January, 2011 | CADD Edge Blog - Featuring SolidWorks 3D CAD Design Software

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"SolidWorks is Not Responding" explained at SolidWorks World


Greetings from San Antonio Texas and SolidWorks World. I'm sure those of you back home don't want to hear me complain that its been really chilly in the conference rooms.

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Events for some of us started yesterday and I picked up a few tips at the AE Workshop a session for resellers.
I wanted to share something I learned there. SolidWorks development and support shared some interesting internal data. They emphasized their reliance on the customer feedback program I mentioned in an earlier post. If you are participating you are making the software better.
One thing thing they've noticed is that the number of "killed" sessions has gone up dramatically in Windows7. A killed session is when we go to the Task Manager and manually end the SolidWorks process. At first we might conclude that Solidworks hangs a lot more in Windows7. It turns out that a lot of these killed sessions can be attributed to a change in the way Windows decides that an application is not responding. Windows XP reports an application is not responding after it has been nonresponsive for 30 seconds. Windows Vista lowered that threshold to 10 seconds. Windows7 does this after only 3 seconds.

Let's consider an example.
I've got an assembly that takes 30 seconds to update. I make a change to it and hit rebuild. Knowing this will take some time I jump over to Outlook and check my email. I've got no new email so I switch back to SolidWorks and  boom my screen goes grey and Windows notifies me my application is not responding. "'Darn SolidWorks is going to crash" I say "I better kill it and start redoing my work since I haven't saved in a while.."

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In reality this message appeared because SolidWorks is busy updating my assembly. If I just wait till the update concludes I will be able to keep working.
Should SolidWorks do a better job to let Windows know it is not hung? In my opinion yes, but I'm not a programmer and don't know what that would entail. I wouldn't want this if it adds to rebuild time.

Next I've gotta get down to the pavilion and learn about n!Fuze.



SolidWorks Enterprise PDM Tech Tip #2


Enterprise PDM Version Overview

 Another great benefit of using EPDM is the fact that every Check In to the vault doesn't create a revision, it instead creates a version or working version as was mentioned in the previous EPDM Tech Tip.

 In an Enterprise PDM file vault, any working version of a file (created when checking in a modified file) can be assigned a revision number, either automatically during a workflow transition or manually by a user with sufficient rights. A revision number is an identifier assigned to a version of a file so that the correct version can be retrieved or to limit access of a user. It is a separate access right to be able to see revisions of files versus working versions, i.e. "Read file contents" and "Show working versions of files". This means that certain groups or users can be restricted from ever seeing the WIP (Work In Progress) iterations created between official releases of files even though they are accessing the same vault folders.

 The file history, version tab, and Get version listing will show the new revision number set to the file when a revision is created. The following image shows the history of a file that has 6 versions and 2 revisions as seen from the Get version command by a user with access to working versions of files - the user has both "Read file contents" and "Show working versions of files" permission:

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The image below shows the history of the same file as seen from the Get version command by a user that only has access to revisions or released files - the user has only "Read file contents" permission:

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Some other version "quick facts":

  • Version numbers are always the same; they start at 1 and increase for each file modification. Revision schemes can be configured, but the version scheme cannot.
  • Just as with SolidWorks Workgroup PDM, local saves do not create modifications to the vaulted files or create new versions. Only a check in does this. A user can have a model on their desktop and checked out, save it 100+ times over the course of week, a new version is only created when the user performs a check in and commits the modifications to the vault.
  • Even though there may be many versions of a file in a vault, a user only has one version - whether it is the latest or older - stored locally in their working folder or cache.

Speaking of local cache, stay tuned for the next Enterprise PDM Tech Tip!


Formatting SolidWorks Hole Callouts

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I had a support case today where a customer was unable to get his thread information or “hole callouts” from the hole wizard to show up in the dimension of his drawings.  The hole was dimensioned correctly but the hole callout information was missing.  Upon further investigation I discovered that the hole callout information is from a text file named “calloutformat.txt”.  This file can be in any location as long as SolidWorks file location points to it.  Mine was in the default file location.

Somehow the customers file became corrupt.  The solution to the issue was for me to send him my hole callout text files.  Once the customer replaced his hole callout files with my files his hole callouts worked without issue.

This got me interested in why this file exists and what it is used for.  A little digging in SolidWorks help got me the answer.  The file is there so we can set up hole callouts exactly as we want, or what our company standards dictate.  If the default hole callout that SolidWorks gives you is not what you want edit it to fit your needs.  To do this open the file in Notepad. You can now edit the definition for the Hole Callouts and create them exactly as you want.  If you have created a custom set of Hole Wizard Standard you may also want to create a custom set of Hole Callouts to match it.

Using the code of the symbol library, you can position symbols and order them in the definition of each hole wizard type. For example, <MOD-DIAM> creates a diameter symbol.  The end of the file contains text descriptions of the variables.describe the image

Don't forget that anytime you modify a standard SolidWorks file its important to back it up so if you reinstall and wipe out your directories it is maintained.  If you have multiple users in your group this file should also be added to a shared location so everyone is working with the same one. 


There is a great section in SolidWorks help that gives examples and definitions of all the options.  Search for "Hole Callouts" and it should be the first article you find. 


2011 Webinar Schedule


We are stepping it up this year webinar wise.  We know you are busy and don't often have time to come out to us to learn about the new product offerings.  You might also just be interested in learning a few new tricks to make you more productive.  The CADD Edge 2011 webinar series is here to help.  We have weekly webinars scheduled on a range of topics including: Regulatory Compliance with Enterprise PDM, SolidWorks Simulation, and Design Automation.  The schedule is posted for the first quarter along with descriptions of the events here.

Next week we will be exploring how 3DVia Composer can be used to create paperless assembly instructions.  Traditional manufacturing documentations can be tedious to create, difficult to interpret and painful to maintain.  With 3DVia composer you can document the manufacturing processes of your products, faster, more accurately and earlier in the development cycle.  Careful you might even find yourself enjoying it.


Keynote Address from the CADD Edge 2010 Road Show


I was uploading one of John's SolidWorks Tips videos recently when I got a message from YouTube.  The 15 minute time limit on videos no longer applied to our account.  We must have hit some level of posting which allows us to post longer videos.  I don't think this will drastically change the way we do things as we want to keep our videos short and informative, however it did remind me that I had not yet posted the keynote address from the CADD Edge Road Show.

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Back in October we held a series of user events throughout the region.  We kicked these events off in New York City with an address by Ben Kaufman, CEO and founder of Quirky.  Quirky is a unique product development company that utilizes a strategy of creating products via an open community based approach to gather, refine, and develop ideas for new products.  The process is not easy for me to describe in blog format and so I will leave it to Ben.  If you haven't already you might hear (sorry) of them when they unveil their new speakers at CES this month.  We recorded the address and used it to lead off the other events as well.  It was well received and we've received numerous requests to make it available.


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