Configuration Abuse

Posted on September 28th, 2012. Posted In Rant,SolidWorks Community

This has been a dark secret that now needs to be brought to the forefront. We’ve all seen it, many of us have dabbled in it, some still do it. Configuration abuse. There, I said it. I know it’s not pretty and something some would rather not discuss, but I just can’t stand by idly without at least trying to help to eradicate this blight upon the CAD landscape.

The following picture is not for the faint of heart.

 Your eyes aren’t playing tricks. I couldn’t actually get the whole string to fit. Each of those numbers is a part number, each of which is a configuration within the part. This isn’t just at the part level either, it’s at the assembly level as well but, thankfully, it’s usually no more than 3 configurations. I can’t even tell you how thoroughly confused I was when I first saw these files. After the confusion came the pain as I banged my head off my desk.

I get configurations, I use them. I don’t abuse them, and that’s clearly what went on here. (I’m avoiding the whole part naming thing because, well, I just don’t know what to say to it other than WTH?) I really have no idea what the thought process was to dump all of these parts into one file and to then use all of them to name it. I’m usually not at a loss for words…

Look, use configurations wisely. If you use different lengths of 2×2 where it’s tabulated (partnumber-length), use configurations all day long. Screws? Go for it. Need to show dimensional differences between machined and coated? Yes! But, please, moderate yourself. You need to moderate yourself. Configuration abuse needs to end.

SolidWorks 2013 – My take on it

Posted on September 23rd, 2012. Posted In Software Review,SolidWorks Community

Let’s get this out of the way right now, is this release going to blow your socks off? No, I don’t believe it will. There are, however, aspects of it that will definitely ruffle your skirt/kilt/bathrobe (*ahem*, Mr. Mings). Some of the stuff was just “eh”, but that’s to be expected as well. If everything was awe-inducing, the bar would be set way too high for future releases and SolidWorks Corp would burn through programmers and Product Managers far too quickly. Plus, things like stable releases shouldn’t be awe-inspiring, they should just be.

I spent a good portion of a day at SolidWorks, along with some of my fellow bloggers, being shown a bunch of what was new in SolidWorks 2013. It was, for all intents and purposes, a rollout. We’re just able to be more boisterous with the presenters. When I got back to Seattle, I got 2013 loaded up onto my laptop and started messing around with it. (Yes, I know, I was late to the party.) I’ve been digging into it and am impressed with how quickly it loads up on my tired Dell M4300. While it never crossed my mind to do an actual test, I’d say it’s a good 10-15 seconds quicker than 2012. I haven’t really noticed anything different graphically or speed-wise, aside from the initial loading. Again, bear in mind that I’m using a beat up 4-year old laptop. 32-gigs, at that.

That all being said, you’re going to have to wait until my thoughts are published by Devlop3d. I have to say that I was quite flattered when Al asked me if I’d be interested in collaborating with him on a SolidWorks 2013 review. I’m guessing it was because we’d been at the bar drinking for a couple of hours, but that’s his problem. I, on the other hand, get to enjoy my 30 seconds of fame as a “writer” for Develop3d. Yay, me!

With my crap-tastic memory I can’t remember when I first met Matt, but I do know it was out on the internet. Matt’s been an active member of the SolidWorks community for years contributing in the various fora out there and through his blog, SolidWorks Legion.

Matt was a very driven teenager, unlike many of today’s youth. This drive had him graduating high school at 16 with his career path already figured out. He went to a Silicon Valley trade school, on a full scholarship, to learn Mechanical Drafting. By the time he was 18, he’d graduated and was a Document Control Clerk. For some reason, I’m picturing him in plaid high-waters, short-sleeved button-down shirt and black-framed glasses…

As time progressed, he drafted less and designed more. From there it became more engineering than design. Eventually, someone pinned the title ‘Engineer’ to him and it stuck. Like me, he didn’t relish the title but couldn’t shake it off either. C’est la vie.

As Matt’s career continued to grow, he began participating in the SolidWorks community. Initially he was looking for tips and tricks, macro and anything else that could help him streamline his designs. As has happened to others, he was inexplicably  driven to start a SolidWorks based website, which then morphed into his blog. Matt has remained a fixture in the SolidWorks community since then. He’s also had the opportunity to attend SolidWorks World as a customer, a presenter, a member of the press and as an employee. He’s pretty much covered all the bases.

These days find Matt on the other side of the design plate, designing the design software. Frankly, I think that is friggin’ cool, especially where Matt is a long time user of SolidWorks. It gives him a unique perspective on things and which will translate into some new or improved functionality in drawings. If you’ve seen any of the drawing improvements in 2013, you can thank Matt for them.

Outside of work, Matt is still exploring his new digs on the east coast. That’s all I could get out of him, though it could be all that he does…


Picture stolen from Charles Culp via the SolidWorks Forums.




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