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.


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"Martin" wrote in news:n00ge.824$3% snipped-for-privacy@newssvr13.news.prodigy.com:

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!


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Reply to

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.


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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"TOP" wrote in news: snipped-for-privacy@o13g2000cwo.googlegroups.com:

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.


Reply to

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.


Reply to
Wayne Tiffany


I wouldn't consider myself a disgruntled user. I would say that I am elated at times, disappointed some of the time and downright confused for the balance.

The first happens when it all works well. This required a tremendous effort --and lots of great support from this NG-- to figure out where the guardrails were. After thrashing around trying to fight it and realizing that "resistance was futile" it all became easier. I won't repeat myself here. See my "Update" post from a few weeks back regarding my rules-of-engagement when approaching SW now.

When it works, it's a thing of beauty.

The dissapointement is caused by both support issues and the realization that some of the most fundamental reasons for wanting to use SW have been invalidated due to the instability they introduce. The two key items for me are: external references and the whole toolbox mess.

External references: I just don't use them any more. This means that moving a screw here better be followed by moving the hole there. Fine, I can handle this. I wish the software could be trusted to not self-destruct when you attempt to use them.

Toolbox: I just want to be able to move my designs from desktop to notebook for the purpose of having meetings with vendors. Another scenario is emailing a design to the vendor, who's also a SW user. I don't know of any reliable way to do this other than through a lot of manual labor. The requirement is simple: A single zip file, devoid of any external references that would obviously break when moving to another drive/machine/user. It would help if they had a "copy and replace external references" function somewhere. Now I have to do it by hand.

Lastly, confusion is the philosophical state that sets in after trying to understand why they've done some things the way they have.

Here's an example. I am running SW on a machine with a large 1920 x 1200 pixel display. Their decision to get cute with GUI design means that, the feature manager wastes a tremendous amount of screen real estate to draw cute little rounded rectangles and things around feature parameters. If I grab the divider and make the feature manager wider (I have a little room to spare), the fields don't grow, you keep the same crippled-but-cute view. This, for me, is particularly annoying if editing such things as mates in an assembly. You can't see anyting in the list of mates, just the first twenty characters or so. That part of the tool needs to be more functional and less cute. The example that comes to mind is AutoCAD's display of object properties. Simple "standard" controls that use as much of the window as possible.

Another annoyance and source of confusion is the inconsistencies from tool to tool. For example, in some cases theres a button to the left of the field to flip or toggle a mode. In other cases that button does nothing and there's a checkbox under the field to toggle it.

Anyhow, I'll see if I can go. I want to be constructive about it, of course. The goal is to have a reliable tool that can enhace productivity. As a new user I have no way of knowing if these sorts of presentations are more fluff than substance, that's why I asked.

I'll probably take the advanced SW class over the next few months. I already took the basic class (at the time of purchase) but, frankly, this NG was a lot more useful. I wonder if I'll find the advanced class to be worth not working for a week.


Reply to


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.

Reply to

"TOP" wrote in news:1115752084.057508.271540 @o13g2000cwo.googlegroups.com:

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 > Toolbox: I just want to be able to move my designs from desktop to

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!

Reply to

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.




IO=Insufficient Operator

Reply to
Sean-Michael Adams

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?


Just a flat plate with a 4-40 screw (from Toolbox) through it.

D:\Widget\Assy1.SLDASM D:\Widget\Part1.SLDPRT


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.


Reply to

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,


"Martin" wrote in news:r9bge.1256$ snipped-for-privacy@newssvr21.news.prodigy.com:

Reply to


That is exactly right. But I think I mentioned the Fishbone diagram. I'll have to post the one I made for the problems we were having because we haven't started to do the fixes that we can do yet. One thing about it is that is is fair and complete. See this link:

formatting link
Matt, if you build one of these things on a customer visit using the customer's and your input you will look like a genius (not to say that you aren't close now).

Anyway, you list all possible causes of a problem and this thing gets them all in front of you in a comprehensible way. Sometimes it will be user, sometimes software, sometimes the system and sometimes hardware. No more pet peeves.

But would SW point that out to you?



control of

Just the screen capture is worth the admission. A lot of the stuff is human readable. They took the log file method several steps forward. The other thing about Rx is that it does point out some of the more common hardware and software issues up front.

I don't think SW visits will put you out of business. Invariably SW interaction on that level tends towards user feedback and not practical solutions. Even on the Three Amigos visit we were pelted with questions about what do you think about this and that at one point. If I was SW I would put someone MicroSoft certified on every team and also someone with experience congruent with the businesses they visit and let the VAR's salesman tag along to do the people stuff. My goal would be to give the customer something that would pay for the visit in a week or a month.

technique and

And you have to ask yourself why "easy to use" software has to have some things so obfuscated that people think they have to do things this way. And maybe it's time to break off this thread and deal with his problem.

reason. If



Every call to tech support involves a customer losing money whether a stupid question or an SPR. If the same guy calls with uninformed questions for weeks on end then get the guy into training. And give the new users plenty of slack.

I think most people want to do it right but sometimes feel threatened by the way things are presented.

Reply to

Jon...it's getting pretty old dude. I'm one step from adding you to a delete filter.


Reply to

What's the name of that steakhouse? I'm looking for a good place to take the wife for her birthday.

Reply to

Hi Martin,

I will be obliged if you tell me how to set the delete filter for this dude...


Mart> Jon...it's getting pretty old dude. I'm one step from adding you to a


Reply to

Yeah, I'd be interested in seeing that technique.

They might, but not likely, I guess.

A lot of sales types try to avoid giving something of value for free, unless they need the goodwill for their next big sale. Many times when SW direct comes to see resellers customers there's some political wrangling that goes on.

Well, I think I dealt with his problem, although he probably doesn't like my answer. I've got this knee-jerk reaction when new users come in with six-guns a-blazin. Unfortunately there's a bit more to knowing what you're doing than just having a lot of confidence in your deductive skills.

I think the basic functions are still pretty intuitive, but there's so much more depth to the software with every new release. It's difficult for one person to know every function in the software.

Reply to

See my direct reply to your "solution".

I've been posting here since November of '04. I don't use my full signature all the time 'cause I'm tired of the ever increasing spam.

I've paid my dues and labored over this software enough to have the right to come out "guns a blazing" whether you agree with this or not is of no consequence at all.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Martin Euredjian

To send private email:

0_0_0_0 snipped-for-privacy@pacbell.net where "0_0_0_0_" = "martineu"
Reply to

No problem. I just set mine. I'm sick of him. I added Cliff to the filter as well. What the hell.

No more what's-his-name-VX-guy for me! And no more Beavis-and-Butthead routines either! :-)

The following assumes you are using Outlook Express as your news reader. Pretty much all readers have similar tools. I'm not sure about reading through a Google, Yahoo or similar account.

Two ways to do it: rules or blocked senders.

Blocked Sender is the easiest:

Double click on a message from a sender you wish to block. This will open the message. Got to the "Message" menu. Click on "Block sender..."

That's it, messages from that sender will not be downloaded any more.

If you made a mistake and blocked the wrong person:

In the main Outlook Express window, open the Tools menu. Click on "Message Rules..." Click on "Blocked senders list..." You can then remove someone from the block list.

You can also block email as well as news messages from this person.

The "rules" approach is a little different.

In the main Outlook Express window, open the Tools menu. Click on "Message Rules..." Click on "News..." Click the "New" button Choose "Where the From line contains people" In section 3 click on the underlined "contains people" Type the email address in question and add it. Click OK. In section 2 choose "Delete it"

There you go, save the rule and never see this guy on your screen again.

You can even use "Apply Now" to run the filter immediately and delete all instances of messages by the blocked sender.

Let the celebrations begin.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Martin Euredjian

To send private email:

0_0_0_0 snipped-for-privacy@pacbell.net where "0_0_0_0_" = "martineu"
Reply to

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

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Hi Martin,

One thing that comes to mind from reading your post is how actually short a year is. If you folks to have been using solidworks for a year, that is a pretty short time in cad-years, nothing at all taken away from your skills or abilities.

I think that it is so common to see people using this software successfully and it seems like a breeze. I have suffered from this syndrome in past lives. I spent many years as a toolmaker and then became a tool designer - a very nice combination. I knew what I needed, why I needed it and how to document it with the cad system. I worked years to get skills in autocad (I started in 1990 and still use it based on the given activity) and learned to design tools, fixtures and so on, whatever I could get my hands on. I took on solidworks in

98 or so and spend hundreds if not thousands of hours developing a proficiency at that.

People were often "amazed" at what I could do with cad and design and blah blah blah . . . . (yes I do love myself) . . .

What I finally realized is that this stuff is actually very hard to manage, make behave and get good output with - some folks are great tube jockeys but have not a clue about good design, many people have design skills and can't document it in any cad system to save their lives. What the people were seeing was the output of about 10,000+ hours of career experience in given disciplines, bringing it all together, and yes, we did make it look easy. What the beginner did not have was the 10,000+ hours of anguish, learning and second-gussing of what they had to do in anticipation of the outcome. I even inherited a few really "smart people" in my design group that "should be able to become tool deisgners in a few months, with your training". The boss was only seeing the output of the 10K hours and he was used to seeing what we did as simple, because from his perspective it was (that was our job after all).

I agree with the general tenor of your message. When real work is going on, the last thing one needs in the middle of the road is the "buggy software" boulder. The activity is about what you can create (what you can deliver or ship) not all the trouble you go through getting there - nobody cares about that, nor will they pay you for it. I do think that too often SolidWorks is touted as "easy to use" and generally it is, especially if you already know how to use it (grin), kind of like unix.

In general I was just pondering how short a time, in cad-years a year was. Keep plugging. I will likely get better - and no this software is not perfect, but it is a good tool when used knowledgeably - the trick is getting that piece of the puzzle, which can only be gotten thru time (the foresight you mentioned).

I like your crystal ball statement - I need one of these for myself.



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Sean-Michael Adams

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