SolidWorks 2010 SP4 was just released yesterday. Why install SP4? If the Dimension Pie (Rapid Dimension Manipulator) gets in your way while you make drawings, then SP4 is for you. What does SP4 give you?
The ESC key now banishes the Dimension Pie. This allows users to dismiss the Dimension Pie any time it shows up (presumably when it is in the way). The user doesn’t have click around it anymore, nor do they need to perform a mouse dance to make it go away. In my opinion, this drastically improves the usability of the Dimension Pie.
There is another Dimension Pie improvement in SP4. A new toggle now resides in the Dimension PropertyManager under the Dimension Assist Tools section called Rapid dimensioning. If it is checked, the Dimension Pie shows up all the time. If it is unchecked, the Dimension Pie is completely turned off. This toggle is system level so it is remembered across multiple SolidWorks sessions. The user doesn’t have to keep selecting it every time they start SolidWorks.
Further development unlikely
To me, these solutions should have been included with the initial release of SolidWorks 2010 SP0.0. Additionally, I think there is more that can be done to improve Dimension Pie usability.
More improvements are doubtful at this time. Tom Spine stated:
No further development is planned on Rapid Dimension Manipulator after SP4.
This is unfortunate. I think the Dimension Pie could be improved by changing its shape to a slimmer rectangular or pill shape. Or, maybe SolidWorks would allow users to customize the shape as they see fit. You want Micky Mouse’s silhouette? Why not? How about a four-left clover? That would would’ve been cool.
Four rules for the Product Definition Team
I would like to offer four new rules to the SolidWorks Product Definition Team.
- When adding new pop-up functionality to the user interface, ALWAYS provide a method for immediate banishment (i.e., allow the user to use the ESC key to dismiss the pop-up).
- When adding any new user interface functions, ALWAYS provide a system level setting that allows the user to turn it off.
- Never completely delete existing functions. Instead, simply add on-off toggles at the appropriate level for that function.
- TEST TEST TEST in the real world. Maybe leverage the behind-the-scenes activities of the LetsGoDesign.tv program to discover issues with new functions before they are released to the public.
If SolidWorks Corp follows these four rules, they will have far fewer headaches after any SP0.0 release.
If the Dimension Pie has been bugging you, I highly recommend upgrading to SolidWorks 2010 SP4.