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SolidWorks World 2014 Kicks Off Tonight

SWW14-2The last attendees are arriving today and everyone is registering for SolidWorks World 2014. The conference officially kicks off tonight at 5:30 with the welcome reception in the partner pavilion.  The official numbers can’t be calculated until Monday but I’m told they on are track to be about 6000 attendees.

I’ve been walking the halls of the convention center and the streets of San Diego the last couple of days  soaking up the sun and warm temperatures.  It’s quite a change from the -13F I left back home.  I’ve bumped into lots of old friends and user group leaders and it’s been great catching up with everyone.  One of the most talked about topics so far this year has been the location of SolidWorks World 2015.  We have one clue from Richard Doyle who swears he has no idea where it will be.  The 2015 conference will be held in a city that has never hosted a SolidWorks World. A lot of cities have been thrown out as ideas but there hasn’t been a consistent front runner.  What do you think?  Where will SolidWorks 2015 be held?

Some things to note about this years conference.

There are a number of SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual sessions listed in the agenda and a couple of press conferences on the topic.  This makes me think DS is finally going to release the product to consumers.

If you’re attending SolidWorks World and want to learn more about rendering and animation be sure and stop by my two sessions.

If you you’d like to talk computing power, rendering, animation, SolidWorks user groups or just about anything else you can find me at the Boxx Technologies booth in the partner pavilion at certain times throughout the conference.


SolidWorks World 2014, It’s Been a Decade

SWW14 SmallIt really just doesn’t seem possible but this will be my 10th consecutive SolidWorks World!  My first SolidWorks World was in 2004 in Boston.  Boston in January isn’t for everyone and that probably had something to do with why the conference attendance was low that year.  For me however it was great.  Living 4 hours north of Boston we typically have temperatures in the single digits (or colder) and a few feet of snow at the end of January.  Boston had temps in the 30s and a few inches of snow. It’s also an easy drive and since I covered that my employer was more wiling to pay the conference fee and hotel.  I was able to participate in alpha testing for the first time and the Boston conference is where I passed my CSWP exam.  The old 8 hour exam that was part written, part modeling.  I even gave the model mania contest a try although I didn’t do so well.

What happened in the years between 2004 and 2014.  Well, I started a SolidWorks user group, won user group leader of the year, participated in a lot more alpha testing, met some really great people, went to theme parks, met the guys from OCC, heard Burt Rutan, Steve Wozniak, Gene Kranz and Jim Lovell give some amazing talks, became a blogger, learned black jack from an MIT black jack team player, have presented 9 years at World and whole lot of others things I don’t have space to write.  If you really want to read a few more you can see what Richard Doyle posted on his blog.

Fast forward to the present and some things are different.  I’m now self employed, have two kids, am a SolidWorks World veteran and San Diego is a whole lot warmer than Boston in January.  Some things are still the same though.   Like in 2004 I’ll be participating in alpha testing again this year but no model mania contest.  I still don’t do well in those.  I’ll be giving two presentations this year. I’m hoping we will finally have a version of SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual (dare I say V6) that is actually available for everyone to use.  I’m still having a great time at SolidWorks World and its still the best place to network with SolidWorks users from all over the world.

Hopefully you’ll be at SolidWorks World this year and starting or continuing your journey to a decade of SolidWorks World’s.  Hope to see you there.


Sessions at SolidWorks World 2014

SWW14SolidWorks World 2014 is quickly approaching and for the 9th consecutive year I’ll be giving presentations at the event.   As in the past my sessions will cover topics which aren’t necessarily considered mainstream in the SolidWorks community.  This is great because it’s a way for users to find good quality information about topics they might not be able to otherwise.  I like presenting because it gives me a chance to really connect with users and share what is hopefully helpful information.

Rendering and Animation Tips and Tricks CoverRendering and Animation Tips and Tricks: Tuesday, January 28th at 1:30

This session will cover tips to achieve better renderings and animations.  It’s a 60 minute session so we’ll have time to cover 5 tips for each subject.  Tips will range from the very basic to the more complex and there should be something in there for everyone at all skill levels.  This session isn’t meant to walk you through how to create renderings and animations.  It’s meant to focus on specific areas where users may run into difficulty and show tips or techniques to work through the issue.  As examples.  One rendering tip covers how to create a custom appearance to match a very specific color and pattern.  One animation tip covers how to perfectly create a fade from hide/show or color change components.

PhotoView 360 2014 Whats NewPhotoView 2014: What’s New: Wednesday, January 29th at 2:45

This session will cover all the new functionality found in PhotoView 360 2014.  It will actually go a bit further and also cover a few things found in SolidWorks (not PhotoView) that can/will help with creating images from the SolidWorks graphics window. For this session I’ll be teaming up with Ron Bates.  Ron is the former manager of graphical applications at DS SolidWorks.  At this moment in time there is no other person with as much knowledge about PhotoView than Ron.  If PhotoView is something you need more training and information about then you’ll definitely want to attend this session.

As always, if you have questions, comments or just want to say hi feel free to find me at one of my sessions or roaming around the convention center.  Hope to see you in San Diego.



My.SolidWorks open screenMy.SolidWorks.com was introduced in beta during SolidWorks World 2013.  Last week the website finished it’s beta run and now it’s ready for the user community.  Think of my.solidworks.com as a one stop shop for SolidWorks  user community information that’s unique to you.  You don’t have to check a number of different SolidWorks sources for information, answers, videos, etc., with my.solidworks.com it’s all in one location.

Here’s the bullet info to get you up to speed quickly:

My.SolidWorks consolidates access to key sources in the SolidWorks community. It’s a place to find answers to questions you may have about being productive with SolidWorks, and keep up with recent activity in the community in a personalized experience.

* For now, My.SolidWorks doesn’t replace any of our existing online properties, including the Customer Portal. The Customer Portal has useful links to your Support activity, to system requirements, downloads and more, which are not currently available in My.SolidWorks. But for tips, insights and knowledge about how to use SolidWorks most effectively, we suggest using My.SolidWorks.

My.SolidWorks gives you a single place to find insight and expertise from all over the SolidWorks community. It lets you connect, discover and share anything and everything SolidWorks. My.SolidWorks provides immediate access to forum posts, online help, YouTube videos, blog posts and more. You can also search all of those sources for answers with a single click. All of the relevant results are delivered on one page

* Anyone can use My.SolidWorks via a web browser, at http://My.SolidWorks.com. You’ll get the most capability when you’re logged in using your SolidWorks customer account.

* Customers with an active SolidWorks Subscription get the most value, because content tied to a subscription also appears in My.SolidWorks.

* Mobile capabilities as well as an add-in to SolidWorks will be added soon.

Head on over to My.SolidWorks and have a look.  It may become one of those sites you check every morning or on your lunch break or……….





SolidWorks World 2013: My Take

SolidWorks World 2013 finished up about a month ago.  It doesn’t seem possible that much time has passed but my schedule has been so crazy it’s hard to keep track of time in general.  Since I’m posting so late I’m not sure it’s worth reporting all the details everyone else already has so I thought I’d give you the highlights of what I did and didn’t like.  I’d also like to wrap up with a little information about SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual.  Here we go.


The Good Highlights:

Speakers at Tuesday’s general session.

There were two speakers during Tuesday’s general session.  One of them was Vijay Kuhmar who’s an  engineering and applied science professor at the University of Pennsylvania.  Vijay talked about the work they’ve been doing with robotic helicopters.  More specifically how these helicopters can work independently but as a team to accomplish all sorts of tasks.  We saw them fly through hoops, do flips, play the James Bond theme song and what was really impressive, work together to build structures.  Keep in mind, the robots were not remote controlled, they were actually analyzing data and making decisions based on the data “thinking” to complete a task.

The other was Elias Knubben from the Bionics Projects division of Festo.  Elias talked about how Festo is designing future projects based on nature.  We saw a gripper machine where the arms are based on an elephant trunk and the fingers based on fish fins.  What impressed me was how elegant and seemingly simple the designs were yet they accomplished complex tasks.  What really brought oohs and awes from the crowd though was an actual mechanical flying bird.  The design was based on an actual bird and if you were standing a distance away and saw it flying you’d never guess it was a machine.  It was very impressive to say the least.


SolidWorks 2014 skit

Every year the SolidWorks team does a skit to showcase some of the new enhancements for the next release.  This year’s skit was titled, “Jeremy’s Designer Gift Show” and it was a spoof on the infomercials you’d see on late night TV.  It was very comical and did a nice job of showing off some of what’s to come in the 2014 release.  I’m not going to cover the enhancements here but if you want to see them check out Ricky Jordan’s write up.  I will say the enhancements shown looked to be solid which leads me to believe the 2014 release will be a good one.  Every year I think, wow that is the best skit they have done and then the next year they out do themselves.  This year was no exception.  This may be the best skit the team has put together.  Well, until next year of course 😉


The Tuesday night offsite event

The offsite event this year was at Universal Studios Island of Adventure Park.  Yes, the entire park was rented just for SolidWorks World attendees.  Free rides, free food, free drink, no waiting lines.  Just doesn’t get any better than that!


Red Bull Stratos Jump

Art Thompson and Jon Wells from Sage Chesire talked about the engineering behind the Red Bull Stratos jump.  I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t understand everything they were talking about.  Sending a man in a capsule attached to a balloon to the edge of space so he can jump and free fall back to earth is a complex process.  Watching the video of Felix Baumgartner jump from the capsule was pretty intense.  I can’t even image sitting in his seat.  This was definitely one of those stories where you think, ” this is unbelievable” even though you’re watching it happen.



Wayne Tiffany Tribute

If you’ve been involved in the SolidWorks user community for any length of time then you’ve probably heard the Name Wayne Tiffany.  Wayne was a regular on the SolidWorks discussion forums, SolidWorks beta testing, SWUGN network and anywhere else he could help out a fellow SolidWorks user.  In 2012 Wayne lost his battle with cancer and the SolidWorks community lost a great asset.  Richard Doyle took the stage at SolidWorks World 2013 to say a few words about Wayne and announce a SWUGN award named in his honor.  How important was/is Wayne to the SolidWorks community?  In SolidWorks 2013 go to help/about SolidWorks.  Hold down the shift key and click on the red SolidWorks icon.  You’ll see a pop up that says “In memory of Wayne Tiffany 1955-2012”.  That’s pretty awesome.


The people

SolidWorks World is really just a very large user group meeting. The people you meet, connect and reconnect with there help to define the SolidWorks World experience.  It may be SolidWorks employees, users, the presenters, maybe all of those……….. it’s the people and the interaction with those people that make SolidWorks World the great event it is.  That’s my opinion anyway but really, if nobody was there would you want to go?


The Bad Highlights:

Sponsor speech’s during the general sessions

This year during the beginning of each general session the larger sponsors of the event were given 10-15 minutes to talk on stage.  This was something new this year and hopefully it’s not repeated next year.  A 10-15 minute sales pitch isn’t something I want to see during the general sessions.  The place for that is the partner pavilion.


“3D Experience Platform “

If I see one more speech, watch one more video, read one more word or hear one more talk about the “3D Experience Platform” I’m going to be sick.  If I understand the message correctly, (this may be a big IF) with Dassault Systemes  3D experience platform a company can design/model, simulate, manage data, virtually display the data and then connect it to everyone from conceptualist to end consumer using the web and social networking. You should go to this page so you can read all about the 3D Experience platform and draw your own conclusions about what it is or isn’t.

Myself as a SolidWorks user I guess I don’t understand how the 3D Experience Platform really benefits me.  My modeling is done in SolidWorks, my data management is done using Enterprise PDM, my simulation is done using SolidWorks simulation tools.  I can virtually share my design with clients using SolidWorks tools like, PhotoView 360, Motion and e-drawings and there are plenty of ways to use the web or social networking to connect with clients/consumers.  I never really have to leave the SolidWorks ecosystem to achieve the 3D experience as I understand it.  I suppose I could use 3Dvia to communicate my design to the world rather use the SolidWorks provided tools or maybe I could use 3Dvia tools in conjunction with SolidWorks tools.  The problem is. 3dvia tools are more like a video game rather than a realistic representation (movie quality) of a 3D World and the translation between SolidWorks and 3Dvia really isn’t all that good.  I never have to travel to any other parts of the compass to achieve this 3D Experience they keep talking about.  Granted this could be because I’m not a large multi million/ billion dollar company but I bet I represent the typical SolidWorks user more than I don’t.  So when Dassault Systemes keeps pushing the 3D Expereince Platform on me the SolidWorks user I just keep thinking, they don’t understand me or my business at all.


The Neutral Highlights:

SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual

After years of waiting SolidWorks finally introduced a product based on the Dassault Systems V6 technology.  It’s not SolidWorks V6, that name isn’t being used anymore.  It’s named SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual.  From what was shown it appears to be some sort of conceptual modeling tool (mechanical modeling not organic modeling) that allows the user to create concept sketches, models and simulate, animate them while easily sharing them with others.  Other than some screen shots there wasn’t a lot of info given about the product.  Questions about the product at the Monday press conference really weren’t answered beyond what was shown on stage.  This leaves a lot of people wondering what we can expect.  The product will be released in the fall of 2013 but the non beta, beta is supposed to be available in March to select customers.  I’m hoping to be one of those select customers so I can see what’s under the hood.

Overall the SolidWorks team put on a great event this year.  Nice work!

You can view the recorded general sessions from SolidWorks World here.

Thank you to Mike Lord for sharing some of his pictures for this post.


SolidWorks World 2013

SolidWorks World 2013 is only a few days and I’m looking forward to attending this year for a bunch of reasons.

We will of course see a preview of SolidWorks 2014.  I’m not sure what will be added in 2014 but the SolidWorks 2013 release was very solid and well accepted in the user community.  If SolidWorks 2014 can follow the 2013 lead we should see some good things.

SolidWorks should be showcasing a version of their future V6 product this year at the conference.  You’ll notice I didn’t say SolidWorks V6.  If you remember, last fall at the DS Solidworks media event, SolidWorks announced they would be releasing a “conceptual modeling tool” this spring.  They did not say it would be shown at SolidWorks World but that was my (and I think most everyone else in the rooms) expectation.  The fact that the full SolidWorks V6 software is not ready and still not being talked about is quite interesting to me.  For reasons that are not being shared with customers DS seems to be unable to deliver any sort of “V6” product to deadlines they themselves have set.  SolidWorks Live Buildings which is based on V6 technology was supposed to arrive sometime later in 2012. It didn’t and any talk of this product is minimal at best.  When SolidWorks V6 was previewed at SolidWorks World a few years ago it was stated the technology about 3 years away.  Three years is up and there is also very minimal if any talk about this product.  All we really have at this point is this “conceptual modeling tool” we first heard about in the fall.  My thoughts, this “conceptual modeling tool” is the part of SolidWorks V6 that is actually ready to be shown while the rest of the product is still being developed.  Rather than shut out SolidWorks World attendees completely on the V6 product DS has decided to show what they have.  Pure speculation on my part but I hope we do get to see something based on the V6 technology and information is more free flowing. 

There is a great new product that has just been released from Npower software, Power Surfacing.  Power surfacing brings free form organic sub division surface modeling to SolidWorks.  It’s a plug in that has a nice almost seamless integration into the product and makes complex shape creation easier and fun.  Npower will be at the partner pavallion showing the Power Surfacing product and they also have a breakout session scheduled to give users a more in depth look at the product and it’s capabilities.  If you create complex geometry models in SolidWorks you should definitely have a look at this product.  I expect there to be a lot of excitement around this product during World.  It would actually give SolidWorks V1 users a very powerful “conceptual modeling tool” .  SolidWorks V1 is a mature CAD platform so when you combine it with Power Surfacing it might actually steal the show from any V6 technology shown?  Again, more speculation on my part.  If you’re attending the event be sure to check it out.

I’ll be giving two break out sessions this year and I always have a good time with these.  My first session will be on Tuesday at 2:45 and is titled, “PhotoView 360: What’s new in 2013”.  The session will cover (you guessed it) all the new stuff in 2013 pertaining to PhotoView 360.  We’ll take a pretty in depth look at the new features and I’ll show examples of all of them in action.  My second session is a hands on session at 1:30 on Wed.  This session will be an updated version of  the “PhotoView 360: Instant Images” I’ve given in years past.  This session is geared towards beginners and gives them a good general overview of the tools in PhotoView 360 and how to use them to create basic images.  If you’d like to learn more about PhotoView 360 be sure and stop by one of these sessions.

When you’ve been attending SolidWorks World as long as I have you meet some really good people and make lasting friendships.  While I may keep in touch with these friends by e-mail throughout the year the only place we really get a chance to meet and talk face to face is SolidWorks World.  SolidWorks World is as much about networking as it is anything else and I like to take advantage of my time there to do just that.

If you’ll be at SolidWorks World be sure to learn lots, network and talk with other users, make the most of it, feel free to say hi and most importantly have fun.  See you there 😉




Let’s Talk Surfacing

I normally stick to rendering topics on this blog but today I’d like to talk surfacing.  More specifically, complex organic shape creation.  I’ve been a SolidWorks user since release ’99 which means I’ve been using the product for about 14 years.  Over that period of time complex shape creation in SolidWorks hasn’t really come a long way.  Yes, adding multibodies support to the software helped.  Yes, the surfacing tools have been upgraded and refined over the years to make some things more robust.  Overall however, if you want/need to create complex, free-form geometry in SolidWorks it requires a lot of time, knowledge and trial and error. Especially if you’re a user that only needs to do this on occasion.

A few years ago I began using modo for rendering.  modo also has a full set of subdivision surfacing (subd or SDS) tools which I play with from time to time.  SDS modeling is a much easier way to create very complex organic type shapes and geometry.  Much easier than NURBS based modeling.  SDS modeling is popular in the CG (gaming, film, character, etc) industry because you literally  push, pull, stretch, smoosh, bend, etc geometry into any shape quickly.  This “free form” ability makes it very easy to create the types of character or props you might see in an animated movie or video game.  I’m guessing most SolidWorks users have little interest in creating character models but what if this SDS type of modeling could be used to create housings, containers, bottles, seats, toys, etc, etc, etc.  Anything product design related that requires smooth flowing organic shapes.

Taking an SDS model from an SDS modeler into SolidWorks  however is not an easy task.  There are software products that allow you to do this but results vary and in the end once you bring your SDS model into SolidWorks you have limited editing abilities.  We all know design is a constant process of change so limited editing capabilities is not a good thing.

What this has lead to is a workflow issue.  You may have an industrial designer using Maya, modo or 3D Studio to create a beautiful shape for the next new wiz bang product but that shape then has to be recreated in a NURBS format so the engineering work can be done.  Since NURBS modeling isn’t real free-form friendly the actual product shape is limited by the tools and skill of the operator and may in fact be quite different from the concepts developed by the designer.

So, we have two very different types of modeling (SDS and NURBS) that each excels in their own areas but what we really would like is the best of both worlds.  What we really want is a product that can do the free form concept shape modeling and the heavy engineering modeling required to actually manufacture and document a product.  Something that makes complex shape creation fun and creative for the expert and casual user.

Let me introduce you to a soon to be released product.  Power Surfacing.  Power Surfacing is a SolidWorks plug-in that allows the user to easily create and edit SDS models right inside of SolidWorks.  Not only can you create complex geometry but you can also use all the familiar SolidWorks modeling tools to transform that geometry into an engineering model.  Your SDS model becomes a feature in the tree.  It’s fully editable, parametric, you can have multiple SDS features in the tree and when you’re finished with your model it’s 100% NURBS.  Another bonus to Power Surfacing is it’s ability to read and right obj files.  Now you can fully share and edit models between SolidWorks and SDS modelers in both directions. Power Surfacing effectively removes the workflow issues of the past.  It allows the SolidWorks user to easily create complex organic geometry that can be used from the concept stage to final engineering model. I’ve been using Power Surfacing over the last few weeks and am amazed at the speed and ease  at which complex geometry can be created.  Shapes that required hours to create using the standard SolidWorks modeling tools can be created in minutes using Power Surfacing.  The plug-in blends the more creative SDS modeling and the more rigid NURBS modeling almost seamlessly.  Have a look at this short video showing Power Surfacing in action.  Power Surfacing is brought to by nPower Software (a division of IntegrityWare Inc.), is currently in limited beta and will be released at SolidWorks World in January.  Stay tuned over the coming weeks for more information on this exciting product.




SolidWorks 2013 Arriving Soon!

I’ll be traveling to the DS corporate offices in Waltham this week to attend the SolidWorks 2013 media rollout.   The media roll out exposes members of the press to information about SolidWorks and the soon to be released 2013 version of the software.  I’ve been using the SolidWorks 2013 beta for about a month now so I have a good handle on the enhancements but it’s always nice to see and hear the official presentation.  I’m also hoping SolidWorks will treat the media to a look at SolidWorks V6 or at least be able to give out some updated information.

The official  SolidWorks 2013 customer launch date is September, 10 2012.  The 2013 launch site will go live that day and I’m sure there will be a variety of SolidWorks 2013 information on display for users.  If you’d like some sneak peeks on what to expect in SolidWorks 2013 have a look at these videos.

SolidWorks 2013: Auto Dimension While Sketching

SolidWorks 2013: Insert Multiple Components In Assemblies

SolidWorks 2013: Exclude Components During Interference Detection

SolidWorks 2013: Automatic Routing Along Existing Geometry

SolidWorks 2013: Reference Center Of Mass In Drawings & Assemblies


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?

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