SolidWorks 2009 offers some improvements to the overhauled user interface that was introduced in SolidWorks 2008. The user interface was a major topic of conversation when SolidWorks 2008 was released last fall. It was a complete overhaul of what had worked well in the past so the reception was not well received in many circles. Some of the following enhancements will hopefully get more and more people on board with the interface that I really like.
Because of the user interface changes in SolidWorks 2008 the CommandManager became “fixed” at the top of the screen if you used it. In previous versions the CommandManager was able to be moved to any spot on the screen like all of the other toolbars. Well this has been fixed in SolidWorks 2009, not completely but it is a start. As you can see in the picture below when you drag the CommandManager like you would for positioning any of the toolbars you will notice that 3 boxes with arrows appear on the screen. These arrows indicate the spots where you can drop the CommandManager in SolidWorks 2009. You can also leave it anywhere in the work window. When you leave the CommandManager anywhere but docked on the top, left or right you will notice a box in the upper right hand corner of CommandManager. This is the Auto Collapse button, when you click it the red arrows will appear inside it and when you click anywhere outside of the CommandManager the box will collapse to free up more work area in your window. If the arrows do not appear the CommandManager will stay as you see it below. On a side not the 1 area of the screen that I positioned this toolbar in the pre SolidWorks 2008 versions was on the bottom. I am not sure why this is not an option in SolidWorks 2009 but maybe we will see this in upcoming releases.
The PropertyManager has always been stuck inside the FeatureManager right between the design tree tab and the ConfigurationManager tab. This is the 1st release that I am aware of that allows you to move the PropertyManager (if I am wrong please drop me a line). In this release you can move it anywhere on the screen and it also allows you to Auto Collapse it in the same way that I explained you could for the CommandManager. There are no set places that you can only place it but there are certain areas on the screen where it will snap in place. The first spot is right along side the FeatureManager tree just to the right of it and the others are in any of the other 4 corners of the screen. I am not sure how much I will move this around but it is kind of a cool new option. It will be fun to experiment with it to see exactly where it fits mine and your work flow the best.
As a note to both of these enhancements I believe that you can move both of them onto a second screen if you are using a dual monitor setup. I have not been able to run SolidWorks 2009 on my work computer where I have dual monitors set up (thanks Matthew) so I am not 100% sure this is possible but I believe you can.
If you want to try out these new SolidWorks 2009 features for yourself download SolidWorks 2009 Pre Release 1 which is available in the Downloads and Updates section of the SolidWorks Customer Portal.