What is your favorite SolidWorks enhancement in the last 5 years? I’ve got a couple, but I’ve only gone through a small percentage of all the new stuff. So far, my favorite is the new icons in the interface, and the white background for the toolbar area. Ok, just kidding. We have to reinstate the purple text color for sarcasm here. My favorite enhancement has to be the Dynamic Reference Visualization option (View => User Interface => Dynamic Reference Visualization). In 2017, SolidWorks is over 20 years old, and extremely dated from a software point of view. One of the weak areas of the software is the reliance on history-based modeling, and the tangle of parent/child relationships that it allows you to create. No one has really come up with a good solution to this (except a guy named Dick Gebhard with Resilient Modeling – no, not the politician, but more on that later). No one seems to understand or care what a mess history-based models are. Users just deal with it because they think there is no choice. Anyway, the Dynamic Reference Visualization setting helps you sort out parent and child references visually. Nice solution. A product called Solid Map tried to do something along these lines a few years ago that was a total mess, and got a very bad review on this blog. This integrated solution is simple, and works well enough in parts. Relations in assemblies are tougher to see because the trees are so long, usually longer than can be displayed on the monitor. It probably needs a zoomed out view for seeing relations between parts in assemblies, and then a zoomed in view to see which features are connected in detail.
I’ve read a hint about another enhancement that could become a favorite. SolidWorks has 4 different ways of relating one part to another, and 2 general methods (pull and push). Each of these 4 features had strengths and weaknesses. As a side note, this is the kind of problem that is typical of a software package that has outlived its usefulness. Too many cooks in the stew, recreating features that have been done before, or trying to create some esoteric fix, when all they wind up doing is adding confusion. Insert Part, Insert Into New Part, Split, and Save Bodies were 4 functions that each did something similar. I read that SolidWorks has done something to combine these tools. Not sure if it was combine by making a 5th feature with another way of doing things, or what. At this age of the software, they have so many existing users that deleting old ways of working would be a really bad idea, so they are just left with adding another feature that does the same thing. Anyway, I’ll be sure to write an article on that when I get to to that, but it’s about 700 pages away at this point.
What’s your favorite enhancement in the last 5 years?