3dvia is a place where social media meets 3D modeling, allowing its users to upload, share and find 3d models. With over 6000 models and almost 75,000 users, 3dvia is the place to be when it comes to sharing 3d models. Content can be created in a variety of CAD tools including their own tool 3dvia Shape and uploaded in 3DXML format and viewed with 3dvia Player which can run as a standalone application or embedded inside the browser.
Even though SolidWorks has been able to export 3DXML for 2 releases, you were required to orient the model differently than the standard views that are native in SolidWorks. Don Swavely wrote a great artilcle about how to property orient models so they don't come into 3dvia with the Front view facing upward. This process was a bit painful to have to do just for the upload to be correct.
With the introduction of SolidWorks 2009 SP2 (as of 1/2/09 still in early visibility) publish to 3dvia is a new feature allowing a user to select "Publish to 3DVIA" from the File menu. Once selected, a dialog will prompt for your user name and password to your 3dvia account. Once you log in you will be presented with a nice dialog for specifying your publish settings. Among the options you can title, tag and type a detailed description of your model and specify the audience (public or private). This simplifies the upload process and streamlines the ability to share models to the web.
I hope this new addition will encourage SolidWorks users to share their models and helps reduce the barrier of entry for the SolidWorks masses. The key to many of these communities is keeping the interface simple but powerful, allowing their users to communicate and contribute without much effort. This is a great new addition and I hope it further diversifies the 3dvia community! ~Lou