SolidWorks Resources Availability

There was a time when online SolidWorks resources were far and few between.  When I started using SolidWorks back in 1998, I found nothing.  As time progressed, sporadic sites popped up and vanished.  This or that VAR would occasionally put up a page with macros or examples of models.  Many of these sites were never updated or were simply taken down later.  After a time, I stopped looking online for SolidWorks resources.

Then in 2005, I started looking again.  To my surprize, I found several useful sites.  Most of the sites were still limited to one or two pages of content, but they provided real resources.  Some had a page or two of macros, some How-to articles, career info, etc, such as Matt Lombard’s old site and Lenny’s site. A couple of sites where commercial in nature, selling macros, add-ins or educational services, such as Bitwright or SWTools .  Of course, some promote the individual’s consulting business while providing free content, such as Roland’s site Esox Republic and also Joseph Jones’ site NHCAD.  The most ambitious site was likely Mike J. Wilson’s Web Site, which used to have tons of models and the infamous SolidWorks based debunking video which proved the 9/11 Pentagon attack was by an airliner and not a missile (still available on YouTube here).

However, the one thing I missed was a comprehensive site with tons of files, FAQ’s and other SolidWorks items in one place.   My particular interest was macros.  I remember back in the AutoCAD days when I could go searching out LISP routines, blocks and customized menus in databases (even before the days of the modern internet).  CADalyst provided invaluable resources, some of which is still available in various forms such as books and their home website.  Nothing similar existed for SolidWorks. 

To answer this need, I created the independent site Lorono’s SolidWorks Resources.  My intent was to create a site for new, intermediate and experienced users looking to expand their knowledge and SolidWorks skills in a way that I wished was available when I started using SolidWorks.  It includes over 100 files, mostly focused on macros, data content, utilities.  It has tons of weblinks in a collection so big, I’ve not been able to find any others like it.  In this collection are links to SolidWorks related forums, resource links (such as the above sites), tutorials, online inquiries, general engineering and SolidWorks blogs.  

This brings me to the next point.  SolidWorks related blogs have exploded in the past year and a half.  I’ve been a participant in the online blogging community since 2001 and maintained my personal blog since the beginning of 2002.  However, I never thought about blogging on SolidWorks until Matt Lombard started up his blog in early 2007 mid-2006.  Then Lenny started up a great blog site in July of 2007.  These are not the earliest SolidWorks related blogs, but they are the first ones I noticed.  Mike Puckett’s blog goes back to Feb 2007.  Devon Sowell’s Blog goes back to June 2006.  He now has another blog as well which is specifically geared for PDMWorks and other similar software.   SolidWorks User Group Network (SWUGN) now lists 16 major SW blogs, and more are out there.  I attribute a lot of this growth directly and indirectly to the SWUGN and its leadership.  The blog has proven to be a very valuable tool. 

Another valuable tool is the new incarnation of 3D ContentCentral (3DCC), available as a link from within SolidWorks software.  When I first saw the new site, I started thinking that I would no longer need my own resources site.  However, they serve different purposes and have little overlap.  Many types of downloads on Lorono’s SolidWorks Resources are not available on 3DCC, and visa verse.  SolidWorks has done what it needs to do to keep 3DCC relevant and useful.  3DCC maintains its focus on 3D models from manufacturers and users.  There’s a new request line in which users can put in requests for models.  Another user can fulfill the request by uploading that model.  

I think the SolidWorks online community is finally providing the breathe needed to support its supposed 600000 users.  I have noticed that a slim percentage of those individuals are online finding what is available.  It seems the next step would be for SolidWorks to promote its online community aggressively to make the average user aware that free, comprehensive resources are available.  They started doing this at SolidWorks World 2008 by upping the profile of SWUGN.  More has to be done to get the word out.

I’m just a blogger who is blogging about blogging. 🙂 I’m doing what I can to help the effort.  I know others are giving demonstrations at user groups about what is available.  Hopefully everyone can get the word out, even if it is just to person in the next cube over.  I suspect that more people being aware of what’s out there will result in even more resources becoming available online.