So, last week we looked at a lot of new features in SolidWorks 2010 – the ‘best’ features and how to use some of the more prominent ones. It was, by far, a brief look at what will spill onto your screen come release day.

There were a few mentions of what was lacking in the new release, but now we swing right through the middle, as hard as we can, tearing as few important ligaments as possible. I’ll touch on ten, but no doubt you could add a few more. What would they be?

Some Things That Just Plain Suck it

  1. Download and Installations
    I started a game of Stratego, gained 5 levels on Mafia Wars, clipped my dog’s fingernails and dusted a screaming bum while waiting for SolidWorks to download and install. In the era of installation, we’ve moved from multiple CD’s to a DVD to downloads. I can only imagine the next phase is a browser-based installer or a SolidWorks-on-a-Flash-Drive that only requires updated to core files. (Totally thinking one-touch WordPress updates here.)
  2. Same Sketch Tools in 3D Sketch
    Yeah, so maybe I want to show my aunt how to mirror a circle in a 3D sketch. It’s not gonna happen. Auntie is gonna get depressed, not eat and deplete herself of minerals because only some sketch tools are available in 3D sketches. The hope here? 2D or 3D, no difference. Why should there be? It’s all 3D space right?
  3. Lost References/Unable to Locate
    Spilling hot soup on your face and being slapped with a 2×4 may be more attractive at this point, especially with Vista. A name is change, a file is moved. It’s not SolidWorks’ fault, and yes, you can set up search paths. OK, that’s all cool. But, I’d rather have some message, like. “Hey, some dummy moved your crap. It’s probably here. Yep, I found it. Does this look right?” or heck, no message at all. A ‘virtual ghost’ that could be reconstructed would be nice or a type of location beacon. Call it 3D file GPS.
  4. Large Assembly/File Loading
    While certain functionality like coffee breaks, Facebook and throwing thumbtacks have alleviated much of the frustration having to do with loading large assemblies, the problem still persists. Why do components have to load? I can stream a ‘4GB movie’ online and add a comment at the same time, but I can’t sketch a line in another part while SolidWorks is loading a file.
  5. Feature Rebuilding
    It’s the scab that just won’t heal, is it? Maybe you should stop picking at it first. Features just need to be rebuilt – the skin of your model-ly innards. Then lets skin it. Maybe look at it this way, waiting on the user to create more features rather than the software to rebuild them? So, maybe this is the culprit of all the loading times. Two birds? One stone?
  6. One Feature at a time
    Baby steps there, buddy. You’re bound to get yourself sucked into a endless amount of circular references and emotion. I can extrude and draft a profile at the same time, right? why not something amongst the other possible features? While we can only grasp so many steps with our mind and pick so many points with our mouse, there’s bound to be better possibilities to form a neatly organized set of features.
  7. Auto-Configure Features
    If you put ‘Auto’ in front of anything, it just makes life easier. Auto delete, Auto take out the trash, Auto hit rude coworker, you get the idea. You get some Configuration enhancements in 2010. Some that, yes, automate configuration creation. But, what if you didn’t have to create a design table of PropertyManager? Mark a Feature or Dimension for Configuration. It’s not there now, but should be.
  8. Auto-Suggest Annotation
    There’s that ‘Auto’ again. Imagine typing a search into Google and an auto-suggest feature suggesting your search term. Oh, yeah, you can do that. Let’s apply that to annotations. Say you have a database of common annotations. Instead of storing them in a drawing template, or in the Design Library.
  9. Replace a Part with an Assembly, and Vice-Versa
    It’s unnatural isn’t it. Why shouldst thou seek for beauty not thine? … or something. You can replace parts with assemblies using the ‘Replace’ command when the model is open, but try doing that when you open a file through the references dialogue. Nope, can’t do it. I see a point where part/assembly/drawing file differentiation is obsolete. Some of you may be there, with the model serving every purpose of the product lifecycle. You’re cool.
  10. Apply for Options
    It’s simple, like a caffeine patch, peel, stick, peel, stick… efficiency. Maybe there are not many options which would require such a button, but there are enough (at least one) that would make this extremely useful. Really, though, options as crapload of settings in a box are about done. Make options part of the environment, in context to what’s taking place. Now that’s some 3D.

Some Things That would Just Really Rock It

This list could go on and on I imagine. I try to avoid what would be typical suggestions (while some probably are. Like selection boxes? Why even have selection boxes?)

  • Dimension directly on solid
  • Manipulate any geometry with Instant3D
  • Jump to next selection box
  • Show recommended selections
  • Auto-Spline Smoothing/Tolerance
  • Multi-core Support for everything
  • Adaptive Features/Context menus
  • any others?

Whoa Nellie

Ok, so some may feel this is a bit rough on SolidWorks and maybe it’s a bit naive to think problems like this can be solved with a few word at the depths of the blogosphere. From what I’ve used out there, no 3D product development software is doing any of this. It’s really functionality that needs totally revamped on a variety of software. There are improvements on some of this in SolidWorks 2010, by the way. the SolidWorks Installation Manager is laid out MUCH better, even though download take forever and Features are being rebuilt faster. I hope to have more detail on why this is.

There are a lot of things we can pick at, right. The list above would change for each person, depending on what you use SolidWorks for. I’ve tried to touch on some broad topics and push some over the edge of possibility.

Some may blame a lot of this on a parametric history-based system. Uhhghh, tedious. History is Cool. I’m cool with history. I don’t think all the problems are solved with going history/feature-free. Forget that. Lets just say, 3D needs a little more room to breath. Call it code rewrites, open 3D, a big honkin’ 3D meat tenderizer, whatever. Pucker up.

Lemon Image via Flickr


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.