What’s New in the May 2019 Release of SOLIDWORKS Sell
SOLIDWORKS Sell just released a major version on May 16. It features several widely-requested enhancements that you may have been asking for. Let’s take a quick look in this post.
Materials play a vital role in configurators because they are highly visible in the appearance of a product and affect consumer purchasing decisions significantly. The web analytics data shows that about 40 percent of online clicks happen on material selections, much higher than clicks on groups or geometry variations. Therefore, materials have been a hot topic in customer requests.
This May release added 266 standard SOLIDWORKS materials to the online Design Editor material library as shown in Figure 1. Remember to switch to the Base Material subtype and scroll down to find the SOLIDWORKS material category.
This is a step forward in several ways.
- This list provides additional materials for users to choose from. It includes popular types such as wood, metal, plastics, fabric, and rubber, which means that users can now save the large amount of time and effort required to recreate them manually.
- The workflow is that a SOLIDWORKS model is assigned with these standard materials and then published online, where the materials will show up automatically in the Design Editor. Now the first online impression feels much more assured and empowering to users, especially those who are new to SOLIDWORKS Sell. Figure 2 shows a comparison between a speaker model in SOLIDWORKS, along with the default appearances in prior releases and in the 2.11.3 version. The default result looks more attractive than before and saves a great deal of effort in assigning materials manually. Of course, the visualization is also determined by scene settings such as lighting, perspective angles, shading and background scene images. That is why the appearance in the configurator looks a bit different from left to right, but the materials are all respected.
- If you assign one material to a part in SOLIDWORKS, but different materials to its faces to represent various finishes such as polished, matte or satin, these individual assignments will all be carried over online. It addresses the practical need of multiple surface finishes on one single component. Figure 3 illustrates that the overall speaker frame carries a polished maple wood material, while the walls are treated with a satin maple finish to make it less shiny or slippery.
- The visualization quality is consistent from SOLIDWORKS to the Design Editor, static renderings, and Augmented Reality (AR). Now companies do not have to worry about the inconsistent look and feel of materials between multiple environments.
Please note that not all standard SOLIDWORKS materials have been added at this time. For instance, the varnished maple in SOLIDWORKS is not available in the online library right now. Also this addition has not included user-customized SOLIDWORKS materials yet. For example, if you assign a SOLIDWORKS cast brass material as selected in Figure 1 to a part, but manually tweak its color to blue, this custom color will not be automatically carried over to the online configurator right now. We hope this material feature keeps improving in the future.
Materials only look as good as the geometries that carry them. Here comes another major enhancement regarding the geometry quality. Previously, cylinders may not look smooth at the Coarse publishing resolution, as shown in Figure 4.
Therefore, users had to increase the geometry resolution from Coarse to Fine to reach smooth geometries, but the Fine resolution could increase the file size significantly (2.15 MB in this case) which would slow down the online configurator responses.
This new release comes together with a new Publisher versioning at 3.2. It is highly recommended that you upgrade your SOLIDWORKS Sell Publisher Addin to benefit from the latest enhancements. Figure 5 shows the smooth geometries at the Coarse resolution and its file size is only 0.07MB, or 3 percent of the previous 2.15MB smooth result. So the online performance is much faster now even with high-quality models.
Now with high-quality materials and geometries, let’s look at how to compose a webpage to present them. As illustrated in a previous post, you can build a configurator webpage similar to playing LEGOs using the Layout Manager with zero coding. We all know the importance of responsive designs to mobile screens. The online analytics data shows that more than one third of visits come from mobile devices, which are convenient, prevalent and essential for the popular AR use cases. This is why the April 2.11.2 release started automatically providing four mobile-friendly layout sizes by default for every newly created layout. In the May 2.11.3 release, the interface is further improved to suit mobile displays. As shown in Figure 6, the various control buttons are now split up so that you can pick handy tools at a more granular level for appropriate screen sizes.
The new granular buttons include AR, Ruler, 360 View, Predefined Perspectives, Undo and Redo, and Full screen. They used to be all combined in one long control bar which you had to use or remove in its entirety. An immediate beneficiary of the new layout options is mobile display, as shown in Figure 7. Choose the indispensable AR button only and remove all other controls to make the small screen display cleaner.
Another example of friendlier mobile layouts is the direct size controls of the material icons. This tiny but handy interface has been anticipated for a long time, and has finally arrived. Figure 8 shows that you can now adjust the Material icon sizes directly on its Style Property tab. 20 x 20 pixels is fine for a small display; try to avoid big icons, 50 x 50 pixels or above, on a small screen as they will look too busy and out of proportion. Another recommendation is to check the box “Hide Materials Text” because otherwise the texts get crowded and hard to read. Plus, the material icon images visually indicate how they look, in any case.
Just in case you haven’t noticed, during the 3D viewport loading, the progress bar now tells the exact status as shown in Figure 9. It is much better than the previous seemingly endless spinning wheel.
This bar displays on pages with 3D viewports as needed, such as a Preview, the Design Editor, the Material Library, and the Order Page.
To sum it up, this is a practical and handy new release of SOLIDWORKS Sell. One post cannot cover all the enhancements. The good news is that from now on, you can monitor new release notes directly on the dashboard of your Design Editor as shown in Figure 10.
To learn more about how SOLIDWORKS Sell can help promote your ideas and products, please visit its product page. The best way to learn is to roll up your sleeves and play with live examples featured on the demo site, including actual client websites. Have fun and leave your thoughts below.
About the Author
Oboe Wu is a product management professional with 20 years of experience in engineering and software. He is an advocate of model-based enterprise and smart manufacturing.