Using Solidworks 2013
There’s a big difference between using CAD software and kvetching about CAD companies. The part of my job that I actually get paid for is the former. I really miss the “good ole days” when all we had to complain about was bugs. I would gladly go back to just talking about the software rather than the company that makes it. Dassault is like a Spanish station soap opera – way, WAY over the top. Just for nostalgia, let’s talk a little about the software.
I’ve had a couple of projects going for the first part of this year, and one of them has been using SolidWorks 2010. I’ve got 5 versions of SolidWorks installed on my main machine, just so I’m ready. When you’ve had a chance to run 2013, going back to 2010 is a real chore. 2010 had a lot of body-related bugs, and a steady flow of color related bugs. One time I used the Draft Analysis tool, and my models are now randomly red and green. If you fix it and then roll the model back, it will be randomly red and green again. Color was BADLY broken in 2010.
The other project is using 2013. 2013 does have several bugs that have been there for a long time, but it also has a lot of little details that have been fixed. The bug where reordering any feature in a tree that has a failed shell feature results in a message about break lines or something is still there. The fact that you can insert an open part into an assembly, but not into another part is still a head-scratcher. And then there are the persistent bugs where if you use an undocked PropertyManager on another monitor, tooltips seem to just automatically show up over the controls. A convenience obscuring a necessity. Now if that doesn’t sum up the DS approach to dealing with SolidWorks customers, nothing does.
Something new that’s broken is what in the hell they’ve done with the Measure tool. This is one of those tools that gets gutted every few years whether it needs it or not. I had just started thinking the last thing they did was productive, when they have suddenly “fixed” it. You no longer have the X, Y and Z distances on screen, and you’ve got some bewildering options now. It took me 2 days to figure out why I couldn’t measure center to center. And I still can’t measure from temp axes of transparent parts. The Modify box always seems to have something hanging down over a button that you need to click. This shows that people aren’t paying attention. It’s just sloppy. There was never any shortage of things that legitimately needed fixing, I just can’t understand why they chose to fix stuff that pretty much worked.
On the other hand, there are some things in 2013 that really improve the productivity of the software. For example, try to make a fillet and change the radius with the PropertyManager. Then change it again. And again. Again, Again, Again. You can do it. You used to have to swipe with your mouse to do it again, but somebody must have read a beginning programming book where they talk about cursor focus. Basic, basic stuff. You don’t need a freaking cognitive psychologist to tell you if the focus isn’t on a number, you can’t type over it. Only took 18 years to figure that one out.
Here’s another one that’s genuinely brilliant. I know that sounds sarcastic, but I mean it. If you are placing a dimension that requires two selections and a placement click, you can press ESC and SW backs you up one step, instead of getting you out of the entire command. Ok, you want to talk about “productivity”???!?!? THAT’s the kind of thing we need. Simple, effective, intuitive. Not another gutted renderer. Not a tool that automatically disects all your parts starting at 8 pm. Not a new name for colors, or shiny backgrounds, or FeatureManager skins (remember those?). And certainly not the promise of a whole bunch of IT development that has nothing at all to do with getting my DESIGN job done.
Anyway, I just wanted to check in with people who still use the software. Msr Charles’ belated proclamation was a bit of a spoiler, knowing the end of the story – that development of this software is a dead end.