eDrawings Pro for iPad–Full Review

cover-photo_thumbA few weeks ago I posted about the release of DS SolidWorks latest mobile platform app eDrawings Pro for iPad.  Now, after some time checking it out and playing with it, I am ready to give me full blown review of it.

At 1st glance, the app looked like a great tool and once I got settled into using it, I was not disappointed.  The folks at DS SolidWorks have done a great job of bringing their popular desktop CAD viewer and most of the tools that it offers to the mobile platform.

About 9-10 months ago I accepted a Sales & New Business Development position (although I am still performing my CAD Admin duties & still use SolidWorks on almost a daily basis) at my company so the need for me to be mobile has become important.  When eDrawings for iPad originally came out back in May 2012 I immediately started using it to show customers their own OR similar parts that they could rotate, zoom in or out, etc.

Now, with the availability of eDrawings Pro for iPad, the things myself and our customer or potential customer will be able to do on my iPad will be great!

First and foremost you will notice some differences with the UI included different slide out tabs on each side and less button on the top of the window (see below).

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One of my favorite new features (from a sales standpoint) is the ability to go full screen (see below).  This will be extremely helpful when multiple people are around a conference room table trying to all look at my iPad.

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Next, DS SolidWorks really started listening to the user feedback from eDrawings for iPad and implemented a lot of the tools that are available on the desktop version of eDrawings such as Measure, Section, Markup, Hide/Show Components, & Enable Transparency.  See all of these features in action in the pictures below.

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When messing around with all of the new features, I did think that the usability could be improved some with  responsiveness of the tools and selections.  However, keep in mind that the model I was playing with contained 113 components included bolts & fasteners and was 132KBS in size.

The one thing I would really like to still see added is the ability to link up file sharing services right inside of the app so that you don’t have to have an additional app on your iPad to access the files.  It would be nice to be able to link your Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, or Skydrive account directly into the app so that you can quickly pull off files from your web storage.

All in all, this is a GREAT APP and I will give it a 8.5 out of 10 and I will get a lot of use out of this app.  If you haven’t gotten it yet, you better do so quickly before the introductory price is $4.99 is changed to $9.99.

creating animations with solidworks…the review part 1

SolidWorks Corporation provided me with a free copy of “Creating Animations with SolidWorks step-by-step” for review purposes.

Over the course of the past week I have begun to read a newly released book book cover_creating animation with solidworksfrom SolidWorks Corporation called “Creating Animation with SolidWorks step-by-step”.

Before I get started with reviewing the book I want to give you a quick overview of my background with animations in SolidWorks.  I have 0 experience other than seeing it in some of the What’s New demos I have attended over the past few years.  With this in mind, I am hoping that this book will give me a good understanding of animations from a beginners standpoint.

This week, I got through the 1st chapter of the book which covered all of the basics of animation.  This included the many different types of animations that SolidWorks can perform, where you would use each and some brief examples of each kind.  This was a good chapter for me as it introduced me to not only what was available but it also got me thinking about where I could use this in a production environment.

This book is over 500 full color pages and also includes a DVD with the files that you need to complete the tutorials at the end of each chapter.  This book is very similar to the other training books that you would receive if you were to take a training course at your reseller.

Over the course of the next few weeks I am hoping to be able to continue reading through this book and posting reviews / updates on the book right here on my blog.  If you are interested in SolidWorks animations and are looking for a resource to learn more, make sure you continue to check back here for reviews or you can go and buy the book from the SolidWorks store.  The price of the book is $89.95 USD.  Follow the link below to purchase the book.

Creating Animations with SolidWorks step-by-step

solidworksmodel.com tutorials – rendering

SolidWorksModel.com provided me with a free copy of its tutorial package for review purposes.

solidworks chopper

In my first review of SolidWorksModel.com last week I gave a thumbs up to the modeling portion of the tutorial package that is available on the website.  This week I have spent some time on the rendering portion of the tutorials and I was very, very impressed.

To start off, I have NO experience whatsoever with PhotoWorks.  I have dabbled with PhotoWorks 360 but never anything with PhotoWorks.  I figured that this would be good because it would give me a good insight as to how good the tutorials really were.  Let me tell you, I was not disappointed.  All of the tutorials were well written and easy to follow along with.  He broke the rendering portion into sections so that you could see exactly how everything needs to work.

By breaking it down into simpler pieces, it allows you to easily understand how all of the pieces are put together to get your end rendering.  The picture above shows just 1 of the many renders that I created once I completed the tutorial.  The package from SolidWorksModel.com includes assembly files that include cameras and lighting already set up for easy creation of your 1st render.

My Final Verdict  thumbs-upthumbs-up[6]

Definitely 2 thumbs up on the review.  Overall this tutorial package was well composed, easy to follow, and very complete.  Like I mentioned in my 1st post, the modeling portion is not geared to beginner level users.  So if you are looking for a product that will teach you how to use SolidWorks, you should look elsewhere.  But for those of you that have been using SolidWorks for a little while and are looking for a way to sharpen your skills and create a really cool model doing so, this is the package for you.

I would recommend this package to anyone!

solidworksmodel.com tutorials–modeling

SolidWorksModel.com provided me with a free copy of its tutorial package for review purposes.

 

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A few weeks back I was contacted by Jan-Willem Zuyderdyn about his recently launched website SolidWorksModel.com.  Here is how he introduced himself in his email to me.

I will tell you something more about myself: My name is Jan-Willem Zuyderduyn and I am 25 years old. I studied Product Design & Engineering at the HU in the Netherlands. I am working with SolidWorks for almost six years now. I won the 3rd price in the SolidWorks Design Contest to design the ultimate sports car twice. (SolidWorks Design Contest Benelux in 2007 and SolidWorks 3D Challenge Europe in 2008). Currently, I work as an Automotive Designer at Modesi in Eindhoven, the Design city of the Netherlands.

I have been asked many times by friends, students and complete strangers how I model and render 3D models using SolidWorks. So, since I also enjoy designing websites I thought, why not create a website that shows my SolidWorks modeling and render process and bundle it into a complete SolidWorks tutorial package? So, that’s why I’ve been created this website.

I want to break it up into 2 posts, 1 that covers that modeling portion of his set of tutorials and the other covering the rendering portion of them.  I recently completed the modeling of the chopper and I have to say I was quite pleased with how it turned out (see pictures below).

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All in all I was impressed by the completeness of the tutorials.  The modeling portion was broken into 14 different PDF tutorials and each of the 14 tutorials included clear and concise step by step instruction as to how to model the different aspects of the chopper.  With that being said, I want to point out that this tutorial is not for a newbie.  There is a certain level of knowledge of the software that the author takes for granted that you know.  I would say if you have been using the software full time for 6 months or so you would be more than capable of completing these tutorials.

There were a few things that I would have liked to see changed as far as a modeling tutorial goes.  I wish there was more design intent incorporated into the tutorials.  The main one that I ran into time and time again was the use of extrude cuts in 2 directions to a dimension as opposed to a through all both ways when that is clearly what you were wanting your end product to show.  Another one in the assembly tutorial was the use of a parallel mate between planes at a distance of 0 as opposed to a coincident mate.  However, these did not diminish the fact that the rest of the tutorial was great all around.

solidworks chopper 

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The RockSolid Recommendation

As I stated before, these tutorials are very well done.  For the price tag of 49 Euros (currently about $63.00 US), they are well worth your time and money.  The thing that I like about doing tutorials like this is that it gets you to think in a different way than what you normally might.  That alone could lead you to change the way you design something that will save you time and money done the road and make your ROI happen quickly.  I would recommend these tutorials to anyone.

To order, click here.

To learn more about these tutorials, check out the SolidWorksModel channel on YouTube.

Stay tuned for part 2 of my review which will cover the rendering of this chopper.

dimension palette fiasco – update!

screen3 Back in February I did a post titled “dimension palette fiasco” which discussed the usability of the SolidWorks interface when the “new to SolidWorks 2010” dimension palette was active.  This post received a lot of attention on my blog and drew a fair amount of comments from unhappy users who were unhappy with how the dimension palette worked.  This post also received some attention from Tom Spine, Senior Manager of User Experience Design at SolidWorks Corporation.

In the middle of March, Tom contacted me to see if I would be interested in participating in a usability test with the revamped dimension palette that was changed in service pack 3.0.  After looking at it then I was really pleased to see how the new product acted during creating drawings and was excited to see what some of our users thought of it when it was released.

So what is the big change from the original dimension palette design to the new one?  In the picture below you will notice that a MUCH smaller popup will appear when you add a dimension or select a pre-existing dimension.  By hovering over the new smaller popup you will then activate the original dimension palette popup.  But, the original palette does not stay active unless you click somewhere inside the popup.  You can also drag it out of your way in case you would like to see it in a different area.

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So what kind of feedback have I gotten about this new design?  The users here seem to really like it.  They definitely see the benefit of the dimension palette but the previous design did not offer enough value for the hassle that it caused.  With the new design being more compact, they are using it on a regular basis now.  I personally would like to see some additional things added to the palette as I still find myself having to go to the PropertyManager in order to get my dimensions to appear how I would like but this is a different story for a different day.

Look for an upcoming post on how YOU can influence the future of SolidWorks by participating in usability testing.  It is definitely time well spent.

closing the gap

Once again I start my post by trying to explain why the world there haven’t been more posts lately.  It is probably starting to sound like a broken record by now.  One of the reasons for this absence has been a hectic and crazy couple of months at work.  What is contributing to this?  I have been in the process of moving from a designer role into a CAE Administrator role where I will be responsible for things like managing our SolidWorks, TactonWorks, CAMWorks, and Esprit software.  This has led me into areas like researching potential new CAM software and other SolidWorks add on products which I hope to also give some reviews of here as I try them out (Vuuch and SolidMap are currently on my to do list).

camworks logo  Anyways.  I am currently reviewing possible new CAM packages for our company.  4 years ago we purchased our 1st CNC machine which was a mill.  At that same time we were in the process of moving from AutoCAD to a 3D modeling environment.  SolidWorks was determined as the CAD package of choice which in turn led us to CAMWorks as our initial CAM package.  One of the reasons that we chose CAMWorks was the integration and feature recognition it had with our SolidWorks models.  At this point there were not many CAM packages out there that offered this.  Fast forward to today, we currently have the same CNC mill, 2 CNC lathes, and another CNC mill in route.  Also, within the last year or so we have started to get more and more work for our CNC machines from customers and their data is not always in SolidWorks format.  This leads to having to import the data and possibly deal with ugly imported geometry.esprit logo

Taking all of this into account has led me to begin looking for a CAM package that is not reliant on SolidWorks to run but still is able to import SolidWorks models directly along with a lot of the other CAD package formats.  Insert Esprit.  We currently own a seat  of Esprit for the wire burning machine that we have so it caused me to look at their mill and lathe packages as well and all I can say is WOW!  The gap has definitely been closed in the last 4 years between CAM packages in my opinion.  Esprit now also has the ability to import your SolidWorks feature tree into its model and it has full feature recognition.

Now this post is not say that Esprit is the absolute best CAM package out there BUT I do want to encourage you to do your homework before buying your next license of CAM or any other SolidWorks Partner Product.  Things might have changed since you last look and it might be worth your while to do a little investigating.

For a list of SolidWorks Partner Products you can visit here and cycle through what is available.

thinking about a new graphics card?

solidworks graphicsGreg Corke of Develop3D, which is an awesome magazine about anything and everything related to 3D CAD, did an article about how to select a graphics card for use with SolidWorks.  To read the article you can see it here OR I would suggest signing up to receive this magazine every other month by clicking here.

SolidWorks graphics card article link courtesy of the SolidWorks UK & Ireland blog.