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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?

 

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.

 

 

 
 
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