Use EPLAN with SQL Server Express

Intended Audience: EPLAN P8 users who want to try SQL Server Express

I started using SQL for my parts database a few months ago and the more I use it, the more I like it. EPLAN certainly comes with tools that enable users to import and export data to/from databases, but they often rely on customizing a confusing config file and externally massaging data. SQL has real tools built right into the database manager and many IT professionals already know how to use these tools. I am NOT an IT pro but I have learned a few SQL scripts that have made me reconsider some of my past practices. In future posts I will try to show you some of these simple scripts that will help make it unnecessary to waste time massaging excel data before you import it. There are also a few advanced situations like modifying the EPLAN or ERP part numbers where the SQL scripts can really show their power.

When I say SQL I am describing a product from Microsoft known as Microsoft SQL Server. There are many other databases out there that include the tag SQL but to my knowledge EPLAN is only officially approved for use with the Microsoft products. In the industry “SQL Server” is the version that runs on a remote server and is recommended for use with teams, while “SQL Server Express Edition” is the version that runs on a local PC and the database therefore is used only by the local user. There are many other variants and someday I hope to find a free cloud service that i can try using EPLAN with, but the remainder of this article will discuss the local install.

From the EPLAN Help File:

EPLAN is approved for use with:

    • Microsoft SQL Server 2012
    • Microsoft SQL Server 2014
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2016

Installing SQL Express Locally

This information would be for the EPLAN user who wants to try an alternative to the old default database, MS Access. MS SQL Express is a free application that you can download from Microsoft at no cost. It is a bit more complicated to set up but there are several good tutorials from EPLAN and others.

EPLAN Provided Tutorials for install SQL Server & SQL Express

Download Link for SQL Express 2014

Link to Video Tutorial on how to install SQL Server 2012

Installing SQL Express Remotely

Most SQL Express users install the application and then create a local database to hold the EPLAN parts database on the local PC which makes it a standalone application. However, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t install SQL Express on a windows file share and use it with a design team. I helped a customer in Georgia do just that one night when I discovered that they all had an incompatible version of MS Office. It is more work and I had help from their IT manager, but keep it in your head as a possible option.

Create your first SQL database

Once the installation has completed you should notice that MS has installed the application along with a suite of tools. Look for and launch the Studio Manager. If it is missing then it was not selected as an install option, you may want to reinstall this option. This tool serves as a graphical user interface for managing your databases, its quite handy.

Opening the application you will be greeted with a login window. This should point to the default database that was created during the install. If you selected SQL Server Authentication you will need to select that now, I prefer Windows Authentication for a local PC install. Click [Connect]

When the application opens you will have an object explorer listing several items, one of which is a database folder, lets expand that. If you have made it this far we know that the application loaded properly and that you have access to it. If when you click on the database folder you DON NOT see anything or it does not expand, then you do not currently have Admin rights on your PC, this is a must have if you want to be able to perform backups or manage any of the data in the database.

Next Step – Lets Create a new EPLAN SQL Database

Please reach out to me if you have any questions or comments.

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