SolidWorks Resources Availability

There was a time when online SolidWorks resources were far and few between.  When I started using SolidWorks back in 1998, I found nothing.  As time progressed, sporadic sites popped up and vanished.  This or that VAR would occasionally put up a page with macros or examples of models.  Many of these sites were never updated or were simply taken down later.  After a time, I stopped looking online for SolidWorks resources.

Then in 2005, I started looking again.  To my surprize, I found several useful sites.  Most of the sites were still limited to one or two pages of content, but they provided real resources.  Some had a page or two of macros, some How-to articles, career info, etc, such as Matt Lombard’s old site and Lenny’s site. A couple of sites where commercial in nature, selling macros, add-ins or educational services, such as Bitwright or SWTools .  Of course, some promote the individual’s consulting business while providing free content, such as Roland’s site Esox Republic and also Joseph Jones’ site NHCAD.  The most ambitious site was likely Mike J. Wilson’s Web Site, which used to have tons of models and the infamous SolidWorks based debunking video which proved the 9/11 Pentagon attack was by an airliner and not a missile (still available on YouTube here).

However, the one thing I missed was a comprehensive site with tons of files, FAQ’s and other SolidWorks items in one place.   My particular interest was macros.  I remember back in the AutoCAD days when I could go searching out LISP routines, blocks and customized menus in databases (even before the days of the modern internet).  CADalyst provided invaluable resources, some of which is still available in various forms such as books and their home website.  Nothing similar existed for SolidWorks. 

To answer this need, I created the independent site Lorono’s SolidWorks Resources.  My intent was to create a site for new, intermediate and experienced users looking to expand their knowledge and SolidWorks skills in a way that I wished was available when I started using SolidWorks.  It includes over 100 files, mostly focused on macros, data content, utilities.  It has tons of weblinks in a collection so big, I’ve not been able to find any others like it.  In this collection are links to SolidWorks related forums, resource links (such as the above sites), tutorials, online inquiries, general engineering and SolidWorks blogs.  

This brings me to the next point.  SolidWorks related blogs have exploded in the past year and a half.  I’ve been a participant in the online blogging community since 2001 and maintained my personal blog since the beginning of 2002.  However, I never thought about blogging on SolidWorks until Matt Lombard started up his blog in early 2007 mid-2006.  Then Lenny started up a great blog site in July of 2007.  These are not the earliest SolidWorks related blogs, but they are the first ones I noticed.  Mike Puckett’s blog goes back to Feb 2007.  Devon Sowell’s Blog goes back to June 2006.  He now has another blog as well which is specifically geared for PDMWorks and other similar software.   SolidWorks User Group Network (SWUGN) now lists 16 major SW blogs, and more are out there.  I attribute a lot of this growth directly and indirectly to the SWUGN and its leadership.  The blog has proven to be a very valuable tool. 

Another valuable tool is the new incarnation of 3D ContentCentral (3DCC), available as a link from within SolidWorks software.  When I first saw the new site, I started thinking that I would no longer need my own resources site.  However, they serve different purposes and have little overlap.  Many types of downloads on Lorono’s SolidWorks Resources are not available on 3DCC, and visa verse.  SolidWorks has done what it needs to do to keep 3DCC relevant and useful.  3DCC maintains its focus on 3D models from manufacturers and users.  There’s a new request line in which users can put in requests for models.  Another user can fulfill the request by uploading that model.  

I think the SolidWorks online community is finally providing the breathe needed to support its supposed 600000 users.  I have noticed that a slim percentage of those individuals are online finding what is available.  It seems the next step would be for SolidWorks to promote its online community aggressively to make the average user aware that free, comprehensive resources are available.  They started doing this at SolidWorks World 2008 by upping the profile of SWUGN.  More has to be done to get the word out.

I’m just a blogger who is blogging about blogging. 🙂 I’m doing what I can to help the effort.  I know others are giving demonstrations at user groups about what is available.  Hopefully everyone can get the word out, even if it is just to person in the next cube over.  I suspect that more people being aware of what’s out there will result in even more resources becoming available online.

Author: fcsuper

As a drafter, mechanical designer and CAD engineer, I've been in the mechanical design field since 1991. For the first 8 years of my career, I was an AutoCAD professional. I utilized AutoLISP and many other AutoCAD customization features to streamline drafting activities for 6+ drafters and designers. I authored several custom functions, one of which was published in the March 1997 issue of Cadalyst Magazine. Since 1998, I've been used SolidWorks non-stop. I've worked to utilize the SolidWorks' user environment to simplify drafting and design activities for 20+ engineers. I've created this website to provide current information about SolidWorks from a variety of contributors. More recently, I am now employed by Dassault Systemes as SOLIDWORKS Sr. Product Definition Manager to improve drawing, annotation and MBD related areas.

11 thoughts on “SolidWorks Resources Availability”

  1. So here’s an idea that I had recently. What if we were able to create a way that everything that you and other bloggers come up with in the way of tips/tricks/hacks/tutorials/instructions/etc. could be collected and housed in a central repository on solidworks.com? Like you, I quickly realized that there’s a vast wealth of information out there that you guys (and girls) are creating, but it’s spread out all over the Internet. From my perspective, I think it would be great for casual users and people who aren’t into the whole blog thing to have one place where they could find information generated by other users, and maybe even sign up for your RSS feeds. If we could come up with a mechanism that requires little to no effort on your end, do you think that you and others would be interested, and similarly, do you think that this is something that other users would find valuable?

    Matthew West

  2. Mr. West,

    I’ll respond in a separate posting later this week. Perhaps you can go into more detail about which you speak.

    For now, I will say such a resource would have to be very well organized, and allow dissenting voices without prejudice. That could be risky if operated by SW itself. Have you seen the Pulse and SolidMentor’s attempts at this? What you are suggesting may be a step above those if done correctly.

  3. It’s just an idea right now, but what I’m envisioning is different from what Ben does on his site, or what the Novedge site does. I’m thinking about a way to take strictly educational content, not commentary, and have it in a place where it’s easy to search and navigate. The only real risk would probably be ensuring that the information presented is factually correct.

    In other words, if you posted an entry talking about a trick you discovered, that would be something good for this new repository. An opinion piece about how much you love or hate the new release would not.

  4. Sorry, I didn’t realize that the comment referred to Ben’s wiki. i thought it was referring to the news aggregator functionality on Novedge, and some similar functionality on Ben’s site, hence the comment about “dissenting voices.” Thanks for clarifying for me.

    I’ll have to give Ben a call.

  5. I was talking about the agg, but the wiki is another good point. Ben’s execution of the wiki started off good, but I think it has since fizzled. However, the approach is valid. It might be too techie for some, though.

  6. Great writeup man, I remember looking around for SW blogs in 06 and not finding any. That’s part of the reason I decided to start one up and it took me a year to get it to the point where I was comfortable launching it.

    I think the a central hub for collaborated info on SolidWorks would be nice but I think it would be better to do something different than a wiki or aggregator. Maintaining would have to be pretty simple I’d think. Need to think some more about it.

  7. I agree, the Wiki on SolidMentor is great, but I don’t think anyone contributes because it appears cumbersome to create pages. That’s just my speculation though. There is also a loss of “ownership” that way, plenty of people do write-ups with tech info on their blogs. Gabi and Alex post tutorials with screenshots regularly, and others, this legion included, often post tech info.

    I think the collective knowledge would be better served in a centralized location, but would probably be more likely to be updated if more ownership of the content was involved. Then again, Wikipedia seems to do just fine…

  8. Matt (Lorono),

    Nice summary. Looking back at old email records, my blog started in June 06, and the other active SW related blogs at that time were Devon, Ricky, and Rob. I lost some data between a site move and a WordPress upgrade.

    Before that, I’ve had a SW related traditional website since probably 01. Wilson’s was definitely the premier site in that category, along with Paul Salvador. NH CAD was the earliest site in my memory dating from maybe 98 or so. Regardless, we’ve all come a long way since then.

    Matt (West),

    I moved from the big city to a little town to get away from the urban depersonalization. Trying to corral all of us into a single site is more of the same. I’m especially opposed to putting my content on a site that has advertising. Some sites like 3D CAD Tips and even Sean Dotson tried that with several of the original websites, and we let them know how little we thought of the practice.

    Just link out to us. I really like the way CADdigest does it. I get tons of traffic from CADdigest.

    Aggregators grate on me to some extent because they capture my stuff on someone else’s page. Novedge’s is prone to abuse with the rating system. SolidMentor comes the closest to an aggregator that works well, although it doesn’t get the attention it deserves.

    Also, if you’re looking to filter content to just contain things that are flattering to SW, well, I’m very opposed to that. You don’t have any credibility if your view is so one-sided. SW has good and bad stuff, and blogs should talk about good and bad stuff. Balanced. I know SW encouraged the blogs because they wanted a benefit from them, and if we say negative stuff sometimes, what’s the benefit? But I don’t get paid by SW to do this, so I post info that’s of value to me. If you (SW) want polished, cleaned-up content to put on your site, you might consider paying someone to do it.

    In general, I recognize the efficiency benefits of centralization, but philosophically I’m opposed to the depersonalization. So if you can get the benefits without putting me in your box, that might be a good solution. Again, think CADdigest. That also allows you to be selective without censoring content.

    http://www.caddigest.com/subjects/solidworks/tutorials.htm

  9. Mr. Lombard,

    1) You are right. I knew someone would step up to correct any errors with references to their sites. Actually, I did remember that there was more time between the start of your blog and when I finally started mine. The fact is you DID give me the idea when you started yours. I guess I should go ahead and check with you the next time before publishing my article about your items. 🙂

    2) Also, I know some of the sites have been around for a long time, but were very hard to find from just looking on search engines under “SolidWorks”. I prolly stopped trying in 2000. (And I didn’t want to mention Paul S. per se since he’s not exactly as SW fan these days.)

    3) I agree with your comments about depersonalization. That is actually a very good way of looking at this.

    4) CADdigest does supply a lot of hits. I am often surprized they actually get as much traffic as they do. With rare exception, my highest traffic articles are ones that they pick up. However, they tend to pick up technical articles more readily. I find that I get the most response from opinion articles (such as this one). I wish they would pick up those more often (or maybe someone there isn’t as fond of my opinions as much as I am. :-Þ )

    I’ll talk more about some of your other points in my next article.

    Mr. West,
    I have my response queued up and it will publish Monday morning. I’m just proof reading it over the weekend (to the best of my ability). I’m also editing it for content right now, as Matt Lombard has hit on some points upon which I’d like to expand.

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