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SolidWorks User Group Meeting In Montreal

Join me on Wednesday June, 13th in Montreal, Canada for the User Groups SolidWorks Quebec (GUSQ) meeting.  I’ll be presenting all things PhotoView 360 and answering questions on all SolidWorks topics.  I’m scheduled to talk for 60-90 minutes.   It’s been a while since I’ve been to Montreal.  The city is a great place to relax and have fun during the summer months and it will be good to visit for the day.  If you’re in the Montreal area stop by and learn something new.  Look forward to seeing you there.


PhotoView 360 for i-pad

Unfortunately PhotoView 360 for the i-pad doesn’t exist ;(  I was thinking with the recent release of e-drawings for i-pad 3DS may be thinking of releasing more mobile versions of their software and if they are I’m wondering if Photoview 360 is on the list.  What do you think?  Would it be crazy to release a mobile version of PhotoView 360? Lets take a closer look.

Every so often I run into people who’d like to see the stand alone version of PV360 re-released.  If you can remember back to 2009 and 2010 PhotoView 360 was a standalone application.  It had no connection with the SolidWorks file, had a very minimal UI and was very easy to use.  It was light on functionality but if your goal was to make a good looking basic rendered image quickly it was the perfect software.  The same reasons users like standalone PhotoView 360 on their computers also makes it a good candidate for a mobile device.

No connection to the SolidWorks file:  PhotoView 360 loads the display data from a SolidWorks file, essentially the same information e-drawings (and e-drawings for i-pad) does.  This means it doesn’t require SolidWorks be loaded and therefore the overhead to run SolidWorks can be left behind.  In the case of a mobile application this is important.  3DS has already shown the display list data can be successfully loaded and manipulated on a mobil device with e-drawings for i-pad.  This makes PV360 for i-pad a more realistic possibility.

Minimal user interface:  Mobile devices have limited screen real estate so it’s important their UI be as efficient as possible.  like the computer version the PV360 mobile version could have a minimal toolbar and flyout window housing the material and environment library.  Very similar to the e-drawings for i-pad app.

Easy to use:  In terms of ease of use for rendering applications it’s tough to beat PhotoView 360 standalone.  Load your file, drag and drop some materials, choose an environment and your finished.  Well almost, you still have to process the image and that’s the largest hurdle I think for rendering on an i-pad.

Performance:  We all know rendering software requires performance for the realtime updates as well as processing a final image. In the case of PhotoView 360 CPU performance is crucial.  The latest version of the i-pad has a dual core CPU.  For rendering power that’s not very performance minded but since the screen is small the realtime updates may be quicker than you expect.  Final render processing however would be a lengthy process.  Of course the next generation of tablets will no doubt have quad core chips and more RAM to go with it.

So, is PhotoView 360 for the i-pad practical thinking?  Probably not at the present time but the near future may make this reality?  What do you think?


E-drawings for i-pad!

E-drawings for the i-pad was released on May 1st.  It’s great to have it here but honestly I think it’s about 2 years late.  Why did it take so long?  e-drawings hasn’t changed really over the last 10 years and I’ve been running the e-drawings app on the i-pad 1 so from a technical standpoint there appears to be no reason we couldn’t have had this at least a year ago.  Maybe the user demand wasn’t high enough to release the app sooner?  Maybe it was low on the 3DS priority list?  Whatever the reason, it’s water under the bridge.  e-drawings for i-pad is here now and we’re all happy ;)

e-drawings for the i-pad is basically what you would expect if you’ve used e-drawings on your computer.  The interface is laid out well and drop dead simple.  The screen real estate is given to model viewing as it should be.   There is a small drop down tool bar for “home”, “zoom all”, “play”, “explode” and “e-mail”.  There is also a flyout for viewing the model tree, available configurations or drawing sheets.   As expected you can open e-drawings files, SolidWorks native part, assembly and drawing files and DWG/DXF files.  DWG/DXF files means AutoCAD, Draftsight and any other application that can write DWG/DXF files will be view able with the app.  Files can be accessed from e-mail, i-tunes and other online file sharing services.  Once loaded navigating the file is slick and easy.  Rotation, zooming, panning is all done through touch and really nice and intuitive to use. 

e-drawings for i-pad is great for viewing models/drawings but it is lacking some features the computer version has.  There is no support for markup, sectioning,  or measuring .  It also has limitations on the size of files it can view.  This is probably more due to the i-pad hardware than the app.  On my i-pad 1 all the sample files included with the app through a low memory warning.  I’m still able to view them I just need to repeatedly close the warning.  One other addition I’d like to see (for both the i-pad and computer versions) is different viewing styles.  Shaded, Shaded with edges, HLR, wireframe, basically the same viewing styles we have in SolidWorks.

Check out the video here

Overall e-drawings for i-pad is a great viewing tool.  Hopefully an updated version will add the missing functionality found in the computer version.  e-drawings for i-pad can be found in the app store for a cost of $1.99




SolidWorks World 2012 In a Nutshell

If you follow this sort of thing I’m sure you’ve already seen plenty of information about SolidWorks World 2012.  The bloggers and press people did a great job of putting information out quickly this year.  SolidWorks World is a very hectic time for me which means I’m not as able to deliver the information from the conference as quickly as others.  I’m also still playing “catch up” with the work I missed while I was out of the office.  I do have some thoughts on the conference though and I wanted to share them with you.

SolidWorks World is more than just learning about the software.  It’s also about meeting people, networking, having fun, seeing new technology and having a look at the partner products. For me it’s also about giving presentations.  My “lights, camera, action” session had about 300 people in attendance, lots of good questions and I think it went very well.  Since the conference does cover so many areas I think the easiest way for me to share the my likes and thoughts of this years event is to break things down into catagories.


The social aspect

One of the best things about SolidWorks has always been it’s strong user community.  You see and feel this community at user group meetings, on line in the forums, on Twitter and maybe amongst your co-workers.  Of course at SolidWorks World the community feeling is very strong since everyone is there with a real focus on the software.  The “community” is one of the large reasons I attend SolidWorks World.  I’ve made some great friends there over the years and continue to meet new people.  There are many people I interact with through the web on a daily basis and one of the places I actually get to meet them and shake their hands is at SolidWorks World.  This is true for both SolidWorks users and employees.

This year I was able to meet up with three people who I only knew through e-mail.

Pawel Keska was in attendance.  Pawel and I go all the way back to the PhotoWorks rendering contest.  Pawel was a frequent contest submitter and we also used some of his models and images in the PhotoWorks step by step guide.  He and I have talked many times through e-mail and this year we were finally able to meet at World.  Turns out Pawel took 2nd place in the model mania contest.  Nice work Pawel!

Adan Isais is an AE with a reseller in Mexico. Adan has asked me questions about PhotoView 360 and modo in the past.  He caught up with me at the tweet up.  We talked shop a while, snapped some pictures and exchanged cards.

Yazan Malkosh might not be a name you hear in SolidWorks circles all that often but in the modo community he’s a rock star.  No one can create modo materials like Yazan.  Turns out Yazan lives near San Diego so we made a plan to meet up during World.  He and I had talked many times in the past which consisted mainly of him helping me with modo materials and we also worked on the SolidWorks versions of SES1 and SES2 together.  Meeting Yazan in person was certainly a highlight of my trip.

It was also great to meet up with the SWUGN crew again.  User group leaders really are the best.  If you have a local SWUG you really should make an effort to attend at least one meeting.

During the day everyone is busy with the general session and breakouts so typically people meet up in the evening.  SolidWorks provides a couple of different events for people to mingle but the best one by far is the Tuesday night offsite event.  In San Diego the off site event was held in the gas lamp district.  It’s located directly across from the convention center and they close down a few blocks so you can roam at will.  There is plenty of food, drinks, music and people. It was an outstanding good time and I have to thank the people from SolidWorks who make this event happen.


General sessions

The general sessions take place for the first 1 1/2 hours every day of the conference.  Typically Monday and Tuesday general sessions have speakers (from DS and others) that talk about different topics.  The Wednesday general session usually gives a sneak peek into the next release of the software.  Sometimes the general sessions are really good at pumping up the crowd and other times they are a bit more subdued.  Overall I’d say this year the atmosphere was on the subdued side.  Sure people were engaged and excited but I personally wouldn’t say people were completely blown away by what they saw and heard.  The year when Jim Lovell and Jean Krantz from the Apollo 13 mission spoke I think the entire room was just leveled.  They really brought down the house.  This year there were some good speakers but they didn’t have the same effect.

The top two speaking sessions for me were Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs and Mike and Geoff Howe from Black Ops Brothers.  These speakers really appealed to me I think because they both talked about how “regular people” are out there inventing, working and making the world go round.  You don’t need a PHD, lots of money, a large staff or even a college education.  Common sense, desire, hard work and determination can take you a long way in life.  This was the message they were laying out there and it’s one I can really relate too.

You can see video from the general sessions here.

You can see images from SolidWorks World 2012 here.


Partner products

I was in the partner Pavallion more this year than years past because I was working at the Boxx Technologies booth.  I’ve owned a Boxx workstation for a couple of years now and really for the kind of work I do (rendering and animation) there is no substitute for the power a Boxx workstation can provide.  Lots of people stopped by to say hi while I was at the booth so staying busy wasn’t a problem.

I did take a couple of strolls through the partner area as well.  I always like to check out some of the products designed with SolidWorks being showcased and it never hurts to check in on the new technology the partner companies are showing.  One thing that really caught my eye this year was a new product from Luxology.

Luxology, the makers of modo and the underlying technology for PhotoView 360 had a booth just across the isle from the Boxx booth.  They were of course showing modo and the SolidWorks kit for modo but they were also showing a new product, PowerNURBS that converts a Sub D mesh into a NURBSs model.  Yes, soon you will be able to model a shape in modo and export the modo Sub D mesh into a NURBS model for use in SolidWorks.  It was quite amazing really.  When T-splines was gobbled up by AutoDesk I was afraid TS Elements would see the end of it’s life and the ability to work with both Sub D and NURBS geometry in a somewhat fluid manner would be lost with it (for SolidWorks users anyway).  Looks like that’s not case as Luxology has stepped in to fill the void.  Not sure when we’ll have availability of the  product but I’m guessing it will be before summer.


The future

Another large reason I wanted to go to World this year was to see what was in store for the future.  SolidWorks has been very tight lipped about their “next generation” software over the last couple of years and I wanted to see if this year’s conferencee would bring new info to the users.  I was also wondering what was on the horizon for SolidWorks 2013 and thought maybe we’d see some new product annoucements.

Live Buildings was shown at SolidWorks World 2011 and since then no new news has been made available.  I’ve been unsuccessful in obtaining demo copies of the product and this along with the lack of information made me wonder the status.  Well, wonder no more.  Bertrand Sicot, CEO of SolidWorks stated numerous times, Live Buildings would be available in Q4 of 2012.  He even went so far as to guarantee this so it looks like we will be seeing this product in the near future.  This is good news for me since some of my business does included residential building design and I’ve been searching for a software solution to do this work in 3D.

Mobile Apps are something I thought we’d hear some new product announcements about but that wasn’t the case.  For a while now I’ve been wondering why there isn’t a mobile version of e-drawings or the e-drawings viewer. I’m sure there are a couple of other areas that could support a mobile platform but as of yet SolidWorks doesn’t seem to be too concerned with a presence in this space.  Other CAD vendors are making a move into this area so at some point I’m assuming SolidWorks will as well.  As of now though no news about mobile platform plans :(

SolidWorks 2013 was shown (or parts of it) during the Wednesday general session.  The SolidWorks team did a really great “back to the feature” skit based on the movie “back to the future”.  John Hirshtick even had a cameo appearance.  I missed not seeing John on stage this year.  I’m actually not sure how many new things were shown during the skit but Ricky Jordan has a good write up about them at his blog.

Honestly I didn’t take any notes during this segment of the general session because not much shown excited me.  I did like the semi backward compatibility between SolidWorks 2012 and SolidWorks 2013.  It’s not exactly what I was hoping for but it’s a start.  I also liked the ability to vary pattern dimensions since I use patterns quite a bit.  Now, there may have been things shown that other users really liked but for my work I really didn’t see anything I had to have.  In fact I’d say the only new features I’ve seen since SolidWorks 2010 that has made me want to upgrade is PhotoView 360.  It was not shown on Wednesday but I can say there are some really nice enhancements on the way for PhotoView 360 in 2013.

You were probably expecting me to have a long list of enhancements and a rave review of 2013.  I wanted this to be the case and I had high hopes for the Wednesday general session but I just wasn’t feeling it when they were showing the new features.  There were a couple instances of “noise” from the crowd on Wednesday so some things shown were catching some interest but overall I didn’t feel a large level of excitement from the room.

This brings me to “SolidWorks V6″  In the Wednesday press conference we were told the next generation of SolidWorks would be named SolidWorks V6.  We were also told it would not be released until it was ready.  No firm dates were given but I got the sense it was going to be 2-3 years before we will be able to purchase the SolidWorks V6 product.  I’m not sure how I feel about this.  I think with all the hype a couple years ago and the lack of information since then SolidWorks needs to hit a home run on the release of this product.  It will have to be very good to match the waiting game we have been playing.  So, in that respect I completely agree they can’t release the software until it’s ready for show time. On the other hand we have already been waiting 2 years and there is nothing to show.  Why is that?  Why the lack of information?  This gives me an uneasy feeling about the future of the product.  I also wonder if the software hits the street 3 years from now will it already be behind the competitors.

You may say, why do we need SolidWorks V6 and that’s a good question.  I’m sure from the user perspective the answer is different than from the DS/SolidWorks perspective.  For me personally I think the next generation of software is going to bring a new level of technology that will help the product shape the future of the CAD world and lead to more innovation.  The current product actually works just fine for my needs at the moment but it’s based on technology that’s more than 15 years old.  I think that limits the levels at which the software can compete and it may be the reason why the last couple of versions haven’t seen any real innovative feature developments.

It looks as though we’ll have to wait for information to trickle out about SolidWorks V6 as no new information was put forth at the conference.  It was also made very clear in the press conference that the current SolidWorks technology platform will be around for many more years to come and will coexist for some time with the new technology version.  This will allow users to upgrade when they are ready.

Overall I had a great time at SolidWorks World 2012.  Had fun, met some great people, my presentations went well and it was good to catch up with people.  I was a little disappointed about the lack of information on the new products but that just means I’ll have to wait a little longer to watch the future unfold.  See you all next year in Orlando ;)

I should also disclose DS SolidWorks Corporation paid for my hotel at this years conference.


SolidWorks World 2012 Starts Today!

I’ve arrived in San Diego.  First order of business this morning was to register for the conference and grab some breakfast. Registration was exciting for me this morning because I noticed SolidWorks is using an image I created on the conference notebooks, t-shirts and phone apps. I always like to see my work pop up. Met up with a bunch of people for breakfast and if you are following the Twitter hastag #sww12 you probably have seen me in more than one photo and know what’s happening all over the area around the convention center. Twitter is a great way to follow what people are doing and where to meet.  

SolidWorks World 2012 starts today with a welcome reception at 5:30. I’ve been fine tuning one of my presentations and relaxing a bit before things get started. Once the conference kicks off it will be a non stop whirlwind ride until Wednesday afternoon so I thought I’d get my rest in now ;) You can find me at the Boxx booth (booth #506) during the reception. If you’d like to to talk rendering, animation, computers or just say hi stop in.  After the reception you can find me at the Tweet Up.  If you have a Twitter account you’ll want to stop by.  You can find the Tweet Up at the Bayfront Hilton, room Aqua 310 and it starts at 8:00.

Just wanted to give you the quick run down on what’s happening Sunday.  Things will REALLY get rolling Monday.



SolidWorks World 2012: Just Around The Corner


Hard to believe but SolidWorks World 2012 is just 4 days away.  I can’t believe it’s already been a year!  I also can’t believe this will be my 9th consecutive SolidWorks World!  Wow, seems like I was just in Boston in 2004 attending my first conference. Where does time go?  Like past events this will be a busy one for me.  I’ll be presenting, I’ll be working, I’ll be meeting friends new and old and also be having some fun.  While I’m there I also hope to find out the answers to some questions I and every other SolidWorks user has had for the last two years.  You know what I’m talking about ;).  Here’s the quick run down of what I’ll be doing and expecting at this years conference.


What I’ll be doing:

On Monday in the 10:30-12:00 time slot I’m giving a presentation titled, “Lights, Camera, Action”.  This session is going to cover creating rendered animations using Motion and PhotoView 360.  To do this I’m going to step through the process I used to create an animation for an Axis CAD Solutions client.  The animation covers a lot of the different things you can do with Motion and it’s short enough that I can explain it in 90 minutes so it should be an interesting example.

On Tuesday in the 1:30-2:30 time slot I’m giving a presentation titled, “PhotoView 360: Instant Images”.  This is a session I’ve given for the last couple of years at SolidWorks World.  In the past this has been a hands on session but this year it will be a straight breakout session which means I do all the work and you just have to listen and ask questions.  I’ve given this session at a handful of user group meetings as well and people always give it a good review.  If you’d like to learn the basics of visualization in both SolidWorks and PhotoView 360 this is a good session to attend.

Throughout the conference I’ll also be working at the Boxx Technologies booth.  Boxx makes some of the fastest computer workstations on the planet.  I’ll be in their booth a couple hours a day talking rendering, animation, SolidWorks, modo and how Boxx can make those things faster.

I’ll also be meeting up with a bunch of people I haven’t see in a year.  One of the great things about SolidWorks World is the people you meet and keep meeting.  I’ve made some really good friends at past World’s and it will be good to see them.


What I’m expecting:

It’s a given the conference will be great.  It always is.  Good speakers, lots of technology, fun events, SolidWorks definitely puts on a good show.  There are some things in particular I’ll be looking for this year.

SolidWorks Next Gen, SolidWorks V6, Catia Lite call it whatever you want.  I want to actually be given some information about the future of this product.  Since parts of it were shown at SolidWorks World a couple of years ago SolidWorks has been tight lipped about it’s status.  I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing but either way I think users deserve some sort of updated information in this area.

SolidWorks Live Buildings was shown at SolidWorks World last year and again the status of this product has been under wraps.  I do a fair amount of architectural work using SolidWorks and AutoCAD together.  I’d love a chance to move these projects into a full 3D architectural solution without investing money in AutoDesk products.  Live Buildings had me excited but the information, or lack of coming out of DS about the product doesn’t give me a lot of confidence in it’s future.

SolidWorks 2013 will be shown on Wednesday.  I’m hoping to see more in the 2013 release than the 2012.  Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with SolidWorks 2012. It’s very stable, the quality is great, it saw lots of little refinements and some of it is nice but there is nothing in there that makes me want to upgrade from 2011.

Luxology will have a booth in the partner pavilion and I have the feeling they may be showing some new technology.  Modo 601 should be out soon, maybe we can catch a sneak peak?  For those of you who don’t know,  the SolidWorks kit has been updated to support SolidWorks 2012 files so I’m sure that will be on display.

Overall I’m sure this years event will be great.  If you’re attending have a great time and don’t be afraid to say hi if we run into each other.  Also, download the SWW 2012 app.  It’s pretty nice.  If you’re not attending watch the web for all the info being reported on.




Welcome To The New Site.

It’s been a time consuming process but I finally have a new website!  Since my life is continuously evolving my website’s need to do the same to more accurately represent me.  What I’ve done is combine my personal blog site, www.robrodriguez.com and my business site, www.axiscadsolutions.com into one site.  This should make it easier to manage the site and give the viewer a more accurate view of me.

If you’ve landed here using www.robrodriguez.com you’ve been taken directly to the blog page since that’s probably what you were expecting to find.  Robrodriguez.com also offered the Step by Step Guides and presentation downloads covering PhotoView 360 and Motion animation.  You’ll still find those at the new site under “Guides” and “Downloads”.

If you’ve landed here using www.axiscadsolutions.com you’ve been taken directly to the home page so you can find out more about my business services.  The new site also includes an expanded portfolio area full of images and animations.

Whatever your reason for stopping by, have a look around, find out about the services Axis CAD Solutions offers, look at our past projects, read the blog and then contact me to say, “hi” or inquire about how we can help you in your next project.


PhotoView 360 Users See Some Love.

If you’re a PhotoView 360 user you may have noticed an increase in a flow of PhotoView 360 information from SolidWorks.  This is very welcome in my mind and I have to believe other PhotoView 360 users like this new information exchange as well.  This flow of information can be found at the SolidWorks forums and it’s coming in a couple of flavors.

The  first flavor is training orientated.  Ron Bates,  Manager of Graphical Applications at SolidWorks has been running a monthly PhotoView 360 training series titled PhotoView Friday.  In the Series Ron covers a specific PhotoView 360 topic and dedicates about 30 minutes of video time covering the information.  Topics range in subject matter and he likes to take requests so feel free to let him know what you’d like to learn more about.  Ron has just posted PhotoView Friday Episode 3 where he covers matched environments and background images as well as some depth of field information.   If you missed the previous PhotoView Friday episodes don’t worry, they are all posted in the PhotoView 360 area of the SolidWorks forum. He’s leaning towards rendered animations in Episode 4 which is one I will surely want to see.

The seconds flavor is geared towards a sharing of technical information.  Again, Ron has been spilling the beans on what PhotoView 360 users can find in the upcoming service packs.  He created a video for SP3 which showed the preview window speed increase and for the upcoming SP 4 Ron has also given us a look at what to expect.

Marlon Banta, Senior Product Definition Specialist at SolidWorks has also posted a very in depth look at Factors that affect PhotoView 360 render performance. This certainly has to be one of the longest posts I’ve seen in the forums and Marlon leaves no stone unturned.  Nice job Marlon.

A big thanks to both of these gentlemen for keeping PhotoView 360 users better informed. ;)


Photorealistic Rendering Using SolidWorks and PhotoView 360

2011 Photorealistic Rendering using SolidWorks and PhotoView 360 Step By Step Guide

Photorealistic Rendering Using SolidWorks and PhotoView 360 is a new step By step guide from DS SolidWorks.  This guide replaces the PhotoWorks guide and is specifically written for PhotoView 360 2011.  At 562 pages it covers all aspects of PhotoView 360 as well as RealView and OpenGL graphics modes in SolidWorks.

The book isn’t available for shipping quite yet but I’m offering a pre buy sale for those of you who’d like to pick up a copy at a discount.  I’m also extending the sale to cover the Creating Animations with SolidWorks Step by Step Guide which has been available for about a year.  Each book will be be discounted $10 from the non sale price and those of you in the United States will also receive free shipping.  This is a limited time offer.  Once the PhotoView 360 book becomes available for shipping prices will return to their normal rate.

I’ll have a more in-depth review of the guide soon but until then you can find more information on both guides by visiting this page and choosing the appropriate book to view the details.


SolidWorks to modo: What’s in the Kit

“Solidworks to modo: What’s in the kit” was a well attended session at SolidWorks World 2011. Paul McCrorey and I teamed up to give this session together.  Neither of us had ever done a session with a partner but it went well and very smooth I think.  The presentation gives an overview of what users will find inside the soon to be released “modo for SolidWorks kit”.  If you’re a modo user working with SolidWorks files or a SolidWorks user who’d like to explore modo you’ll definitely want to have a look.  This session was also videotaped by SolidWorks.  Once the conference proceedings are released you can see the full video version which will also include audience questions.

I’ll be posting a full review of the “modo for SolidWorks kit” once it’s released so be on the lookout for that very soon.

As a full disclosure statement I should note Paul and I contracted with Luxology  for portions of the “modo to SolidWorks kit”

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