Take away this from SolidWorks World 2010: Cloud

SolidWorks World 2010 Convention Banner
SolidWorks World 2010 Convention Banner

The buzzword at SolidWorks World 2010 was “cloud”.  There was a running gag at the convention, take a shoot of “espresso” (or whatever else your mind can imagine) every time someone uttered the word “cloud” in a presentation or speech.  If this game was real, we’d all be dead from alcohol poisoning, er I mean caffeine overdose.  All this talk about cloud computing involves creating a new SolidWorks branded interface that uses Enovia technology as its backbone.

According to Bernard Charles, CEO of Dassault Systemes, and Jeff Ray, CEO of Dassault Systemes SolidWorks Corporation, this marriage of SolidWorks with Enovia will bring new functionality, capabilities, and advantages to SolidWorks customers.  The first product of this new approach is the brand SolidWorks PLM.  The first release of a SolidWorks PLM product will be later this year, according Ray.  I’m not sure of the exact name for that first product, but they did use SolidWorks Product Data Sharing at one point.

SolidWorks Product Data Sharing

It’s my impression (at this point in time) that the initial release of SolidWorks Product Data Sharing will not have the full functionality that many users need.  A demonstration showed some of its capabilities, which are very rudimentary when compared to Enterprise PDM or SmarTeam.  The main focus for the new application appears to be an advanced communication tool, and not an actual functioning PDM or PLM.

The user interface will take on two forms: web client and SolidWorks add-in.  In the add-in, users may upload files from a window pane within SolidWorks.  They may add comments.  If more than one person is logged-in, the comments can function as a real-time chat. Functionality will allow users to invite other non-SolidWorks users via the web client version.  Files will have previews, including assembly trees that graphically layout relationships between files.  In the web client, 3D viewing of files will include on-screen commenting (redlining) within the view.

Security of the Cloud

Jeff Ray claims the workspace of the new cloud applications will be secure.  In fact, Jon Hirshtick is adamant in his belief that cloud computing is far more secure than having data on local hard drives.  This doesn’t come from opinionation.  It actually comes from experience.  SolidWorks is currently fighting a person who stole the source code for a SolidWorks application and is trying to sell it.  The person was a former employee in India who stole the code by simply copying from his hard drive and walking out with it one day.  Having this data on a cloud network with encrypted access may’ve prevented this theft.

Going the course

Ray pounding the pavement at a Reseller lunch
Ray pounding the pavement at a Reseller lunch

Charles and Ray pounded the pavement at SolidWorks World 2010 to get their message across.  Despite any flak that Dassault Systemes gets for their new direction, they are going to stay the course.  Enovia V6 is the future of Dassault Systemes.  Bringing SolidWorks in line with that future is a priority.  Charles stated that Dassault Systemes is not divided into SolidWorks and Enovia V5, it is united as V6.

I asked Ray a question about which form the new products will take.  The answer, for now, was only that they will offer their customers the choice to remain with their current system or use the new system.  In my view, this is corporate speak for “its going to replace what is currently on the market and although they will not leave customers high and dry, they will likely begin to reduce focus to the current system.”  But I could be wrong.


Now, in this article, I’m simply reporting on the new direction of SolidWorks as presented to everyone at SolidWorks World 2010.  I do have very real concerns about this new approach, which I will cover in a separate editorial (hopefully within a few days).

Top Ten Enhancement Requests for SolidWorks World 2010

As with each year, SolidWorks World lists the top ten enhancement requests as choosen by SolidWorks users.

#10 Simplify Video Card Requirements – I’m not sure I entirely understand the scope of this request.

#9 Exploded Views for Weldments – Cool.

#8 Option to Dangle Children Instead of Deleting – This should be much higher on the list, in my opinion.

#7 Graphical Map of Reference – Ok, sure.

#6 Allow More Types of Assembly Features – Cool.

#5 Better Utilization of Processore Cores – Yes, definately.  SolidWorks is years behind the curve.

#4 On The Fly Equations in Dialog Boxes – Yes!!!

#3 File Compatibility Between Versions – YES!!!

#2 Increase Stabilty – Yes, but what does this really mean?

#1 SoldWorks Should Cleanly Uninstall Itself – I agree with this too, but is this really something that affects a lot of people on a daily basis?

Enhancements planned for SolidWorks 2011

There were a lot of new SolidWorks 2011 functionalities that were demonstrated in today’s general session.  There’s a long list of improvements.  SolidWorks presented most of these improvements as part of an on-stage skit, so it was difficult to keep track of all the discussed changes.  However, this is my best attempt to give a nearly complete list:


  • Revolve will be extrudable “up to surface”
  • Defeature feature allows for the removal of internal features of a part to protect IP.
  • Real View is “fully customizable”
  • Display Manage that controls settings such as color, transparency, etc.
  • Photoview 360 now has a preview menu within SolidWorks Works
  • Animation can be pre-rendered
  • Further improvements have been made to memory usage and optimization
  • Within Non-linear simulation, planar simulation allows the user to run simulation on a 2D slice of a part to save time; also, that 2D slice can be projected back to the 3D part.
  • Feature lock!


  • Dimensions spaced evenly and in the right view (on new views, or to correct existing views)
  • Thumb wheel to change spacing of dimensions
  • Dual dimensions allowed in hole table
  • Weld tables now available in drawings
  • Weld callouts can be automatically added to a drawing


  • Chamfers and fillets can be used for weld prep
  • Cut sweep allowed
  • Weld gaps with actual geometry
  • Walk thru function, just like video games
  • Multiple piping enhancements

James Cameron Press Conference

Using the word “press conference” is often a sure way to scare readers away.  I hope that doesn’t happen now.  There’s nothing boring about James Cameron (as far as I can tell).  He can discuss a range of topics, using simple terms peppered with “big words”.  He can seamlessly use the words “buttload” “proxy resolution” while discussing the same thought.  Cameron describes himself as someone who tries to evolve himself outside of the Hollywood culture.  Instead he opts for other areas, such as what he calls the “NASA culture”. 

He promoted large displays.  According to Cameron, 7 million large screen TVs were sold in 2009, and are slated to double this year.  When it comes to stereoscopic technology (3D movies), the display is “racing ahead of content.”   There needs to be a lot more movies such as Avatar.   International soccer is already embracing the new technology by recently showing their games in 3D.

When asked why he was working on a camera to be sent to Mars, yet he will be going to the bottom of the Marianas Trench himself, Cameron stated that it is easier to control a robot on Mars than 7 miles down on the ocean floor.  He also stated, “I believe in the physical present of the observer” and that controlling robots are “not as much fun” as being their in person.

When discussing the origin of the creators in Avatar, Cameron alluded to some mythical inspiration, but that the 10 foot tall blue characters were actually based on a dream his mother had once.  Jokingly, Cameron said that he told his mother he would make a movie about them someday.

When asked about his environmental message, he did iterate, “people need to be inspired to go into the environmental sector” to make our civilization better.  Technology is causing many of our problems and we will need to think and design our way out of those problems.

SolidWorks World 2010 General Session – Monday (part3)

James McLurkin isn’t the most polished of presenters, but he is extremely interesting.  In a plug for SolidWorks, McLurkin stated, “I’m not just a SolidWorks speaker.  I’m also a client.”  He is an engineer and roboticist specializing in swarm robotics.  He demonstrated his swarm of little micelike robots at SolidWorks World this year.  He talked about how they move round within the group, including comments about communication limitations between of a swarm.  Though his technology and research may one day lead to the great robot revolution, he stated that will not likely occur in our time.  “Only a handful of robots can open a door, and none if you have to pull [it open].”  He gleefully added, “If the robot revolution happened tomorrow, you’d be perfectly safe just by closing your door.”  I still say the robot revolution will one day come, and I welcome our future metallic overlords (once they are in power, of course).

McLurkin talked for some time about “Nerd Pride” and extolled engineers to release their nerd to the world.  This can be done in a number of ways, such as giving nerdy gifts, voting for education candidates, helping out schools and related projects, teaching, etc.

At the press conference that followed, McLurkin was asked about the value of simulation versus real world.  He answered, “the problem with simulation is that you can only test what you put in.”  He also talked about the difference of biological inspiration and biological mimicry.  To him, biological inspiration is understanding and applying how nature works; biological mimicry is simply copying a successful system within nature.  Though I understand his general point, I do not think he fully made clear any meaningful distinction as they would both seem to be interrelated.