More Favorite Enhancements: Replace Entities

I’m on a campaign against bad relationships. Bad CAD relationships, I mean. History CAD is tough to manage correctly in a way that doesn’t result in a lot of errors when you go to change things later on. I’ve written before about ways history-based CAD could be saved, tools that could be added to the software to make it possible to fix things when they break.

I know I’m late to the2014 What’s New party, but the Replace Entities function in sketches is one way in which conscientious SolidWorks users can begin to help themselves. It’s not your typical SolidWorks enhancement in that A) there’s no sexy flash about it, and B) it’s not a giant “ease of use” sort of thing. Using it to do it right is actually more work than doing it manually, but It’s the correct way to do things. I think there has long been a Replace function hidden in there, but it was pretty obscure. People didn’t use it because of A and B above.

Say you drew a rectangle and created a solid from that, and maybe you even put a fillet on the edges. Eventually you decided you really wanted a curved side on it. So what do you do?

  1. Go back, delete the line, replace it with an arc, swear at the software and fix the fillet and any other downstream features when they fail
  2. Maybe you think you’re smart, so you change the line to construction, and sketch in the arc, but you still have to deal with feature failure
  3. Create a new feature that builds an arced face on the front, swear at the software and fix the fillet and any other downstream features when they fail
  4. Go back, use the Replace Entities to swap an arc for the line, and then gloat in your superiority because your fillet and other features didn’t fail

This is still kind of an obscure thing. It’s one of dozens of tools in the Sketch Tools menu. I hope someone has made a big deal about it at some point. It could save people a lot of hassle if you’re careful to use it when you need to. I know its not sexy, like making the toolbar area background the same color as the graphics area background, but it’s useful.

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