I spend a fair amount of time lamenting the state of the documentation around the SolidWorks software. It’s part of what motivated me to write the book. I tried to use the Help in some of the research for the book, but it was often woefully inadequate. It seems to go in cycles, and there are definitely areas of it that are better than others. For example, in the Help index, type in “spline”. You get a capitalized entry with the most useless generic information imaginable, and then two entries down is a lower case entry “splines” with many sub topics. Too many cooks in the stew. Sloppy work.
Here’s a good one. In the Index search box, enter the word “surface”. First, in the result there is a combination of singular and plural. That just adds confusion. Look down at the first sub topic under “surfaceS”, which is “Automatic Surface Creation”. Wow, I’ve never heard of that. Check it out. Now that’s cool, but what in the hell are they talking about? You have to go all the way to the end of the entry to learn that this is a ScanTo3D function. It isn’t listed in the Index list the way it is if you do a search, and it isn’t in the header for the topic.
Some areas where the Help is highly useful are in sheet metal, configurations. The Smart Fasteners section is the only Help topic I have ever seen which makes an attempt at being honest about the shortcomings of the software. It has a list of “unsupported hole types”.
So it’s not all bad news. When I learned the software, in SW97, I learned completely from the Help and the tutorials, the company I worked for would not send me to training. I’ll bet that there are a lot of people in that same boat today. The software is far more complex now than it was 10 years ago, and learning from the Help is probably not a good plan.
I’m going to make this a two-part entry. Check back tomorrow to read the good news about where to find official SW information on the software, short of paid reseller training…