Where Have You Been All My Life? SOLIDWORKS User Discovers 3DEXPERIENCE
The 3DEXPERIENCE Platform gives mechanical designers and other SOLIDWORKS users the ability to create, collaborate and control designs on a public or private cloud through a user’s browser. This is a dramatic shift from the current family of products supported by Dassault Systèmes, such as the SOLIDWORKS and CATIA products we all use.
Below, I will walk through the basics of what the platform is, how it is structured, introduce you to the interface and show you how you can access apps such as xDesign and xShape.
When discussing the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, I focus on four areas to help new users understand how they can and should interact with this cloud-based tool:
- Apps (Applications, which also can be called Widgets)
To begin on 3DEXPERIENCE, users will need to be granted access to a Tenant and assigned a Role by an administrator. Users can think of a Tenant as the portal for your entire organization.
As an administrator of a Tenant, you can access all content and control all permissions. Inside of each Tenant exist various Roles which are specified to match employee functions. Users can be a member of multiple Tenants, and inside of each Tenant users may have one or many Roles. You can think of a Role as a group of permissions and application access that is specified to the user.
Currently there are hundreds of different Roles, and more will be created as more customers create Roles specific to their business. Most users will operate with non-company specific Roles.
For example, if you are a mechanical designer like me, you may be granted the 3D Creator Role. Inside of this Role, we find tools very similar to the SOLIDWORKS applications we are used to, such as the App xDesign. If you function as an Industrial Designer, you may prefer access to the 3D Creator Role. This will grant access to Apps such as xShape, the sub-divisional modeler. This access will also be dependent on company or group of users.
Figure 1. Roles in the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.
Once users have created a login and been granted a certain set of Roles, they will want to begin creating and collaborating. This will mean logging in and beginning to work on a custom or user-provided Dashboard.
The 3DEXPERIENCE Dashboard acts as your interface with the platform. Like many other parts of the Dashboard, it is also an App. Users can create custom Dashboards, or be provided access to another user’s Dashboard. Regardless of the content, Dashboards are all controlled and edited the same way.
Let’s take a look at the overall layout of a typical Dashboard.
Figure 2. A typical dashboard in 3DEXPERIENCE.
When looking at the Dashboard, users will find some classic icons they recognize right away, and some new ones specific to 3DEXPERIENCE. Starting at the top right of the screen, users will find icons for the following:
- “Me” – All the information related to your account
- “Notifications” – Alerts you of changes in your SWYM Communities and Collaborative Spaces
- “Add” – Allows the creation of more content
- “Share” – Share and publish content
- “Content” – Access all your content and drives
- “Communities” – Access content from the SWYM Communities
- “Help” – User assistance, support, and user communities
Figure 3. Dashboard icons.
As the user moves across the top of the screen, they will also find the Search toolbar. This gives the user the ability to search inside of each Tenant separately for specific content. If you continue across the top of the browser, you will next find the “Dashboard Menu.” This dropdown gives you the ability to Share, Edit, Duplicate, Manage and Delete the Dashboard selected.
Figure 4. Menu bar across the top of the screen in 3DEXPERIENCE.
To select which Dashboard in which users are operating, click on the “Dashboard List” icon. This will display a task pane on the left with all the Dashboards to which the users currently have access. If you look at my “Dashboard List” you will notice that I have the ability to edit some Dashboards, while others are locked by the users/admins who created them.
Figure 5. Dashboard list.
To change between the Dashboards, simply select them from the list and they will be displayed as you or the controlling user left them.
The final and most important part of the Dashboard is the 3D Experience Compass, located in the top left corner. By selecting the Compass, 3DEXPERIENCE users can access their Roles, Apps and Solutions portfolio. From the task pane on the left, drag and drop the app of your choosing into the Dashboard to customize your workspace. This app can be resized to fit with other apps or added to additional tabs across the top.
Apps such as xDesign and xShape are applications that can serve a variety of functions. xDesign is a 3D CAD modeling app inspired by SOLIDWORKS, but taken to the next level with functions such as Design Guidance. xShape is a sub-divisional modeler used to make complex shapes and Industrial designs.
These examples are simply the tip of the iceberg. There are many other Apps such as 3Dspace and 3DDrive which are used to store and share your design files inside 3DEXPERIENCE. 3DDrive specifically can connect to existing cloud storage services such as Dropbox and Google Drive. Like Roles, there are hundreds of apps like those shown below.
Figure 6. Apps available in 3DEXPERIENCE.
Now that we have discussed these critical elements, it is time to put each of the pieces together. The diagram below shows the overall structure, with each area broken out (Roles, Dashboards and Apps), and how they all come together to create the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform.
Inside of each Tenant there are various Roles. These Roles have custom and standardized Dashboards, which house apps such as xDesign and xShape, each of which store files in the 3DSpace and 3DDrive apps.
Figure 7. Tenants, Roles, Dashboards and Apps in 3DEXPERIENCE.
And Why Do We Care About This?
Many users work in a set workflow with known CAD software, and can find a way to complete their work. To change over to a new platform can be difficult, and there is always a learning curve.
As a mechanical designer and CAD engineer, I do not accept the status quo as good enough. Over time, we have all seen the trend to consolidate responsibilities in companies, as well as the new challenges that collaborating on a global or local scale can bring. Everyone is expected to do more with less time, and downtime can be devastating.
Remember when your CAD software crashed, and you lost your work? Or when you overwrote the CAD files on your working directory. With 3DEXPERIENCE, your CAD designs are constantly saved, leading to little or no downtime.
Remember when you needed to update your system? Even a smooth update takes a lot of planning and after-hours work. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform updates itself and simply sends you an email when it is done.
Have you been a victim of ransomware locking you out of a server? With 3DEXPERIENCE, your data is secured on a dedicated server with limited access and under Dassault Systèmes’ protection.
Have you ever needed to work on a design, but another user was editing it? This is impossible with typical CAD software such as SOLIDWORKS—but possible with the 3DEXPERIENCE platform.
Would you like to free up hardware budget spent on upgrading workstations year after year—or use those funds for other areas in your organization?
While simply working with your current known CAD software will get a lot done, if you are looking to increase your productivity, decrease your administrative time, secure your data and have the ability to access it from around the world, then it is time for you to join the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, be more productive—and have some fun!
I know for many CAD users, the onslaught of new products can be difficult to sift through and decipher. Thankfully the 3DEXPERIENCE Platform comes from Dassault Systèmes, who has been making the CAD products you know and love for years and can bridge the gap into the future of collaboration and data management.
With this information, you can begin your journey into 3DEXPERIENCE. For more information, visit https://www.3ds.com/about-3ds/3dexperience-platform/.