(I have been working on this for several days to make it calm, clear, and cogent. I apologize for its length. )
The Top Ten List (TTL) is very popular every year because with it we have a much easier opportunity to share and discuss ideas for improving SolidWorks than through the Enhancement Request (ER) system. The ideas have always involved things to improve our use of SolidWorks.
Not only does the TTL contain great ideas, but the ensuing discussion helps to refine those ideas, which is far superior to the brief description typical of Enhancement Requests. The SWX developers must really look forward to these discussion in the TTL! This forum is a very helpful place and the TTL is a microcosm of that. Often a person will submit an idea to the TTL for some new ability to make our use of SWX better. Unsurprisingly, very often someone else has also experienced that same need and has developed a way to achieve it. These work-arounds are just one form of gold in the TTL and why it should remain available to us, even if only for passive searching.
For years we have been asking that the TTL be left up after voting ends so we can still search it for the gold it contains. I have heard some reasons why SWX Corporate takes down the TTL each year, but as far as I’m concerned, they just don’t hold water. In the last couple of years we have had benefited from some clever work by some forumites to retain the gold of the TTL in some form or another. Kevin Chandler and Rob Edwards, in particular, did a nice job last year to scrape the TTL and make the ideas and their discussions available to the forum, despite the official TTL site being taken down as soon as voting was closed. Again this year there are already efforts to collect the ideas and discussions before the TTL is taken down. This poses a question for SWX Corporate: If it is so important to take down the TTL each year then why is this post from last year allowed to stay?: TOP 10 Archive
So, what are things that can make our use of SWX better? New functionality – yes. Better stability/fewer bugs – YES! Better interoperability with other versions of SWX and other CAD systems – yes. Better problem capture and reporting – yes. Better license transfer/activation – yes.
And what are our expectations of the software and the company?
We expect that the software gets better with every release and service pack (SP). We understand that unforeseen problems occur with new functionality and that is why some folks wait until SP 2.0 or later to move to the latest version of the software. HOWEVER, we never expect a new version or SP to break something that used to work. In other words, we expect asymptotic improvement of the software, that any feature/ability only gets better with subsequent releases. It is then completely understandable that we will get upset when something that had been working no longer works with a new release or SP. Software developers should practice the Hippocratic Oath – First, do no harm!
We expect that the terms that influenced us to buy the software remain in place throughout our ownership: Draftsight is free with your purchase of SWX, you have free access to a Home Use License (HUL), etc. These promises have been reneged on!
We expect that our loyalty will be rewarded with excellent service and prices. Arguably, this too has been reneged on.
SWX grew rapidly because it was intuitive and easy to use, a good value, and that the users had a lot of input and that input was highly valued. We expect this to continue. But the very point of this thread is that it does not seem like we are being valued and listened to anymore, i.e., the dreadful TTL this year, the feeling of core SWX being pushed out of World, and the apparent push from DSS into areas that we aren’t interested in. We have a job to do and we are using SWX as a tool for that job. Anything that does not help us to get our jobs done better is an unwelcome distraction!
We expect that the Top Ten List is a place to welcome ANY idea to improve our use of SolidWorks. This is a most reasonable expectation. That means that ALL ideas presented should be allowed to proceed without filtering/editing by some corporate gods of the TTL. Historically we could submit an idea on anything, whether it be about changing VARS, subscription policy, backwards compatibility, stability, features, or anything else. The voice of the voters would tell you (SWC Corporate) a lot about these ideas. You should be thrilled to death to get such fantastic feedback!! However, already this year we are seeing ideas being submitted, but not being tagged by a TTL administrator, and therefore they are being prevented from being included in the voting. What are you afraid of? THIS IS SOMETHING YOU CAN FIX RIGHT NOW! You do not have to wait for an overhaul of the platform, you just need to have an administrator quickly apply a tag to any submitted idea. ANY submitted idea. PERIOD!
Let me support this last point with evidence from last year’s TTL. Rob’s thread, TOP 10 Archive, was posted on January 17, 2019. He and Kevin Chandler developed a technique to scrape the TTL and put the ideas and their discussion into individual pdfs. (Dan Herzberg has been keeping a running list of the final Top Ten Lists for quite some time now. You can see his collection of the previous year’s TTL results here: SolidWorks World Top Ten List Data – Dan Herzberg)
Rob’s scrape happened a day or so before the voting closed so the vote counts in the pdfs were not the final tallies. At the time of the scrape the top fourteen ideas were:
Notice this order is different from the final top ten. Understandably there were additional votes cast after Rob grabbed the data, which changed the final order.
According to Rob’s data there were 709 unique ideas submitted with the following vote counts:
The top vote count was 113. Only 20.6% of the ideas got 20 or more votes. There were many ideas that had 0-1 votes.
Obviously, the voting sorted things out very clearly to tell SWX Corporate what we most want, whether it is technically achievable or not. Mission accomplished!
Last year, and in previous years, any idea submitted was allowed to go all the way to voting, with the only exceptions being for ideas that were for existing functionality. The authors of those ideas were informed their idea was already implemented, and their ideas were marked thus and not eligible for voting. In only a very few cases were idea titles changed to be better descriptors; otherwise, all ideas submitted went to the voters.
Ideas 1, 4, 6, and 10 relate directly to new features/capabilities of SWX. Idea 3 relates to an improved form of problem description/help. Ideas 2, 5, 8, and 9 relate more to speed of use and not so much to new features.
Notice that ideas 7 and 11 have nothing to do with new features, speed, or even ease of use, but rather relate to our access to good information (7) and stable version of the software (11). Idea 14, Allow Zero Thickness Geometry (ZTG) has been asked for on many TTL’s, however, ZTG is not physically possible to achieve with the Parasolid modeling kernel SWX uses. Despite good people from SWX communicating this fact to the forum, and particularly to the idea authors, the idea was allowed to remain and be voted on. It always gets a lot of votes and has even been in the final ten.
The fact that these three ideas were among the highest vote totals in last year’s TTL (all three in the top 2%) is an indication that they are important to us. We spoke with our votes to tell SWX Corporate what is important. It seems the purpose of the TTL has been fulfilled! Well, at least it was last year.
Ah, but this year is different! The TTL is on a new *improved* platform. Yay! But there is another change that might not be readily apparent to most of the visitors to this year’s TTL; the ideas are effectively being censored! In order for an idea to move forward and be considered for voting it must be “tagged” by a TTL administrator. Initially I was told this was being done so that there would be a better tagging of ideas than by letting folks create their own. The many variants of tags we users generated in previous TTL’s resulted in dilution instead of organization. So leaving the keyword tagging to administrators is understandable, and I appreciate it. HOWEVER, every single idea should be eligible to be voted on (unless it is for existing functionality). The Top Ten List is a place for us users to tell SWX Corporate what will make our use of SolidWorks better. So why would corporate not want to hear our priority for some of these ideas?
I just went to the current TTL looking for the ideas that have yet to be tagged by clicking on this funky funnel thing:
Scrolling through these ideas there are a bunch that have been submitted in the last 24 hours and have not yet been tagged by the TTL administrators, and that is understandable. They’ll get to it. However, I count four ideas that were submitted over two weeks ago. Why have they not been tagged? They are not disqualified for suggesting existing functionality, therefore these ideas should not be censored. What is SWX Corporate afraid of? Are you afraid these ideas could “sneak” into the final top ten of votes and therefore get some extra attention when the TTL is revealed at 3DEXPERIENCE WORLD?
Now I am directly addressing SWX Corporate and TTL Administrators, (specifically,Marlon Banta, Alexandra MILLER, Tom Siemaszko) you have a chance to make a running change that does not require any new coding or web layout. Simply tag (approve) ALL ideas unless they are for existing functionality.