For the past three weeks I have been showing off all the new features in SolidWorks 2012 products to a bunch of users and it is always interesting what they really get excited about. Despite what gets the "orange star" in the What.s New PDF, users will let you know in their simple smirks or confident nods what is really an "enhancement" and what is demo candy. When I think back through the past 10 years and all the 200+ enhancement releases, there are always the handful of useful updates that can make a new release worthy enough to migrate to.
Many people in the CAD industry (corporate and resellers) start to believe that their CAD Product is some sort of religion or way of life but the reality is CAD is nothing more than a tool. As a long time user myself and maybe a crumugin of sorts due to the amount of time I have been in the channel, I look at the SolidWorks line of products the same as I did when I built homes for the family business, tools of my trade. Because of that, I often admire the competition when they do something better than SolidWorks does because, again, it is just a tool. When the tool gets out of the way and lets the real magic happen, that is an "enhancement"!
After rolling out 7 SolidWorks 2012 events, each 3 hours in length, I am convinced that SolidWorks 2012 is a release about the little things. After showing all the big market features like SolidWorks Costing and Large Design Review (LDR), which were well received, the most applause and smiles of "Finally!" came when a small tweak or adjustment to existing functionality was pointed out. Here is a small list of the "little things":
- Blank custom properties
- Unit switcher (bottom right in the status bar)
- Tab to hide (assemblies)
- Discard changes (when editing a part when the assembly is open)
- Sheet Metal exclude features (modified select tangency to select up to bend faces)
- Control A to select all parts in an assembly or all entities inn a sketch
- S key cursor focus for command search
- Delayed clocking on SmartMates
- Initiate SmartMates with ALT key anytime (not just on initial drag)
- Modify dimension name in Modify dialog
- Highlight dimension from part changes in drawings
- Insert center marks on view anytime, not just when adding the view
- Diamter dimension lock in sketches (dimensioning to centerline locks similar to ordinate dims)
- ESC key in dimensions undoes last selection instead of canceling the command
- Hole Wizard not adding a "default" hole where face was initially selected
~ the list goes on and on...
For me, the little things are those features that we touch everytime we fire up the software. The little things are also the features that can bring the greatest frustration when they don't work the way we want so it is no surprise the excitement when they are improved. Even though Equations in SolidWorks 2012 are my favorite new enhancement, many of the above list get touched more often and have a bigger impact on my daily usage. So the "little things" end up being the big things and ultimately become the decision maker/breaker when the question "Do I upgrade?" is asked. ~Lou