SW2012 Equation Manager - #1 In My Book!

As I begin to dig deeper into the 20th release of SolidWorks, I am finding that the little enhancements seem to impact me as a user much more than any of "Major Enhancements".  Whether is it storing blank Custom Properties or not inserting a hole when launching the Hole Wizard, the little "tweaks" to existing functionality are the ones that make me smerk.

Equations, which by the way were ear-marked with the "Top Enhancement" orange star ,ended up being my personal favorite ehnacement to SolidWorks 2012 since building intelligence into models is something I do a lot.  SolidWorks 2011 started this trend with the addition of Global Equations and control of suppression states with the VB's IIF statement.  As the functionality has grown, there are far too many features for the current interface, especially for those of us that began adding a bunch of automation to our files.

SolidWorks 2012 has completely overhauled the interface, adding a number or organizational control such as filters, views and pre-populated lists in addition to new functionality.  Here are a the various view options with a few things pointed out:

     Equation View                    Dimension View                    Ordered View

On the functionality side, the new Equation Manager can determine the solve order to avoid those blasted "CIRCULAR REFERENCE" issues we get when tying ourselves in equation knots.  This reminds me of SWIFT (SolidWorks Intelligent Feature Technology), where the tool attempts to determine the best route to solve the issue for you.  Although this is not going to fix all your problems ("That was easy") but it might take some troubleshooting time out of the equation ;-).

Here are a few of my favorite additions, although I like them all, especially the new UI!: 

1 - Measure Option:

This new addition basically allows you to create on the fly criteria for evaluating your equations.  By using this new option, a distance on the active model can be used without having to pre-add a reference dimension in the model, making the process of adding automation fast.

2 - Browse and Open buttons linked external equation files.

Last year the abiliy to link files was very interesting to me, however it was not straight forward how to link and easily edit these files.  In 2012, checking "Link to external file", you are prompted with this message to use an existing file or create a new one.  Once linked it is simple to select a different file and also easy to edit the linked file.  By clicking on the Open icon, Notepad will lauch with the linked file loaded, allowing quick editing access. If you decide to add new columns, you can just reimport it, which will add the missing rows in the Equation interface.

This is a huge improvement to linked files and has lowered the barrior of entry for new users to take advantage of this cool feature.

3 - Automatic Rebuild:

This last pic might seem little but the ability to rebuild the list of equations as you make changes in the Equation editor is very convenient.  There is also a rebuild button located to the immediate right that will rebuild the file on demand.  This is especially handy if you make modifications to a linked file and want to see the values update in the Equation manager.

The What's New PDF outlines this revamp of Equations very well and provides a few examples to show all the new additions.  I recommend trying this new feature out when you get SolidWorks 2012 installed! ~Lou