While this could end up taking away the thunder of my impending review, Adobe announced that they are offering a free sneak preview of Acrobat 3D. Just go to http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/acrobat3d_version8/ to check it out!
I have to tell you, after what I saw last night, the improved communication of your design intent to your suppliers/customers should easily justify the cost. It goes beyond that, though. This holds true whether you’re using SolidWorks, CATIA, Pro/E or, almost, any other CAD program. I don’t want to go into details right now, though. I’m going to save that for later. Just know this, it’s awesome!
Ok, so I just got off of a 90 minute conference call/web demo for Acrobat 3D version 8…damn! I have the beta version loaded up and I can’t wait to start messing around with it some more…I can’t wait to show my VP of Sales/Marketing this one part…I have to say, this is some of the coolest sh…stuff that I’ve seen in a while. The things that you’ll be able to do with this product, with regards to cross-functional CAD interface, communicating with vendors, etc. will blow you away! Stay tuned my loyal reader and, hey, do me a favor and tell a couple of your friends about this blog. I’d love to get my readership into double digits…
**Note to the engineers at Adobe: You had better get that missing functionality working for SolidWorks quickly (i.e. PMI) There’s a lot more of us SolidWorks users than there is of you…"
SolidMap My Thoughts
For me, this review was a little daunting. After Matt Lombard’s review from a few weeks ago, I had all but decided to not do it. I mean, c’mon, Matt is the author of the SolidWorks Bible! The guy is nothing short of brilliant. His review was well thought out, thorough and well written. How could I, a mere hack, even consider writing another review; one that could possibly offer a differing view? Well, after careful consideration, I decided that I would. Ok, maybe “careful consideration” isn’t quite what occurred, but I’m pretty sure a few brain cells were involved in the decision. So, without further procrastination, here are my thoughts on SolidMap:
For the most part, I liked SolidMap. Is it easy to use? Yes, for the most part. A little time with the help files will get you going. There is also a video on SolidMap’s website. Does it do what it’s supposed to? Yes. I can definitely see how helpful it would be, especially when you inherit someone else’s files. If you’re in a part file, you can see how various features are interconnected. This allows you to know ahead of time what you’re going to screw up if you change a particular feature. (I can’t tell you how many times I wish I’d had that sort of insight.) You can see the parent/child relationships at varying depths. In this first shot, you can see the first level relationships:
In this shot, you’re two levels deep:
Now three levels:
You can also see what assemblies the part is used in. This can obviously be helpful if yourre planning on making a change to the part.
When dealing with assemblies, you can view file relationships, mate relationships and external references. This, like the part views above, are shown graphically.
I see a drawback though. As you can see, the screen can get pretty crowded and small. Irm running dual 21″ monitors set at 1600×1200. Were I to only have one monitor, it would be even more crowded and hard to read as the SolidMap screen would be on top of the SolidWorks screen. I, honestly, am not sure how to overcome this though. That’s something that is definitely beyond my brain’s ability. (Prior to posting, I heard from Dan Schmidt of SolidMap and they are actively working on a “compact mode” to address this very issue.)
Is it worth the money? For me the answer is no. But that pertains strictly to my duties at my full-time job. I used SolidMap’s ROI calculator and determined that it would take almost 2 years for SolidMap to pay for itself. Again, that pertains strictly to my job. Now, if my duties were different, perhaps doing more redesign, then the ROI numbers change significantly and can easily justify, money-wise, the purchase. I guess I’m kind of torn here, which is unusual for me. I tend to see things in black or white, with no gray area. SolidMap has a good product that has the potential to be great. Where it was just released in February, it has some time to mature. I’d recommend trying it out as they offer a free 30-day trial. Just go to their website and download it. Use it for a while and then let them know your thoughts on it. From what I can tell, they are very customer driven and love feedback. I, for one, will be monitoring their progress.
But it’s really not my fault. Work has just been crazy and little league started (I’m coaching two teams) and I just haven’t had time to review anything lately. I’m going to fix that, though. I have the latest and greatest version of SolidMap loaded up and will have that review for you next week. I also have a conference call scheduled for Wednesday with the folks at Adobe and will be getting Acrobat 3D to try out in the next couple of days. You can expect that review late next week/beginning of the following week.
I thank you one and all for your patience. I’m am going to make every effort to be more diligent in getting reviews out to you all more quickly. Don’t delete my feed yet, ok?