Sometimes it’s the little new things (~part II) in SolidWorks 2013: Watermarking

This entry is part 7 of 12 in the series New in SolidWorks 2013

There’s been a long trail of discussions on the topic of adding watermarks to SolidWorks drawings.   For one reason or another, watermarks are seen by some as necessary in drawings.  The starting point of the conversion can be roughly traced back to the SolidWorks Forum in 2006.   In December 2007, I did one article that incompletely addressed the need.  If you just needed text to show up on your sheet format, you can review the first article.

Then, a question was asked at the first Stump the Chumps presentation at SolidWorks World 2008 about how to add watermarks to drawings.  No answer was given at that presentation (the chumps where stumped).

Soon after SolidWorks World 2008, Ben Eadie (one of the stumped chumps) found an About SolidWorks article that discussed various aspects of this topic.  (The article appears to have been maintained/updated since then.)     Around that time, I also wrote a detailed article about how to link your custom properties to your watermark and provided a trick  to get the watermark note to appear underneath elements on the drawing sheet.  Linking custom properties to the watermark allows the watermark value to be controlled by Enterprise PDM workflows.

OK, so what was the trick to getting notes to appear underneath drawing elements? If you created a block of an annotation note on your sheet format, that note block will appear under your drawing (without obscuring drawing content).

In Solidworks 2013, you no longer need to use that trick to get your sheet format note to appear underneath drawing elements.  There is now a command that resides in the right-click menu for each annotation note on the sheet format called “Display Note Behind Sheet”.  When checked, the  note is placed underneath drawing view elements on the drawing sheet, including other annotations, dimensions and model geometry in both HLR/HLV and shaded modes.

Display Note Behind Sheet is a checkmarked command in the
right-click menu for any annotation note on the sheet format.

With the checkmark set on the note in sheet format, the
note appears under all drawing view elements.
Uncheckmarking the option will apply standard ordering
of drawing elements, with geometry obsured by
the note.

New menu in Enterprise PDM 2011

SolidWorks Enterprise PDM 2011 menu row

The user interface in SolidWorks Enterprise PDM 2011 is getting some much needed, though incremental, improvement.

All Enterprise PDM commands are now grouped into four menus that appear just above the file view pane in SolidWorks and Windows Explorer.  The advantage of this change is that the shortcut menu (RMB click) is now somewhat shorter.  The most frequently used commands are still available in the shortcut menu.  Hopefully, this menu reorganization will help clean up the notoriously lengthy shortcut menu of previous Enterprise PDM versions.

SolidWorks Enterprise PDM pulldown menusFor example, Check in and Check out functions are now available within the Actions pulldown menu, yet are still also available in the shortcut menu.  Take your pick!

The new pulldown menus and the shortcut menus are still context sensitive, in that the commands which are available still depend on user selection.

Future of Enterprise PDM

DS logoIn a recent article, I expressed concerns about the current state of PDM, especially for SolidWorks. There were particular questions posed regarding the long term outlook for Enterprise PDM.  The concern is that Dassault Systemes’ plan for PDM solutions may be different than SolidWorks Corp.  If that is the case, the Enterprise PDM may not be viable long term solution.

My worries where not allayed in a recent presentation by Noam Ktalav of Dassault Systemes (DS).  He was asked about where Enterprise PDM fits into the DS product offerings.  His answer didn’t fully address the question.  Instead, he talked about Enovia and its scalability.  Needless to say, official word regarding Enterprise PDM from DS is very mixed.

Jeff Ray offers insight on this topic

Jeff RayThis prompted me to contact SolidWorks Corp for a clearer picture, as least from their perspective.  Jeff Ray, CEO of SolidWorks Corp, was able to provide some interesting insights.  He exclaimed that statements from DS about Enterprise PDM are mixed.  Ray did offer hope that something is being done about this.

[There is a] very intensive effort between SolidWorks and Enovia for a clear road map.

SolidWorks Corp is working hard to lay out a clear plan for its customers. Ray discussed the need for a long term strategy.  SolidWorks Corp does not want to force a decision on customers that may eventually lead to a dead end.  This would bad for SolidWorks Corp, bad for reputation of individuals who relied on the solutions offered by SolidWorks Corp, and bad for the companies that implemented those solutions.  Instead, Ray declared,

We need to give people a scalable answer.

Ray then stated that he wants to optimize the user experience and “hide the plumbing” of the software.  He doesn’t want to let technology get in the way of the user experience.  He elaborated that users shouldn’t have to be IT experts or even require extensive reliance upon IT departments just to manage their data.

So, a solution that will address Enterprise PDM’s place in the DS universe is coming.  As to the when and in what form?  Answers will be forthcoming soon.

And what of SolidWorks Workgroups PDM?

During my interview with Ray, I also asked about SolidWorks Workgroups PDM (aka PDMWorks).  He clarified that development of the application has hit the limits of the technology behind it.  It is not worth the effort to continue to extensively develop the application further.  He stated that SolidWorks Corp will continue to support Workgroups PDM and any customers that choose to use it, but that the limitations of the application need to be clearly explained.