BatchProcess 2 Product Review

For people that frequent the SolidWorks Forums and the SolidWorks area on, the name Luke Malpass is likely familiar.  Malpass is the founder of and the author of several SolidWorks API books.  He developed a powerful, yet simple SolidWorks add-in called BatchProcess.  This add-in was recently updated as BatchProcess 2.  The new version is fully integrated within the SolidWorks task pane.

What does BatchProcess 2 do?  It allows the user to quickly perform and repeat complex tasks on any number of SolidWorks documents with very little set up.

Full disclosure

Before I get into more specific details and opinions, let it be known that Luke Malpass has provided me with licenses for BatchProcess 2.  The licenses give me full access to the functionality of the software in real world usage.  This allows me to write this review as accurately as I am able.  No request for content within this review (favorable nor otherwise) was expressed or implied by Luke Malpass.  The content of this review is solely my own.


User Interface

The user interface for BatchProcess 2 is unique in the SolidWorks realm.  It seems to be vaguely reminiscent of colorful flowcharts.  The interface is attractive and flows well with the workflow of the add-in.


BatchProcess 2 requires that Microsoft’s .Net FrameWork 4.0 and SQL Compact 3.5 are installed.  The BatchProcess 2 installer will notify the user if these applications are missing.  I have found that tracking down the correct versions of .Net FrameWork  and SQL Compact on Microsoft’s website can be a cumbersome task, even when URL’s are provided.  I realize that Microsoft controls the distribution of these files.  Even still, it would be nice to have the installer be a bit more proactive in acquiring and installing all software required for BatchProcess 2.  However, once the pre-installations are complete, [T]he BatchProcess 2 installation is a breeze [and it no longer requires the user to perform any pre-installations as of 6/18/2010].  The installer even activates BatchProcess 2 within the SolidWorks Add-ins list.


As with any batch application, before any batch activity can be started, the user is required to select the documents that are to be affected.  In BatchProcess 2, this is done by building a project (a list of documents).  Single files, whole folders, open and recently open documents may all be quickly added to the project.  This may be accomplished by clicking on the appropriate button in the Import Document into Project List row.

Projects may be saved and loaded for repeated use across multiple sessions.

Project Toolbar Strip

Once a project is built, there are functions in the Project Toolbar Strip that allow the user to add associated documents (assembly components, drawing references) and remove specific documents in the project.  Other toolbar tools are also available.

So far, my favorite toolbar tool is the powerful Print button which will automatically print all highlighted documents from the project.  Other tools allow the user to open, preview, and check-in/out files in Enterprise PDM.



For more complex tasks, BatchProcess 2 has a multi-layered job building tool.  What’s a job?  A job is a list of tasks that execute on every document within the open project.  Jobs may include tasks for:

  • Complex printing options
  • Custom properties (add, delete, or modify)
  • Exporting models and drawings into dozens of file formats (such as DXF, IGES, STEP, PDF, etc)
  • Drawings templates (reload, set, or replace)
  • and the execution of API macros

Once a job is created, it may be run.  While a job is running, other activities in SolidWorks are generally not possible.  This is because a running  job makes changes directly to documents within a project. For example, if a job task says “Open”, then each document is visibly opened within SolidWorks.

Once a job is complete, BatchProcess 2 provides a detailed report of the completed tasks for each document in the project.

Functionality improvements

I’ve noticed that BatchProcess is constantly being improved.  New functionality is added regularly.  For example, BatchProcess 2 has a new minor release pack that allows the user to send all jobs to any other instance of BatchProcess 2 that is running on the network.  With this new feature, a CAD administrator can install one extra copy of BatchProcess 2 on a server and have all other seats send their jobs to that one to do their work.

There is one apparent drawback with BatchProcess 2.  There is no access to BatchProcess Help within SolidWorks.  Users have to go to the BatchProcess website to view a written tutorial.  Malpass has stated there are plans to integrate Help at a later date.

Purchase options

Currently, the only purchase outlet for BatchProcess 2 is on the BatchProcess website. Purchases are made in British Pounds.  There are two product options available.  Option 1 is a one-time purchase of BatchProcess 2 for 235.00 Pounds (about $345 as of 6/1/2010).  Option 2 is 525.50 Pounds (about $775.00 as of 6/1/2010) and includes BatchProcess 2 with one year maintenance.  Maintenance includes minor and major updates to BatchProcess for one year, and preferential handling of technical support requests.

With the US Dollar being so strong against the Pound right now, this is a great time for American companies to buy this product.  However, I would like to see a North American purchasing outlet for the BatchProcess line.


I found time and labor is saved when using BatchProcess 2 in real world scenarios.  The time it takes to set up and run a job on many documents is almost incomparable to the time spent manually completing those same tasks.  Particularly, I’ve found the Project Toolbar Strip printing function to be very useful. 

One function that I didn’t get to test yet is BatchProcess 2’s execution of API macros.  Hopefully I’ll provide a supplemental report on that at a later date.

With BatchProcess 2, a ROI report should very easy to create (even with a currency exchange rate to consider).  Simply compare how long a user takes to complete a series of tasks on a batch of documents with how long those same tasks can be completed in BatchProcess 2.

Overall, BatchProcess 2 is a good SolidWorks add-in that has accessible functionality and may provide significant cost savings for many SolidWorks users.

Product Review: Template Wizard (Part 2)

Template Wizard is a relatively new application from SolidWorks Templates by Kevin Van Liere.  He spent about 2 years developing and improving it.  It is designed to work within SolidWorks 2008, though it does have some limited functionality in SolidWorks 2007 SP4.0 or higher. This part of my article is a critique of Template Wizard’s specific functions and workflow.  Ultimately, the most important question will be answered “42”.  How easy is it to make a new Drawing Template with Template Wizard?

General Description and Workflow

This review is based on Template Wizard Version 2.5.3088.23714.  As stated before, Template Wizard allows for the creation of SolidWorks templates.  It is an add-in that runs from within SolidWorks.  When running, its interface occupies the Property Manager in what is commonly referred to as the FeatureManager or Feature Tree Pane, along the left side of the open document.  Settings and features are all selected from within this pane.

Once it is installed, Template Wizard appears as a pull down menu by the same name.  Two options appear in the menu.  “Create/Modify Templates” and “Help”.  This is very simple and to the point.  When selected, the Template Wizard pops up with some options to start a new template or modify an existing template.  These options apply to drawings, parts and assemblies.  However, if one selects anything other than Drawing Template first, the software gently reminds the user that it will work best if a Drawing Template is created first.

Template Wizard takes a step by step approach.  As one goes through the nine general steps for creating a Drawing Template, Template Wizard establishes its settings and allows the user to build what will become the Sheet Format and Drawing Template.  After that, it also flows right into the creation of part and assembly templates.  One minor drawback to this step-by-step approach is that the arrows which take you from step to step (backward and forward) are small and barely noticeable in the upper right corner of the pane.  The size of these arrow is controlled by SolidWorks itself (and not the fault of Template Wizard), but that doesn’t make it any easier to recognize.  However, once one is familiar with the interface, there are no usability issues due to this minor detail.

Creating a Drawing Template

Step 1 is the Template Wizards start-up form itself (where the user is wisely guided to first create a Drawing Template).  Once the choice is made and “Begin” is selected, a blank drawing is opened with Step 2 the Template Wizard appearing in the Program Manager.

Step 2 is very logical.  It requests sheet size, type of projection, unit system (in/mm, etc), dimensioning standard (ISO/ANSI, etc) and other fundamental settings.  As choices are made, they are immediately implemented.

Step 3 creates the border for the Sheet Format.  I’m not sure how much work went in to designing and programming this step (great or slight?), but in my opinion, this one step makes the whole Template Wizard package worth its price tag!  All the user has to do is set the margins, determine the number of zones and zone marker lengths; then click “Create Border”.  This step allows the user to generate a fully defined and complete border in seconds!  Advanced options also exist that establish other several settings.  The border can also be saved as a block for use elsewhere.

Step 4 allows the user to add title block elements to their template.  In my opinion, Step 4 is by far the most complex portion of Template Wizard.  It may even be a little scary at first.  There is a large selection of title block elements to choose from.  One must select each element from a drop down list box and place it on the drawing using the element’s insertion point.  It is fairly simply, but not immediately obvious, even with the on-screen description.  Before attempting to use step, I highly recommend reading the Help.  I especially recommend looking up “Pre-Designed Title Blocks” or “ASSY LOGO” in the Help to bring up images of the title block elements.  Once the user has the hang of how to pick and place the title block elements, this step easy and extremely powerful.  Template Wizard functionality does appear to be bumping into limitations of SolidWorks itself in this step.  One example of this is that if the user attempts to directly edit text within the template (instead of using Template Wizard functions to make such edits), SolidWorks will crash.  According to Kevin, this is a flaw in SolidWorks, but it is a flaw that pops up when using his application, so that may be a moot point.  I will say that if Template Wizard is used as intended, such issues should be minimal.

Step 5 directs the user to pick the Revision Table anchor.  Given SolidWorks 2008’s little quirks, I HIGHLY recommend choosing the upper right corner of the border.  It seems for some reason some functionality for creating Revision Tables has been reduced in 2008, making this necessary.  Very poor decision on the part of SolidWorks Corp., but I digress.  Template Wizard does insert the Revision Table once this anchor is selected.

Step 6 is a small step in which the user makes selections regarding fonts, annotations and display of tangent edges.  This step almost feels like an after-thought.  Perhaps these choices could be moved into Step 3 instead, or perhaps expanded to cover more settings that users may be interested in controlling?

Step 7 allows the user to save the drawing template (as it appears on screen) as a Sheet Format.  My only complaint here is that non-standard nomenclature is used.  Instead of referring to this function as “Save Sheet Format”, it has a button to “Save Page Design”.  I asked Kevin about this.  He made the choice to use this terminology because inexperienced users did not understand “Sheet Format” and how it is different from “Drawing Template”.  However, this choice may be confusing for experienced users.  Perhaps a statement in the on-screen help may allow Template Wizard to make this matter clear, especially if new terms are being created.

Step 8 is where the user actually saves their Drawing Template.

Step 9 allows the user to continue on to create templates for parts (models) and assemblies.  Template Wizard can carry over some information from the Drawing Template to these templates, such as unit settings and custom properties.  It also allows the user to control several other settings.  This function uses an intuitive and straightforward step-by-step approach to create those templates similar to how it works for drawings.


Template Wizard is a very well researched and useful product with a very low price tag.  Overall, it is easy to use and very comprehensive.  Kevin states, “I really put my heart into it to make it as good as I could.”  This dedication really shows in the end product.  The software is still a little rough around the edges in some places [as of 2008], though much of this seems to come from limitations or bugs within SolidWorks itself.  Given all factors, Template Wizard is well worth its price.  New and experienced users will benefit from this application.  Really, in my mind, the best customer for this software is anyone who has the responsibility to create templates for a new company or a company that has just started using SolidWorks.  The next best customer is one who wishes to improve already existing Drawing Templates.  I recommend Template Wizard for all such cases.

Product Review: Template Wizard (Part 1)

One of the areas where SolidWorks lacks is in the creation and editing of engineering drawings.  Specifically, there is very poor support for drawing templates.  One person has taken a stab at filling this gap in SolidWorks functionality.  Kevin Van Liere of SolidWorks Templates has created Template Wizard.

The goal for Templates Wizard is to make it easy for the end user to create and edit drawing templates.  According to Kevin, SolidWorks Corp. does not acknowledge that their lack of functionality with drawing templates is a problem.  Also not provided by SolidWorks Corp. is a best practices guide for templates during SolidWorks training.  He developed Template Wizard due to these facts and out of pure frustration.

He says that his target is end users, of course.  In particular, new users will find Template Wizard most helpful, though he does feel existing users will benefit as well.  I am inclined to agree, especially at the current list price of {outdated}.  Due to the low price, he stated that some VARs have contacted him about purchasing seats of Template Wizard to provide it to their clients for free as part of an overall package.  For the price, this is likely one of the most accessible professional SolidWorks Add-ins available.

The Add-in creates templates for drawings, models and model assemblies.  It allows the user to create such templates from scratch. In the case of drawing templates, it also allows the user to create a SolidWorks drawing template based on an AutoCAD template.  Additionally, it will edit existing SolidWorks drawing templates to add fields and functions that might be previously lacking.

The focus is on the actual templates themselves.  For example, Template Wizard intentionally does not go deep in to settings, such as centermark sizes.  It does provide general control by the selection of ANSI, ISO, etc.  However, for the most part, it offers the pure experience of creating the template itself.  I think that task is daunting enough without getting into the numerous individual settings available within SolidWorks.

Part 2 of this article will go into the details of Template Wizard, focusing on its work flow and specific functions.  It will include a (hopefully) thorough critique of the Add-in.

For the record, this review is unsolicited by SolidWorks Templates; I contacted SolidWork Templates.  This review is based on a free short term license that was provided to me by SolidWorks Templates solely for the purpose of this review.  That license is revoked upon completion of this review.  No guarantees by me were granted to SolidWorks Templates regarding the outcome of this review.  I did discuss my negative findings with Kevin regarding specific functions prior to release of this review.  All of my findings (positive and negative) will be openly presented in Part 2.