I wanted to congratulate the organizers of NESWUC for another great event. They brought together over 400 SolidWorks users September 17th in Westford Massachusetts. I had a great time presenting on Electrical Routing, and learned a lot in the other sessions I attended.
As I was reflecting on the event after it was over, I realized that I didn't see anyone use my favorite new SolidWorks tool, Mouse Gestures. Then I realized I don't think I used them during my presentation either. Yesterday I introduced Gestures to a group who had been using 2010 for a while and they weren't even aware of them. I decided at that point it was time to write about them.
First the background and the how-to. Gestures were added in SolidWorks 2010, I presume as a way for folks using touch enabled displays to use SolidWorks. They are activated by pushing down your Right Mouse Button, and moving the mouse in one of 8 directions to invoke the command associated with it. When you do this a wheel appears showing you the commands associated with the different directions. Its possible to perform the gesture and execute the command before the wheel even appears. Once the gestures become second nature that will be the case. Modifying or adding Gestures is done just like modifying hot keys or toolbars. Got to Tools, Customize, and go to the Gestures tab.
What commands are on the wheel by default? I don't know and I don't think you should bother learning them either. My philosophy is add commands as you think of them. Anything you find yourself digging for a lot or are not in easy to get to spots are prime candidates for gesturizing. Here are my top 5 favorites
- Isolate I've added this as both part and assembly gestures. Normally to invoke isolate you'd have to find it on right mouse button context menu, and it doesn't have an icon.
- Measure Instead of going to the tools menu, or evaluate tab, a quick swipe and I am measuring parts and assemblies.
- Smart Dimension In the past I always had Smart Dimension mapped to the "D" key on my keyboard. One day after reinstalling the software I started a presentation without the D key mapped. I remembered Smart Dimension was a default gesture and started using it(I know I just told you not to memorize them. What can I say? I'm full of useless knowledge.) Months later D is still not mapped to anything and I don't miss it one bit.
- Zoom to Area 99% of the time I use the mouse wheel for my zooming needs. On the rare occasion I use Zoom to Area its got a gesture.
- Select Instead of using Escape to turn off commands I've a gesture for select.
I've heard of some other commands that are candidates for gestures: ShortCut Bar (aka "S" Key menu), Magnifying Glass, even Save could be mapped. Lets hear your favorite Gestures, and please keep it "G" rated.
P.S. I was playing with DraftSight the other day, and found that Gestures have made it to the the 2D editor there as well. Command line prompts and mouse gestures in the same application now thats a flexible interface.
From time to time I will be asked by customers or salespeople if there are some videos we can share showing what is in SolidWorks Premium. They may want to sell it internally to management or just understand what they have at their disposal for tools.
A little while back SolidWorks put up a section on their website dedicated to promoting Premium. Its got some cheesy, mildly amusing video skits that will never go viral because they don't put them on youtube. More importantly it has some great vignette videos showing some of the SolidWorks Premium addins in action. These videos require no registration to view and in just a few minutes give you a taste of the capabilities that SolidWorks Premium offers. ScanTo3D and Simulation Motion are not represented but the others are.
Check them out here, share them, and let us know what you think.
UPDATE: Matt from SolidWorks pointed me to the SolidWorks YouTube Channel.
The PDM/PLM group has offered to produce a series of articles highlighting some of the key aspects of SolidWorks Enterprise PDM.
One of the differences between SolidWorks Enterprise PDM and SolidWorks Workgroup PDM is that SolidWorks Enterprise PDM can support many different revision schemes or numbers in the same vault. You can set up different revision numbers for different workflows or processes to accommodate all file types managed by SolidWorks Enterprise PDM. The revision numbers can be numeric, alpha, from a list, year, month, day, hour, minute, second, and yes even a hexadecimal number. Why you would want a hexadecimal number for a revision? I don’t know, but you can. What’s even better, is you can have any combination of these and they can even have static text associated with them as well, such as "REV A", "REV B", etc.
The real power of how this capability is used can differ from one case to another, but here are some examples:
- Some files have no revision scheme at all and are just vaulted and versioned such as office documents (Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, PowerPoint presentations, etc.) that are not engineering files and therefore are not revision controlled and/or approved.
- SolidWorks files (sldprt, sldasm, slddrw, etc.) and AutoCAD Drawings (dwg, dxf) have a numeric revision scheme (01, 02, 03, etc.) when in a pre-release or prototype process, but switch to an alpha scheme (A, B, C, etc.) when released for production. Some of these files could even go directly to the production release scheme of alpha under certain circumstances without having ever been in prototype.
- If you have different types of projects, say military versus commercial, that have different revision schemes because of customer requirements, then files in the vault can actually have different revision schemes based on the project type or file location.
- Major/Minor revision numbers are also supported such that when a file moves through the pre-release workflow, the revision number should run A.01, A.02, A.03, etc. Once the file moves to the released workflow, the major revision should change to B and the minor revision counter should start over on 1, i.e., B.01, B.02, B.03, etc.
Some other revision "quick facts":
- Typically, revisions are not "set" or "incremented" by users at all, it is done automatically through the workflow, ensuring correct approvals have occurred to warrant the new revision and eliminating user error.
- The EPDM Revision can be mapped to a SolidWorks custom property so that it can be used to automatically fill-in the drawing title block.
- Every "check in" to a EPDM vault does not create a new revision, it only creates a new version of the file that may or may not become a revision of the file.
Speaking of versions, stay tuned for the next SolidWorks Enterprise PDM Tech Tip!
September 1st marked the unveiling of SolidWorks 2011. On this date the SolidWorks Launch Site went live and the release information is now public. We've been looking at it for about a couple months and will be sharing more some more personal experiences with it in future blog posts. Right now I just want to point out that the launch site has some great videos showing some of the new functionality. The What's New pdf is available for download as well.
Don't forget to register for one of our Northeast Tour events where we will give you a live tour of SolidWorks 2011.
The North Eastern SolidWorks User Conference will be Friday September 17th at the Westford Regency Inn and Conference Center in Westford, MA. Registration is now open at the website, and the early bird registrion deadline is a week away.
The full day event allows SolidWorks users from the North East to meet and learn new skills. There are 31 technical presentations to choose from as well as four SolidWorks Developer round table sessions. The presentations will be genuine “how to” sessions with demonstrations in SolidWorks 2010. See www.NESWUC.com for the agenda and descriptions of the sessions.
Leon, Stefanie, Jan and I will be presenting from the CADD Edge staff. We will also have a table where you can meet with your Account Managers.
Last year there were over 400 attendees and they plan to break that number this year. We hope to see you there.