I dunno? A bit too strong, ya think?

At SolidWorks World the most anticipated moments are sleeping and the presentation of features on the next release. SolidWorks 2009 is set to launch the third quarter of 2008 and the development crew has some very pretty functionality they’re cooking up.

Do you want SolidWorks to perform better?
Well, ‘scalability’ just happened to be the flaming corporate whip lashed repeatedly every time 2009 was brought up. (Seriously, it was like a whipping, but one you don’t mind so much. ‘Thankyou sir, may I have another’ type of stuff.)

You can’t have too much talk about performance as long as it’s true. And as Mike Puckett mentioned, the SolidWorks team declared the same mantra of performance increases and concern for the user whether they were loopy or not.

So, performance increases are a sure bet. Really? Sure looks like it. Take a read.

SpeedPak Technology
I love the terminology they come up with sometimes. Speedpak does indeed sound better than amphetamine sulphate pak, but the results are the same. Adjusting a slider is like popping tabs as your model eliminates what components are loaded. Plus, you can make selections for what stays. I’m interested to know what/how it chooses to eliminate. I’m also kinda wondering if this is a modified, yet sexier, lightweight components.

BOM in Assembly
You can create a BOM in an assembly. When you edit a field in that BOM it updates the corresponding custom property. This looked great, but I’m concerned with large assembly BOMs. Will they be too small? Scalable? Multiple tabs?

Toolbox Enhancements
You can change configurations right on the screen and update bolt size using Instant3D. I cringe at toolbox stuff. Mostly because it’s never worked all that well for me and it lacks aircraft standard hardware. I’ll admit though, it’s been a couple years since I’ve used it last. It’s great they’re tying the Instant3D in with assembly

Ribbon Cable Support
There’s some added ribbon cable functionality added to routing. Looks like fun, but I don’t do wiring, so… ya, cool.

Sketch Enhancements
Dimensions suddenly appear as you’re sketching. As soon as you sketch a line, you can immediately type the dimension in. This is how it always should have been. I’m thinking (hoping) this will be an option because it could get annoying if you want to sketch or trace a quick profile.

Slot Tool
I don’t think I need to say anymore, except it works like the sketch offset tool, but fast as greased death.

Negative Dimension
Finally, some negativity. Enter a negative dimension, and it goes the other direction.

With the tool you can stretch geometry that’s dimensioned. It supports negative dimension.

Sheet Metal
Solid to Sheet Metal
This is more than just Insert Bends. Make a solid, select a main face and the edges to rip. It then wraps it in sheet metal and allows you to unbend it. There’s got to be limitation with complex parts which could be really annoying. Hopefully it will deal with these well. I can see this command eliminating a lot of typical problems with sheet metal and the process of step-by-step sheet metal feature creation.

Plastic Tools
Lip and Groove, Shell and Draft
Automatically adds a lip and groove to the split part as well as Shell and Draft. They were going to quick to tell if this was in a single part file or if it could be done in an assembly. Seems simple in a part context.

User Interface
Command Manager
I hear the angels singing with a lot of SolidWorks Users that like this thing. You can now put it on the sides.

Double-Click Middle Mouse button Zoom-to-Fit
Ya know, like in AutoCrad. They showed it in a drawing, so I’m not sure it’s the same in the model. If it’s not, it should be and for pete’s sake, zoom to the model geometry, not the boundary.

Quickly magnify an area of the screen without having to zoom in and out. Hmmm… Hmmmm. Sounds nice. You will have to see this because it made me kinda snicker. An actual magnifying glass pops up. I pictured an old coot with bad eyes. It’s neat I suppose, and watch, I’ll end up finding it the most useful thing.

Triad Orientation
Click on the X, Y or Z axis and the model is oriented to that view. A little bit closer to eliminating the view orientation toolbar and pop-up.

Drag Drop Leaders
You can drag and drop hole callouts to another instance of feature.

Title Block Wizard
Now you won’t have to edit the sheet format, use that crappy macro or hire someone to make a crappy macro for you. There are so many different types of title blocks out there; I’m really interested to see how this works.

All, this sounds nice huh. How does it compare though?

The development crew did a side-by-side of 2008 and 2009 opening a 10,000 part assembly inserting a 3-view into a drawing, adding a shaded assembly, making a change to the assembly and then going back to the drawing for the update. 2009 took a little bit to add the views, but not near as long as 2008. After that 2009 was hella fast. It was done before 08 had made changes to the assembly.

Ya know, 2008 looked great, very fancy new interface but not too much in the performance area. Some felt there was too much attention in this area. Just in the few things above you can see the difference in the direction for the new release. Even the UI changes work more toward how the users are use to working. While I don’t necessarily agree with keeping old practice to avoid learning something new, it does show SolidWorks is listening to the user and what’s important to them.

What do you think? Good changes?

I nearly forgot. Head to Mike Puckett’s Blog for some photos of the new 2009 features.


Josh is founder and editor at, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.