SolidWorks 2010 brought out some glaring problems with usability testing on new features. While I do “blame” SolidWorks for this somewhat I feel that it also the SolidWorks user base has to accept some of the “blame” as well.
In an effort not to alienate my readers I need to clarify what I mean here. In my opinion SolidWorks can only do so much in regards to testing new functionality. At some point it needs to get into the hands of the people that use the software for 40 hours a week to test and report back on how it affects their workflow and so on. Along with this, I will agree that SolidWorks maybe should put in an on/off switch for certain but not all new functionality. By now you might have guessed that I am talking about the dimension palette and the rapid dimension manipulator fiasco.
Well the release of SolidWorks 2011 is fast approaching so that means that the beta testing of SolidWorks 2011 is right around the corner. How does this all tie together you ask? By having more end users beta test, the likelihood of fiascos like we witnessed this year will drop significantly. In my opinion, there should be 1 user from every SolidWorks customer that at least looks and plays with the beta version of the software. I say this because you never know how the new release will affect you normal day to day workflow. The beta period is the time where it is definitely easier to submit bugs than after service pack 0 where you have to wait until the next service pack to be released for a fix. Meanwhile, while you wait, you may be forced into working with buggy software because your customers are requiring you to use the new release.
So like I said in the title, here’s your chance to help yourself, the rest of the end users, and SolidWorks Corporation. The SolidWorks 2011 beta program will be released in early July. To find all of the information you will need to participate follow this link.
This year the beta program has been changed a little bit. There will be a bunch of individual competitions that will make up the beta testing period. You can find details of all of these competitions by clicking this link.
You can also win some awesome gifts by participating. You can check out all of the prizes by following this link.
So there you have it. I strongly encourage all of you to at least download 1 of the beta releases. It is up to you whether you want to spend 1 hours, 20 hours, 40 hours, or over 100 hours testing but I think that you owe it to yourself to at least play around with it to see what it has to offer and hey, you never know, you could win 1 of the beta prizes.