The ‘New’ of Solidworks 2018
We’re hitting the Solidworks season where all the preview things we’ve been hearing about finally hit the desk where we can drive them. I love going to the big demo events where they show off the cool new stuff. There is so much work that goes into creating those demos and polishing the interactions so that it looks so easy and smooth. I gotta hand it to the presenters and all the people in the background for Solidworks 2018 that create the demos, set-up all the files and roll it out in such a beautiful way.
Of course we know the demos are scripts and there is a lot to practice, but I’m not knocking it. The truth is, I am genuinely impressed with all the work that goes into it.
Additionally, it’s really quite impressive that they have built in so many new feature and improved functionality. It’s been a year since the last big release, so seeing so much new stuff each year is really quite amazing.
Solidworks 2018 New Stuff
There were several things that grabbed my attention this year. Improvements are, of course, well documented elsewhere, so I won’t belabor the points. However, here are my Top 5.
First, mirroring. I’ve often wondered why we couldn’t mirror 3D sketches, or why we couldn’t reference a plane for general mirroring. Now we can. That’s pretty useful.
Second, for sheet metal, the Tab & Slot creation. I use this a lot where sheet metal parts intersect. Now the Solidworks 2018 function creates them together — changing both parts — by adding tabs to one and matching slots in the other. Excellent.
Third, a beginning for using touch-screens. In this case, for sketching by touch-screen. If you haven’t seen it, please watch a demo. To me, it’s the start of something that will become much more powerful as it matures. It may be “cute” now, but it’s the seeds of something much bigger.
Fourth, new functionality in the Treehouse. Look this one up. I have not really used the Treehouse much before, but the demo really peaked my attention with the new stuff.
Fifth, the ability to work with faceted files, like STL. It has been able to read these files, but not work with them. In the demo the workflow was a little rough, and I’ll need to see what the real limitations are, but the fact that these files can now be manipulated is excellent. I’ve been asking for that for more years than I care to think about.
Again, there are a ton of new things, and I’m sure your top 5 are different from mine. Check them all out and get the nitty gritty — with some explanation and workflows in the What’s New PDF.
The Obvious Missing Pieces
What’s missing? Of course they sorted through and sidelined a lot of potential enhancements for Solidworks 2018. They can’t do them all, and I applaud them both for limiting the new features and for tackling as many as they did. There are two really big pieces I am watching for that are not mentioned.
1. Several months ago I dove into the nuts and bolts, then had opportunity to speak with Solidworks corporate folks. It was eye-opening because they said the list of bugs is growing faster than the extermination. That means the software is getting more buggy with time. On that call, he said they were making a big push to fix things. Yet, there is no indication of that in the demos, or in the literature about Solidworks 2018.
That’s an obvious omission.
2. The second is related, but in usability. How many times are the error messages totally useless? (Most of them!) How many errors are solved by opening the feature, doing absolutely nothing, then closing it again and SolidWorks magically figures it out. (Example illustrated in CAD System Interaction.) It’s silly that really poor usability is acceptable.
Transparency Fosters Trust — and Support
I’m guessing they don’t want to advertise the growing problems. They got into the problems by tucking their (figurative) head in the sand. To me, it would inspire a great deal more confidence if they showed some humility and transparency. If they are really conquering the bugs, then explain the efforts to fix them. As a customer, that’s what I want to hear. That’s also what will earn my support.
Use the comments section below to voice your opinions. What do you think?
You may also wish to read a comparison of SolidWorks vs Creo here.