While I’ve been using SolidWorks for what seems like forever, I’ve never really messed with Composer until this year. I remember seeing it at a SolidWorks World many years ago (6? 7?), and thinking how cool it would be to have for tech pubs manuals, but that was as far as it went.

Part of my role here outside of design work, traveling and being the grill master when we have a company cookout, is tech pubs and supporting sales with pretty pictures. Enter Composer. Having never really used it, and wanting to get a leg up, I went to training at my VAR. While I won’t go into details, it was one of the most over-priced things ever. Seriously. Paying $1000 to have someone read out of a manual for two days is ridiculous. Hell, it wasn’t even the official SolidWorks manual (though we did each get a copy), they’d created their own manual that had about 1/8 the info. Such a rip-off. So much for not going into details…

Back to Composer.

After my training, it was a few months before I got around to my first Composer project. However, it didn’t take long to get back up to speed and create an assembly manual for one of our custom suspended platforms. Two of the things I like are the ability to have the pertinent info from the overall BOM on the page, and the detail view tools.

Platform IIPlatform


While creating a manual was a nice experience, sales then asked for a video showing how easily our platforms go together. “Sure, no problem!”, was my response. This took a bit more doing. I storyboarded the video first, to make sure I captured all the steps. Then I had to figure out how to create a video in Composer. While too big to show the whole video, here’s a clip:


Granted, it’s not as slick as some marketing videos but it’s not too bad for a novice, right? My whole point is this: as with so much else with SolidWorks, Composer is easy to use. Easy enough for someone like me to figure out with minimal help and some over-priced training.

    CadMouse – The Review

    Posted on May 26th, 2015. Posted In Hardware Review


    I’m going to fess up here: I’ve been putting off writing this review. Why? Because 3DConnexion is a favorite company of mine and I have to write some not-so-nice things about their latest offering, the CadMouse.

    I’ve been using their 3D mice for years, to the point where I feel slower when there isn’t one in my left hand. One might say I have a bit of a crush on their products, except for the CadMouse. Maybe it’s because I’m so used to using my scroll wheel that having an actual 3rd button isn’t all that exciting. Maybe it’s because the cord annoys me. Maybe it’s because I don’t find the positioning of the zoom buttons very ergonomic. Maybe it’s all of the above.

    Honestly, I just don’t see the value in this latest offering from 3DConnexion. Sure it looks nice, once you get past the fact that it has a cord, but that’s about all that’s good about it. Well, actually, the scroll feature is pretty cool as well. Rather than being your run of the mill scroll wheel, it is a “Smart Scroll Wheel”. It’ll sense when you’re scrolling deep into a web page or spreadsheet or never-ending word document, and automatically scroll for you. You won’t have to keep spinning that wheel, which is a very nice feature.

    There’s the zoom buttons on the side, which aren’t overly ergonomic if you have a short thumb. There’s also a gesture/radial menu button located just behind the scroll wheel. This will open an onscreen, context sensitive menu that you just run your cursor through to activate a command. This feature is one that I continually forget is there. I suspect that it’s just because my workflow has never been the onscreen menus. Just a case of not being able to teach an old dog new tricks, perhaps.

    Man, this review really is depressing, but I’m just being honest. Outside of the scroll wheel, nothing about the CadMouse impresses me enough to say that I’d spend US$99 on it. Sorry, 3DConnexion, but this one missed the mark in my opinion.

      Well, this is a first for me. This post was authored by Tony Glockler of SolidProfessor. I agreed to a guest post because what he wrote aligns with how I feel when it comes to classroom learning and, I’ve been a bit too busy to write anything in the past few weeks. I hope you enjoy!

      How were you taught growing up? If your education was like mine, you sat in a classroom with other students (and maybe a class clown or two) being taught by an instructor. And what did you learn? Likely, your education focused on the three “R”s: Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic. Most of what you learned in these classes probably wasn’t very different from what your parents learned, or their parents before them. These are topics that do evolve over time, but slowly, over generations. […Read More…]

        SolidProfessor – Catching Up

        Posted on March 12th, 2015. Posted In Interview,SolidWorks Community


        At SolidWorks World 2015, I had the distinct pleasure to be able to sit down and talk with Tony Glockler, one of the founders of SolidProfessor to find out what was new with with them as all I’ve ever done in the past was test out their software. […Read More…]

          Onshape – A New Way to CAD

          Posted on March 9th, 2015. Posted In Interview

          Though it took a few tries between the two of us, I was able to talk with Jon Hirschtick over the weekend to find out what I could about his latest venture, Onshape. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve probably heard about it at least a little bit. For those of you who have been under a rock, here’s how Onshape describes Onshape:

          “Onshape is the first and only full-cloud 3D CAD system that lets everyone on a design team work together using any web browser, phone, or tablet.”

          While I’m still not 100% sold on cloud computing, I know that it is only going to get better as time goes on. Obviously, Jon and his team feel that the time is now. […Read More…]

            MCOR – Improving on a Good Thing

            Posted on March 2nd, 2015. Posted In Hardware Review

            Dateline – SOLIDWORKS World 2015, Phoenix, AZ.

            One of my goals at SOLIDWORKS World 2015 was to check out all the tech that was there, old and new. Mcor isn’t old tech per se, but it’s not quite new either.

            Started back in 2005 by the brothers MacCormack, Connor and Fintan, Mcor is currently the only 3D printer on the market that uses paper as its medium. The ultimate goal for Mcor is to bring 3D printing to all and to make 3D printing as easy as printing on paper, and they’re slowly making their way to that goal. […Read More…]

              SOLIDWORKS Certification – 2015 update

              Posted on February 16th, 2015. Posted In SolidWorks Community


              I realize that some people don’t care about the SOLIDWORKS certifications that are out there, some calling them money grabs and other such things. For users like me, however, they help to lend a little validation to our resumes. With that being said, let’s get a quick update on where the certification program is in 2015. […Read More…]

                SOLIDWORKS World 2015 – Wrap Up

                Posted on February 14th, 2015. Posted In SolidWorks Community

                This has been a rough conference. Not sure the cause, but I feel as though I haven’t slept since I got here and no, I haven’t been out partying. […Read More…]

                  SolidWorks World 2015 – Tuesday

                  Posted on February 11th, 2015. Posted In SolidWorks Community

                  Holy crap, what a day today was.

                  It started off as most days do; breakfast, then the long wait for them to decide to open the doors to the general session. Then comes the stampede as a large portion of the group speed walks/runs to get a good seat. The press corp isn’t immune to this, either. There are a few of us who yearn to be in the front, and will also hustle to satiate that yearning. […Read More…]

                    SOLIDWORKS World 2015 – Sunday

                    Posted on February 8th, 2015. Posted In SolidWorks Community

                    After missing last year’s SolidWorks World, I’m excited to be back with my peeps. It’s even more special because a lot of Super Bowl decorations are still up so it feels like I was at the big game. Well, maybe not so much, but it’s still cool to see the stuff.

                    As is the norm of a Sunday at SolidWorks World, not a whole lot goes on. Tons of people arriving, registering, getting the lay of the land. I’m still amazed by how many people show up, and how many show up year after year. It’s a beautiful think, man. I hate, though, that I’m sore terrible with names. It’s a bummer to have to try to surreptitiously look at someone’s badge to remember their name. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one that it happens to, right?

                    The partner pavilion is jammed with oohs and aahs again this year and I’m looking forward to checking it out in more depth in the coming days. I’ve already seen a few things I want to try out and I’m hoping to get my grubby hands on some demo models. There seems to be a fair amount of 3D printers this year, but with how that industry is exploding, it makes complete sense.

                    As has become the norm, Twitter will be exploding as the press, and attendees, share what’s being said during the general session. Watch for the #SWW15 tag and follow along with all the comments, snarky and complimentary. I, for one, am hoping that they’ve cut down on the time allotted for the partner commercials. They are always such a downer.

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