SolidWorks Labs Adds More Features

SolidWorks Labs had a nice update and if you have never visited SolidWorks Labs site you are missing out! SolidWorks Labs is a site that is hosted by SolidWorks R & D and displays some of the projects that they are working on. Those of you that fall into the "Geek" or "Early Adoptor" category would be very interested in the products that post up here. This site was launched at SolidWorks World 2007 and had not been updated for about 4 months or so. I recently was looking for tech news for August and checked the site to find out they had refreshed the site with a new look as well added to this library. Here are the products up there thus far:

Drawings Now: This is an on-line hosted service that is very Web 2.0 that allows you and others to pan, zoom and print your DWG, DXF, and SLDDRW files. You just upload them to this service and everything needed to view them is hosted so nothing needs to be installed on the computer! I love on-line services for this reason and it makes the ability to share these with others much easier. Sending people to download viewers and have to install applets is a pain.

COSMOSXpress Now: If you have used COSMOSXpress inside of SolidWorks you will love this! This is also another hosted service that only requires a web browser. Whether you want to determine the Factor of Safety (FOS) or share your results with an HTML report or with eDrawings this is the service for you! Besides the fact that you don't have to install anything, the best part of this service is that it works for SolidWorks, Pro/E, Inventor, Parasolid or ACIS parts.

ZoomIn: This is eDrawings on steroids! This is a down-loadable program that is focused on presentations. ZoomIn allows you to open up SoliWorks documents, DWG, DXF as well as Pro/E files and add materials, textures and even music! The most compelling part is that you have dynamic camera views as well as the ability to create fly- through animations. They have also updated this product to have a simple sharing ability to save out the file as a WMV and save it up to CADJunky which is the new social CAD network hosted by SolidWorks. This is one of the applications that you need to download before you really understand how it works.

DWG Navigator: This a flashy DWG viewer that reminds me of SolidWorks Explorer for AutoCAD users. DWG Navigator has many of the same file management tools like SWE like relationship management with XREFS (I really didn't want to dig up those old acronyms!!) as well as searching, copying and renaming of DWGs. This is another addition to the DWG Gateway of products to give AutoCAD users a reason NOT to upgrade their outdated software.

Supplier Source: This is the next revision of an alpha project that used to be up on the Labs site called Slide Rule. Supplier Source is an on-line service to search for manufactures and other service providers. It can help engineers find manufacturing companies and as a service provider it gives a landscape to grow your business. The unique features include ways to organize and manage the suppliers in your network as well as streamline the RFQ process and any other communication between the requester and the provider.

3D Content Central Search: Like your search bar in your browser? Use 3D Content Central often? This little add-in to Firefox, Internet Explorer 7 or your existing IE Google Toolbar is a great shortcut to searching for 3D models quickly. It basically shows the SolidWorks logo as a drop down inside your search toolbar. I love using 3DCC so I thought this was a great idea!

Watch It: This little app really caught my eye and not because of it's name! This is a widget that runs on top of the Yahoo Widget Engine. If you are using any other Yahoo widgets then you can just download this and enjoy. This utility monitors changes to files located in local and shared folders. Once it is installed you can simply drag the folder you want to monitor on top of this widget and vola! I like tools like this when I am working with a few people on the same group of documents and it doesn't have to be just SolidWorks. If you need the Yahoo Widget Engine you can download it from a link on the Labs site as well. Overall this is a great site for those of you on the bleeding edge. I also noticed that the site itself is now RSS fed so you can subscribe to get your updates and they have added a Labs Blog to the site as well. Currently the blog contains tips for SolidWorks 2008 and will be a good source for cool little tid-bits. For example, there is a cool little reg file you can download to add your own custom logo into the SolidWorks 2008 ribbon bar. ~Lou