hidden gem: total uninstall option now available

First and foremost, I am taking no credit for finding this so I want to give credit where credit is due.  Chris Snider, Application Engineer at 3DVision Technologies, posted a few weeks back on their blog that SolidWorks now has the “Total Uninstall” option that so many CAD Admins have begged and pleaded for for a long time.

However, this new option is not easily found unless you know where to look.  Starting with SolidWorks 2011 SP3.0, you can start the uninstall process, and click on the program bar at the top of the uninstall window as shown below.  From there you will notice the “Total Uninstall” option as shown below.

total uninstall

For more information on this you can check out the Forum Topic for this tool.

As a CAD Admin I want to personally thank the SolidWorks developers for finally adding this to the program.  This will make my life much, much, much simpler.

toolbox headaches in solidworks 2011? this might be the cause

headacheAre toolbox components making your head throb in SolidWorks 2011?

Well there is a new option that might be throwing you off and you probably aren’t even aware that it is checked by default out of the box.

In Tools > Options > Hole Wizard / Toolbox there is a new checkbox for a feature called “Make this folder the default search location for Toolbox components”.  According to the SolidWorks help file this new feature “is useful when you open models whose toolbox components do not reference your Toolbox folder. If you clear the system option, SolidWorks does not automatically search the Toolbox folder for references to Toolbox components.”

toolbox default search location

Whether this is the cause of your toolbox problems or not, the frustrating thing for me is that this option is checked by default out of the box.  I am not a huge fan of new features being added like this and it is automatically checked without being publicized in some way shape or form.  Unless you go through each option when a new release comes out (which I think every CAD Admin should) you probably wouldn’t have seen this or known about it.

solidworks 2011…performance test

One of the hot topics on the various SolidWorks forums is always performance and benchmarking.  Users are always looking to see how their system compares to others and also trying to find out what the best combination of hardware is when purchasing a new system.

In SolidWorks 2011 this process has been made a lot easier.  Located in your Start Menu SolidWorks folder is a new program called SolidWorks Performance Test.  You can find it by going to Start > All Programs > SolidWorks 2011 > SolidWorks Tools > SolidWorks Performance Test.

solidworks performance test location

Once you launch the program you will be presented with the screen below.  Keep in mind that you will need to have SolidWorks 2011 and PhotoView 360 in order to run this test.  They also recommend that you restart your computer right before running the benchmark.

solidworks performance test

It took my system just under 30 minutes to run this test and it presented me with the results below.  The test opens a part, assembly, and drawing, and then does a render of the part.  It will run this same process 5 times in order to get accurate readings.

solidworks performance test_2

Once the benchmark has been completed you will be given the opportunity to share your scores with other users on the SolidWorks Benchmark Site.  Simply give your system a name and specify whether it is a desktop of laptop.

solidworks performance test_3

Once submitted you will be automatically taken to the Benchmark Site so that you can see how your system compares with others.  The thing I really like about this is that if you upgrade your hardware and rerun the benchmark it will update your entry on the site.  This is as long as it is the same computer.

benchmark site

Below is the site address in case you would like to visit it without running the benchmark.


I would highly suggest running this benchmark and seeing how your system compares to others.

solidworks 2011…launch week

splash screen_solidworks 2011There has been a lot of press about SolidWorks 2011 over the past month or so from the press.

But I will still vow that reading it just isn’t the same as seeing it in action.  This is why I encourage you to attend a SolidWorks 2011 Launch Event in your area that is put on by your reseller.

I am personally attending one locally this afternoon and am looking forward to seeing some of the new functionality again and also being able to talk to our VAR about some of the new features and this new release.

These event are also a great opportunity to network with other users in your area.  A few years back I saw our next door neighbor at an event like this and neither of us had any idea what the other did.  You just never know who you might see.

To find a complete list of events click here.

solidworks 2011…merge point

merge point sw2011I have not been able to do as many what’s new in SolidWorks 2011 previews as I would like due to a heavy workload currently but this is an enhancement that I could not pass up sharing.

The Context Toolbar has been one of my favorite user interface enhancements over the past few years especially when it comes to adding quick relations to sketch entities.  However, a frustration of mine since it was introduced was one key missing relation that I still had to go to the property manager to add.

Merge points for some reason was one of the only relations that did not automatically appear when sketching in the past but this has now been fixed in SolidWorks 2011.  I can not even begin to explain how happy I am about this.  The LITTLE enhancement that will not get much publicity will save me a lot of mouse movements during my daily workflow.

Have you beta tested SolidWorks 2011?  If so, do you have a favorite enhancement that will probably not receive a lot of attention?  If you do, please share, I would love to hear them.

solidworks 2011…solidworks search

solidworks search

One of the better “lesser publicized” enhancements to the 2011 version of SolidWorks is the increased functionality of the Search toolbar inside SolidWorks.

In previous versions all you could do was search for was files and models but in 2011 SolidWorks has included the ability to search the Knowledge Base, Forums, or Files and Models.  The What’s New document also states that you should have the ability to search the SolidWorks Help files as well but I have been unable to find this functionality in SolidWorks 2011 Beta 3.

All you need to do is select the drop down arrow in the Search box to determine where you would like to search.  The one thing that I think is extremely nice is that it maintains your search phrase or criteria even if you switch where you would like to search.

When you search the Knowledge Base or the Forums you will get popup screens like the ones below for your search results.

search_knowledge base

Knowledge Base


SolidWorks Forums

All I can say is this is a nice way to one stop shop!

solidworks 2011…solidworks background downloader

SolidWorks 2010 offered us a major overhaul to the installation process of SolidWorks.  The enhancements in this release are more geared towards the admin images but there is 1 part of the installation process that can benefit everyone.

SolidWorks 2011 offers a new function called the SolidWorks Background Downloader.  This is a tool that is continuously running on your computer and as soon as an update becomes available it starts the download process for your in the background.  It works similar to what you would expect with the Windows Update functionality.

It is kind of hidden during the original process of installation but once it is checked you are good to go.  On the installation screen, once you get to the Summary page there is an option to Edit the Download Options.  Once there, on the bottom of that screen there are 2 checkboxes for you to review.  The first checkbox is “Use the background downloader for all future service packs” and the second is “Use the background downloader for this download”.  You can see a screenshot of this below.

swim background downloader

For a more detailed explanation of what it is and how it works, you can click the question mark icon by the “Do you want to use the Background Downloader” heading and it will take you to the popup shown below.

swim background downloader_2

This is very nice new functionality.  No more sitting around waiting for your downloads, you can do it while you continue to model.  A side note is that the download will pause if you shut your system down for the night and then resume once you fire it back up in the morning.

This is definitely a tool that you will want to experiment with.

solidworks 2011…memory management

Dassault Systemes SolidWorks Corporation has paid for my travel, accommodations, and some meals for the 2011 SolidWorks Launch Blogger event.


So as I mentioned in my introductory post yesterday, SolidWorks seemed to spend a fair amount of time focusing on performance and stability for the 2011 release.

Shawn Murphy joined us at the start of our day on Tuesday at SolidWorks headquarters located in Concord, MA.  Shawn told us the focus of this release was directly based off of the top 2 customer requests that they hear, performance and stability.  The way that SolidWorks tackled this problem this year was more of a focus on memory management.  It is common knowledge that as resources go down on your system more problems come up.

I think a common knowledge around the SolidWorks community is that as your work day progresses and you open and close more and more files your system seems to bog down a little bit more each time.  This usually results in the end user at some point just shutting down SolidWorks and rebooting or shutting down your entire system and rebooting.

This year instead of seeing graphs on speed and stability we saw a graph on memory management that still showed the same initial spike related to start up but instead of seeing the bar continuously climb as the hours and memory resources grew, you noticed a more flatline looking graph that levels off at wherever your system reaches at start up.  This is good to see, definitely a start in the right direction.

Another interesting tidbit of information that Shawn shared with us had to do with the number of users and installs related between service pack 4 or 5 of current releases and service pack 0 of a new release.  Most times they will notice a sharp decrease in installs of new versions as opposed to a new or current service pack release of an existing version.  He said a lot of times this is directly related to a lot of customers waiting until service pack 1 or 2 of a new release before they are willing to move it into production.  This year they are thinking that they will be seeing a more level number between these 2 as the new product is seemingly as close as you are going to be able to get to the last release of a previous version.  A lot of this can be attributed to the performance monitors that automatically run when users beta test.  They are noticing a SIGNIFICANT decrease in crashes with the 2011 version as opposed to previous beta products.

This is all good stuff and I feel that this is the reason that SolidWorks is leading the way in 3D CAD.  They are listening to the customers and are working on the things that really matter as opposed to a ton a shiny new features or trying to match whatever the competition is adding.

solidworks 2011…the overview

Dassault Systemes SolidWorks Corporation has paid for my travel, accommodations, and some meals for the 2011 SolidWorks Launch Blogger event.

splash screen_solidworks 2011

So here we are, the embargo has been lifted and you are already getting bombarded with SolidWorks 2011 goodness this morning.  I wanted to start out my series of posts with just kind of a quick overview of the next release and the meat and potatoes in the upcoming days and weeks.

The 1st thing that you will notice in the What’s New manual this time around is its size.  Normally this document is well over the 200 page mark but this year it is considerably smaller and checks in at the 168 page mark.  Now this doesn’t mean that this release is not worth a look or download, I think it is smaller because more of the focus was put on the things behind the scenes like performance, stability, and memory management.  I will cover these things more in depth in my next post coming tomorrow.

A comment I overheard in the last couple of days was that the developers spent less time on new projects this time around and the focus was put towards cleaning up existing code to make the product leaner.  This leads me to wonder, are they cleaning up code to make the existing product better?  Yes, this probably plays a role in it.  But also, are they trying to clean up the current code as much as possible now before they transfer some of that to the “cloud” version of the software that is rumored to be coming.  I think this is also a big part of the focus on these areas the last couple of years.

Whether it is or isn’t, it means good stuff for the end user right now.  A more lean code behind the scenes means a smoother, more stable version of the software that we all know and love.

Stay tuned in the upcoming days and weeks for more posts on the stuff you can expect to see in SolidWorks 2011.

solidworks 2011 previews coming to a blog near you!

splash screen_solidworks 2011

I have been hit and miss here on my blog for a little while now mainly because of my current workload at work but I wanted to inform you of some things you can expect in the upcoming weeks.

On Tuesday, myself and a bunch of the other bloggers will be meeting up in Concord, MA at SolidWorks Corporation headquarters for an exclusive hands on preview of SolidWorks 2011.  While many of us have already been beta testing the software, this will allow us to see some of the deeper functionality that we might have otherwise missed or overlooked.

Wednesday morning at 8:00 AM the NDA will be lifted and you will probably notice a barrage of posts from the bloggers covering all of the new functionality that we have seen.

So stay tuned and let me know if there is anything specific that you would like me to preview.

For a countdown until the coverage begins visit www.solidworkslaunch.com.