SolidWorks:Heard! - Episode 360 - Toolbox Highs and Lows..

Toolbox Highs and Lows..

This podcast covers the updates to SolidWorks Toolbox around performance and customization as well as some unfortuniate issues that some have been faced with upon upgrade.  Topics covered:

- Overview of the changes of the Toolbox framework related to performance 

- Dependancy around swbrowser.mdb file (S-056444)

- Brief list of what is now customizable

- Possible improvements to use in groups, EPDM, etc.

- Issues with upgrades when...

     - Operating system preferences use a comma (,) as the decimal separator (S-056855)

     - With Toolbox customizations (part numbers and descriptions) (S-056856)

For as long as I can remember, SolidWorks Toolbox has been a necessary evil for many users due to the fundamental structure of the product.  All the information for the toolbox part was always stored in a central place where every user would interact with this mdb file in order to query for the inernal information.  SolidWorks 2012 finally addressed this by adding all this information inside the SLDPRT file itself.

Severing this dependency brought better performance as well as allowed for further customization of all aspects of the Toolbox product like folder structure, file name, etc.  However a few weeks ago SolidWorks support issued a couple of Tech Alerts around the upgrade process.

Unfortunately the upgrade process uncovered a couple issues that can cause issues with the Toolbox information leaving it, in some cases, corrupt!  Both of these issues have been addressed in SP1 due out later this month but there is no immediate fix if this has bitten you.  ~Lou

Remember to check out the SolidWorks: Heard! Blog and to follow me on TwitterFacebook and THE HEaRD! 

SolidWorks:Heard! - Episode 343 - Toolbox, EPDM Friend or Foe?

Toolbox, EPDM Friend or Foe?:

This podcast covers the various ways of integrating SolidWorks Toolbox and Enterprise PDM in order to properly manage those non-revisioned parts created by this hardware generation tool. Topics covered:

- Toolbox options for single and multiple users

- Toolbox part generation options

- Supported methods for integrating Toolbox (full & partial)

- A partial method using EPDM's Dispatch and Toolbox copy parts mode

- Pros and Cons of all methods

SolidWorks Toolbox is one of those add-ins to SolidWorks that users want to use for the idea of it but end up running into issues properly implementing when working with teams of users.  This post is not focused so much of Toolbox's functionality or lack there of but more on how it can be integrated with SolidWorks Enterprise PDM.

Since 2010, EPDM has had integrated support for Toolbox to be fully managed inside the vault, allowing users to share a single Toolbox dataset with the option of replicating it to all sites using EPDM.  Now in a "day forward" approach this sounds great but let's face it, most companies that are moving to EPDM do not have a "day forward" business and want to put their data into EPDM and continue the move forward.  Depending on how Toolbox is currently deployed can have a major impact on the easy on integration.

The one important thing to remember is if you have a group using Toolbox, the first step is to get everyone using the same Toolbox folder and not everyone using their own Toolbox dataset.  This is typically the hardest part since everyone is using their own and selecting which one is going to be the new seed Toolbox is hard.  There is no way to just merge them so someone will win and the rest lose.

Enterprise PDM supports a couple of ways to use Toolbox effectively and one is not supported officially but works OK for the most part so I will share that with you as well. ~Lou

Remember to check out the SolidWorks: Heard! Blog and to follow me on TwitterFacebook and THE HEaRD! 

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

Remember to check out the SolidWorks: Heard! Blog and to follow me on TwitterFacebook and THE HEaRD!