All the ways SolidWorks Legion communicates in Social Media

The use of Social Media has blossomed in the Information Age.  There is a lot of variety available.  SolidWorks Legion is now automatically published to several outlets in one form or another.

  • RSS feed, with a partial or full preview.  It has been employed for republishing snippets at a variety of sites, including SolidMentor, and is the backbone for several other feed systems, including personalized sites like Netvibes.
  • Twitter, with title and link.
  • Tumblr, with title and link.
  • Posterous, with title and link.
  • Facebook, with partial preview (a Facebook app is also available, though I’ve not seen use for this yet)
  • Google+, with partial preview (not automatically published at this time)
  • Linkedin, via my Profile page with partial preview.

The amazing thing is the SolidWorks Legion has followers on all of these sites.  Many of the followers are the same across the sites, but many are not.  Though Facebook is has become the de facto standard, its top status is by no means guaranteed in the long run.  Due to the nature of Twitter, Facebook and Google+, the content of each of these outlets varies a bit beyond the articles that are publised on SolidWorks Legion.


On Twitter, I publish SolidWorks Legion content to my personal Twitter account, fcsuper.  I talk about a lot of different things through my Twitter account, many of which have nothing to do with SolidWorks, CAD or Engineering.

SolidWorks Legion uses Tumblr and Posterous in a similar manner as Twitter, to post just the article title and links.  Though followers are light on these sites, they do generate some hits.


On Facebook, I’ll often post extra interesting links to other blogs and news articles.  However, SolidWorks Legion has not had a Google+ page long enough to develop it’s own personality there.  I like the formats of both Facebook and Google+ because they allow me to publish links in an attractive and informative matter, mixed in with additional content.  They also allow me to crudely track the reach that each article achieves.


In addition to these avenues, another form of Social Media is taking off.  SolidWorks Legion doesn’t have an outlet in these (yet), but image sites have really expanded in the past few years.  Sites such as Flickr, Photobucket and deviantArt have increased the social element  with engaging tools such user generated contests, groups, favorites, comments, notes, embedded links, and other functions now common in Social Media.


Then, of course, there’s the 800 pound gorilla in the room, YouTube (this link is to my personal channel).  Again, SolidWorks Legion isn’t publishing there yet.  YouTube is now a tremendous resource for all sorts of content, including thousands of SolidWorks videos.

The average person involved in Social Media doesn’t need to think about the variety of options available.  You can choose for yourself which medium is best to suit your style.  A publisher needs to think about all of these outlets, to reach as many people as possible on their own terms.  As such, sites like SolidWorks Legion post across multiple outlets.  Fortunately, there are many tools that make this fairly easy.


DraftSight ends Beta; general release announced!

The big news from Dassault Systemes today is that they just announced the general release of DraftSight for Windows.  DraftSight is a no-cost 2D CAD application for CAD professionals, students and educators which allows them to create, edit and view .dwg files.  The very long beta release of the Windows version has ended with an impressive 400,000 450,000 downloads (as of 5:00PM ET on February 22, 2011) from the DraftSight website.  In a conversation I had with Aaron Kelly, Senior Director of DraftSight at Dassault Systemes, he stated that this number is “a lot more than we expected.”  He added that the total number of full DraftSight activations is over 95,000.

Language support

Also according to Kelly, since the beta 3 release, the DraftSight user interface has simultaneously supported 14 languages at once (English, German, French, Japanese, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Turkish, Korean, Polish, Russian, Czech).  As of today’s general release, DraftSight will now also support these languages in the Help file, meaning that DraftSight is now fully localized (all 14 versions will be released at once for each update).

DraftSight is community driven

Free support, training and enhancement requests may be conducted through the DraftSight online community, based on Dassault Systemes’ SwYm online collaboration and social innovation platform.  SwYm communities have profiles, blogs, micro-blogging, “iQuestions”, wikis, media sharing spaces (data, audio, video, and even 3D), status updates, and more all within one online user interface.

Other updates in the general release

API support for DraftSight is now available, for a fee.  This enables users to write add-on programs for DraftSight in C++ and other supported programming languages.  The addition of Command Variables Enhancement allows users to set and change system variables directly from the command line.  Aaron Kelly adds, “we fixed a bunch of bugs that people reported”.  He also stressed the value the user base in improving DraftSight.

Service options

DraftSight offers a variety of support options, including no-cost community support (mentioned above), as well as fee-based Premium Services that may include telephone and email support, network licensing and access to DraftSight APIs.  There is now the Education Premium Service for educators which includes curriculum materials, network licensing and telephone and email support.

Hidden SolidWorks Commands – compiled by Scott Baugh

SolidWorks Help file is notoriously unhelpful at times.  It has evolved over the years to improve its usefulness.  However, there are still many under-documented functions within the Help file or commands that are completely undocumented.  One day in January 2011, Scott Baugh asked a sincere and innocent question in the SolidWorks area on Eng-Tips.

Does anyone no (sic) where I can find a document with hidden SW commands. There are some key strokes and commands in SW that are not always listed in the help, or if they are they are overlooked very easy (sic).

From there, a long thread of comments grew.  Someone mentioned that users can print out a list of keystroke assignments.  This isn’t what Baugh was looking for. 

Then, the list of “hidden SolidWorks commands” began as people submitted commands they felt were obscure or impossible to find in the SolidWorks Help file.  It wasn’t long before Baugh offered to compile the list into a document.  At first, the idea was to build the list in a discrete document.  However, Deepak Gupta suggested GoogleDocs. 

From there, Baugh built the list of “hidden SolidWorks commands”.  There were three types of items added to the list:  commands that are truly undocumented, commands that are under-documented (full functionality isn’t described), and commands that were too hard to find within the documentation.

Baugh then brought the topic over to the SolidWorks Forums, where the discussion further exploded.  SolidWorks staff chimed in to address several points, but also to learn.  Jim Wilkinson provided several detailed responses to help bring clarity to the conversation.  Through his efforts, he also discovered several areas where improvement to the SolidWorks Help file is needed. 

The Hidden SolidWorks Commands list is now a treasure of numerous golden nuggets.  It’s not long, yet it can take awhile to fully explore.  Check it out.  If you have any further suggestions, feel free to leave a comment here, or in either the SolidWorks Forum thread or the Eng-Tips thread.

Hidden SolidWorks Commands

Breakout Sessions at SolidWorks World 2011

Because of my concerted effort to keep my schedule under control, my experience at SolidWorks World 2011 was a little more sane.  I was able to make more time for breakout sessions. 

I enjoyed the informal format of Devon Sowell’s presentation, Demonstrating Workgroup PDM to Enterprise PDM Migration.  In his session, he involved the audience in the discussion.  Questions from the audience where frequently fielded, along with suggestions and ideas.  The presentation talked about utilities that simplify the migration process, including one that is only available from a VAR.

Other sessions I attended include information on VB.NET programming, ASME Y14.5-2009, and other PDM topics.

I also encountered a couple of breakout sessions by individuals that did not seem as prepared as they should’ve been.  There seems to always be some sessions like this each year at SolidWorks World, unfortunately.  Of course, it’s not completely unavoidable.  Sometimes things just don’t seem to work during the presentation, even if they did work flawlessly during practices.

Overall, I had a fruitful experience at this year’s SolidWorks World.  I’ll talk a bit about my own presentation in a later article.

More ways to keep track of updates from SolidWorks World 2011

Yesterday, I mentioned the Flickr group for SolidWorks World 2011.   There are actually many media outlets that are available to keep us informed about the conference (is it really just a few days away?).

  • DS SolidWorks Blog – SolidWorks World 2011 topics
  • SolidWorks blogosphere (many diverse and independent perspectives)
  • Professional press online magazines and blogs (no organized list is available, but here’s some good places to start: WorldCAD Access and
  • Follow DS SolidWorks on Twitter, follow SolidWorks World 2011 account on Twitter, and follow me on Twitter
  • SolidWorks World 2011 hashtag #SWW11 on Twitter
  • SolidWorks World 2011 Flickr group
  • DS SolidWorks on YouTube channel
  • Facebook updates are also likely available if you’ve friended of any of the SolidWorks bloggers, though this resource may be a redundant to Twitter.
  • There is also the SolidWorks World iPhone App (sorry, no Android app this year but “maybe” next year):
    1) You must be operating on the iOS 4.2 If you need to upgrade your iOS version, simply
    plug your phone into iTunes to update.

    2) Visit the App Store from your iPhone or iPad
    2) Search for “SolidWorks World”
    3) Click “Free” and next Click “Install”
    4) Have instant access to important conference information at your finger tips!

Tempered Glass Is Always Perfect…Except When It Isn’t

This article is written by Paul Bieber of US Glass and Paul.  It is reposted here with his permission.

Every fabricator strives to deliver perfect tempered glass. That is why you buy from them. Most of the time, they succeed in this perfection. Sometimes their in-house quality program will reject glass, but you never know this. What happens when they ship the glass and your foreman says, “Boss, we have a problem!” Could be you and the fabricator are working to different standards of perfect. ASTM C 1048-04 is the standard for Heat-Treated Flat Glass, either Heat-Strengthened or Fully Tempered. This is the puppy we should all be petting.

Last week we learned that flat glass isn’t perfect, so if a fabricator tempers a piece of flagrantly flawed float (say that three times), and it still meets the standards, you own it. Tempering adds even more variables to the mix.

Let’s read excerpts of the standard on distortion in glass:

7.4.1 “Thermally tempered and heat-strengthened glass is made by heating glass in a furnace to a temperature at which the glass becomes slightly plastic. Immediately after heating, the glass surfaces are rapidly cooled by quenching with air from a series of nozzles. The original flatness of the glass is slightly modified by the heat treatment, causing reflected images to be distorted.”

7.4.2 “…Fully tempered and heat-strengthened glass that has been made in a horizontal furnace my contain surface distortion. Distortion will be detected when viewing images reflected from the glass surfaces.

7.4.4 “Sealed insulating glass units also exhibit distortion regardless of glass type. Air or gas, trapped in the sealed airspace between the panes, expands or contracts, with temperature and barometric changes, creating a pressure differential between the the airspace and the atmosphere. The glass reacts to the pressure differential by being deflected inward or outward.”

The standard addresses concerns that we all have. It acknowledges that glass isn’t perfect. Mostly, when it comes to scratches and rubs in glass, the flat glass standard C1036, applies. So if a scratch is not visible from 11 feet away, it doesn’t exist. These standards are critically important to your business. Ask your fabricator for a copy, or go to, where you will pay a fee for a download.

The biggest issues with tempered glass is size tolerance and ‘bow and warp’.
There are special sections that address both of these.

Here is a basic chart for size tolerance that should be adhered to:

Thickness………Finished Size Tolerance, Length or Width, plus or minus
1/8 ……………………. 1/16
3/16 ………………….. 1/16
1/4 ……………………. 1/16
3/8 ……………………. 3/32
1/2 ……………………. 1/8
3/4 ……………………. 3/16

As this is a plus or minus tolerance, one side of a 1/2 lite can be full by an eighth, the other side shy an eighth, making the lite 1/4 out, and it still is acceptable.

The standard for bow and warp is based on the overall size and thickness of the finished lite. Let’s look at the allowable bow in just two thicknesses,

Size(in) 20-35…35-47…47-59…59-71…71-83…83-94…94-106

1/4 ….. (.12)…..(.16) …..(.20)….(.28)….(.35)….(.47)…..(.55)
3/8 ….. (.08)……(.08)….(.16)…..(.20)….(.24)….(.28)…..(.35)

A lite of 1/4 tempered, 48 x 96, can be warped over a half-inch! Do you find this acceptable? The standard does, and if your glass comes in with this warp, what do you do?

Talk with your fabricator early-on in your relationship and understand what tolerances they ascribe to. Do they have a tighter standard for a high-quality piece like a shower door or table top, than they do for general glazing? This is the key. Know what your fabricator expects of themselves and you will know the standard you can promise your customers.

One last thought, these standards are not law. If you make a contract with a customer to provide perfect glass, that is fine. Buy you probably will need to order two or three lites to get one that is dead-on perfect. If you try to always sell perfect, you better adjust your pricing now.

The original posting of the article may be found here.