Installing EPLAN without Microsoft Office

Yes, you can install EPLAN without the latest and greatest 64 bit version of Microsoft Office however I would certainly encourage you to have it, but with this knowledge you can solve some interesting problems that you may encounter.

If you go to the EPLAN website and read the official instructions on how to install EPLAN, they will lead you to believe that you can install EPLAN using a 32 bit version of MS office, but then they never seem to explain to you how to do that! In this post I will explain how to get EPLAN up and running with or without MS Office or SQL.

Now I don’t recommend using EPLAN without MS Office installed, there is quite a bit of extended functionality made available to EPLAN when it is used with MS Office, but you can get it installed and working and it will meet 90% of the typical user needs including working with MS Access .mdb database files.

For those of you who are just looking for the fully approved methods for installing EPLAN you can find the instructions on the EPLAN Quick Start webpage. I suggest that you also create a bookmark for it in your browser as you will want to visit this page whenever you have questions about installation.

Windows OS

For versions 2.5 and up, EPLAN must be installed on a computer running a 64 bit versions of Windows. The official detailed system requirements can be found on the EPLAN website here.

MS Office

The official approved versions of MS Office include both 32 bit and 64 bit versions and they date back to Office 2010. Note that Office 365 is not on the official list yet but many customers are using it and in most cases they are doing so successfully and they also have no choice. Let’s also be perfectly clear that you don’t need a version of Office that includes a stand alone version of the MS Access application.

Why do we need MS Office?

EPLAN can use several databases for parts management, project management and the translation dictionary, these databases are created either in the MS Access (.mdb) format or in SQL. EPLAN can also makes use of MS excel to assist with data import/export as well as an external data editor.

For many years EPLAN used the MS Access database format (mdb) exclusively for handling its database needs but recently they have branched out to also include support for SQL databases. Early versions of EPLAN  (<V2.5) still work just fine with a 32 bit version of Office but the more recent versions need a 64 bit version (or equivalent). When you were downloading the current version on the support site you may have read this:

The EPLAN Platform, Version 2.7 will be delivered as a 64-bit version only. Office 32-bit can still be used, however, SQL or SQL Express will then be needed for the parts database, the translation database and the project management database.

Those of you who actually went to the requirements page to give it a read may have also read this:
*Depending of the selection of the databases for the parts management, the project management and the dictionary, the use of a 64-bit Office version is compulsory.

Well there it is .. the use of a 64-bit Office version is compulsory, right? Well no, not exactly.

The problem most users run into is that when using EPLAN version 2.5 or newer, it will no longer work support the parts database using just the 32 bit version of MS Office…I said “just” did you see that?

Installing EPLAN without MS Office

Not only don’t you need a 64 bit version of MS Office installed to run EPLAN, I will go one step further and say you don’t even need MS Office installed at all to get EPLAN to run. Now I will be the first to tell you that you WILL want some version of office installed if you are using this tool professionally but let me prove my first point.

All you really need are the EPLAN installation files and a free Microsoft application called “Microsoft Access Database Engine redistributable” in 64 bit. I have a video coming out shortly where I install EPLAN in a virtual machine and after installing the Access redistributable, EPLAN runs just fine and I can create all the databases in access I want. I learned this trick while I was a trainer at EPLAN USA and we used it in practically every class when someone in the class showed up with a 32 bit version of office.

So, here are the steps:

  • Download and install EPLAN version 2.5 or newer from the support website.
  • Download and install the Microsoft Access database engine redistributable in 64 bit.
  • Check your EPLAN settings and connect to the sample parts database to test operation.

Installing EPLAN with a 32 bit version of MS Office

Now there is one more trick, if you already have a 32 bit version of office installed you will want to install the 64 bit redistributable for the PREVIOUS version of MS Office. Honestly I have no idea why this works, just that it does. Hey some guy on the internet said it works right!

If your running:

Use this redistributable (Choose the X64 variant after clicking Download)

Office 2010 32 Bit

Office 2013 32 Bit

Installing EPLAN with a 64 bit version of MS Office

If you have ANY 64 bit version of MS Office, Home & Student up to Professional, EPLAN should work just fine, again you don’t need the Access application you just need the support files that come with the installation.

Installing EPLAN with MS Office 365

For many users the choice of what version of MS Office you have is determined by your IT department, you will want to install the 64 bit redistributable for the PREVIOUS version of MS Office, for Office 365 this will be the 64 bit redistributable for Office 2013.

Legal Disclaimer: Advice is free and sometimes its worth what you paid for it. I assume NO responsibility for damages when you screw up your computer by following my instructions, assume some risk for yourself. I am an independent consultant and I do NOT represent EPLAN or EPLAN USA in any way. Just because I used to work there does not mean I am an expert.

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Oh, while we are looking at the pretty photo, please don’t create part numbers like that shown in this example, this is NOT how you create a part number for an assembly. I can see why MFG’s create them for the data portal, it helps you easily see what parts are included, but that does not mean they should be used without modification on actual projects. Create an in-house part number (ERP) for the assembly and move on.

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