c:, with values of Part c:prt, Document c:doc, and Change c:chg.

The full index for each row can be seen in the package's SQLite database, in the table's Tokens column.

Sorting & moving table columns§

To sort the data rows, click on the column header to sort smallest value to largest. Click again to sort in reverse order.

It's sometimes useful to arrange columns before copying the data. You can drag a column's header label to a new location. The column will return to its original position when the table is next loaded.

Copying data§

To view and copy data into other applications, such as email or Excel:

  • Click on the table row selector Table row selector or grid selector Table selector
  • Press the Ctrl + C keys on your keyboard.

Viewing and saving file attachments§

PDX package file attachments come in three forms: included, linked and named.

Included file attachment§

This file is included in the package, and can be viewed or saved. To conserve disk space, files remain compressed when the PDX package is opened. An included file is exported from the PDX package only when it's viewed or saved.

View file View selected file

PDXplorer saves the file into a temporary location and sends an Open file request to Windows. If Windows can find a related software application, the file will be shown.

On the summary panel's Attachments table, you can also double-click the row to view the file.

Save file Save selected file

Select a file location and, if you wish, change the file name.

Save all files Save all files

Select (or make) a folder for all files included in the PDX package.

A conflict number, like PartData-Conflict(1).pdf, is added to the file's name when:

  • A file with the same name already exists in the selected folder; or
  • There are two or more files in the PDX package that share the same name.

It's possible that a PDX package can have more than one file with the same name and with different content. For example, a file named PartData.pdf can be attached to a screw, while a different file PartData.pdf could be attached to a resistor. If you're not sure whether files are the same or different, view the files' content and, if needed, save them separately under new names.

A change notice PDX package may show "markup" attachments that have been added or removed by the change.

  • A file attached to a new revision is shown as bold green text with a green border.
  • A file attached to an old revision is shown as normal red text with a red border.

You normally won't need markup files, so the Save all files Save all files includes only files attached to non-markup rows.

If you want to save a markup attachment, you must use the row's Save file Save selected file button. Be careful when saving a markup file: it may be named the same as a non-markup file, and may have the same or different content.

All files that are attached to the change are shown as normal files, and are included in the Save all files Save all files folder.

Linked web resource attachment§

View web resource View selected web resource

When the link is properly formatted (specifically, it begins with http:// or https:// ) then this button is shown. Click the button to open your browser to the resource, such as a supplier website.

Named file attachment§

This file is identified but is not included, and is not available as a linked web resource. If the file details suggest that this file may be useful to your work, ask the PDX package supplier about the file.

Viewing and saving data query results§

Queries§

A query contains SQLite database commands that display useful results. These results can be saved to a text file for other software tools.

  • Click on the PDX package name to see the package queries in the Queries tab on the details panel. A package query exports all data of a specific type, such as all Items, ManufacturerParts, Changes Affected Items, Assemblies Components, Contacts. (By convention, these are named as plurals.) These are classified in the PDXplorerQueries.sqlite database as ProductDataeXchangePackage in the Element column.

  • Selected item queries are written for a data element that you select in a summary table. These queries might include all BOM rows for a selected assembly, or all affected items on a selected change. The selected item is added to the SQL query using WHERE element name_Id = {0}, such as WHERE Item_Id={0}. PDXplorer automatically substitutes the selected element's Id value for {0}. By convention, these queries use a singular name as the anchor, optionally followed by relations: Assembly Components, Change Affected Items, Part Sources.

PDX packages follow the framework defined by the IPC-2570 standards. However, these standards are flexible — a software tool exports PDX packages according to its own needs, data and customers. Thus, PDXplorer offers queries that support different PDX package generators:

  • General queries are useful for most PDX packages. These have an empty cell in the Generator column. The query may apply generic "best guess" column headers or use the IPC standard attribute names, and may include empty columns that the generator software didn't need.

  • Queries can be designed for PDX packages that are generated by specific software applications. The Generator column matches any portion of the package's XML <?generated_by ... ?> text, and the query applies specific rules to the PDX package. For example, when the SQL query's Generator column contains PDXpert, the query shows only when you open a PDX package generated by PDXpert software.

    If there's a choice of queries (for example, a Items Attachments without a generator and an Items Attachments for a specific generator), then the query written for the specific generator normally gives better results.

Queries are contained in a SQLite database called PDXplorerQueries.sqlite. You can add new queries to match a generator's PDX package data to your ERP/MRP import format or other use. (We can provide development services, if needed.)

  • The standard query database is created in the %LocalAppData%\PDXplorerDB\QueryDB\ folder when you open your first PDX package.

    In Windows File Explorer, this file path is similar to C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Local\PDXplorerDB\QueryDB.

  • If you add your own queries to PDXplorerQueries.sqlite, PDXplorer uses your modified SQLite database instead of the standard queries.

  • You can copy your version of PDXplorerQueries.sqlite and share it with other people.

  • To return to using the standard set of queries, delete the %LocalAppData%\PDXplorerDB\QueryDB\PDXplorerQueries.sqlite file. When you open the next PDX package, PDXplorer adds the standard database to the empty folder.

    Upgrading PDXplorer may replace the current database with a newer version. After upgrading, the replaced (old) database is in the %LocalAppData%\PDXplorerDB\QueryDB\ folder, and its filename includes an ISO-style upgrade date (e.g., 20191207T151055). You can copy your queries from this file into the new PDXplorerQueries.sqlite database file. Test your queries with the new release's working database.

Results§

The buttons shown after the list of queries let you see the results.

Run query Run query

Displays the query result as a table. You can copy selected rows, or the complete table, to the Windows clipboard.

Open PDX package Run query and save results to file

Runs the query and lets you save the result as a CSV (comma-separated values) file. The file format is UTF-8 with Windows CR+LF (ANSI 13 / 0x0D)+(ANSI 10 / 0x0A) line terminations. This file can be opened in text editors like Notepad++ and Windows Notepad, CSV editors (recommended!), and Microsoft Excel.

Excel is not a good choice if the CSV file contains text that Excel considers numbers and dates. For example, Excel may convert document number 00123 to 123, or part number 2021-01 to January 2021. Some versions of Excel can also have problems reading and saving Unicode characters.

PDX packages created by PDXpert software§

PDXplorer knows a lot about PDX packages generated by PDXpert software. Packages exported from PDXpert (release 9.1 and later) can show the following additional information. Some of this information may also be included in PDX packages exported from other PDX generators, and can be exported using the included Queries or your own SQLite queries.

If the original PDXpert data ignores IPC-2570 constraints, then PDXplorer treats the PDX file as a generic package. For example, PDXpert allows a partner part to have a BOM or sources, but the IPC-2578 standard for a partner part (IPC ManufacturerPart) does not. In this case, the Item Master table may not be created, thus other PDXpert-related relationships can't be made. Standard IPC-defined relationships are used instead.

Summary panel§

Item Master table§

The Item Master table combines Items, Manufacturer Parts, and Changes. This makes filtering easier, and is similar to how PDXpert software treats these items.

Helper tags§

Items' owner category and class tags are automatically added to help filter the Item Master table. See list of tags.

Detail panel§

Custom§

PDXpert software allows application administrators to create custom attributes. These are exported as AdditionalAttributes group PDXpert.Custom, and PDXplorer recreates them in the Custom tab.

Materials §

Materials (chemical substances) are not defined in the IPC-2570 standards. PDXpert PLM software packages these as AdditionalAttributes group PDXpert.Materials, and PDXplorer recreates them in the Materials tab.

References§

The IPC-2570 standards do not define a separate list for document references, tooling and other related items. PDXpert software exports its References list as AdditionalAttributes group PDXpert.References, and PDXplorer recreates them in the References tab.

Contact for§

This shows the list of all items where the selected contact is the item's Owner (that is, the responsible organization).

Appears on§

By knowing PDXpert's standard item definition, PDXplorer can create a consistent Item Master list. This simplifies linking parent-child pairs like Assembly–Component, Home part–Partner source, and Item–Reference. These paired relationships also offer the reverse capability: an item can identify where it appears on a higher-level assembly, or as a source for a home part, or as a reference.

Attached to§

A selected file attachment identifies the part, document or change form where it's attached.

Markup§

This shows the change markup details for attachments, BOMs and sources on revised items.

While PDXplorer can read almost any PDX package, it works best with packages generated by PDXpert PLM software. This is because PDXpert's IPC-2570 implementation is published and it's easy to obtain PDXpert PDX package examples. Other PDX package generators typically don't publish their specifications or example files. To improve PDXplorer's capabilities showing other PDX packages, contact us: PDXplorer @@ ActiveSensing.com

Other information§

Top-level items§

The software that created the PDX file may have identified some elements as being "top level" objects. These are shown in the table as bold, but otherwise don't affect PDXplorer's operation.

Package info§

PDXplorer converts the PDX package's internal pdx.xml file to a dataset for building the PDXplorer user interface. It then converts the dataset to a SQLite database for running queries and exporting results. Summary information is shown in the PDX package's Package info tab.

Error log file§

Different generators structure PDX data differently. In some cases, the generator may not exactly follow the IPC-2570 standard, or the PDX package XML metadata has become damaged, or there is an error in file decompression. PDXplorer records basic file activities, errors, and other information in a log file that may help fix a problem with reading the PDX package. The log file is located in the %LocalAppData%\PDXplorerDB\Logs\ folder.

In Windows File Explorer, this file path is similar to C:\Users\{username}\AppData\Local\PDXplorerDB\Logs.

For example, a package entry shows [date] [release:schema] [elapsed time] [generator], while the following row summarizes package complexity.

PDXplorer 4.2 and earlier§

PDXplorer PDX Viewer 4.2 on-line help

While PDXplorer 5 offers an improved view of PDX package content, PDXplorer 4.2 may still be useful in some circumstances.

  • PDXplorer 4.x works with older Windows, including Windows XP and Server 2003. It requires only .NET 4.0 Client, while PDXplorer 5 requires at least .NET 4.6.
  • The older application presents a raw view of the IPC-2570 package XML tree. It doesn't reformat the data to be more "human-friendly". This literal view may be more useful for packages generated by applications other than PDXpert PLM software.
  • You can use previous 4.x customizations such as file exports, language translations and application-specific nomenclatures.

PDX file info & solutions§

Disassembling PDX files§

The PDX package format is defined by the IPC-2570 series of industry standards. The package is a compressed file that contains a pdx.xml file and usually design file attachments. All files are compressed into the PDX package using standard compression; in other words, we're working with a simple .zip file with a .pdx extension.

To look inside:

  1. Save a new copy of the original PDX file to a convenient location, such as your computer Desktop or My Documents folder.

  2. Open Windows Explorer, and change the copy's file extension to .zip, in our case from PDX-example.pdx to PDX-example.zip. We will be extracting files from this archive.

  3. Open the PDX-example.zip archive file with Windows Explorer or a third-party tool such as WinZip.

Within the PDX-example.zip archive file, find the pdx.xml file and copy it to a location on your computer, such as your Desktop. This contains all the part, BOM, AML, and other design metadata. If you wish, you can also extract the file attachments from the archive file.

Adobe Reader PDX file icon§

Adobe Reader's secondary Catalog Index files use the same .pdx file extension as  PDXplorer, although the files have different purposes. All PDX files will be associated with whichever application was last updated. Since most users never open Adobe Catalog Index files, it's usually more convenient for Windows Explorer to display PDXplorer's "package" icon, and to launch PDXplorer on double-clicking.

After an Adobe Reader update, you can refresh the  PDXplorer package icon using Windows Control Panel: open Programs and Features, scroll down and select PDXplorer, and then click the Change or Repair button. This won't affect the Adobe Reader .pdf file icon, or normal Adobe functions.

Refreshing the .pdx icon for PDXplorer