December, 2010 | CADD Edge Blog - Featuring SolidWorks 3D CAD Design Software

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3 Ways to Shape the Development of SolidWorks

describe the image


Every year SolidWorks comes out with a new version with new enhancements and fixes.  Even Service Packs will contain enhancements to features occasionally.  If you are using SolidWorks on a regular basis there are probably things you think it could do better.  How can you get those added?  Here are three ways.


File Enhancement Requests

SolidWorks prides itself on implementing user requested enhancements.  The describe the imageSolidWorks customer portal has an easy to use form for submitting enhancements.  You start by searching the database to see if your request already exists.  If it is you can add your vote and add additional detail as to what you need for functionality and also how it impacts you.

Join the Discussion Forums

SolidWorks employees solicit feedback on existing features or things in development.  Whenever one of these discussions pops up hop in and add your 2 cents.  You know you’ve got the right persons ear.  There is currently an area of the forum that allows users to vote for the top 10 list of SolidWorks enhancements that will be presented at SolidWorks World in January.  This list is highly publicized every year so put your stamp on it.

Enable Performance Feedback

In your system options there is a setting “Enable performance feedback.”  This option gathers data about your SolidWorks usage and sends it back to SolidWorks.  The information in the logs includes:

  • Call stacks data for instability issues. This data is used to determine operations that cause quality related issues. This data helps SolidWorks identify problems and have them fixed quickly.
  • System, processor, memory (size and type), and OS version.
  • SolidWorks version and serial number.
  • Toolbars and add-ins active.
  • Video card type and driver.
  • Command usage (information is limited to which ones were used).

With well over a million users I imagine this is the easiest way for SolidWorks to keep a finger on the pulse of its software and users.  I understand this data is primarily used in aggregate.  If a feature is not being used it may be a candidate for replacement (See Assembly Weld Beads in 2011.)  Even though Windows XP would normally not have been supported for 2011, it still is and support for 2012 may still be revisited.  I bet this performance data is one of the primary drivers behind that decision.  
The great thing about this tool is it’s the easiest way for you to send your feedback to SolidWorks.  The log file is generated whether you share the data with SolidWorks or not.  Since its being collected you might as well send it to them.  When it grows to 100  kB  it is uploaded automatically to SolidWorks.  After turning the setting on if you notice SolidWorks is trying email the file you know that your firewall is blocking the automatic upload.  Addding exceptions to your firewall for the applications sldworks.exe OR sldexitapp.exe  to upload data will resolve this.  I won’t get into how exactly you should do this but I was able to figure it out on my Windows7 machine easily enough.  SolidWorks assures us that the performance data is kept strictly anonymous, but if you are still concerned about big brother watching I'll see about putting together a sheet metal tutorial where we design a tin foil hat.  :)

These techniques might not be as satisfying as throwing a keyboard or complaining to Joe in the cube next to you, but they may be more effective, and Joe will appreciate it. 


I guess this will be it for 2010.  We'll be back next year.


How do I insert special characters in SolidWorks?


Lets say you're creating a drawing in SolidWorks and need to add a note which describe the imageincludes symbols such as Micron, or Pi.  Or perhaps you're designing this logo for my Alma Mater.


If you were using Microsoft Word™ you would go to Insert, Symbols, then find the correct item in the table and click to select it.  Lots of SolidWorks users will simply use Word's character map then copy and paste the text into their SolidWorks note.  That works for me and is exactly how I got the ™ inserted. 

This works because SolidWorks uses the standard Windows symbol mapping.  Click on Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and Character Map. A table of symbols will appear.  Find and select the desired symbol from the table.  You can then copy and paste just like you'd do from Word.

If you are constantly using the same symbol you probably won't want to do this every time.  Instead you type in the keystrokes that represent the desired character.  Here's how:

  1. Make sure your keyboard is in NumLock mode.
  2. Hold down the ALT key and enter the number on the numeric keypad. (Note that many laptops have a blue FN key that changes a set of keys, also with blue numbers on them, into a numeric keypad.) THIS DOESN’T WORK UNLESS YOU USE THE NUMBER PAD!!!
You can find the shortcuts in the Character Map or use the Chart at the bottom.

I suppose a third option would be to write a SolidWorks Macro that would enter the desired character.  Has anybody tried this method?

Thanks to John and Jan down in Farmington for providing me the material for this tip.  I just had to merge their solutions.

20 bonus points to the first person who posts my Alma Mater in the comments section.  I changed the logo colors, but it should be pretty obvious it was a technical school.

for α 224
for ß 225
for Γ 226
for π 227
for Σ 228
for σ 229
for µ 230
for τ 231
for Φ 232
for Ω 234
for δ 235
for ∞ 236
for φ 237
for ε 238
for ∩ 239
for ≡ 240
for ± 241
for ≥ 242
for ≤ 243
for ⌠ 244 (upper half of integration sign)
for ⌡ 245 (lower half of integration sign)
for ÷ 246
for ≈ 247
for ° 248
for √ 251
for ⁿ 252
for ² 253
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