SolidWorks:HEARD! - Episode 447 - Managing CAD Data


Managing CAD Data:

This podcast covers the chore of managing CAD data since it comes with the overhead of references. File references, as most of us know, come with a number of challenges in management as well as in process activities.  Topics covered: 

- Common challenges with keeping up with CAD data

- Definitions of features related to CAD data

- Understanding SolidWorks' reference search algorithm  

- Tools to assist in references management

- Common methods without PDM

- Alternative management tools

- What PDM can bring to the mix

After 12 years of consulting and implementing PDM and dealing with managing CAD data, there are some common pitfalls that seems to resonate with me.  In this show I hope to echo these common pitfalls and give some insight to ways to alleviate these issues.     

If you have ever been faced with the "Would you like to find these references" message when opening up an assembly in SolidWorks message, you will be interested in the number of steps SolidWorks actually goes through before asking you for assistance.  I think you might be surprised.

I thought this was a great topic since I have spent the last 2 weeks dealing with issues related to file references that stemmed from bad practices.  SolidWorks provides a number of tools (non-PDM) that can give you a head start with managing CAD file references that can get out of hand in a hurry. ~Lou

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SolidWorks:HEARD! - Episode 440 - Enterprise PDM Tips and Tricks


Enterprise PDM Tips and Tricks:

This podcast covers the various approaches, common implementation settings and other tidbits I have used over the past 10+ years of consulting on SolidWorks Enterprise PDM.  Topics covered:

- Best practices for implementations

- Common Data Routing Approaches

- Linking ECOs with CAD data (different workflows)

- Getting the most out of Tasks

- Optional interfaces

- Various add-ins and custom apps

Amazing to look back to 2001 when I first got my hands on Conisio, the former name of SolidWorks Enterprise PDM.  Back in those days the product was a 3rd party, had the same Windows Explorer interface but the SW interface was nothing like the fully integrated experience of today. SolidWorks' acquisition of of Conisio in 2006 has brought the product to the next level however successful use of the product is still very tied to proper setup in the early stages.

The name "Enterprise" can come with some negative connotations in terms of implementation time and leaves many with the question, "How many months is this going to take to get working?".  This is typically far from the case but like any tool that is highly configurable, the phased approach allows it to address the Engineering-centric issues and then be grown to bring more neighboring departments into the automation fold.

Another challenging part of implementing EPDM can be determining the scope of control since it overlaps in functionality with many other management systems (ERP/MRP/PLM) within a company.  Today we will touch on some topics and details for common setup and configuration options in EPDM. ~Lou

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SolidWorks:Heard! - Episode 402 - Remember TreeHouse 2 ?


Remember TreeHouse 2 ?:

This podcast covers a tool that was launch almost 5 years ago on the SolidWorks Labs site and was updated with some key features almost 3 years ago.  I figured I could remind you about this document structure planning tool even though SolidWorks has abandoned their LABS site.  Topics covered:

- Quick recap of the interface layout

- Overview of workflow to build a document structure

- Planning deeper than just structure

- Handoff to SolidWorks to build files

- Whats missing still after all these years

When Treehouse shipped back in late 2008, is lacked a few important features but was also simply a labs project so input was encourged.  After almost a year, SolidWorks LABS pushed out a new update addressing a few major missing features like the ability to add existing files to the plan.

SolidWorks pushed out a marketing video this week on free engineering tools and one of the tools that was brought up was Treehouse.  I mentioned when n!Fuze launched they had a way to look at the file structure in a "Treehouse" like interface and I have been wanted to talk about this tool again since it still works with SolidWorks 2012.

Treehouse 2.1 is the current build and is a 2.4MB file that extracts and installs in seconds.  For those of you that are sticklers on planning with good use of sub-assemblies and standard parts, Treehouse might be for you. ~Lou

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SolidWorks:Heard! - Episode 397 - Workgroup to Enterprise


Workgroup to Enterprise:

This podcast discuses the challenges and preparation when considering the move from SolidWorks Workgroup PDM to Enterprise PDM.  Although this transition is common, not every transition is the same.  Topics covered:

- When to consider migrating

- How the major differences in the two PDM products factor in

- What is involved in migrating data

- How to prep the move to EPDM

- Types of migration to consider

- Post migration activities

The dynamics of design are changing.  Remote teams, larger data sets, complex change processes, ERP/MRP systems, etc and with that the task of tracking data during design grows in importance.  PDM (Project Data Management) tools have often been looked at as a final resting place (therefore the nickname VAULT).  But as teams work together and data is constantly changing, tracking of file versions and revision schemes during design has become more "In-Process" management.

In the SolidWorks family of products, Workgroup and Enterprise PDM are two products that are used and the question of when to move from WPDM to EPDM is considered when the design process outgrows or strains the workgroup mentality.  Although migration from WPDM to EPDM is a common activity, the process and result are vastly different depending on a number of factors.

Since I am performing a major migration this weekend, I thought it was worth discussing this process and what I see when I work with companies that take this journey.  Migration is not a perfect process but there are a number of things that one can do to ease the stress and allow for a smooth rollout.  ~Lou

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SolidWorks:Heard! - Episode 385 - SolidWorks CRUD

SolidWorks CRUD:

This podcast covers tips and tricks on options for CRUD: Create, Read, Update and Delete (dropped D and substituted P for Pack and Go) methods in SolidWorks. Topics covered:


- New SolidWorks docs

- Customize Template Tabs


- Open SolidWorks docs

- Open dialog options (

- Open from recent list (and folder link)

- Drag and Drop (even Zip files)


- Save and Save modified

- Save As (watch out, when it doubt, save as copy)

- Close and Close all

- Close from open documents menu


- Pack and Go vs. Save-As references

- Pack and Go from Windows Explorer

- Other SolidWorks WinEx options (Rename, Replace.... and now Move!)

CRUD is a methodology in programming that I believe applies to much that we do on the computer and so this show is a back to basics to refresh how you think about doing these interactions with SolidWorks.  For a few years now, SoildWorks has added some nice additions to the way we interact while doing these fundamental activities, as we do with most computer applications.

With new releases of software, many of us don't have the time to modify how we use SolidWorks.  We all just want to use SolidWorks to get things done and we fall into our "ruts" of how we interact.  Create, Read & Update actions are all we are doing so getting a refresh of alternative methods can give an an "ah ha!" moment.  This show talks about some of these new methods and other tips to make these frequent interactions more efficient.

Sometime getting back to basics allows us to re-evaluate new functions and methods to ultimately alter our (especially mine) set ways of using SolidWorks.  If you have some interesting modification suggestions, please leave a comment.  ~Lou

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SolidWorks:Heard! - Episode 364 - CAD Backup

CAD Backup:

This podcast covers strategies, methodologies, and options to ensure that your CAD data is being backed up by you or those parties within the company that should.  Topics covered:

- The definition of backup

- 3-2-1 Backup strategy

- IT or Me?

- Roll-your-own or off-the-shelf (what to avoid)

- Local copies vs Cloud (best mix?)

- Is PDM backup?

- Making a plan

Backup. It is not a flash topic or one that typically draws out excitement from those who wield a mad CAD system and create gigabytes of data a week.  Statistically we do not backup as a mass content creating culture and the most unfortunate part about it is the devices we store our data on WILL fail one day.  Even those of us who do backup or important files don't check our backups regularly or follow a plan to ensure we have more than just one other copy.

For those of us whose employers staff IT, there is a belief that they must be doing the backup for us somehow but when files go missing we come to find out that only the network or certain shared drives were in the backup loop.  Losing data or precious time in our projects is never fun but can be avoided with a few simple steps of automation!

So make sure you get your 3 copies on 2 media and 1 copy offsite.  If you are not sure if your company backs up, ASK!  I know we all have been bitten before so get this process automated and get piece of mind. Less stress makes us better engineers! ~Lou

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SolidWorks:Heard! - Episode 339 - SolidWorks n!Fuze

SolidWorks n!Fuze:

This podcast covers the final launch of SolidWorks n!Fuze which had been preannounced 2 times over the past 2 years as SolidWorks PDS (Product Data Sharing) and SolidWorks Connect respectively.  Topics covered:

- Re-introduction of n!Fuze and the SwYm Community interface

- How to get signed up for an n!Fuze trial

- Installation and usage of the SolidWorks Add-in

- Use and plugin installation for the n!Fuze Web Portal.

- Prequisites for n!Fuze Add-in and Web Portal

- Quick overview of the n!Fuze release notes

- Pricing

Since SolidWorks World 2010 the SolidWorks community has been introduced to the promise of hosted applications, one of which was first shown as SolidWorks PDS.  Around July 2010, news via the blog squad, had talked about the continued development of the PDS product, code named Connect.  This then took us to SolidWorks World 2011 where n!Fuze was pre-announced on Sunday before SolidWorks World had begun.

n!Fuze went into beta around April and then again in June but both were very private beta which did make it a bit hard to test with other users.  On July 1 SolidWorks put n!Fuze up on the DS Store as a released product for purchase but also allow for a 30 day trial (no credit card need).

In this episode I try to outline the details of both the SolidWorks and Web experience in order to get people interested in the trial.  I think the need for this service is growing however the experience is somewhat forign to the masses.  SolidWorks' n!Fuze project manager, John Ellisworth, is asking for feedback so I suggest if this is a product you believe could solve communication problems, get to the trial and give SolidWorks feedback, good or bad.

As far as the mobile options for this service, an iPhone and iPad app should be out "later this year" and other platforms are to follow.  ~Lou

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SolidWorks:Heard! - Episode 334 - n!Fuze Beta Testing

n!Fuze Beta Testing:

This podcast covers the pending service offering from SolidWorks built on the 3DSwYm platform from Dassault Systemes.  Topics covered:

- Overview of n!Fuze the service

- Client types (web, SolidWorks and iPad)

- "What we pubically know" about n!Fuze (UI, pricing model and storage options)

- Outline of n!Fuze vs other online storage/collaboration tools

- Concerns, hopes/dreams!

This past week I was informed that Beta 3 had begun and that it was going to be invite only and about a week long.  With the promise of a public beta to follow, I wanted to talk about this service and what information we do know pubically about it and what it's goals are as a service.

Back in April we had a SolidWorks User Summit and SolidWorks and I shared a lot of details about the product, what the experience was like as well as some of the pricing and option model that will be offered at first release.  Hosted, version controlled repositories are nothing new (Dropbox, Box.Net, Google Docs) but what is unique about n!Fuze is the understanding of the associative model and tree structure.

I look forward to digging into the service again this week but the unfortunate thing about testing early is the pool of testers is small.  The phase of beta will allow outside invites so if you are interested in testing n!Fuze with me, send me an email and I would be happy to invite you to help me out.

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SolidWorks:Heard! - Episode 330 - Workgroup to Enterprise Migration

Workgroup to Enterprise Migration:

This podcast covers the options and migration questions that typically come up for those looking to move from SolidWorks Workgroup PDM to Enterprise PDM.  There are tools available to assist with migration from Workgroup which can ease the pain of a platform update.  Topics covered:

- Quick overview of the major reasons many decide to migrate

- SolidWorks Workgroup migration tool

- Other migration options available when moving to EPDM

- Migration aftermath - steps to take

- How EPDM's add-in framework can come to the rescue

- History versus "day-forward" approach

Although I use all the SolidWorks products, since 2001 I have been using Conisio, which is today known as SolidWorks Enterprise PDM.  In 2006 when SW purchased Conisio and made it a major branch of their product line, I have spent a lot of time talking with companies about processes and document management options.

Workgroup PDM, included in 2 of the 3 SolidWorks bundles, is not extensively used among SolidWorks customers but there are enough out there that are looking to increase the involvement of their PDM tool in product design.  Although many will move from Windows file management techniques to EPDM, those that adopted WPDM as a local tool are faced with a few questions when considering the move to Enterprise.

SolidWorks offers a few tools to assist in the migration of data that resides in another PDM product, however many times these tools will get you there if you decide to use EPDM in the same exact manor.  I encourage companies to first setup EPDM in the most ideal configuration and then plan the migration path to meet those goals.  Garbage in, garbage out so why not draw a line in the sand and take the opprotunity to do it right and build migration paths to get to the "ideal" PDM environment. ~Lou

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