3DVIA Composer (3DVC) debuted at SolidWorks World a few years back and ever since, SolidWorks users have been intrigued and miffed by this documentation tool. Although from a glance it might appear to be a CAD tool, 3DVIA Composer merges many of the tools required by users who are responsible for creating techinical publications. As an engineer, the toolset is pretty straightforward but there are many presentation aspects and intuitive modification tools that lends itself to be used by non-engineers as well.
When SolidWorks 2009 shipped, there were a couple of powerful features from 3DVC that showed up in the release like double-click the graphics area to fit, the magnify tool with zoom and section (shortcut "G-key") and the click-to-orient triad, to name a few.
Being a SolidWorks user, I have become accustom to the context interactive SolidWorks UI so my first thoughts of the original 3DVIA Composer Interface was that it was very outdated. Although useful, the standard "toolbar" approach buries much of the power, making the user have to dig into menus to get into the bulk of the features.
3DVIA Composer V6R2010X shipped in December of 2009 and along with many additions and updates to the existing feature set, 3DVC adopted a few aspects of the SolidWorks UI. These modifications streamline the UI and make 3DVC more usable, especially for those of you who use it in addition to SolidWorks.
The most noticeable addition is the ribbon UI (above) that was introduced by Microsoft in their Office 2007 product, although unlike SolidWorks' implementation, users have the option to use the previous interface. The right-click menus also received an update with the addition of 3D menus, similar to SolidWorks, allowing less mouse travel when selecting common tools.
After watching Dassault Systemes and SolidWorks Corporation "blur the line" between the two companies at SolidWorks World, this could be another example of ways the two companies can share technologies between products. If you are using an older build of 3DVIA Composer, V6R2010X is a must have upgrade especially for those of you that use both SolidWorks and 3DVC. ~Lou