SolidWorks:Heard! - Episode 378 - SolidWorks on Windows 8

SolidWorks on Windows 8:

This podcast covers the new release of Windows 8 Consumer Preview, what is really different, what is the same, and how SolidWorks current lineup installed on the OS.  Topics covered:

- Downloading, installing and testing 

- More Windows8 resources

- Building Windows 8 (Steven Sinofsky's blog)

- WinSuperSite (Paul Thurrott's blog)

- AllAboutMicrosoft (Mary Jo Foley's blog)

- Windows Weekly (TWiT podcast)

- Major differences with Windows 8 vs. Windows 7

- What has stayed the same

- Installation experience of SolidWorks current product line

- Thoughts about how SolidWorks could use the new Metro UI

Last week Microsoft launched the consumer preview of their next operating system, Windows 8.  Since the launch of XP, I have installed early builds of these operating systems, testing the install of the current line up from SolidWorks for compatibility.  Back in October I installed the Developer preview of Windows 8 but the product was not as far along and much could still be tweaked so I opted to wait to test out SolidWorks.

With Windows 8 bringing the "touch first" approach to the user with the new Metro UI, this changes the experience and removes something many users have gotten used to since 1996, the Start button.  With the start menu being removed and replaced with a Metro Start Menu, there is a lot of potential to positively change the way we think about finding, launching and using applications in the new operating system.

The SolidWorks product line faired well, especially since it is considered a "classic" application and would run in the desktop mode, essentially feeling right at home as though it was Windows 7.  I talk about the install and the little differences as it installed into Windows 8. ~Lou

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SolidWorks:Heard! - Episode 365 - New Release Checklist

New Release Checklist:

This podcast covers the some general steps to check before jumping into a brand new major release of SolidWorks and the various related products.  Topics covered:

- Upgrade or Uninstall/Reinstall?

- How to clean uninstall

- 3rd Party product checklist

- PDM checklist

- Homegrown tools/macros

- Other random checks

With the new release of SolidWorks 2012 now with a shiny new service pack 1 in queue, many companies take this milestone as a time to take the plunge.  Although some SolidWorks users are anxious to get the latest release on their systems to get some of the new features in hand, there are a few things to check before you jump in with two feet.

Personally as an early adopter, well....and the fact it is my job to dig into the latest software,  I do enjoy getting new software on my system and pushing it to the limit.  However, I also find that there are so many other products, tools and compatibility checks that should happen first to ensure a smooth transition.  Whether that is a 3rd party product you rely on or your favorite peripheral's drivers, all these things need to be weighed prior to launch.

I recently decided to clean out one of my testing systems after years of SolidWorks versions, beta builds, 3rd party products and trials.  I had 3 or 4 working version of SW, various toolbox builds and a number of tools that I had not touched in 4-5 years.  I really should nuke that system but decided to use it as a test for this show and a basis for those of you in the same situation. ~Lou

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SolidWorks:Heard! - Episode 301 - New Release Checklist

New Release Checklist:

This podcast covers the checklist that SolidWorks users should go through prior to moving forward with a new release like SolidWorks 2011.  Topics covered:

- Ensure hardware and OS meets recommended leveles


- Read the What's New documentation and test on a non-production system

- Save your SolidWorks settings and Enterprise PDM Admin settings

- Convert / Update data with Task Scheduler / Network Monitor / File Version Upgrade Utility

With SolidWorks 2011 SP0 right around the corner, there are a few things to check before jumping in with both feet on a major release upgrade.  Personally, I run through this on every release, at minimum, just to make sure all the features and functions that I use are at a level of performance that I expect.

With the SolidWorks product line growing in complexity and packages, understanding the impact of a new release across all the installed products is now a concern.  Compatibility of EPDM and SolidWorks or older versions of CAM add-ins with SolidWorks 2011 are all areas to check before moving forward.

Once you have done your homework, moving to a new release can be fairly worry free.  Ensuring your data is backed up prior to upgrade is also something I cannot stress enough.  Make sure your customizations and data is safe before the software is updated to give a safety net in case something happens.  If you have other checks that you go though before upgrading, please share them in the comments! ~Lou

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SolidWorks:Heard! - Episode 290 - SolidWorks 2011 First Impressions

SolidWorks 2011 First Impressions: This podcast is a discussion between Josh Mings of SolidSmack and myself discussing the overall first impressions of SolidWorks 2011 publicly since SolidWorks lifted the beta NDA. Topics covered:

- General overview on the type of release 2011 seems to be

- Defeature tool and common uses

- Assembly features and weld prep

- Global variables in a text file

- Performance and display enhancements

- System requirement changes and XP's soon to be exit

- Installation improvements and background downloading

The buzz around a new SolidWorks release has changed so much from 10 years ago now that the Internet is in play. The VAR rollout events used to be the place people went to see what was being launched but now you can go to and get the rundown, not to mention the 50 or so blogs that will also post updates and screenshots.

Now that DS SolidWorks has lifted the embargo on SolidWorks 2011 Beta, the flurry of posts and reviews has begun. Josh and I talk mainly on how SolidWorks 2011 seems to be staying the course of performance and tuning existing features. SolidWorks 2011's What's New PDF seems to be about 40 pages shy of last year's so it appears to be scaled back. I think as long as bugs get fixed and performance increases, adoption will be high.

Personally, I have a list of files and features that I try to perform that have had issues in previous betas from year's past and 2011 was the first in a long time that some basic functions didn't give me issue at first glance. I have also, unofficially, noticed that a list of long lasting bugs that I have reported were closed so maybe this is an indication that 2011 is digging into the SPR list and addressing as many as it can. ~Lou

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SolidWorks:Heard! - Episode 289 - SolidWorks Enterprise PDM Landscape

SolidWorks Enterprise PDM Landscape:

This podcast covers the general landscape of how SolidWorks Enterprise PDM addresses problems within the engineering process.  I am joined by Jeff Sweeney, Data Specialist at 3D Vision Technologies and we discuss the common problems we see while performing Enterprise PDM implementations.  Topics covered:

- Common reasons for EPDM

- How PDM is typically viewed by new users

- How to use PDM as an "in-process" tool

- Integration in SolidWorks

- Workflow and common automation actions

- Common integration with other enterprise systems (ERP/PLM/MRP, etc..)

- How replication works and is used

- Other EPDM ramblings from both of us! ;-)

Jeff and I have been talking about doing this roundtable for quite some time now and we finally got time where we were both available and not on-site doing installs.  Jeff is a Data Specialist and is a wizard in implementations and API so I thought there was no better person to "talk shop" about EPDM and the process of solving issues that are common in the change process around engineering.

This show outlines the landscape of what Enterprise PDM offers and how companies are using this tool to solve real problems and automating processes that govern their departments.  I wanted to avoid doing a feature/function focused show since that is not important to the overall product.  Jeff and I share scenarios that we come across while talking to customers and performing these installs.

I hope to have a followup show gettting into the best practices of setup so those of you out there either considering a PDM solution or have EPDM installed have an idea of what pitfalls Jeff and I have witnessed.  Let's face it, no company has perfect processes and there is no one product that will solve all problems (well within normal budgets!).  I look forward to the next time Jeff comes on the show.  You rock man, thanks! ~Lou

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SolidWorks:Heard! - Episode 279 - Toolbox Tribulations

Toolbox Tribulations:

This podcast covers configuration options for SolidWorks Toolbox and deployment options when using this tool within a design team.  Topics covered:

- Accessing the Toolbox configuration options

- Creating user-defined standards

- Adding custom property information

- Using export/import tools and Excel to populate part numbers

- How to setup a shared Toolbox installation

- Common pitfalls for deployment on a network or in Enterprise PDM

- Upgrading shared Toolbox databases

I have covered SolidWorks Toolbox in it's entirety over the past few years but wanted to talk deeper about how to configure this tool and customize it to fit your needs.  Toolbox has been the center of much frustration over the years and some of the issues stem from improper configuration and/or setup.

It is important to understand that the local installation of Toolbox is meant for a single user.  Even though the application will add missing fasteners (when inserted with SolidWorks 2007 or later) upon opening an assembly from another user, a shared Toolbox implementation is recommended via the LAN or within Enterprise PDM 2010 or later. ~Lou

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