Now is the Time to Vote on the 2023 SOLIDWORKS Top Ten List
If you are a SOLIDWORKS user, January is the best time of the year to make your voice heard loud and clear by the SOLIDWORKS Product Definition Team. This is the month when the voting phase opens on the Top 10 Ideas Contest, an annual tradition that precedes the 3DEXPERIENCE World Conference (previously known as SOLIDWORKS World).
Figure 1. Top 10 List 2023.
As we stated in previous articles on the same topic, the Product Definition Team works tirelessly throughout the year to pick the brains of SOLIDWORKS users throughout the world in order to collect the best enhancement requests. They do this by using the Enhancement Request Program, participating on the SOLIDWORKS Forum and performing hundreds of in-person and virtual visits to see directly how the software is being used in the real world, and hear how to further improve it to address these real-world use cases.
To make it even easier for the users to participate in this process, once a year in the months preceding 3DEXPERIENCE World, ideas for enhancing the software can be submitted and voted in the Top 10 Ideas competition. As you will see in this article, the voting process is very simple but, realistically, only a small fraction of the 6 million SOLIDWORKS users usually get involved. Most are too busy solving the challenges in their daily jobs to take the time to properly write and submit enhancement requests. As a result, most of the ideas born from “Eureka” moments on the job are never communicated to the developers.
Even finding the time to read and vote on all 383 ideas submitted this year is impossible for most users.
If you are one of these busy users, every January we curate a list of hyperlinks for the ideas we believe will make the most positive impact on your usage of SOLIDWORKS. To vote for them, simply click the hyperlink and press the Like button (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Like = Vote.
Without further ado, here is the 2023 Top Ideas short list.
Mathiew Prevot titled his idea Add CUDA-based GPU Compute, explaining in detail how much CUDA-based, DirectCompute or OpenCL technology would improve processing simulation studies including finite elements, fluids, mechanics, particles-based simulation (atoms or molecules) for solids, elastics, aging, physical scenarios (shocks, explosions, bending, etc.) and surface simulation.
We suggest voting for this idea because such technology could also be applied to other areas of SOLIDWORKS. Currently, SOLIDWORKS has quite a few areas that use multicore processing:
- Processing drawing views.
- Computing graphics tessellation.
- Allowing assembly and drawing manipulation (zoom in/out, pan) during the opening phase.
- Performing renderings.
- Performing simulation studies.
Although inside a history-based part model most operations must be processed sequentially, there are a lot of other opportunities for multi-core processing. These are a few examples where SOLIDWORKS could use distributed CPU/GPU processing:
- Updating inactive drawing sheets in the background.
- Updating inactive configurations.
- Gathering data for the Assembly Visualization list.
- Loading a component’s body data when an assembly opens.
Currently SOLIDWORKS has two flavors of the Defeature tool, which are doing an acceptable job for simplifying complex geometry.
Defeature Simplify can fill some cavities using an internal algorithm that is not controlled by user. Also, it does not work with Surface bodies. Defeature Silhouette simply recreates geometry based on space claim. Read this article for an in-depth description of both.
Neither is perfect when the user wants to simplify huge components with a lot of faces that have little gaps. Moreover, such components could have a lot of surface bodies with little gaps between them.
What we need is an intelligent tool that can figure out the external faces of such components based on user input. Then simply close all gaps and fill the inside with solid material. It does not have to be perfect—a shrink wrap would do.
Vote for this idea if you work with complex models containing imported geometry features and you require only the space claim and mounting holes.
SOLIDWORKS has a decent Feature Manager Tree filter, but there are vast opportunities for improving it.
- Make it work in conjunction with the Entities Selection Filter (F5).
Figure 6. Currently, it is not possible to search only for a type of entity, like a sketch.
- Allow Search and Replace.
As an example, imagine how much easier it would be to find all sketches named “Connection Reference” and rename them in bulk to “ConnectRef.”
Figure 7. Example (MS Word): All of us are using Search and Replace functionality in most text editing software.
What about a situation where you have a number of components already inserted at different locations in an assembly, and you need to add other components in the same relative position to the existing ones? The user could manually insert a mate at an instance of the second component, and ask SOLIDWORKS to add the rest of the instances. Norbert Gál provides this example:
- “N” instances of component “A” in various locations and orientations.
- One instance of component “B” which can be mated or not to an instance of the “A” component.
- Select one or more seeds for the patten (example: the existing instance of component “B”).
- Select the seed position of the pattern (one of the component “A” instances).
- Select all or some of the other instances of component “A” to determinate the number of instances for component “B”.
The new pattern feature inserts and locates the correct number of component “B” instances based on the locations and orientations of selected “A” instances.
Such a feature would save this company a lot of time, while shrinking the Feature Manager Tree.
The Import Diagnostics tool is amazing (read this article for an in-depth dive in its functionality). Unfortunately, it can be used only on parts that have only imported features. The moment you add any other feature, the tool no longer is available.
Allow the user to activate it at any time. Should the repair generate dangling sketches or features, that is fine; warn the users but allow them to proceed.
This would work well in conjunction with the next idea…
SOLIDWORKS 2023 added the amazing Auto Repair option for dangling mate references.
We should have the same option for dangling relations and dimensions in sketches and drawings.
Imagine you open a drawing that has a zillion dangling dimensions that look all right (they seem to be connected to the correct edges) and are only a bit yellowish-green. They are obviously sick.
Currently the solution is either deleting all and recreating them, or patiently dragging the reattach dots one by one and hope to catch them all.
What we need is an Auto Repair option for all dangling dimensions in a sketch or drawing view, or only for the selected dimensions/relations.
It’s currently possible to group select components and then isolate them in an assembly. However, it is not possible to select a folder (to effectively use this as a group select) and then isolate them. Adding Isolate to the Folder right click menu in the Feature Manager Tree would make user experience more consistent.
Currently if you want a new BOM, you need a configuration. Each new configuration adds a new assembly in the RAM, drastically impacting drawings performance.
Many times users would like to simply create a BOM of all components visible in a drawing view. That can be achieved at least two different ways:
- Add a filter in the BOM to remove all hidden components (or not).
- Create BOM based on display states.
In 2019, SOLIDWORKS added the editing mode for assemblies opened in Large Design Review mode. What a great idea! If this would work properly, users could add new components and mate them inside huge assemblies.
The developers wrote the initial functionality and waited for the users to come back with feedback. So, here we are!
- Moving components inside an assembly opened in LDR mode is atrocious. Even when using the Move with Triad tool the movement is jittery. This needs improving.
- The “applying mates” workflow can be drastically improved. At the very least we need the Component Preview Window to work in this mode.
- Editing mates is hard. We need at the very least a rudimentary implementation of Breadcrumbs to allow the selection of mates of top-level components directly in the graphics area.
Just as we can apply ANSI or ISO standards in drawings, users should be able to choose industry standards for our models.
This is similar to NADCA, SPI or custom setups based on specific vendors that intend to have the item manufactured. This idea would speed up the creation of GD&T based on those standards and hopefully, in some cases, only need to be checked or tweaked. It would also help with quickly evaluating different manufacturing methods to see what manufacturing method fits within the design requirements.
Benefits: Incredible speed and responsiveness when working with large assemblies.
A huge assembly can open in 10 seconds in Large Design Review mode. It does that by loading only the graphics data of all its components.
When an assembly is resolved, something like that can be achieved partially using SpeedPak configurations but that is a lot of work and has many issues.
Users should be able to right-click on any component (a part or subassembly) and set it to one of these states:
12. Enhance Markups
Markups are fantastic for saving paper and time when documenting parts, assemblies and drawings. Currently, there is one major obstacle in fully adopting markups: they cannot be anchored to a drawing entity, a drawing view or to the sheet.
Markups should get the same anchoring (attaching) functionality that an annotation has in a drawing, allowing them to be attached to a:
- Drawing view
- Component in drawing view
Benefits: Incredible speed and responsiveness when working with large assemblies.
In CATIA, one can measure values between multiple entities without having to deselect the selected entities. The same feature should be extended to SOLIDWORKS, as this will save a lot of time. This can be further enhanced by giving an option to set first selection as the base selection and measurement values can be shown with other selected entities.
We already have rudimentary super features in SOLIDWORKS, like the capability to convert a fillet to a chamfer and vice versa.
What we need are the type of super features that exist in xDesign:
For example, when editing an existing Cut-Extrude, in the “Extrude” dialogue, the type of feature can be changed to “Add” to add solid material instead of a Cut. It can even be changed into a Thin Feature or a Surface Body.
Benefits: Increases security, reduces errors.
When opening a drawing, a warning should be shown when one of these conditions is met:
- There is at least one “no print layer” with at least one object on it.
- There are views excluded from an automatically rebuild.
- There are overwritten BOM cells.
- There are overwritten dimensions.
- There are hidden elements (dimensions, etc.) in the drawing.
- There are dissolved model views.
It should be possible to click on every entity that was found and jump/focus on it in the drawing.
The F5 selection filter is amazing, a true time saver.
Have you noticed the two most important types of entities missing in the options above? There is no filter for Features or for Components.
Why is this a huge problem for users? Here are two examples:
- A complex multibody part resulting from importing a STEP file. You want to select in the graphics area for the imported features to keep, then invert the selection and delete the rest.
- You cannot do that without using crazy workarounds. When you select in the graphics area, you think you selected features (you see them selected in the Feature Manager Tree) but you actually selected faces. If you invert the selection, you see this:
If only there was a filter that would allow selections of features in the graphics area.
The same limitation exists in assemblies. There is no selection filter for selecting part or subassembly components.
While the SOLIDWORKS user experience is very close to perfection, there are still areas where it is inconsistent. For example, when using Quick Mates, right-clicking to accept the mate instead of left-clicking on the green check mark causes the right-click menu to appear. Then you must click somewhere else to clear it.
Currently, when using Copy with Mates tool, the user cannot select components which have some advanced, mechanical and locked mates. It would be great if these mates could either be accepted—or, at the very least, ignored—so their components could still be copied.
As John Lhuillier stated: Sometimes, when SOLIDWORKS has a warning or error it is vague on which file or files is at fault. For example, when working on an assembly, you still get the occasional error that a part is in roll back and the assembly is not accessible. If it knows there is a part that’s at fault, tell us which part it is.
If you edit dimensions and overwrite the automatically created value, show the dimension in different color, so everyone can see that it was overwritten. Plus, you can provide an option for the color.
Call for Action
The goal of this article is to make it very easy for any user to vote on a curated list of ideas. If you like any of them, voting is as simple as Clicking and Liking.
That being said, we are sure that once you see how easy is to read the rest of the ideas, you will spend more time in the Top Ten List Community and find even more ideas worth voting for.
Let’s help SOLIDWORKS improve by taking a few minutes to make our preferences known!
If you want to see which of the ideas made the Top Ten, please attend The Top Ten List Meet Up Session at 10:45 am ET on Wednesday, February 15th, 2023 at 3DEXPERIENCE World 2023.
About the Author
As an Elite AE and Senior Training and Process Consultant, working for TriMech Solutions, Alin Vargatu is a Problem Hunter and Solver.
He has presented 38 times at 3DEXPERIENCE World and SOLIDWORKS World, twice at SLUGME and tens of times at SWUG meetings in Canada and the United States. His blog and YouTube channel are well known in the SOLIDWORKS Community.
In recognition for his activity in the SOLIDWORKS Community, at 3DEXPERIENCE World 2021, the SOLIDWORKS User Group Network (SWUGN) awarded the SOLIDWORKS AE of the Year title to Alin.