Archive for December, 2010

“What If?” Workflow Workaround

Monday, December 27th, 2010

Today’s blog entry is for experienced SolidWorks Enterprise PDM users only. If you are not an experienced EPDM user, please go back and continue reading your Fox Trot cartoons.

Everyone loves SolidWorks Enterprise PDM’s workflows. However some feel there is one weakness:

If you have a file in a released/approved state, it is typically read-only. Doing “what if” type scenarios is very difficult because you can’t save your work! Until today all the workarounds I have seen were rather cumbersome.

Friends, Romans, countrymen, keep your ears -I have a solution….or at least a less cumbersome workaround.

In Windows Explorer, go to the properties of the file you wish to experiment with and remove the read-only flag.


Now you can edit and save this file as you like! (Depending on your settings, you may get a warning from SolidWorks reminding you that you are editing a checked in document, but you can ignore this. The SolidWorks title-bar will correctly tell you if the file is read-only or not.)

If you decide your “What If…” turns into “I’m glad we’re not…”, clear the file from your local cache, and you are back as if nothing ever happened.

If you like the changes:

  • Copy the file to a location outside of the vault
  • Check out the file
  • Copy the file back into the vault, overwriting the file in the vault.

I must admit this is a few steps, but you certainly could do this in less than a minute, and it is a great solution compared to the others I have heard. If you do this often, you may want to consider writing a custom addin, or contact 3DVision they can sell you one to automate this procedure.

When working this way, don’t forget your changed files are only on your local drive. There will be no backups [don’t accidently clear your local cache, or pour coffee into your hard-drive] and others cannot see your changes, so you’ll probably have to rely on eDrawings for peer and customer reviews.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Every Day is Game Day!

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

For engineering teams, Every Day is Game Day, and you need your team performing at their best to stay ahead of the competition. To help with this, SolidProfessor is offering a free webinar series featuring SolidProfessor Enterprise.

SolidProfessor Enterprise is a new, web-based solution for companies who want to improve the proficiency and skill level of their SolidWorks design team in order to avoid:

-Poor quality designs
-Prolonged design times
-Missed project deadlines
-Problems with design edit-ability down the road
-Non-standard design practices and more . . .

SolidProfessor Enterprise provides a solution by allowing company administrators to provide a comprehensive SolidWorks education resource to individual users, while tracking usage and retention.

To register for one of the upcoming webinars, click here.

3DVision Technologies

Your destination for design and manufacturing technology

Default SolidWorks System Options Reviewed

Monday, December 20th, 2010

Around every major release of SolidWorks, I sit back and take a thorough look through all of the system settings to make sure I have everything set up just the way I want it.  I figured I’d pass along the list of changes I made this year (Tools > Options > System Options)…


  • [Uncheck] Show errors every rebuild – If you pay attention to the icon at the top of your feature tree, you shouldn’t need these obnoxious pop up messages reminding you of your modeling mistakes.
  • [Uncheck] Warn before saving document with update errors – Same as above


  • [Uncheck] Use specified color for Shaded With Edges mode – Rather than using the default black color for all of your model edges, it will use a color closest to the appearance of the model.  This greatly helps differentiate your black and blue sketch geometry from all of the surrounding model edges.  I think it also provides a slightly cleaner look to your model.


  • Assembly transparency for in context edit: Maintain assembly transparency – This is the least taxing on your graphics card and results in much better performance.
  • [Check] Highlight all edges of features selected in graphics view – Sometimes trying to select features in the graphics area by clicking on a face can be deceiving.  This option will still just highlight the single face that you selected, but it will also highlight all the edges of the corresponding feature so you know you’re picking the right one without having to double check in the feature tree.
  • [Check] Display dimensions flat to screen – Why not??


  • [Check] No preview during open (faster) – Be patient, you’ll see it soon enough!  You might as well save some loading time.  This way, you’ll also know when your model is fully loaded.


  • [Check] Save new components to external files – Though virtual components can be useful, I still only use them occasionally.

External References:

  • [Check] Allow multiple contexts for parts when editing in assembly – I keep this checked on, but only because I know what I’m doing when it comes to in-context assembly design.  If you haven’t taken our Advanced Assembly class, I’d be hesitant to recommend checking this option on.

Default Templates

  • [Select] Prompt user to select document template – This is only because I frequently switch between using Metric and English templates.  If you’re always using the exact same templates, then you should just fill out the file locations above this setting.

File Locations:

  • There’s a ton of stuff to be customized here.  Check out this post for more info.


  • [Check] Arrow key navigation – I can’t think of a reason why you would not want this great functionality.  If you’re unaware of it, get hip to it.
  • Solid Bodies: Show – This folder is useful to see whether or not you have multiple solid bodies.  It provides access to select and change the appearance of your solid bodies at all times.
  • Surface Bodies: Show – Same as above.

Spin Box Increments:

  • English units: 0.0625in – I find it very annoying when this value is too large
  • Metric units: 1.00mm – Same as above

Hole Wizard/Toolbox:

  • [Check] Make this folder the default search location for toolbox components – This is a cool new option in 2011, but where the heck else would you rather search for toolbox components???  I guess they don’t want to force you to use the new option just yet.


  • [Check] Enable multi-user environment – Definitely do this if you have more than just yourself using SolidWorks at any given time.

If you enjoyed these recommendations, you’ll definitely enjoy these posts as well:


3DVision Technologies

Your destination for design and manufacturing technology

Speak Now, or Forever Hold Your Peace

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Do you ever catch yourself grumbling while using SolidWorks?  Well, I know of a few from my recent Essentials classes that do!  Whenever you find yourself saying, “That’s stupid, it should work THIS way!”, do this:

  1. Freeze
  2. Grab a pen and a pad
  3. Write your thoughts down, so you don’t forget them
  4. Log into the customer portal and submit an Enhancement Request (located under ‘My Support’).

But for the next month or so, you’ll also be able to post your ideas with a chance to have them voted into the top 10 of the year!  Just click on this link (you’ll need to be logged into the forum, so if you don’t have an account create one)…


…and start submitting/voting for your favorite enhancements by clicking the ‘Create an idea’ link on the right.  The top 10 ideas will be presented in San Antonio during SolidWorks World and be at the top of the development team’s to-do list!  SolidWorks’ ability to listen to their enormous user base (1.4 million) is what keeps them ahead of the pack.

So get busy, or BE QUIET!  : )

By the way, I just littered the submission board with 15 ideas of my own.  Here are my favorites (again, make sure you’re logged in for links to work): Weldment Profiles to use Configurations, Auto Zoom ‘Normal To’ for Sketches Option

3DVision Technologies

Your destination for design and manufacturing technology

Always search your roots

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Here is today’s tip of the [randomly scheduled time interval]

To force your SolidWorks Enterprise PDM search to always start in the root of your vault. Open your search card, click on “Default Values”


Then enter a \ in for “Search Folder Path”


You don’t even need “Search Folder Path” field on your search card for this to work.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

My comments on the cutting room floor

Friday, December 10th, 2010

I was involved in a Microsoft case study!


It is a rather interesting process. Apparently Microsoft hires this type of work out to another company that collects the information and writes up these case studies for them.

This whole process began early this summer, and I was surprised how much work goes into putting these together. We were interviewed several times…lots of fact checking, proof reading, double checking, more proof reading.

Bottom line though,they produced a very cool case study about how SolidWorks Enterprise PDM has helped Ferno design their products world wide….and saved money to boot. Hyper-link over and check it out.

Sadly, after all my interviews, did you notice my name isn’t even mentioned? Very, very, very surprising because some of my comments were literary gold!

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

Tastes Great! Less Filling!

Thursday, December 9th, 2010

Remember those “Tastes Great! Less Filling!” commercials from the 80’s? (Okay, you don’t have to remember, I just gave you a link.)

One of those arguments seem to come out every time I talk with people about the two toolbox options:


They both have their advantages…but which one should you choose?

Today, after talking with several SolidWorks Toolbox specialists (who wouldn’t officially vote one way or the other) I am going out on a limb and recommend “Create Configurations” to all SolidWorks Enterprise users. Yup. I’ve said it. Let the debate cease. Stick a fork in it, it is done.

Though let me add one twist to this method. Create all the configurations you need now rather than having the users create the configs one at a time as needed. If you create them one at a time:

  • You’ll end up with many versions of the part in the vault that really have no value
  • As these configurations are added, the system has to check out and back in the file -checking in/out a file with thousands of configurations is rather painful.

CreateConfigs(click on the thumbnail to see a nifty little trick to quickly create all of the configurations.)

The toolbox gurus do state that an assembly with 1000 fastener files will get the same performance as an assembly with one fastener file that contains a 1000 configurations.

Certainly you only want to create all of these configurations of the fasteners that you typically use. I wouldn’t create the configurations of the strange ones that no one has ever heard of.

I guess the nice thing about this debate is that since so many people like one way or another, you really cannot go wrong with either method.

Remember December is National Engineering Data Specialists month. Do something nice for the Engineering Data Specialists you love.

Standard disclaimer: The views expressed in this blog are those of the author alone and should not be misconstrued as an endorsement of neither 3DVision Technologies nor SolidWorks. The advertisers within this blog entry are strictly that of their own and should not be considered an endorsement of their product’s usage. Standard messaging rates shall apply.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

What’s New in SolidWorks 2011 Video

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

As we’ve been doing for the last few years, we’ve posted a video presenting all of what’s new in SolidWorks 2011.  Whether you weren’t able to make it to one of the local live events or you’d like to pass it on to your colleagues so they’ll be able to review all the new details as well, it’s available by clicking the link below.


3DVision Technologies

Your destination for design and manufacturing technology

Billy gave his life for PDM

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

On days I am in the office I help with technical support. Most typically the SolidWorks Enterprise PDM questions are pushed to me. Yesterday I received this support email from Brandon that made me giggle, I thought I would share it with you.

JOURNAL Log 0375

The camp is dark; we lost our fire due to the storm three nights ago.  I don’t know if we can take the cold much longer.  We lost Billy.  He left to gather food five nights ago.  I fear the storm took his life as well. If you are reading this, then it means that PDMWorks has won.  I can hear it closing in.  It’s been eight and a half days since our last battle.  We lost many, but the numbers remained on our side.  Three nights prior to the storm we launched an attack.  It was futile as the vault was impenetrable.  Too many layers, too many rules.  We pulled back to save the weak.  We only have a few licenses.  If we’d have had more, maybe we could have struck harder.  A scout reported that the vault is mutating.  There are now several versions.  What could we do…

“The note ends with hurried writing.  One can only assume the pen’s weilder was frantic to put his recollection of the “final days” on paper.  For it is the only thing the vault can not control… paper.”

The other funny thing was that if you notice, he never actually asked a question! Turns out it was a question about user rights, and all is now good. I kinda feel bad for Billy though.

Jeff Sweeney

CSWE Engineering Data Specialist 3DVision Technologies

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