SolidWorks Background Disabler

There were mixed reviews of the new feature in SolidWorks 2011 for taking the sting out of downloading patches called the Background Downloader. It is a small application that runs in the Windows system tray claiming not to hinder performance while downloading the latest and greatest from SolidWorks. At first mention this reminded me Google's Chrome browser, which downloads it's updates in the background, installing before the next launch without the user's intervention.

Although convenient in theory, a web browser and a 3D CAD application are completely different animals and with this new background downloader being setup to download by default, users are wondering how to turn it off and stop it from launching. Here are a few tips:

Disable SW Background Downloader:

Option 1:

SolidWorks Installation Manager - During installation in the "Summary" screen under "Download Options" click on Change and uncheck both options under "Do you want to use the Background Downloader?".  

Option 2:

In the system tray, as pictured above, right click on the SolidWorks Background Downloader icon and select "Disable Background Downloader".  Once selected a message will display notifying you that to reenable you will need to go to Start > All Programs > SolidWorks Installation Manager > SolidWorks Background Downloader.  

There have been issues with the background downloader returning on a restart.  To prevent this from happening, go to Start > All Programs > Startup and remove the shortcut to the SolidWorks Background Downloader.

Although this can be a useful tool for some, it can sometimes choose the wrong time to start downloading and cause issues with companies that have a large majority of users on the same network.  Personally I keep it enabled on my desktop and disabled on my laptop but would like to see this as an opt-in feature instead of an opt-out. ~Lou

SolidWorks Flow Simulation goes Modular

SolidWorks Flow Simulation has been referred to as a "Swiss Army Knife" for computational fluid dynamics (CFD), allowing users to solve a variety of problems within SolidWorks.  Whether determining pressure drop in a piping system, aerodynamics/lift on an aircraft's fuselage to cooling of electronic enclosures, Flow Simulation is a highly integrated, easy to learn CFD package.

Flow Simulation, like it's other SolidWorks counterparts, has had it capabilities extended a lot over the past few releases and 2011 will introduce two add-in modules, giving this universal CFD tool some "scalpel-like" capabilities.  The two Flow Simulation 2011 modules will be for HVAC and the electronics industry.

Electronics Module: (screen shot)

  • Additional solid materials like plastic, metals and semiconductors
  • Contact resistive materials like cements and pastes
  • Expanded fan database based on various suppliers
  • New Input Data options:
    • 2-resistor component - models heat transfer in an electronic device containing ICs
    • Electrical conditions - model Joule heating due to current, voltage and contact resistance
    • PCB generator - models a body as an "axisymmetrical/biaxial type of anisotropic thermal conductivity" simplifying the representation of a multi-layer PCB.
    • Heat Pipe component - models a body with heat in & out simulating a heat pipe

HVAC Module: (screen shot)

  • Additional solid materials including all Electronic Module materials plus building industry materials like brick, concrete, etc.
  • Expanded fan curve database from various suppliers
  • Advanced Radiation options (Absorbtion in solids)
  • Comfort Parameters - statistical analysis of the flow
    • Predicted Mean Vote (PMV)
    • Predicted Percent Dissatisfied (PPD)
    • Operative and Draft Temperatures
    • Air Diffusion Performance Index (ADPI)
    • Contaminant Removal Effectiveness (CRE)
    • Local Air Quality Idex (LAQI)
    • Flow Angle

Both HVAC and the Electronics industries have specific needs for designing systems and these new modules will offer some of the vertical databases and results options needed.  Official pricing has not be released yet but both will be "bolt-on" packages for the base Flow Simulation package in 2011.  These modules are in addition to a handful of other enhancements in SolidWorks Flow Simulation base product.  ~Lou

SolidWorks 2011: Retirement Calls

The longer a product is in the market, the more likely features will be replaced or retired all together. SolidWorks 2010 came with a few retirement announcements like PhotoWorks and the Shape tool and now SolidWorks 2011 has a couple as well.

Yesterday I was informed and verified that 3D Instant Website, a web publishing tool within SolidWorks introduced in the 2001 version, was going to be retired in the 2011 release and the hosted offering of the service would be "unplugged" at the end of this year.  If you visit the administrator login page you can see this notice:


Product Retirement Announcement

Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corporation will offer alternative, higher value offerings to replace 3D Instant Website. DS SolidWorks will:

  1. Discontinue the hosting of customer websites created using 3D Instant Website functionality starting December 31, 2010.
  2. Retire the 3D Instant Website publisher after SolidWorks 2011.

After December 31, 2010, new and existing customers will still be able to create custom websites as before but for local hosting only. 

I remember rolling out SolidWorks 2001 and showing 3D Instant Website, which at the time was an offering in the "Office" suite of SolidWorks and was their first hosted offering.  I have talked about 3DIW a few times on the podcast and do look forward to the "higher value offerings" that will most likely be SolidWorks Connect, formerly introduced at SolidWorks World 2010 as SolidWorks PDS.

The other announcement is one most will not be too surprised about which is SolidWorks' recently renamed 2D Editor will be retired as well after the 2011 release.  The longevity of SW2DE was questioned when Dassault Systèmes announced the free "professional grade 2D" offering DraftSight a few months ago.  Despite various quotes from SolidWorks and the DraftSight teams that 2D Editor would still be offered, 2011 will be the final version of SolidWorks that the 2D Editor will be available for download from the Customer Portal.

2D Editor:

To better align with the Dassault Systèmes new 2D product - DraftSight™, DS SolidWorks Corp. will retire the SolidWorks 2D Editor. The SolidWorks 2D Editor download is planned to be available through the Service Pack cycle of SolidWorks 2011 (October, 2010 through October, 2011), after which time the download link on the SolidWorks Customer Portal will be removed.

Dassault Systèmes now offers DraftSight, which is available via download to everyone. DraftSight features an open, global online community that facilitates a collaborative, design-focused atmosphere where the community of CAD users can expand their knowledge, open new possibilities, and communicate with each other to find the answers they need.

To get started with DraftSight, visit and follow the download instructions.

To access the community, visit and create a DS Passport that grants access to community services.

Based on the response of DraftSight among SolidWorks users previously using SolidWorks' 2D Editor, this retirement seems to be warranted.  The important thing to remember is 2D Editor was not free however each seat of SolidWorks came with 3 seats of 2D EDitor.  DraftSight is free and available for download without a login to the Customer Portal.

With 2D Editor, previously named DWG Editor, no longer installing as part of the SolidWorks installation, installing DraftSight as a replacement takes less effort and, overall, is a more powerful, free product.

According to SolidWorks' Shaun Murphy, Manager of CAD Product Management, both retirement announcements will be reflected in the SolidWorks 2011 Release Notes once SolidWorks 2011 SP0 is available. ~Lou 

Activation Stands Alone

SolidWorks Product Activation, introduced in SolidWorks 2007, has received a few updates in the 2011 release.  This minor adjustment can save those of you who manage installations and provide an easier way to activate, transfer and view licenses on a particular machine.

Typically activation would be prompted upon the first launch of SolidWorks, prompting the user for some registration information, connecting to the SolidWorks activation server via the Internet and finally displaying a successful/unsuccessful activation attempt. This process would then be repeated if the system also had Simulation products like Sim Pro/Premium and Flow.

One of the nice additions to SolidWorks Activation in 2011 is there is a downloadable application (Customer Portal) called the SolidWorks Activation Wizard.  SWAW is a simple standalone application to activate/transfer/view your SolidWorks products. Along with the ability to activate multiple products at once, activation can happen even if SolidWorks has been uninstalled from the system.  

Although you are given a warning message to transfer the activated licenses back to SolidWorks server before performing the uninstall, many dismiss the message and find out their licenses is now stranded.  This typically is followed by a call to the VAR to as to why the newly installed SolidWorks install (now on a new machine) cannot activate.  In the past the advice was to reinstall and transfer which is a lot of work.  Now this has been remedied with this handy little download.

The other little update many will appreciate is the registration screen has been removed and now only requires you to enter your email address! ~Lou