2013 Sneak Peek from SolidWorks Blog: Center of Mass

From the SolidWorks Blog,

SolidWorks 2013 won’t be officially unveiled until September 10, but over the next few weeks, we’ll be giving you sneak peeks at a few of the new features we’ll be shipping this fall. And here’s the first.

In SolidWorks 2013, center of mass is a selectable entity in drawings, and you can reference it to create dimensions. In a drawing, you can create reference dimensions between center of mass points and geometric entities, such as points and edges.



eDrawings for iPad from 3DS SolidWorks ( #edrawingsforipad )

The much anticipated initial release of eDrawings for iPad is now available from the Apple App Store.  This is an inexpensive app ($1.99) to view SolidWorks models (.sldprt), assemblies (.sldasm) and drawings (.slddrw) on the iPad.  Of course, eDrawing formats (.edrw, .eprt, .easm) and .DWG are also supported.  All images in this article are actual screen shots.


The official name of the new app is eDrawings for iPad from 3DS SolidWorks.  This initial release is a great app with a lot of potential.  For the first time, you can inexpensively open and view native SolidWorks files directly on a mobile device.

The app provides many of the familiar and fun functions from the eDrawings family.  It is useful to quickly and conveniently communicate 3D CAD files to locations and environments were PCs and printed drawings just aren’t practical.  It also provides an great method to view SolidWorks files for customers that do not use SolidWorks, from the shop floor to a corporation’s CEO.

User Experience

When the app is started, you are presented with a menu of models and drawings.  There is an area of sample models and an area for your files, called “User Files”.

The sample files provide good cases to try out eDrawings for iPad functionality.  The User Files area lists any files which you have added to the iPad to view in eDrawings.

When you open a supported 3D file, you can rotate, pan, zoom in and out, zoom fit, zoom home (last view when file that was saved).  Similar to other eDrawings applications, the eDrawings for iPad app can Play a model by transitioning between different views of the model.


For assemblies, you can highlight individual parts from the Components tree.

Configurations are also supported. Selecting a particular configuration from the Configuration tree will immediately display it within the graphics area.  It is very easy to switch between configurations.

Assembly explosions are viewable from the Explode Assembly button.  Individual configurations can also be separately exploded.

Highlighting parts from the Components tree is also available when viewing the assembly as an explosion.  This makes it very easy to identify parts in the graphics area when browsing through an assembly.

Just as with the desktop computer, larger files consume more device resources.  If you wish to view a large assembly, you may wish to close background processes if your iPad resources are stretched thin.


Disclaimer – Though this article was not reviewed by SolidWorks, nor its parent company Dassault Systemes nor any other entity, the author of this article is an employee of Dassault Systemes and is internally familiar with eDrawings for iPad.  As such, this article should not be understood as being from an uninvolved and neutral third party.


Zooming methods are the same as assemblies, with zoom fit, zoom home, panning, etc.  Play is also available.  I don’t know what it is about Play; there is just some inexplicable joy that comes from watching a model transition between views.

Configurations are also supported for parts.  Switching between configurations is a breeze.

Same as other eDrawings releases, DimXpert dimensions are viewable in eDrawing part (.eprt) files.


Zoom tools work a little different for drawing.  There is still pan, zoom in and out, zoom fit, and zoom home.  Logically, you won’t have the ability to rotate a drawing sheet into 3D space.

When viewing a drawing, Play works the same in eDrawings for iPad as it does in other versions of eDrawings.  Watching a drawing transition between drawing views is even more enjoyable than watching a model because the associated dimensions are displayed at each waypoint.

Drawing sheets are also supported.  Switching between drawing sheets may be done through the Sheets tree.

Usability and Performance

eDrawings for iPad is very intuitive for anyone familiar with multitouch screens.  One finger drag rotates the model.  Two fingers pan.  Pinching zooms.  I’ve used this app on both an iPad and iPad 3.  On either of these devices, manipulating the model orientation has great responsiveness that is as immediate as you may expect any iPad app to be.  For example, switching between configurations and sheets using the tree is very quick.

Loading a file into eDrawings for iPad is also a snap.  You can copy files to your iPad via your iTunes interface.  Even easier, just email the file to yourself or someone else who has this app installed.

When downloading the model file through your email interface, you are automatically presented with the option to open it in eDrawings.  If you accept, it is added to your User Files and opened.  Very convenient.


eDrawings for iPad has enough functions to immediately make this a useful tool.  It is very inexpensive when compared to similar applications that view native SolidWorks files on the iPad.  The app is very easy to use.  These points give this app a  great combination of qualities.

eDrawings for iPad is available as of May 1, 2012 from the Apple App Store.  Please find and install this app through App Store from your iPad device.  Search word: edrawings.  Or, follow this iTunes link.  There is a lively discussion on Twitter under hashtags #edrawingsforipad, #eDrawings, or just plain search for edrawings.  Also, if you wish, check out the SolidWorks.com introduction site

The official Photoview 360 book by SolidWorks ( @robrodriguez @solidworks )

Amazon Affiliate link to Photoview 360 guideAmazon Affiliate link to Photoview 360 guide
I’ve been wanting to write an article about the book Photorealistic Rendering Using SolidWorks and Photoview 360 for almost a year now.  Between that time and now, I’ve become employed by SolidWorks, which makes writing reviews about SolidWorks related products somewhat self-serving.  As such, I’m not going to do a full length detailed review.  That being said, it is a great guide to learn the ins-and-outs of making photorealistic images from SolidWorks.  One of the main consultants for this book is Rob Rodriguez, infamous for his photorendering skills.

The book’s approach to the subject is refreshing, in that it is written from the perspective of a photographer.  Topics include basic elements, such a lighting, to more complex visualization settings for illumination.  Also discussed are OpenGL, RealView, Surface Finishes, hardware, performance, scenes, decals, user interface, display states, configurations, mapping, output options, etc, etc.  It does include a DVD-ROM!

It’s a great guide with a lot of detailed images as it takes you step-by-step through the process of creating photorealistic images with SolidWorks and Photoview 360.

The book is available in the SolidWorks Store.  It is also now available from Amazon.com (image link above is via Amazon.com).

What’s New in Solidworks 2012: Search Commands

One more notable What’s New item from SolidWorks 2012 is the new Search Commands tool.  Search Commands in the Search corner that allows you to quickly find a command by typing its name.

Simply start typing a common name in the Search Commands field and you will be immediately presented with possible matching commands.  Not only that, if you click on the eye-glasses next to the command name, SolidWorks will automatically take you on a step-by-step path to the location of the command within the menu or toolbar interface.

But there’s more.  

When searching for a command:

  1. Click and hold on command from dropdown.
  2. Drag the command to any visible toolbar or CommandManager.
  3. Release mouse button to drop command at that location.

That’s right, Search Commands allows you to quickly add a found command to any toolbar within your user interface so you can keep at a favorite location for future use.

The customization doesn’t stop there.   Multiple-letter shortcuts can be added to Search Commands!  This can be done at Tools pulldown>Customize…>Keyboard tab in the Search Shortcut column.

As a bonus to even all of that, Search Commands is automatically accessible when the you strike the “S” key to bring up the Shortcut Bar.  Whenever the Shortcut Bar is up, you can just start typing!  Your entry appears in the Search Commands field and automatically initiates your command search.

 This new tool helps new and occasional users find commands that they may never have used before or may have forgotten about because they don’t use the SolidWorks every day.  Additionally, it can help experience users find commands on unfamiliar workstations, since many users like to customize toolbar layouts.

Strong response to DraftSight for Linux

Dassault Systemes dives head first into uncharted waters with its beta release of a no-cost Linux based 2D CAD application called DraftSight for Linux, announced earlier this month.  Though DraftSight for Linux is not open source, it is free to download and use, and the community of users will direct its development via 3D SwYm.  There are two Linux versions available for download, Ubuntu and  Fedora/Suse/Mandriva.

File compatibility

DraftSight reads and saves .dwg and .dxf file formats.  It can read those formats from any version 2.5 and after.  It can save to any versions from R12 to R2007-2010.  It can also export to PDF, PNG, TIF, SAT and STL.


What makes this stand out in the Linux community is that DraftSight for Linux is the first non-GPL release of a 2D CAD application from a major corporation that is free for both commercial and personal use.  Even ARES does not offer that!  DraftSight for Linux will have a paid subscription service for educational and commercial customers who want phone support, network licensing, and access to API.  Other than that, free activation of DraftSight for Linux is required to access certain functions.

Linux community response

The response from the community has surprised Dassault Systemes’ Aaron Kelly, Senior Director of DraftSight, who states,

Over 11,000 [downloads] since yesterday (3/16/2011).  A little over 1,000 a day on average.  80% choose the Ubuntu download.  I am surprised by this number as it is about what the MAC uptake was.  These are not users we typically reach. 

An article about DraftSight for Linux appeared on Slashdot, and threads are appearing on Linux related forums.  (These have generated a substantial amount of traffic to SolidWorks Legion.)

System requirements

Ubuntu 9.10 Gnome, Fedora 14 Gnome, Suse 11.2 Gnome, Mandriva 2010 Gnome and KDE, or higher versions, 32-bit

  • 1GHz x86 processor
  • 1GB RAM (2GB recommended)
  • 1GB hard drive space
  • 1024×768 display (1680x 1050 or higher recommended) with True Color graphics card
  • Mouse (wheel mouse recommended)
  • DVD-ROM, only needed if installing from a DVD (who’s doing that?)

64-bit installation

Now, there’s been some comment from the Linux community that DraftSight for Linux is not 64-bit.  Leave it to the Linux community to address its own complaints!  Check out this solution at Courira.ca for Ubuntu 64-bit users.

Other versions

DraftSight for Windows and DraftSight for Mac OS (beta) are also available.

DraftSight for Linux is now in beta!

It took a little longer than originally planned, but DraftSight for Linux is now in beta release for the general public!  Of course, DraftSight is a no-cost 2D CAD product by Dassault Systemes for CAD professionals, students and educators (download at DraftSight.com) that allows them to create, edit and view DWG files.

The Linux version of DraftSight was openly talked about by Dassault Systemes as early as August 2010.  The original statements at that time suggested that a beta release would be happening in the Fall of that year.  That didn’t happen, but the Linux version is finally available.  This is a major move that allows Dassault Systemes to position itself very well in the 2D CAD industry with its beta release of a MAC version, and its recent general release of the Windows version.  For additional information about DraftSight, please see my previous article.  There’s also more Linux specific information now available in this newer article.

Here are some images of DraftSight for Linux (click on image to enlarge):