SolidWorks Corps claims to have “over one thousand touch points for feedback” that allow them to find areas that need improvement with their applications. Without getting into detail about the effectiveness of their use of these touch points, I’m simply pointing out where they do look. First, note that the Product Definition Group oversees much of this activity and is staffed worldwide.
- They conduct direct customer visits. My company was lined up for such a visit a couple years ago, but due to scheduling, I had to cancel on the SolidWorks representative at the last-minute.
- They are conducting an increasing number of user surveys (check the SolidWorks Forum and sometimes your email too).
- There are field people who work through the VARs.
- Technical support provides invaluable information.
- They gain information from meeting with User Groups.
- SolidWorks World provides significant information, such as the top 10 enhancement requests list, voted upon by attendees.
- They also peruse the SolidWorks and CAD forums. It’s my understanding that they also hang out at other popular independent CAD forums.
Where is the most effective place to request a change or notify SolidWorks Corp about issues with their software? Well, I think that depends. Submitting ERs might be the most effective method, actually.
Thoroughly discussing problems and difficulties in the SolidWorks Forum may also afford more attention. Bugging VARs about software bugs is fairly effective in my experience (some have had opposite experiences). Of all the bugs I’ve reported via my VAR, none remain.
Another way to give feedback is to comment on the various SolidWorks related blogs. Get your favorate blogger to talk about the issue indepth. Depending on the topic, bloggers do seem to have a little more pull than the average bear. Unfortunately, I know only one bear that uses SolidWorks (and when her system crashes, it is usually a result of her bashing it about about cabin).
Quality is a word that is often confused when it refers to products. It isn’t just reliability or a degree of excellence or fitness for use.
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing puts it this way,
The totality of features and characteristics of a product or service that bear on its ability to satisfy stated or implied needs.
Degree to which a set of inherent characteristics fulfills requirements.
ISO-9000 then defines requirements as a need or expectation.
Does a product have the features I need and work in an excepted manner? In ISO 9000 terms, quality is determined by the comparison of requirements with the inherent characteristics of a product or system. Well, SolidWorks’ march to quality continues with SoildWorks 2010, as previously noted on this blog and other sites. Along with more major changes, there are a ton of minor tweaks to take into account. Here is a short list of more of those items:
- When using the Custom Properties of the Task Pane within an assembly, the custom properties belonging to lightweight components are now viewable. As one might expect, changes to those custom properties cannot be made while the component is lightweighted. Even here, SolidWorks 2010 doesn’t stop the user. If the user edits a value, SolidWorks prompts to resolve the component.
- Normal To command now orients to the nearest global XYZ coordinates if nothing is pre-selected. When applied to a 2D sketch, Normal To aligns the model view to the sketch.
- SolidWorks now lets the user see decals on SolidWorks models without activating PhotoWorks. (Applying decals still requires PhotoWorks.) Use View pulldown>Decals, or Hide/Show Items inthe Heads-up View toolbar then View Decals. There is also a View Decals icon in the View toolbar itself.
There’s something different about SolidWorks 2010. It’s hard to put my finger on it. It just seems to be a little …oh I don’t know… snappier or peppier. That’s strange. I mean, there are obvious improvements in such areas as user interface, reliability and predictable feature results, but there’s something else.
Well, I lie, I know exactly what is different. SolidWorks has had a tune-up. There’s a ton of really old code in SolidWorks that’s been acting like built-up sludge in an old 4-cylinder 1.0 litre engine that was stuffed into a 1969 Mustang Fastback. (I know that the analogy is wrong on so many levels, which is the point.) Some of that old code has now been cleaned up. It’s not a magical change in every area. But there is improvement on certain types of solid model features. Due to the code clean up, those features will rebuild (much) faster. This is accomplished without SpeedPak or Lightweight memory hacks, er I mean tricks, er I mean shortcuts, I mean…nevermind. SolidWorks will naturally rebuild models faster now. Finally, this is the improvement many of us have been requesting for years! We still have the advantage of SpeedPak and Lightweight, but now the actual features themselves will rebuild faster with more efficient underlying code. To realize the improved rebuilt times, each solid model must be saved as SolidWorks 201o format. (Even SolidWorks 2010 will still rebuild older files inefficiently until that are saved in the current format.)
I hope to have a list of improved features soon. One feature where I’ve seen significant improvement is Delete Face, which used to be memory intensive with long rebuild times. It now rebuilds much quicker.