SW2006 tour?

Got an announcement via email today from my VAR (GoEngineer). It seems that there will be a tour of sorts in this area (Los Angeles) to talk about
SW2006 and related matters. Chris Garcia, VP of R&D at SW will talk and take questions. The blurb says something about a "new 3 phase product quality strategy", among other things.
Does anyone think that this thing is worth going to or is it just marketing without a foundation in reality?
And, as a corolary, what question would you ask? There are so many holes to plug that it is hard to figure out what to point to.
Maybe: "How much less will 2006 crash than 2005?".
Or: "Will 2006 have a more sensible approach to making designs transportable without running into parts library (huge nuts) problems?"
Then again: "Does 2006 run on all sensible high-end modern computer systems without having to resort to a "secret brew" of hardware?"
Hmmm: "What have you done about file growth?"
Ah, yes: "What guarantees will you have in place in terms of being able to work with design files created with older versions?"
Maybe it's time to compile a list and submit it ahead of the presentation. Give the guy a chance.
-Martin
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I think any time you can get free information is worth going. Garcia is a high level sort who may understand more of the "vision" than the "reality". It's important to understand what they're thinking as they create stuff. Of course it's also important to understand what actually happened after all the dreaming, coding and testing, but you'll likely want to talk to someone else for actual end user issues.

Crashing is so much a function of the environment the software is installed in, I'm sure SW doesn't perceive a big problem with crashing. They might turn the issue around to be a system maintenance issue.

Toolbox is a problem I have screamed about for years. I don't believe it will get any attention. The problem is that theorectically, Toolbox "can" work. It just takes planning and understanding all the possible things that go wrong on both the sending and receiving ends of the data. Unfortunately the default settings out of the box are the worst settings you could possibly come up with for sharing data.

Again, what you mean by "run" is probably open to interpretation. I was just at a company yesterday and helped them take the time to open a drawing from 13.5 minutes to 59 seconds. It wasn't the software's fault that they were wasting so much time and were pretty grumpy. Since SW knows what can be done, I think they perceive that most of the improvements in this area can be made on the user side. Why they don't try harder to educate disgruntled users who don't understand is a little beyond me, but since I'm kind of in the business of rescuing people with problems, in some sick way their negligence works to my advantage.

Again, if you were to look at things from their perspective, I think they might see this as a problem of perception. Larger files "seem" bad in a lot of ways, but it's faster to read data from disk than it is to calculate it over again, so storing it for reuse later on is actually an efficient thing to do. Also, there is some added function there, because of what's going on with eDrawings replacing the SW Viewer. Plus there are things users can do to keep file size down. Unfortunately, SW Corp doesn't really address this openly for all users. There is a lot of info tucked away in various corners such as the knowledge base, the SW Community letters, webcast archives, this NG, training books, Help, etc.

Again, I'm just trying to see things from their perspective, but this is what the beta program is for. One thing I know for certain is that the difference between SW and users is caused by a lack of communication. That can't always be blamed on SW. It is very often the case that users don't communicate back to SW. What I mean is that if you have problems and don't report them, SW doesn't know about the problems. They really don't. You think they're the experts, but in a lot of ways, they're really not.
Of course everybody knows that tech support is usually in a defensive role and my perception of them anyway is that their prime goal is to protect the software from blame and put it back on the user. I've worked in and around tech support for a lot of years, so I don't think anyone can really deny that. There may be exceptions, but that is certainly the trend. Anyway, there are problems on both sides. If you have problems with old data coming in to a new version, beta is a great time to give SW some feedback on that so that the released product doesn't have so many problems.
I'm not trying to defend the company or the software or even the disgruntled users out there, I'm just trying to see things from both sides. It doesn't do any good to demonize them. They really think they're doing a great job, and they're normal people maybe like you.
In my job as an independent CAD consultant, I'm not directly associated with resellers or with any software company, I make a living getting real results for real users, so pretending that either SW employees or end users are a bunch of unmitigated idiots doesn't really work.
Anyway, if I were to talk to Garcia, I think I would ask about something where the answer would be of some value to me. Your questions all sound like rhetorical accusations, and any response he gives will just sound like an excuse, and can't possibly be of any real or immediate value to you or anyone. Instead, I might ask something like "What is the best way to work with very large drawings, mainly regarding speed?" or "What steps do you recommend to ensure the most stable usage of SW?" or "How do I prevent errors in updated files from causing problems with our SW users?" Answers to those questions would be valuable.
So, let us know how it went!
Matt www.dezignstuff.com
Matt
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We really have to see Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy before going to something like this and realize that one of us is going to be wielding the ultimate weapon. Just hope it isn't Marvin.
Martin,
There is something I just did in conjunction with a very large/slow drawing called a Fishbone diagram. It is a means of identifying all possible causes of a problem. Needless to say there was a branch for Software problems, but there were also branches for our procedures, hardware and modeling. The one branch that was least involved in our "problem" was the hardware branch.
One question I could ask now is:
We have identified all the problems with our modeling and procedures and are taking steps to rectify those problems. This will leave SW as the one remaining source of problems. What steps can SW take in rectifying the problems we still have with SW software in a timely manner?
Just for grins, I would also ask if he is a CSWP. It really helped when JM got his certification.
The timing of this visit is just a little interesting also. If SW really is doing something new with quality, maybe it would be good to ask him to commit to coming back in six months and close the loop. It is one thing to sell the sizzle and another to see if new customers have come in because of word of mouth. I know a little steak house in Utah that people will drive 100 miles to have a dinner there.
Finally, back in 2001, SW committed to taking responsibility for non-repeatable problems at the Three Amigos meeting. It was in that time frame that CTDT was coined. They have gathered data via email for some time now. I don't know if Matt would agree, but I would like to pin down absolute numbers of crashes per installed seat.
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I always viewed the Amigos trip as a PR stunt for SW, and the most benefit anyone got out of it was the tee shirts. Possibly over-cynical, but I doubt it.
I'm pretty convinced that the majority of crashes are completely avoidable, meaning that they're due to user controlled factors such as OS set up, conflicting software, drivers, network and system maintenance issues. I've just seen too much evidence to believe anything else. Yes, I still crash, and sometimes for unexplained reasons, but we're talking every other week, not every day.
The last several "angry SW user" visits I've been on have been resolved by updating Spaceball or video drivers, repairing the SW installation without antivirus on, deleting the Current_User part of SW registry, updating SW service packs, moving data from overcrowded/busy servers, improved modeling techniques, better OS set up for memory management, stop users from opening network files by double clicking on them in Windows Explorer, and reformatted hard drives (most likely problem is a mangled registry). I haven't reported one single hard SW crash only attributable to SW in a couple months, although there have been a lot of other types of issues.
To me, the OS is the major issue. Microsoft OSs seem to be developed for Excel and Powerpoint users, people who read emails, maybe play some games. I'm guessing that the biggest increase in consistancy would come from moving to a better managed OS for more resource-intensive applications. I tend to reformat my computer every 6-9 months because with all the sloppy software I install, the registry gets pretty mangled, which I'm sure is what's really behind much of the non-reproducible stuff. After the reformat, everything is noticeably faster.
SW has recently released a couple of things for Mac OS X (eDrawings, Cosmic Blobs). Does that mean something? Who knows.
SW taking responsibility for non-reproducible problems is a dodge. There's no way for them to do that, they have nothing to work with, it's a meaningless commitment. The best way to fight bad software is to either deluge tech support with concrete examples or to just not spend your money on it. Go to the round table sessions at SW World, participate in Beta, and Alpha if you can. Hire a consultant to analyze your issues. Noisy newsgroup campaigns may be embarassing or even belittling to the company, but I doubt they have much effect on the right people. Look at what has been going on in this ng lately and tell yourself what kind of credibility non-ng folk must give this forum.
Anyway, just my point of view.
matt
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Hopefully "non-ng folk" see through the crap and can recognize the nuggets that are there. I think SW people are often not given as much respect as they deserve.
WT
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Matt,
I can make my Fishbone diagram for CTDT too. And the causes you mentioned would certainly be there on their own branches.
In my own experience I think I can say that even when you get rid of the causes you mentioned there will still be a significant number of CTDT events that occur. In the last month I have run into them quite a bit. They had nothing to do with hardware, drivers or the OS. They were attributable to poorly constructed assemblies with a lot of cherries and triangles. They were also attributable to issues with linked design tables and other pathological document problems. Once I had cleaned up the assemblies the crashes went away. Was this a SW problem? Probably so because SW should be able to handle the errors as well as the good stuff.
The other thing I would say in this regard from both recent and past history is that SW has never pointed out a SPECIFIC hardware or software/driver problem to me. At one point we had a TTM come out for the purpose of specifically pointing out to us where this hardware/system problem was that he was claiming we had. He never even looked at the system. In other cases I have sent in Rx files and never had a response regarding a driver or hardware being the cause.
Regarding Rx, that is one of the best things SW has done for users in that it flags a lot of the problems you mentioned. So I would expect most users would run Rx as soon as they setup 2005 and those users would rectify the problems that Rx brings to light. We have to give you and Jankowski as well as others the credit for doing a lot of the leg work in this. Thinking of Rx, one good question to ask would be, "Since Rx has been incorporated into SW2005, has SW seen a significant decrease in reported CTDT?"
I think very highly of the person at SW who made the commitment to taking responsibility for non-reproducible problems. My impression was that he was sincere. But he is no longer in the position he once was and I don't see that that commitment has really made its way into SW corporate culture so he was probably speaking for himself without the backing of the rest of SW. There is hope though because SW seems to want to put people into the field to spend a day or half a day with users. That would certainly be an avenue for input in this area.
Regarding your last paragraph, I have been to several Round Tables, been on Alpha, Beta and some other channels as have you. SW takes them very seriously. I don't think SW takes this NG nearly as seriously as they once did. It seems like a lot of the quality people have been hired away to SW or have gone on to other software. Nevertheless, the NG is the last rope a lot of people have to cling too when all else seems to fail. It is very rare that a serious request for help goes unanswered, much more rare than a request through channels to SW.
I do sense as do you, a rift between SW Tech Support and users. When I did tech support I took the position that the customer had a reason. If it was SW problem I took the position of being the customer's advocate. The customer after all paid the subscription that paid my fee. If it was the customer's problem I gently and systematically tried to get them out of the hole they were in. From time to time we held training sessions for customers where we took the frequent issues customers had and brought them up to speed. Maybe the SW tech support guys need to do this at SWW. I would attend a "20 Bone Headed Things SW Users Do" session. And sometimes customers just plain need training.
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I'm lumping that kind of thing into "user controllable issues". You could also call it a software problem, but one of the things I try to do is to help people from feeling so helpless against some corporate machine. There is something you can do about modeling errors, regardless of how they were created.

Well, specifically, if you use a 2001 Spaceball driver with PDMWorks 2005 (addin), it will lock up your computer as soon as you see both splash screens for PDMWorks and 3DConnexion.

You know, for whatever reason, I just haven't used RX very much. I'm not passing judgment on it, I just wanted to feel a little more in control of the debugging process. Plus, in the end, I guess it doesn't help me directly, I'd have to have someone get back to me, and the track record of tech support (corporate or VAR) "getting back to" me is very bad. After getting a response 3 months after the submission, I asked the SW folks why they bothered.

Real visits are definitely a cool thing, but I think this is going to bear out my position rather than the position that the software is just a buggy piece of sh_t.

You're right. The only misgiving I have about the newsgroup is that there is often that bent toward heated dramatics and away from cold facts. It's much more acceptable to say that SW is just a piece of sh_t than it is to suggest that some user has his head up his ass. There's plenty of blame to go around, the software is full of stuff that's not right, but rarely does it have the flaws that it's accused of. For example, the original poster for this thread said:

Anyone who has read 5 of my posts knows what I think of Toolbox, so everyone knows I don't defend it, but Martin is wrong that this has to be done by hand. It's just a user education issue, a matter of technique and settings. That's probably true of a good number of problem posts to this ng.

That's a great way to make yourself unpopular with SW Corp and reseller types. I used to do the same thing. I took the position that my paycheck came from the customer, not from SW, just like it sounds you did.

Hey, that sounds like a great title for a SW World presentation!
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Hi Matt,
My favorite saying in line with what you said about users:
"It looks to me like they are experienceing a real problem with IO".
A few others come from intrinsically bad code, junk HW or OS, but it's largely IO.
Later,
Sean
_______________
IO=Insufficient Operator
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Matt wrote:

I don't think I'm wrong. The "Find References" mechanism either flattens your directory structure or replicates it. Either way, the result is of use in one direction. I suppose this might be fine for a one way trip from desktop to notebook or from designer to supplier. However, how do you get it back?
Example:
Just a flat plate with a 4-40 screw (from Toolbox) through it.
D:\Widget\Assy1.SLDASM D:\Widget\Part1.SLDPRT
Simple.
The screw comes from "Binding Head Screw_AI.SLDPRT", wherever Toolbox happens to be installed.
I have to go on a trip. Use "Find References" and copy files maintaining the directory structure. If you don't and you have a complex hierachy of assemblies, subassemblies and parts the resulting flat structure mess will have you on your knees in no time.
If the destination directory is: D:\June Trip\
Result: D:\June Trip\Widget\Assy1.SLDASM D:\June Trip\Widget\Part1.SLDPRT D:\June Trip\Widget\program files\common files\solidworks data\browser\Ansi Inch\Bolts And Screws\Binding Head Screw_AI.SLDPRT
I now copy "D:\June Trip\" to my notebook, where it is likely to endup in:
C:\Documents and Settings\Martin\My Documents\June Trip\...
Now I go away and edit my assembly. Let's say I add a nut and a washer to the screw.
Upon return, what do I have to do in order to not have huge nuts and washers?
EXACTLY. I have to do it by hand!
What do I have to do so that the part and assy updates made during my trip return to the original "D:\Widget\..." directory structure, with external references pointing back to where Toolbox lives at home base?
AGAIN, I have to do it by hand!
The same is true if I send something out to a vendor and it comes back with changes.
So, I bypass all this happy horseshit and explicitly save any Toolbox parts to "D:\Widget\Toolbox\" immediately after insertion. Now, just before that beautiful working trip to Hawaii (in my dreams!) all I have to do is copy "D:\Widget\" across the network to wherever I want it to be on my notebook.
Upon return, I backup the original "D:\Widget\" and replace it with "D:\Widget\" from the notebook. All is good. My nuts and washers stay normal and life goes on.
The bottom line is that I use Toolbox as a library from which I pull parts and never refer to again. The "manual" part I was refering to was the act of saving the component to a new directory within the project hierarchy. After that you use "Find Referrences" to make sure that you didn't leave anything behind and the process is as simple as can be.
Now, if I missed an obvious way to manage this process without manual labor, I'll step aside, put on my dumbshit-user hat and listen carefuly as you tell me how to do it right. :-)
BTW, I'm having fun with the above. I didn't take your "some user has his head up his ass" comment personally at all. As they say: 'been there, done that, don't think I have it as far up my ass as it used to be any more...although, my wife, if you asked, might disagree with that statement.
-Martin
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Well, you'll fit in well in this newsgroup. You have a strong opinion which you're willing to share, but you aren't willing to change it even if it will save you a lot of effort. After all, it's more fun to bitch than to stop complaining.
I suppose you're allowed to run things the way you want, but it's like saying "Doctor! Doctor! It hurts every time I stick my finger in my eye!"
Just don't say "I have to do it by hand". Please say "I choose to do it by hand because I won't do things differently."
Here it is.
Solution 1.
Use a PDM system. Anyone who complains about file management without using a PDM system should just keep it to themselves.
A PDM system will allow you to have a local workspace to work on files. This is (or should be) a single directory, but when you put things back to the vault, they all go where they belong. You can even get a PDM system that "works" with Toolbox, so it is possible to get it all figured out in one go.
No manual nothing.
Solution 2
Ok, let's say your boss is pretty dense and doesn't get it that a PDM system saves time and makes things more reliable. So you have to do your own homegrown file management
Everybody knows that Toolbox is a file management nightmare, but lets say that you chose to use it anyway. If you're going to use Toolbox, the worst thing you can do to yourself is to use the default setting with Configurations. But let's say that you even went ahead and did that too. If you're going to use Toolbox with configurations, you ought to pre-create all the configurations you're going to use. You don't know which ones you're going to use? Then make all of them. You'll only have to do it once, and if you're smart about it, you'll be the only one at your company or your suppliers or customers that will have to go through all of that.
"But that's too much work" you say. Well, ok, then don't use configurations. It's that simple. Unfortunately if you've already created assemblies with configured Toolbox parts, well, you're kind of hosed. You'll either live with it or make the necessary changes.
If you use the "copy parts" Toolbox setting instead of configurations, and you're smart about it and set up your Windows Explorer folder structure all under the same top level folder, you can just copy back the entire top level copied folder hierarchy in one drag and drop. Even if you've created new Toolbox sizes that you didn't have before.
No manual nothing.
If you continue to stick your finger in your eye and do this manually, well that decision is up to you. But please realize that even though Toolbox sux, no one has a gun to your head forcing you to do things the hard way.
Best of luck,
Matt

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Matt wrote:

No need to be rude.
And, for the record, my approach requires almost no effort whatsoever (just saving a few parts as you insert them) and pretty much guarantees that any compatible (version issues) installation of SW, anywhere in the world, will be able to open and modify the design and bounce it back to any other compatible user without any issues.

Well, yeah. That's generally what happens when you own the company.
Anytime anyone has to resort to bitching in a NG it is, more than likely, because they are loosing time, money, productivity and focus due to having to deal with issues that shouldn't be. I learned very quickly that SW support is worthless...at least in the context of real work having to get done.
Let me give you a timeline:
- Started to look at SW aprox. Sept '04 - Purchased in October '04 from GoEngineer, LA - Purchased training at the same time - Had GoEngineer come out and install SW - Read through and completed ALL online tutorials - Attended course immediately after completing tutorials - Started work on first and simplest projects.
Not once in the pre, during or post-sales effort or during the week-long class did anyone from GoEngineer or SW provide information on the issues surrounding such luminaries as "Toolbox" or anything else. In fact, during the class "Toolbox" was introduced as this great wizbang feature that could save you soooo much time. The most memorable example, of course, being the auto-population of holes created using the wizard.
Not ONCE did anyone suggest that using the default settings in Toolbox may not be the best idea. Not ONCE did anyone suggest that another possibility might be to pre-create all configuration. None of this information and the issues involved with traversing computers/geography/environments was ever discussed, even superficially. Not at all.
So, it seems way unfair for you to sit there an expect that new users get this information through some sort of divine inspiration and then be critical of them. Your vantage point is very different. You have the ability to look back and say, "yup, that ain't the way I'm gonna do it next time" ... and then get paid to fix it. A great service to your clients, don't get me wrong, but your frame of reference is very different from the small user who just has to get to work.
Your criticism is cruel and unfounded. Not in context at all. Particularly if we consider that your focus is to earn a living by providing SW "fix-it" services. I don't say that in a bad way. It's your chosen profession.
Most small businesses don't purchase $10K worth of CAD software and training a year before they will need it. My guess is that most delay that purchase until they absolutely must have it. My plan was simple: Purchase the software. Get basic training as quickly as possible and then get started with simple designs. A very sensible plan with just about anything other than SW.
If you search back through my posts in this NG dating back to November of '04 you'll see that I got in deep water very quickly. Struggled through it and came back up to the surface. I got lots of great help, including yours. I continue to be thanful for that. But, you have to remember that my mission is to design products, not to get snared in software bullshit. That's the fundamental difference between your vantage point and mine. I loose money when the software acts-up, regardless of the reason. You make money.
Had I known that SW would have so many issues my decision to adopt the tool may have been different. Perhaps part of that difference would have been to bring someone in to facilitate setup and initial ramp-up, even after taking a class. However, no hint of that need or any of the issues I now know about was ever provided by my VAR or SW. I'm good, but I don't run my business with a crystal ball.
Philosophically though, why should a user with pretty basic needs have to ever resort to that if the tool is any good? It isn't sensible to expect every user to have to bring in a consultant to navigate land-mines in CAD software. That's just bad software.
And so, in the heat of the product-design battle, with all the issues at play (schedules, competition, financial, etc.) you do what you can to stay afloat. You make decisions you can live with and move on. I'm sure some of what you've suggested may very well be the ideal solution for an ideal world. However, in the real world, sometimes you don't have the time to stop development to muck around with this stuff. And you shouldn't have to. Not for thousands of dollars we pay for SW. But, you make your choices and move on. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. So are crystal balls.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Martin Euredjian
To send private email: 0_0_0_0 snipped-for-privacy@pacbell.net where "0_0_0_0_" = "martineu"
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I'm sorry to hear that no one gave you a heads up, but resellers are interested in maintaining the illusion that the software is magical. They aren't likely to point out the land mines for you. These people are there to take your money, not be your friend.

The truth is a lot of resellers don't even know, or if they have an inkling they usually deny it. SolidWorks direct is the same way. I'm sorry that giving you solid, free advice is taken as an attack while the folks who failed to tell you the truth get off scot free.

No, actually, I don't expect new users to know this at all, which is kind of my point. I had to make the mistakes myself to learn this after years of using the software, which is why it always strikes me as odd when a person thinks they know it well after one year and a training class.

Well, if you drive a car, you either learn to change a tire or call AAA. Do you really need all that technology just to drive to work and get the groceries? Probably not. Software setup and maintenance is kind of similar. Some of the smarter resellers these days are offering "implementation" assistance, usually as an extra cost service. If you don't choose to pay for it, you never know what you're missing.
I agree with what you said about bad software, but I don't write it or defend it. I saw companies with needs, so I stepped in and filled the need. The guy who digs the graves doesn't kill people, he just deals with the affects (ok, bad analogy).
I apologize if I came across too strongly. There are a lot of companies who are losing money and wasting time unnecessarily. Your particular post came up in another discussion, and I guess I just used it to make a point. The point was that there is a lot of capability in the software which is hidden from view, and not just hidden from the view of newish users. It was the whole "educating frustrated users" bit that triggered it, I think. Plus any chance I get to drum on Toolbox a little is just too hard to pass up. I could have picked one of the other topics you went off on, but Toolbox is certainly low hanging fruit.
So, if you get a chance to go talk to Mr. Garcia, maybe you can ask him why there is so much functionality which is left uninterpreted (answer why instead of how) for especially new users.
Best of luck,
Matt
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Matt wrote:

No need to. I didn't take any of it personally. One can't be on USENET without a thick skin.
I just wanted you to understand that true and non-trivial effort was expended before any newsgroup help was sought. And that, no real guidance was received from the vendor in terms of some of the very important issues we've been discussing.

That they do very well. The problem is that we are not dealing with cooking recepies here. The man-hours put into the CAD portion of product design dwarf, by far, the cost of the software. If a vendor does not understand this and act with respect for the time and effort the new customer is about to expend...well, they might as well be selling cookbooks.

Oh, they don't get off scot free. I think SW deserves a nice class-action lawsuit. If they continue along the path they are on, it will happen.
As for your advice. I didn't consider it an attack at all and appreciate any an all help you and others provide in this NG. I hope to be able to share some of my experience with others as well.
The only problem I had with what (and maybe how) you were saying is that it didn't address the reality of "Oh, shit! We just got this thing that was supposed to save us time and here we are up to our ass in alligators."
Now that I finished five designs with SW that have gone to manufacturing I have a little bit of a calm in the storm to look back and try and make some decisions. I'm looking into PDM, for example. I'm also looking into writing some VBA routines to help with some application-specific needs.

Understood. However, without any information to be had (divine or otherwise) I'd be willing to bet that most SW users wrap themselves around a pole on all the issues that are known to anyone following this NG for a few weeks.
That's the interesting part. Just about the only way a new SW user is going to figure out where the holes are and how to deal with them is through this NG. Most people can't afford to (and, respectfully, shouldn't have to) hire a consultant such as yourself.

I'll have to disagree on this point. Prior to starting my company I spent twenty years in the motion picture industry as a R&D and Systems Engineer. Our task was to design, build and support special effects and editing facilities and systems with tens of millions of dollars in equipment. Some of the software was highly complex, ran on million-dollar SGI supercomputers and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. These systems required a capable engineer on staff due to the complexities and support load they represented. And so, I've seen and managed more than one type of software/hardware marriage that most definetly and absolutely fits your viewpoint. CAD, however, and particularly at this level, is --and should be-- a different beast.
SW is, in reality, very easy to use once you take the time to educate yourself a little bit. The only problem with SW is in some of the outright dumb decisions they've made (Toolbox, in my opinion) and how buggy or temperamental it can be.
Take SW machine/hardware dependency, for example. Software such as Maya and Lightwave or even 3DS is just as intense, if not more, in terms of squeezing performance from the machine. And, as far as I know, none of these packages are as problematic as SW can be. Sure, you'll get less performance on the wrong machine, but, for the most part, you don't have to worry much. Anyone doing serious work with these packages will surely purchase a top of the line machine with lots of memory and a good graphics subsystem.
I think it is fair to conclude that Solidwork's hardware dependency issues are the result of bad programming or bad choices made during the design of the program. There is no excuse these days for a major corporation placing a product in the market with such issues. Bugs are one thing. Bad design is an entirely different matter.
The car analogy isn't really the best. A CNC milling machine might. Most newcomers to CNC wouldn't just buy a mill and start making chips right away. There's a lot to learn there. If you are not careful the result could be beautiful artwork carved right into your table, not to mention severed fingers, etc.
Let's stipulate that this buyer is not a greenhorn, he's made chips before with other non-CNC tools and has twenty years of experience in mechanical design and fabrication using these sorts of tools. He's also quite proficient at using advanced software tools. In other words, a capable individual and not the cook from the pizza joint down the street.
So, let's say that you buy the mill, get the VAR to install it, go through all the tutorials the manufacturer provides AND take a class designed and sanctioned by them.
Should you expect to be able to get started using this tool safely and with relative efficiency? I think so. At least with small basic projects? Definetly.
Should you also expect to have been told about hidden dangers and/or issues that might tear your work apart or damage the machine? I think so. Absolutely. And that's where the whole SW thing is a complete disaster.
A professional user needs to know what to do and how to setup SW --without the need to hire a consultan-- after making a sensible initial investment in education. This doesn't have to be that complicated.
I would say that the sensible time to expect to have to bring in a consultant is when you have a design team scenario. Multiple seats and maybe even multiple tools.
Let's separate the operation of the software from mechanical design proficiency and experience. Two separate things. Not too different from when desktop publishing tools first became available. I've seen mechanical designs with no allowance for reasonable fabrication tolerances, for example. Or thermal expansion. Lots of other examples out there.
Anyhow, I think we are in agreement for the most part.
I'm not sure that a chance meeting with Garcia in the context of a presentation has the potential to make a difference. He'll be in "sell" mode.
Maybe the class-action idea isn't so bad. Any takers? It'd sure wake them up.
-Martin
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I just inquired as to what is covered in the Advanced SW class. Keep in mind that all of this is covered in THREE days. Note that none of the issues relating to Toolbox and other well-known SW matters seem to be covered. Also, nothing is said about installation and configuration of SW for performance and reliability.
So, I guess that a consultant, crystal ball or divine inspiration might still be Solidworks necessities. I'd certainly recommend that anyone embarking in anything serious as a new SW user hire someone like Matt to get them going. I can see some pretty sad scenarios of whole teams getting wrapped around posts if the company doesn't take this step.
Hey, maybe they have a "really-really, no bs, hold-on-to-your-socks advanced class"? :-)
If you have a few months on SW and a few designs under your belt you'll probably know most of what is covered here. I'm not sure whether it is worth attending other than for the potential to extract a few nuggets of information here an there.
In terms of setup, configuration and "standard" problems, most of it is covered infinitely better on this NG by guys like Matt and others.
Listing below.
-Martin
Advanced Part Modeling: Introduction
Multibody Solids Creating a Multibody Multibody Techniques Bridging Extrude From Local Operations Combined Bodies Combine Tool Examples of Combined Solids Using Local Operations to Solve Filleting Problems Common Bodies Focus on Features Solid Bodies Folder Options Tool Body Pattern Bodies Symmetry Indent Feature Using Indent Using Multiple Tool Bodies Indent with Multiple Target Regions Using Cut to Create Multibodies Saving Solid Bodies as Parts and Assemblies Feature Scope Splitting a Part into Multibodies Creating an Assembly Summary Using Split Part with Legacy Data Filling the Gap Sweeps Sweeping and Lofting: Whats the Difference? Sweeping Sweep Components Creating a Curve Through a Set of Points Entering Points On the Fly Reading Data From a File Editing the Curve Insert Ellipse Sweeping Sweep Dialog Showing Intermediate Sections The Label Shape Library Features File Explorer Working with a Non-planar Path Projecting a Sketch onto a Surface Variable Radius Filleting Another Approach to Filleting Adding a Split Line Face Fillets Analyzing Geometry What is Curvature? Show Curvature Combs Intersection Curves Show Minimum Radius Show Inflection Points Zebra Stripes Curvature Continuous Fillets
Filleting the Label Outline Selection Edges What is a Loop? Multi-thickness Shell Performance Considerations Performance Settings Suppressing Features Interrupt Regeneration Modeling Threads Creating a Helix Procedure Using Twist Align with End Faces Sweeping Along Model Edges Propagate Along Tangent Edges What if the Edges Arent Tangent? 3D Sketches Plane at an Angle Insert Axis Multiple Contours in a Sweep Using the Hole-Wizard on Non-planar Faces Lofts Basic Lofting Merge Tangent Faces Star and End Constraints Merging a Multibody with Loft Using Derived and Copied Sketches Copying a Sketch Derived Sketches Creating a Derived Sketch Locating the Derived Sketch Loft Viewing Options Advanced Lofting Preparation of the Profiles Sharing Sketches Other Techniques Advanced Face Blend Fillets Using Flex Triad and Trim Planes Flex Options Surfaces Working with Surfaces What are Surfaces? Trimming Surfaces Creating a Knit Surface Advanced Filleting Multiple Radius Fillets Advanced Edge Fillets Deleting Faces Dome Feature Propagate to Tangent Faces Offset Surfaces Extend Surface Hiding Bodies Intersection Curves and Splines Filling in Gaps Rounding Off the End Repairing Imported Surfaces
Core and Cavity Mold Tooling Design Analyzing the Draft on a Model Checking the Moldability of a Plastic Part Draft Analysis Colors Positive Draft Negative Draft Requires Draft Straddle Faces Positive Steep Faces Negative Steep Faces Creating New Drafted Faces Delete Faces that Do Not Have Draft Create New Drafted Surfaces Trim the New Surfaces Thicken the Surface Body Fixing the Steep Faces Scaling the Plastic Part to Allow for Shrinkage Scale the Plastic Part Determine the Parting Lines Establish the Parting Lines Manual Selection of Parting Lines Shutting Off Holes or Windows in the Plastic Part Shut-Off Surfaces Complex Shut-Off Surfaces Automation Modeling the Parting Surfaces Parting Surfaces Interlocking the Mold Tooling Interlock Surfaces Modeling the Interlock Surfaces Select Partial Loop Fill in the Gaps With Lofted Surfaces Completing the Interlock Surfaces Knit the Interlock Surfaces to the Parting Surfaces Preparations for the Tooling Split Creating the Mold Tooling Automatic Tooling Separation Other Options for Tooling Design Smoothing the Parting Surface Automatic Interlock Surface Creation Multiple Parting Directions Trapped Molding Areas Side Cores Lifters Core Pins
Advance Assembly Modeling: Introduction
Top-Down Assembly Modeling In-context Features Edit Part Appearance of Components While Editing How Transparency Affects Electing Geometry Propagating Changes A Note of Caution Building In-Context Parts Adding a New Part into an Assembly Results of Insert, Component, New Part Building Parts in and Assembly Using Offsets from Assembly Parts Assembly Features Holes Series
Smart Fasteners Fastener Defaults Fasteners List Changes to Smart Fasteners Fastener Selection Fastener Changes Out of Context Putting a Part Back Into Context Breaking External References Breaking and Locking External References External Reference Report Removing External References Editing the Features Working with Assemblies Mating Shortcuts SmartMates Mate References SmartMates From and Open Document SmartMates from Within the Assembly Adding Mate References Primary, Secondary, Tertiary References Special Case of Mate Reference Design Library Parts Capture Mate References Limitations of SmartMates Advanced Mate Types Summary: Inserting and Mating Components Inserting the First Component Inserting Additional Components Inserting and Mating Simultaneously Mating Existing Components Configurations of Assemblies Terminology Review Adding a New Assembly Configuration Suppressing Components Design Library Assemblies Suppress the Added Component Using Move Component with Configurations Assembly Design Tables What They Can Do Specifying Components Controlling Part Components Controlling Assembly Features and Mates Comments and Other Headers Creating and Inserting Design Tables Building the New Design Table Component Headers Mate Headers Extra Columns Editing the Design Table Configuration Properties Changing Component Mates Completed Configurations Component Sub-assemblies in an Assembly Adding Sub-assembly Configurations Other Ways of Creating Configurations Assembly Patterning
Assembly Editing Editing Activities Finding and Repairing Problems Information from an Assembly Design Changes Converting parts and Assemblies Parts into Assemblies Assemblies into Parts Parts into Parts Replacing Parts with Assemblies Replacing and Modifying Components Working in a Multi-User Environment Replacing a Single Instance Mates Folder Troubleshooting an Assembly Mate Errors Viewing Mates Using the PropertyManager Visual Display of a Mate Replace Mate Entities Over Defined Mates and Components Mate Diagnostics Replacing Components Using Save As Time Dependent Features Parent/Child Relationships Reorder and Rollback Controlling Dimensions in an Assembly Link Values Assembly Equations Dimension Names in an Assembly Adding Equations Mirroring Components Mirroring or Copying Large Assemblies Efficient Assemblies Errors When Opening an Assembly Designing with Sub-assemblies Modifying the Structure of and Assembly Dissolving a Sub-assembly Promoting and Demoting Components Creating a New Sub-assembly with Components Opening a Sub-assembly Information from and Assembly
Large Assembly Mode Lightweight Components Creating Lightweight Components After the Assembly is Open Best Practice Comparison of Component States Indicators of Lightweight Status Taking Advantage of Configurations Detail Features Comparative Savings Mate Considerations Sub-assembly Configurations Drawing Configurations Using Component Patterns Sub-assembly Solving Editing Sub-assembly Advanced Selection Techniques Advanced Show/Hide Advanced Selection Use with Configurations Property Options Custom Properties Saving the Criteria Envelopes Using Envelopes Layout Sketches in the Assembly Sketch Appearance SolidWorks Explorer Window Layout Operations File Management Options Using SolidWorks Explorer Renaming Components Where Used
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Snip

From the quality of your questions here and the description of the stuff you've been doing, I suspect that you wouldn't get much out of it. I ended up taking the class over a year after I had my initial training and shouldn't have bothered. As you said, I did pick up a few nuggets, but not enough to be worth the time lost. If you bought the advanced class when you bought the software, like we did, you might want to talk with your VAR about taking another class that might be more useful.
Jerry Steiger Tripod Data Systems "take the garbage out, dear"
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It's interesting that your reseller groups it that way. You may be able to go to a different reseller and at least get them to take a couple steps back before they turn the information overload firehose on you.
When I taught those classes, what you listed was a combination of 2 days "Adv Part" (really an Intro to Mid-Level Modeling if you ask me), and 2 days "Adv Assy". The Adv Assy was my favorite class. It does have some good information in it. They usually skip the mold creation for two reasons: 1) it is not NEARLY detailed enough to be of benefit to anyone who might use it 2) most users are simply not interested.
Actually, other than the new self-paced books, there isn't any mention at all about how to set up Toolbox in the training materials.

If they had a class like that, users would be teaching it, not resellers.
One of the things I'm doing in the course of my consultant work is offering specialty and custom training. One of the pre-written courses I teach is a "Swoopy Shapes" class. This is two days of splines, surfacing, complex modeling layout and evaluation.

Thanks, I appreciate that. The check's in the mail.

Yeah, that kind of thing happens. I prefer to go in for two days and get a company off on the right foot rather than going back later to help them clean up a mess. Although I admit, troubleshooting is kind of fun.
Matt
personal site: http://mysite.verizon.net/mjlombard / consulting site: http://www.dezignstuff.com/ **still under construction**
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Martin,

Read the EULA that you had to agree to before the software would work. This type of agreement wouldn't stand a chance in any civil court if the product "wasn't" software. I guess software companies have one set of rules, and the rest of us,,,,,,
Good Idea though

and
squeezing
packages
Anyone
No,, not really. The data structures of these programs are not nearly as complex as SW, or any other similar system like Pro-E.
These are surface and polymesh modelers. You can create incredibly complex surfaces in Maya. You can even "group" individual surfaces into a quasi object, but they're still individual free standing surfaces. In SW you have several layers of interdependent mathematical relationships that have to resolve to a solution, even in a simple part. It's kind of like an open loop vs closed loop servo system. If you were to model in SW using no relations, dimensions, or constraints, you would have alot more stability. Of course, you wouldn't have any control of anything, and things wouldn't fit
A few years ago there was an article published in "Computer Aided Design Report" (Wolf Publications). The article was titled "Why Parametric Solid Modelers Crash". In it, they describe many of the reasons why this type of software is inherently unstable. I'm not defending SW, they could do a much better job. To some extent though, it's the nature of the beast.

placing
If you lower the achievable performance to the lowest common denominator, you'll end up with something no one will be happy with. If your making a living designing things with a modern CAD system, you should be able to afford a capable machine. There are lots of hardware configurations that run SW very reliably and fast. There are also others that can be problematic, Dell comes to mind, so do many laptops. Unfortunately SW Var's tend to tell customers it will run on anything, this just isn't true. Pro-E, UG, and Catia are also picky about hardware.

away.
with
issues
Ahh,, but you can't cut your hand off with a software program. The risks and liabilities are completly different, even if the wasted time and money isn't.
Hey, maybe we should try suing a few Var's !!! That might work.
P.S. A "slow" CNC mill might be OK for a sensible novice. The newer machines are so fast you can't push the red button fast enough to do any good. Even a slow CNC lathe can be scary if it makes an unexpected move, especially if it has a three jaw chuck on it.
Regards
Mark
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Mark Mossberg wrote:

I'm seriously considering buying one of these http://www.datrondynamics.com/velociraptor.htm sometime this year. It looks like it can chew through metal at a pretty nice clip.
-Martin
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Martin,
Looks interesting, but way too expensive for what it appears to be. Unless of course it's extremely fast, and accurate. The posted numbers don't seem to be anything out of the ordinary, but the polymer concrete base and 60K spindle seem to indicate otherwise. This type of machine doesn't really qualify as a general purpose "do everything" type of tool. Looks to be more suited to fast light work with teensy endmills. Probably be pretty good at small core/cavity finishing, or EDM electrodes. Those high speed spindles are also high maintenance. You need to consider replacement cost, (probably about 8 to 10K a pop), as part of the operating costs.
For that kind of money you can get a real machine with a Siemens 840D high speed control and servo system.
What do you plan to do with it
Regards
Mark

Even
if
looks
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Good feedback, thanks.
My problem is that I need a large XY working area. Possibly up to about 35 x 24 inches or so. It would be rare to cut anything significantly thicker than 1/4 inch 6061 Aluminum. The current part is about 16 x 32. It's a bezel for a special-purpose LCD display. One large rectangular cutout in the center. Beveled and chamfered edges. holes for mounting studs. Some pocketing for optics. That's about it.
I think the problem with "real" machines (which I will probably get eventually for other work) is that, in order to get this work envelope the machine becomes the size of a small truck. These mini-gantry type machines are space efficient and are certainly fast enough for our purposes. We are not talking about thousands of pieces a month here.
Part of the advantage of having your own machine is that you can add complexity to the design and not take a big hit in terms of fabrication cost.
But...you are not supposed to manufacture anything in the US any more right? What the hell am I thinking!
-Martin
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