Vote on the SOLIDWORKS Top Ten List at 3DEXPERIENCE World 2024
Happy New Year! It is January again – the best time of the year for power users to influence the future of SOLIDWORKS by voting on the best ideas from the Top 10 Ideas Contest, the annual brainstorming event that precedes 3DEXPERIENCE World, previously known as SOLIDWORKS World.
It is true that the Dassault Systèmes SOLIDWORKS product definition team has many tools for asking users’ input throughout the year. But none are as simple, as straightforward and as successful as this event. As we reported in last year’s article, the implementation rate of the ideas voted in Top Ten is close to 70%.
Combing through the hundreds of ideas and filtering out the most useful is a lot of work. At the time of the writing of this article, there were 295 ideas submitted in this year’s competition.
Figure 1. Top 10 List – 2024.
If you have time, you can read all these ideas and decide on which to vote. This Wiki page provides all the details you need to know to find your way in the community. Depending on your field of interest, you can filter ideas based on tags such as:
- User interface
- CAD administration
- 3D Sculptor
For those of you who are too busy using SOLIDWORKS to create our world to read every submission, each year EngineersRule.com combs through all the ideas and highlights the ones we believe are the most impactful for most users.
In this article, we compile two separate shortlists of ideas based on two criteria:
- Low hanging fruit: Ideas that are simple to implement while providing huge benefits.
- Fundamental or game-changing: Ideas that could bring major benefits but would require a lot of effort to implement.
To vote for any of the ideas included in this article, simply click the hyperlink and press the like button (Figure 2).
Figure 2. Like = Vote.
A. Low-Hanging Fruit Ideas Shortlist (Easy to Implement)
Currently when saving an assembly or a drawing for the first time, or saving with a new name, it takes a significant amount of time before the Save As dialog appears. It is clear that SOLIDWORKS does a lot of processing before it asks the user for the file name, as you can see in this video:
This does not make sense. We should be able to type the file name right away and then go out for a coffee or read an email until SOLIDWORKS completes the save. Having to wait for this dialog to appear is very frustrating and a productivity destroyer.
Our verdict: Very easy to implement; huge reduction in user frustration.
“Updating Cut List” is one of the most frustrating messages you see on the status bar when large assemblies are rebuilt. Having the option to temporarily disable the update of the various cut list when the assembly rebuilds can save users minutes for each assembly opening/rebuild operation.
Our verdict: Easy to implement; significant impact on productivity.
Assembly visualization is a critical tool for quickly extracting useful information from assemblies. One of the best features is the ability to isolate components based on a huge number of criteria. There are two “roll-back” bars, one at the top of the tree (should be called Rolldown) and one at the bottom of the tree (should be called Rollup).
After sorting the assembly based on one or more criteria, to isolate a group of components in a given range, the user currently needs to start from the top of the tree, drag the rolldown bar down and then navigate to the bottom of the tree to find the rollup bar and drag it accordingly. On a large tree this operation is extremely difficult, and sometimes even impossible.
Let’s implement a more elegant solution from the part feature tree, which allows right-clicking on any feature in the tree to access the icon “rollback to here.” For the assembly visualization, we should have two icons:
Figure 6. Two New Icons – Huge Impact.
- Rolldown above the selected item.
- Rollup below the selected item.
This simple enhancement will close the last 5% of the missing functionality from the Assembly Visualization tool.
Our verdict: Very easy to implement; high impact on productivity.
Currently, components published as envelopes can only be identified by opening the envelope publishing tool. It would be very beneficial to indicate envelope publishing in the top-level assembly, like a tree structure:
Published envelopes > Publishing group > Published component@subassembly > destination subassembly.
Our verdict: Easy to implement; useful for top-down design users.
Manually selecting multiple edges that are linked end-to-end is a laborious task that could take multiple minutes. SOLIDWORKS has already implemented an efficient workflow for doing that, but it works only when defining some mold features, as shown below:
In a nutshell, once an edge is selected, an arrow points towards the next potential edge. The user presses “Y” to add it to the selection or “N” to change direction. This functionality would make a multi-minute boring and frustrating process into one that can be completed in seconds.
Our verdict: Easy to implement; high impact for surface modelers.
Double-clicking on a cell in a BOM allows the user to edit the linked property and it feeds back to the part file. Cut list tables should have the same functionality.
Our verdict: Easy to implement; useful for drafters.
Currently we can exclude specific drawing views from automatic updates. That is useful but not easy to manage. Many times, users simply press the Rebuild button (CTRL+B) which will update all drawing views, including the ones marked to “not update.”
Give us the opportunity to exclude views from rebuilding with CTRL+B. They will be updated in three scenarios:
- One by one, manually by the user.
- When using Force Rebuild (CTRL+Q).
- When the drawing is saved.
The benefits are huge. Performance Evaluation could easily filter which drawing views are slow and give the user the option to exclude them from Standard Rebuild (maybe add checkboxes inside Performance Evaluation, also). When the user works, only what is essential gets rebuilt repeatedly. Everything else will be rebuilt at the end of the session, thus saving hours per day.
Our verdict: Extremely easy to implement; huge impact on productivity.
SOLIDWORKS is able to import more and more CAD formats. Some of them create models that dramatically impact drawing performance. We need a simple tool to point out which components are responsible for the slowdowns. For more information, please watch this short video:
Our verdict: Extremely easy to implement; huge impact on productivity.
The Flat Tree view has been implemented as an option for more than a decade. The only exception is for sheet metal features. Having the opportunity to access sketches as main items in the tree can unlock the productivity of sheet metal designers.
Our verdict: Easy to implement; increases consistency.
The Offset Sketch Entities command should get the same functionality that the Offset Surface command has. That would increase the UX (user experience) and save us a lot of time. It would also allow us to have one “offset dimension” for multiple sketch entities. Currently you cannot offset disconnected entities in a sketch.
Our verdict: Easy to implement; increases speed.
B. High Impact Ideas Shortlist (Harder to Implement)
Before any task is completed, the current state of the model should be saved in a buffer. Thus, any process could be stopped by pressing Escape.
Currently, if a task takes a long time to complete, users have no idea if it will take seconds or hours and many times, they will crash SOLIDWORKS.
- You start Import Diagnostics on a multibody part. You can look at the blue circle spinning for minutes or hours.
- MateXpert in a complex assembly could take hours.
- Updating drawing views should be stoppable using Escape.
- Rebuilding a part is supposed to be stoppable. Escape does not always work.
And so much more…
Our verdict: Extremely hard to implement; huge impact on productivity.
In the plastics industry (injection molding or 3D printing), it is common practice to design multi-material parts. In SOLIDWORKS, this translates into multi-body parts to which different materials are assigned. Currently, using weldment features is the only way to activate a multi-body environment but the name would be misleading for plastic parts. The idea is to provide a multi-body feature similar to the Weldment feature (but with a different name) in order to:
- Activate the multibody environment by clearing the Merge result check box in the PropertyManagers of features that add material.
- Create a Body List as a FeatureManager tree object.
- Act as a placeholder for common custom properties that are inherited by all body list items.
An option in document properties would, in addition, automatically display customizable text at component material level (e.g. “composite” or “multi-material”) when materials are assigned to bodies.
Our verdict: Hard to implement; huge impact on productivity.
When opening a drawing or when switching between the model and the drawing, start by updating the current sheet and give the user access to the mouse so she/he can start working. Use the other cores to update the rest of the sheets in the background.
Currently only high-quality views allow background processing using the sldbgproc.exe, but this can be further optimized. By updating the other sheets using the other CPU cores, the user would not experience lag when navigating to other areas of the model.
Our verdict: Hard to implement; huge impact on productivity when using drawings.
Simulations studies are currently calculated with CPU. It would be much faster to have GPU support calculations (CUDA/ROCm).
Our verdict: Very hard to implement; huge impact on productivity.
xShape is a great program but it was programmed by PC users for PC users. It is interesting that Dassault Systèmes promotes xShape as ideal for tablet users—and that makes sense, but not for the current version of the app. That is true for all xApps.
Currently the only pen/finder inputs are mimicking the use of the mouse. See the image of the current toolbar (attached). There is a tool called offset mouse that is clearly a workaround, great for a BETA version of the app but not for serious users.
Simply look at any other Windows, Android and iPadOS CAD application and you will see how powerful the use of a touch device like the Apple Pen could be:
- The pen selects, drags and manipulates geometry. Fingers cannot interact with the model.
- The fingers manipulate the viewport:
- 2-finger pinch for zooming.
- 1-finger drag for panning.
- 2-finger rotate for rotating the viewport.
This idea is simple and proven to be the ultimate way for professional use of such sculpting applications. xShape and xDesign should be optimized for tablet usage as Dassault Systèmes positions them at every webinar, seminar or 3DEXPERIENCE World presentation.
Our verdict: Hard to implement; game changer for many users.
The offset entities command could be significantly improved to reduce frustration by adding a second option in its Property Manager: milling mode. Imagine a cutter with a radius equal to the offset traveling along the chain of selected entities. The offset entities could be approximated from the “virtual milling” result of such a cutter.
No offset would ever fail to complete, regardless of how complex the selected geometry is. Most of the time, a good approximation is all we need. For 100% precision, preserve the current algorithm as an option (check box or radio button).
This video shows what we need:
Our verdict: Very hard to implement; huge impact on productivity.
The QuickView mode for drawings was removed in SOLIDWORKS 2022 because the Product Definition considered that the new Detailing mode made the QuickView mode obsolete.
Detailing mode is very powerful for the drawings that have the Detailing Mode Data saved in the drawing file. That being said, many users disable the functionality for saving this data for two reasons:
- The file size can increase by a factor of 10.
- The saving time for files containing draft quality views can take hours.
Such users have no other options for quickly opening drawings.
The QuickView mode was extremely powerful for professionally trained users. They could:
- Open the drawing instantaneously.
- Navigate to any sheet in the drawing.
- Zoom in/out and pan.
- Load one or more sheets without loading the rest. This unlocks the productivity of multi-sheet drawing users.
Please vote to get this amazing functionality back.
Our verdict: Possibly hard to implement; huge impact on drawings productivity.
Short video describing the idea:
In a nutshell, the Snake Cam (walkthrough) is a fantastic tool for large assembly users. You can get in tight places without the need to create and update a ton of section views, or needing to hide/show or isolate.
Imagine how much better this tool would be if you could select, measure, hide and show components as you explore your assembly.
Our verdict: Hard to implement; huge impact on conceptual design, revisions and review meetings.
The F5 selection filter is amazing, and 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 complicated 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.
Our verdict: Possibly hard to implement; huge impact on productivity.
There is no better tool than “Filter Modified Components” to see what has changed in your assembly. Unfortunately, this tool exists only when an assembly is opened in Large Design Review mode. We need it in all modes to save time and reduce the possibility of errors.
For more details, please watch this video:
Our verdict: Possibly hard to implement; huge impact on error reduction.
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 Click and Like.
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 SOLDIWORKS improve by taking a few minutes to make our preferences known.
If you want to see which of the ideas made the Top Ten, you can attend The Top Ten List Session at 12:30 pm CT on Wednesday, February 14, 2024 at 3DEXPERIENCE World 2024.
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 43 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, the SWUGN (SOLIDWORKS User Group Network) awarded Alin the SOLIDWORKS AE of the Year title.