90 Replies Latest reply on Nov 23, 2009 3:39 AM by Chris Dolejska

    Examples of great UI

      I would like to solicit your opinions of great GUI (graphical User Interface) of programs that you've had exposure to, or even use on a regular basis. It doesn't have to be CAD but anything that you think does an exceptional job in presenting an extremely easy-to-use and well thought-out workflow. For instance, the iPhone, in my opinion, is a great example of this. Other programs that come to mind, again in my humble opinion, MOI (Moment of Inspiration), Alias Image Studio, Bryce3D, iMovie, etc just to name a few.
        • Examples of great UI
          Steve Calvert
          Mark, are you trying to get an idea for future SW releases or are you just fishing for ideas? :-)

          I have submitted one or two things before that I used in another CAD tool (UG) that I really love how it works and wish SW could do the same or similar thing. One of which I would consider a real time saver when it comes to entering data into some dialog boxes. When I link a value in SW I'd like to be able to use that text in the dialog box instead of first entering a number and then linking that value. Example. In plastics design you try to have the same wall thickness throughout the model. In UG I would first create a parameter called "wall". When I create a rib feature (not near the same as it now in SW, which I love) I would extrude it in two directions just like using "both directions" in SW. BUT, in the Rib Thickness dialog box I could enter "wall" or "wall/2" and UG would figure that out. This, IMHO, is good GUI. UG can also cretae them on the fly. If, for instance, I didn't think ahead, I could have entered (when the first extrusion came along to create the initail wall) "wall=.188" and it would been created for me.

          Now, that was UG and you are Solidworks and I don't believe that all CAD packages should be the same but there are certain things that could be done to speed up the process.

          Steve
            • Examples of great UI
              Mark Olsen
              As long as you've brought up the topic of input into dialog boxes,it'd be real nice if the calculation used (ie. wall/2) would beremembered. If you then needed to change the calculation (to say,wall*2), it would be much easier. For what I'd like to see, RMB,RMB, RMB and then more RMB. Moving the mouse any distance whatever,takes time. There is a lot missing from the smart menus. Forexample, why isn't 'Exit Sketch' always available? Have to hit theescape key first.
                • Examples of great UI
                  Steve Calvert
                  OK, I'll second Dwight's comments about Cadkey, since that was the second (only because I first learned anything CAD on Mac Draw) package I learned. I could fly through commands with my left hand using the function keys on the left. But I could never go back because my left hand has found a new home, my spaceball.

                  Steve
                • Examples of great UI
                  Elizabeth S
                  I completely agree with Steve about being able to enterformulas/links directly into the dimension box.  Inventor hadthis back at Inventor 7, and it was what I missed most when Ichanged to SW.
                  • Examples of great UI
                    Dwight Livingston
                    Steve

                    I agree with your 8/28/07 comment about setting up linked values. The SW method is very clicky-clicky, and for no reason. I would like to see it just as you describe.
                    • Examples of great UI
                      Alessandro Frattini

                      Steve Calvert wrote:

                       

                      Mark, are you trying to get an idea for future SW releases or are you just fishing for ideas? :-)



                      I have submitted one or two things before that I used in another CAD tool (UG) that I really love how it works and wish SW could do the same or similar thing. One of which I would consider a real time saver when it comes to entering data into some dialog boxes. When I link a value in SW I'd like to be able to use that text in the dialog box instead of first entering a number and then linking that value. Example. In plastics design you try to have the same wall thickness throughout the model. In UG I would first create a parameter called "wall". When I create a rib feature (not near the same as it now in SW, which I love) I would extrude it in two directions just like using "both directions" in SW. BUT, in the Rib Thickness dialog box I could enter "wall" or "wall/2" and UG would figure that out. This, IMHO, is good GUI. UG can also cretae them on the fly. If, for instance, I didn't think ahead, I could have entered (when the first extrusion came along to create the initail wall) "wall=.188" and it would been created for me.



                      Now, that was UG and you are Solidworks and I don't believe that all CAD packages should be the same but there are certain things that could be done to speed up the process.



                      Steve

                      I use NX and I'm agree with you.
                    • Examples of great UI
                      Eddie Cyganik
                      Hi Mark,
                      One of the coolest interfaces I ever used was on a CAD package called Bravo3 from Schlumberger (Applicon). I'm not positive if their interface has remained the same to this day but it was like:

                      Screen menus & icons, and the incorporation of a tablet as part of the UI. Basically, the way it worked was through Tablet Recognition Symbols (TRS).
                      There were predefined symbols like;
                      Z . (Capital Z & a Dot) = Zoom All
                      Z / (Capital Z & Slash) = Zoom Area of Slash
                      O (Capital O) = Open File
                      S (Capital S) = Save File
                      S . (Capital S & a Dot) = Save All Files
                      C (Capital C) = Close File
                      C . (Capital C & a Dot) = Close All Files

                      You get the idea. You could customize the system by defining your own TRS using 1, 2 or 3 characters, so the possibilities were endless. You bassically had access to any and all commands, you were not limited like you are in SolidWorks.

                      As a matter of fact, there was a script that you went through when setting-up the system that allowed customization of just about every aspect of the software; from setting defaults, limiting or adding choices, to eliminating some options altogether.

                      Very nice, very powerful and customizable to suit Any & All companies needs.

                        • Examples of great UI
                          Devon Sowell
                          Great question.

                          I'm stuck using Windows and all Windows applications. None of these have an outstanding UI.

                          To me, the answer is any and all things Apple, a few mentioned by Mark. Which brings this observation;

                          SolidWorks was created as a mid-level CAD application that was Windows compliant. 10 years later, many CAD users are tired of the Windows UI and all the Windows O.S. baggage. Now what?

                          Thanks.
                        • Examples of great UI
                          Matt Lombard
                          Mark,

                          Great question, although your timing is about a release cycle late. I'll go out on a limb and guess that no one is going to respond that Office 07 has a great interface. You guys have probably heard enough of that, though, so I'll let it rest.

                          There are aspects of different things that I like a lot. I like the interface configurability of the Avant browser, where you can turn on or off the various parts of the interface and drag things to different locations. You can turn on or off popup toolbars and many other things like that.

                          I like the simplicity of MoI, as you mentioned, but SW is not simple, and I don't think the same concept will work for SW. One thing I didn't like about MoI is the transparent view toolbar in the middle bottom of the graphics display. There was plenty of room in the toolbar area to the right for that stuff without taking up space in the graphics window.

                          I like the flyout toolbars in Rhino, which I think SW finally got the same formula in the later betas. I also like the Command Line in Rhino, which enables you to input data and gives you feedback. This could be implemented in SW by redoing the PropertyManager to give feedback and ask for input in one area of the screen which can be undocked and moved around and most importantly doesn't block access to the FeatureManager.

                          I would like the interface to get away from the use of a mouse, and enable a touch screen like the stuff shown in the MS Surface, or even with the use of a stylus and digitizer for both command and graphical input. It is hard to draw with a mouse, which uses your whole forearm instead of a pencil, which uses mainly your fingers and wrist.

                          There are things about the SW interface that I really like, such as the ability to have different toolbar settings for the different doc types. I liked the SW07 CommandManager, and thought that one way to improve it would be to enable multiple CommandManagers to organize different types of buttons such as features on one CM and tools on another CM. Of course allowing other toolbars in addition to the CM in a single row would be important, and the CM has to be dockable either horizontally or vertically, and have the ability to use either large or small icons (in 08, when you click the button to use Large Icons With Text, you get small icons with text - some beta engineer explained to me why he thought this made sense!?!)

                          I like the functionality in SW where the OK button is on the RMB. I think you should make much more use of this. It is the one interface change you guys have made that actually does speed up my work a lot. Simple, clean, it works. Now and then it does get in the way of a right click, but I try to be aware of that and shake the mouse first if I want to right click.

                          I wish SW made more consistent use of the ESC button. Sometimes you can use it, other times it just beeps at you. It should always dismiss an error or warning message. Also, the use of Enter usually accepts a feature like using the green check, but in Fit Spline, it acts like ESC should, cancelling as if using the red X. In fact, I would like to take that one step further and say that I'd like the interface to make more use of the keyboard. I'm faster on the keyboard than I am with a mouse.

                          Some propertymanagers which use mainly numbers enable you to type a number and hit Enter once to see a preview, and twice to accept the feature. The Fillet command makes you reselect the radius value every time you want to enter a new value. This is really annoying. Also, what about the Full Radius Fillet not enabling Tab to switch between selection boxes? Simple details like this are often what are most annoying about SolidWorks, and what really make other applications stand out. It is refreshing to get an application that works predictably and consistantly.

                          The main thing with an interface, in my opinion, is that the default installation should be conservative and as universally recognizable as possible, with many options. Everyone uses the interface differently, so options and flexibility should be the main goal. No matter how crazy you get, you still have to allow for something that looks and works like generic old SolidWorks. The reaction to the 08 interface wouldn't have been nearly so bad if the things you added were options instead of defaults. The flexibility is so important mainly because you will never find two people who agree 100% on what the interface should look like. When you are trying to please hundreds of thousands of opinions, the only thing you can really do is create a baseline and offer options.

                          I like the ability to collapse and expand the FeatureManager and Task Panes. One thing that I have been waiting for is to separate the PropertyMgr from the FeatureMgr because it wrecks the workflow to hide things you need to select from the FM. In fact, it would be great to be able to dock or undock the FM and PM separately.

                          SW should allow users to take better advantage of multiple monitors, enabling the FM, PM, TaskPane, error and warning messages and other aspects of the interface to go to the second monitor and remember the positions. SW also needs to adjust to the new reality that most new displays are wide aspect. The SW08 CommandManager wastes an incredible amount of space on a wide aspect monitor. Plus, I wouldn't mind it if SW had some way to work better with projectors, which run at really low resolutions. I don't have any suggestions here, I just see it as an opportunity to solve a common problem for folks who do a lot of presentations on projectors.

                          Please remember that your main constituency is Engineers and Mechanical Designers. Engineers are all about efficiency. We don't want flash, we don't want our tools to have too much sex appeal. We have grease under our fingernails and callouses from turning wrenches. We don't wear make-up, high heels or berets (for the most part). An interface that looks sexy at the expense of a new graphics card is not efficient.

                          I don't like interfaces that are just trying to be different and come up with attractive but useless shapes for the interface, such as any one of a number of consumer grade mp3 players.

                          I don't like the interface of Next Engine's Scan Studio. It is both simple AND hard to understand.

                          I don't like software to guess what is the most commonly used function. It didn't work with the truncated RMB menus 4-5 releases ago, and it won't work with the context toolbars. Don't repeat the same interface mistakes you've made in the past.
                            • Examples of great UI
                              Mark Matthews
                              I'm with Matt on usability of two monitors and the ability to take any menu and stick it on the second monitor, including feature manager and property manager.

                              A good UI to look at how this works, and how it's icons do not look toy like is PhotoShop CS3. The monotone icons are professional looking.
                              • Examples of great UI
                                Dwight Livingston
                                I loved CADKEY for command input. Nobody ever agrees with me on this, but I still miss the thing. It worked as it should with the old keyboard that had the function keys stacked on the left end. Every command could be reached through a series of function keys, as well as a command repeat or escape to start. With only a short time of practice, you could hit all those keys without looking, and soon without thinking. If you were new to a particular command, you had to look at the menu on the screen. No menu was longer than 8 items, so 8 function keys covered the menu. Menu items led to submenus. As you learned the program, typing the series of function keys through the menus became automatic. After a while one could become scary fast, without making a point of learning short cuts. One's left hand did not have to move from it's place anchored next to the keyboard. The mouse stayed in the graphic area, selecting items in the model, not wasting time moving to commands.

                                For navigating in space, Ideas was pretty good. Much better than SW.

                                  • Examples of great UI
                                    Matt Lombard
                                    Some of the interface ideas for 08 were good ideas, but I didn't like some of the assumptions that were made in the implementation. I like the idea of limiting mouse movement, but doing it by breaking up the RMB menus and clumping the toolbars don't seem to be the right ways to accomplish it.

                                    I also like the Microsoft interface idea of snapping the cursor to buttons when they come up, although I don't use it because it doesn't offer enough control.

                                    It might be cool to combine these ideas, and make either a block or a ring of commands that your cursor snaps to when you hold down the Alt key or something like that, also like the Alt-underlined menus.

                                    I don't want the menus on the screen. I fought for a lot of graphics realestate, and I want to keep it. Taking the cursor easily to the commands is easier. Round toolbar clusters are cool, but rectangular are more efficient in the rectangular monitors and application windows.

                                    Another thing that I want to mention is that as a long time user, I'm rather annoyed by SolidWorks continually catering to new users (and in particular new AutoCAD users) and forgetting that there are far more existing users than new users at any given time. The interface could use both novice and expert modes.

                                    An important part of my interface is hotkeys. I wish more things were accessible with hotkeys. I also wish for multiple letter hotkeys.
                                      • Re: Examples of great UI
                                        Chris Dolejska

                                        ""An important part of my interface is hotkeys. I wish more things were accessible with hotkeys. I also wish for multiple letter hotkeys.""

                                         

                                         

                                        that's what I thought at first coming from Acad with multiple letter hotkeys, but think about it. In order to have single key commands with  only one key stroke making the command active you can only have single key commands. With Acad you had multiple key commands but you had to hit enter before the command would be active. The key combos work well if you have a multi button mouse, all you do is make 2 mouse buttons into ctrl and alt and it triples your number of hot keys.

                                  • Examples of great UI
                                    Charles Culp
                                    Mark,

                                    I like the SW2007 interface.  Actually, if I was designing theinterface, I would create a series of "tabs" instead ofthe command manager.  Similar to 3D Studio MAX, back in thelate '90s (they may still do it, but I was familiar with it from R0to R3).  In the end, however, it's almost the same thing.

                                    As far as improving the UI as a whole, I think I agree with Matt. The biggest problem I had learning Solidworks (in 2005) wasgetting used to how each sketching tool worked differently. How you do end a sketched line? Double Click.  How doyou end a spline? you hit escape, or you right click and "endspline".  Why are they different?  

                                    That's the only one I know off hand, but I remember there beingquite a few things like this.. I have just gotten used to them overtime!  I think, for new users at least, it would be an easierprogram to use if all the tools were a bit more consistent.
                                    • Examples of great UI
                                      Kelvin Lamport
                                      A double-click ends both line and spline on my PC.
                                        • Examples of great UI
                                          Steve Calvert
                                          I forgot to mention one of the things I like about UG that I would like to see in SW. In SW if I have an assembly opened and have opened several (let's say 12) components in that assembly, I sometime have a problem getting back to the parent assembly from the component level. In UG, I would RMB select the component in the assy tree and get "Display Parent" choice. This gets me back to my parent without having to toggle through all the opened files.

                                          Steve
                                            • Examples of great UI
                                              Rhyc Sandberg

                                               

                                              One of my main concerns with a user interface is that the thingsthat are used most often should be as easy, intuitive and efficientas absolutely possible. Two that come to mind immediately are viewmanipulation and sketching. SolidWorks does really pretty well withboth of these, but there is always room for improvement.

                                               

                                              Take a look at PowerCAD - a 2D CAD app for the Mac. I think itis the best example of extending the simplicity of the MacDrawinterface for more powerful capability.

                                               

                                              Specifically, it would be really nice to adopt their method of'snapping' to things like tangents, midpoints , horizontal orvertical, etc. while drawing - to assign a constraint. Itslows things down to assign constraints after they are drawn. Ishould be able to, while drawing a line, press the 'T' key as Iapproach an arc endpoint and have it assign a tangent constraintbetween the line and arc when I touch the endpoint and release themouse button. Likewise for other constraints like midpoint andhorizontal/vertical and others. It's been a standard part of theMac drawing interface since day one to press the Shift key whiledrawing to force a line to be horizontal or vertical and it's stilla good interface.

                                               

                                              Another one from PowerCAD (and an extended toolset that is soldseparately called WildTools) are the tools for patterning sketchobjects. Brilliant and fun - almost addictive.

                                              I don't have time to write down a description. If you haveaccess to a Mac, download the demo version and try it out. You'llsee what I mean.

                                               

                                              Rhyc Sandberg

                                               

                                                • Examples of great UI
                                                  Charles Culp
                                                  Rhyc,

                                                  Solidworks will also automatically snap while in sketches. Make sure it is turned on in Tools>Options... then in the"System Options" tab, below Sketch is"Relations/Snaps".  Make sure Enable snapping ischeckmarked, as well as everything else (I keep Grid and Angle off,everything else on).

                                                  Solidworks can also pattern in sketches and in features/bodies..but I find the sketch patterns somewhat cumbersome. The sketchpatterns are significantly better than they were around release2005though.  The feature/body patterns are sometimes a hog, butthe UI is pretty seamless.
                                                • Examples of great UI
                                                  Alessandro Frattini

                                                  Steve Calvert wrote:

                                                   

                                                  I forgot to mention one of the things I like about UG that I would like to see in SW. In SW if I have an assembly opened and have opened several (let's say 12) components in that assembly, I sometime have a problem getting back to the parent assembly from the component level. In UG, I would RMB select the component in the assy tree and get "Display Parent" choice. This gets me back to my parent without having to toggle through all the opened files.



                                                  Steve

                                                  I use NX and I'm agree with you.
                                                • Examples of great UI
                                                  Charles Culp
                                                  Yes Kelvin, I guess I wasn't clear enough.

                                                  When you draw a series of lines, you can double click, and it willstop the series of lines where you last clicked.  If youdouble click a spline, it will finish the spline where you havejust double clicked.

                                                  For the record, I find that the method that currently works forregular lines to be much easier to deal with, albeit reminiscent ofarchaic DOS based cad programs.  Either way, I'd just like forit to be consistent.  As all of SW's commands have beenimplemented, they all seem to be different, ever so slightly. Getting them all to work the same way would definitelyshorten any learning curve.  Especially the curve to get froma beginner to an advanced user.
                                                    • Examples of great UI
                                                      Alessandro Frattini

                                                      Charles Culp wrote:

                                                       

                                                      When you draw a series of lines, you can double click, and it will
                                                      stop the series of lines where you last clicked.  If you
                                                      double click a spline, it will finish the spline where you have
                                                      just double clicked.

                                                      I'm agree with you.
                                                      Unification....please
                                                  • Examples of great UI
                                                    Gerald Davis
                                                    Mark -
                                                    Thank you for asking.

                                                    SW07 has many examples of a great UI. My suggestion is to make it consistent in SW09. (I've downloaded SW08 but have not used it.)

                                                    Things I Wish Were Different:
                                                    The hole wizard is one of the tools that I use daily. If I use a simple hole, changing the hole diameter and thru-ness has a completely archaic interface compared to numeric input fields in other dialogs. The hole wiz needs a face lift.

                                                    FeatureWorks is an example of a product in need of improvement. Better yet, sell it to your competition.

                                                    When I import a 3d file and try to use Import Diagnostics, I enter a realm of otherworld dialog interaction. I'd recommend that its Product Developer download a bunch of stuff from http://www.molex.com and try to resolve the failing faces. If you need specific examples, I'll be happy to contribute.

                                                    Sheet metal mitered flange won't allow pre-select of an edge!

                                                    Things I Really Like:
                                                    Everything in sheet metal except the mitered flange.
                                                    Dimension Property Manager.
                                                    Isolate.
                                                    All of the prismatic extrude and cut tools.
                                                    Sweep is dandy.
                                                    Loft is mostly cool.
                                                    The rework of the short cut hot key manager.
                                                    Drag and drop views in drawings.

                                                    Things I Detest:
                                                    The failure of most dialogs to remember previous settings. See Corel Draw for an outstanding example of how to do it right.
                                                    SolidWorks Explorer 07 (was that written by someone from Novell?)
                                                    The (Microsoft) File Property Dialog (there should be a better way to move properties from one file to another)
                                                    Creating Design Library Features requires a separate mind.
                                                    The organization of Tools>Options (I needed to reset the registry key for SolidWorks after a crash. Trying to locate the setting controls lightweight took too long. That is one horrendous interface!)
                                                    Copy Settings Wizard. Far too difficult to use. It should be a "set as user default" option in the Tools>Options dialog. Include a "restore user default" and "restore Concord default" buttons.
                                                    The flyout for display states won't let you click on an icon to launch the desired Property Manager - must use the menu system instead.

                                                    I don't have the luxury of playing with many other software tools.

                                                    Of all the posts that preceded mine, I find that Matt's covered a lot of positive suggestions that I would second.

                                                    Allow me to repeat my 2 main points: SW has a pretty good interface. It needs to be more consistent.
                                                    • Examples of great UI
                                                      John Burrill
                                                      Oooh, oooh, I want this
                                                      http://www.perceptivepixel.com/
                                                      But if you're not going to bundle a $100K display with Solidworks then I can recommend these GUI's
                                                      1)MOI- Very concise interface (let's see them hold that simplicity when they add artistic brush strokes, materials and scene integration), very well thought out.
                                                      2)Google Earth: The interface is completely HUD and you don't have to guess at anything
                                                      3)Metroid Prime III for the Wii: I'm spending my weekend playing it, but they've got very efficient ideas about interface switching. You know, you hold down a button on your Wii-mote, an sectored wheel overlay appears, drag into a region, let go and that changes modes so they can effectively layer interfaces(e.g. System Options or Document Properties in SW)
                                                      4) That new Microsoft Milan Surface computing concept that was featured in Popular Mechanics, June 2007 looks promising.

                                                      That's all I can think of at present.
                                                      Now Interfaces, I hate:
                                                      Anything that uses a left-right mouse button chord to rotate a view: (CATIA, Allibre, Microstation)
                                                      Any form where you have to navigate from field to field using your mouse (Windows: File Custom Properties, Baan ERP)
                                                      Any interface where you push a button to navigate and have to wait for the Software to get it's ducks in a row(Windows explorer when theye's a CD in the drive)
                                                      m2c
                                                      John
                                                        • Examples of great UI
                                                          Lin Shaodun
                                                          I like the UI of Maya 8.5, and Zbrush.

                                                          I hope SolidWorks can conduct a study , how to reduce mouse travel distance and no. of keystroke to finish a desing.

                                                          A good UI should have some A.I. it can figure out what's the next step you are going to do, and will automatically promote you or switch to different interface.

                                                          A good UI might not be build on software level, I belive it might need many involving of hardware developement.

                                                          I can imagine we can use some force feedback device for navigation the model, or use a 6-D WII-remote-style motion controller for modelling and design, that will be damn cool.

                                                          A good UI should be very close to human nature, which means very direct interative and responding from the interface.

                                                          Just some quick thinking.
                                                        • Examples of great UI
                                                          I've been playing with the SW08 Beta and to be honest I'm not really impressed. The always on transparent navigation bar is useless to me and chews up video processor. The right click of the button showing icons is nice except I know a lot of new users don't know what the symbols mean, I can't remember them all either but making which ones have text and which are just symbols would be nice.

                                                          One thing that would be nice and is available now as an add in from a few different companies is an upgraded Custom Properties Manager. scProp2 from www.swCP3.com which someone wrote as freeware is pretty simple to use and with some refining could be a great benefit especially since there a number of articles stating "Use Custom properties to reduce time"

                                                          as mentioned above multiple key shortcuts would be nice like in acad but without hitting enter z (zoom): a(all) w(window)

                                                          Shortcuts bring up flyout toolbars like the default spacebar shortcut brings up the orientation selection directly next to the mouse. I find that this save me a lot of mouse movement.

                                                          I think making shortcuts diffrent for each type of model might be nice but without trying it I can't say.
                                                          • Examples of great UI
                                                            Rhyc Sandberg

                                                            Mark,

                                                             

                                                            Here's another idea that I saw many years ago in a sharewaredrawing application.

                                                             

                                                            It had a featured called "polite pallets". Any toolbar that was broken off as a pallet and floating within the drawingarea had this special "polite pallet" behavior. While inthe middle of a drawing operation (a line, arc, spline orwhatever), if the drawing cursor moves over the pallet, the palletwould hide itself until the cursor moved past the pallet area - atwhich time it would unhide and wink back into existence.

                                                             

                                                            This was really convenient at the time. It may not be as usefulthese days since most users I see (myself included) almost neverundock a toolbar and leave it floating as a pallet in the middle ofthe drawing area (except occasionally with the Macro toolbar). Butsome users might benefit from this. And it's a very interestingfeature.

                                                             

                                                            I don't know about others, but I think I spend a very largepercent of my time doing view manipulation (panning, rotating andzooming) and sketching - maybe about 70%?? It would be interestingto know if SolidWorks has any statistics on this. If it really isthis high, anything that could be done to make these operationsmore efficient and enjoyable (well designed tools are always morepleasurable to use) is programming time well spent. In my humbleopinion.

                                                             

                                                            Cheers,

                                                             

                                                            Rhyc Sandberg

                                                              • Examples of great UI
                                                                Dwight Livingston

                                                                Rhyc Sandberg wrote:

                                                                 

                                                                I don't know about others, but I think I spend a very large
                                                                percent of my time doing view manipulation (panning, rotating and
                                                                zooming) and sketching - maybe about 70%?? It would be interesting
                                                                to know if SolidWorks has any statistics on this. If it really is
                                                                this high, anything that could be done to make these operations
                                                                more efficient and enjoyable (well designed tools are always more
                                                                pleasurable to use) is programming time well spent. In my humble
                                                                opinion.

                                                                I quite agree. Ideas, for one, is much faster at navigating views. I use a spaceball, which helps a lot, but it is not faster or easier than Ideas, even without a spaceball.

                                                                Dwight
                                                                  • Examples of great UI
                                                                    Steve Calvert
                                                                    Dwight,

                                                                    Unigraphics has something called "Expressions", which is just a name for what it calls parameters. A "p" (p0, p1, p2, etc.) number is created for every number created while making a sketch and/or feature during its creation. This "p" number could then be used to link to another "p" number. For example: I just created a rectangle and shelled out the inside from one face. That "p" number was equal to .188. I looked at the expression dialog box and see that p3 (it started with p0 which was one of the three parameters for the rectangle) is equal to .188. I now can use that "p" number anytime and anywhere I want during any other feature/sketch creation. Next step would be to put a rib in the shelled out rectangle. I would sketch a line from one inside edge to the other. Now during the creation of that rib feature, I would extrude (UG differs here when creating a rib feature - I love SW's way) both directions from the line and instead of doing the math in my head and typing (.188/2) .094 and -.094, I would enter p3/2 and -p3/2 (yes I can enter a negative number).

                                                                    Now that was how to do it when you're not really thinking ahead. If, you have some forthought, you might create an expression called wall=.188. I would then use "wall" when I needed the shell number and use wall/2 and -wall/2 for the rib createion. This keeps all these parameters linked together but it is easier to create and keep track of.

                                                                    One more thing that is cool. If I wanted to, at the shell creation point I could have entered wall=.188 and it would have been created for me during the creation of the shell feature.

                                                                    You'll see that in the expressions dialog box that p3=.188 and then p7=p3/2 and p8=-p3/2. All that data was entered in a dialog box during the creation of the part.

                                                                    I'll be glad to discuss this more because I think this is really cool stuff and if you notice that I'm using V18 of UG which is 5 versions behind current release and I've been using this funtionallity since V16.

                                                                    The second picture shows what would have happened if I created wall first.

                                                                    Steve

                                                                      • Examples of great UI
                                                                        Jason Capriotti
                                                                        Yeah Steve, UG has great equation options...even better in NX4. This is something that Solidworks is sorely lacking. The SolidWorks' equation function hasn't seen any real enhancements in a while.

                                                                        Some Solidworks equation ideas and needs:

                                                                        Better interface.....maybe something more engineering oriented that displays equations like you would write them. Doesn't Mathcad do this?

                                                                        Enter equations directly in dimension input dialogues....even in the property manager. Start it with an equal sign like excel to distinguish between an equation and the math it does now. Best of both worlds.

                                                                        Ability to rename equations and it updates everything....UG does this well.

                                                                        Variables that can driven by a design table.

                                                                        Link equations between part/assembly files.....like UG.

                                                                        Equations solve first before a rebuild and order doesn't matter.

                                                                        Warning when creating a circular reference.

                                                                        UG has a feature called "Length, Angle" features. Basically it's like a reference dimension but its a feature. Gives the value between face, edges, points, etc. Then it cerates a variable that be used in equations. Its a feature in the tree which means it becomes time dependent but UG equations handles it and won't let you create circular references.

                                                                        Just a few things I can think of...there are probably more.
                                                                    • Examples of great UI
                                                                      While in the middle of a drawing operation (a line, arc, spline or whatever), if the drawing cursor moves over the pallet, the pallet would hide itself until the cursor moved past the pallet area - at which time it would unhide and wink back into existence.

                                                                      So Rhyc, I take it that the floating pallet did not have any reason for being there (in the drawing/view area) - i.e. not to be used with any drawing commands. if it just hid itself, It sounds like a "moded" system. SW is a modeless system and make this harder to do. I would think that a floating or pop-up toolbar should be useful with the current action being perform near the cursor.

                                                                      Regards

                                                                      Mark
                                                                        • Examples of great UI
                                                                          Thanks for the many good replies for Great UI examples. I want to be clear with you that my question was not asked in relation to SW2008 but to some other work that I'm involved in.

                                                                          If you have any last minute examples of "other" (other than SW UI improvements) great UI in software products you use, I'm still listening.

                                                                          Thanks
                                                                      • Examples of great UI
                                                                        Markku Lehtola
                                                                        iPhone, HTC Touch?

                                                                        After couple of beers I really would like to know what is the "next generation" of UI's for 3D-CAD, do we have to put 3d-classes on or what :-)

                                                                        My real point (if any): do you know any other 3D-CAD that has so simple and fast way to rotate models...I don't. It's just one small "thing" in SW, but it makes huge difference I think. It really makes me think what the h*ll they were thinking when they put something like Rotate behind CTRL+mouse button for example.

                                                                        ps. double clicking is an ancient stuff and really sucks, you can configure XP/Vista so that you just click once, you can save sooooo many clicks per day.
                                                                          • Examples of great UI
                                                                            Cam Clark
                                                                            It's been interesting reading thus far and I didn't think I hadanything to offer but.....
                                                                            I have recently come back to SW after a couple of years layoff(used SW96 to 2006) and over that time the UI changed a little. Ilike some of the changes but it is still frustrating finding theinfrequent used commands.
                                                                            During my layoff I used the ever annoying Strucad. A structuralmodelling and drafting program. It was from the dark ages but cameof age with the latest release (V12).

                                                                            The best part of it's UI (and the hardest to get used to butfantastic when you do) is a zone sensitive RMB. The screen is setinto 4 main quarters and then the edges have there own zones. Eachquarter has customizable menus for these zones but by default theyrepresent significant areas of requirement (eg: top left was like"tools", top right was like "insert" etc but inreality they were purpose used).

                                                                            Remembering what each sector was for took a little to get used toas there was no screen printout template, but once you got used gotit, each command you needed/wanted was just a zone and RMB clickaway.
                                                                            As for the rest of the program, it was a heavy mix of DOS, 2d/3d,windows and a bit of other stuff jammed together but bits of itwere really good.

                                                                            Cheers
                                                                            Cam
                                                                              • Examples of great UI
                                                                                Rhyc Sandberg

                                                                                Mark,

                                                                                 

                                                                                This is an attempt to clarify my earlier post.

                                                                                 

                                                                                I don't think the 'polite palette' feature I was describing hasanything to do with being a modal or non-modal. It's the same thingas when you pull a tool bar off as a palette in SolidWorks. Forexample, the Simulation tool bar can be pulled off as a floatingtool palette and will remain in the graphic area while you are in asketch, even though it has no use for sketches.

                                                                                 

                                                                                If that tool palette happens to be in the way while you are inthe process of drawing the sketch, the 'polite palette' featurewould hide the palette as you move the cursor across it - but onlywhile there is a sketch entity being drawn.

                                                                                 

                                                                                If you try it in SolidWorks the way it works today, the'rubber-banded' entity that you are drawing disappears as thecursor moves across a floating palette, i.e. it drops the entitycreation focus and focuses on the palette instead. Perhaps this isan appropriate behavior for some tools so you can access themduring the drawing process - but I can't think of a tool that wouldbe relavent. What tool do you really need to access while in themiddle of drawing a line or arc???

                                                                                 

                                                                                Again, perhaps not a high priority since there are other waysaround it, but it's a cool and elegant approach. And since you werespecifically asking about nice user interfaces, I thought it wouldbe relavent. It's the type of thing that makes for a refinedproduct.

                                                                                 

                                                                                But in the scope of things, I think my first post is a moreimportant and beneficial suggestion - about being able to force aconstraint during the drawing process.

                                                                                 

                                                                                Rhyc

                                                                            • The middle mouse button
                                                                              Baruch Muchnik
                                                                              Hi,
                                                                              now days I have a "Space Traveler" from "3dConnecxion" so it's not a problem now, but pushing the middle mouse button that is really now a "Wheel" (for rotating the model) is not so comfortable. We have some users that still use the old tree button mouse only because of that.
                                                                              I would suggest for example to allow the user to define that the Left and Right mouse buttons that pressed together replace the middle button press.
                                                                              Original in 90' I used software called "Cimatron" where any combination of the 3-button mouse used to pop-up a different menu.
                                                                              • Examples of great UI
                                                                                Kevin Quigley
                                                                                For 3D curve creation and modelling:

                                                                                Ashlar-Vellum Cobalt - easiest way to create 3D curves freely inany application due to a very powerful 3D smart cursor+directediting of curve control points with immediate update of associatedsurfaces/solids.

                                                                                For conceptual modelling:

                                                                                SketchUp - gone from zero to the 3D app of choice in mostarchitects worldwide - some fantastic interface points - and somebad ones.

                                                                                CATIA v5 Imagine and Shape module.....got to see to believe....andSW no doubt hope Dassault doesn't reduce the price!


                                                                                For Rendering:

                                                                                Hypershot - www.bunkspeed.com - simply unbelievable results inseconds - goodbye Photoworks....
                                                                                • Examples of great UI
                                                                                  Matt Lombard
                                                                                  I like some of the stuff in the Rapidform XOR product:

                                                                                  http://www.rapidform.com/Multi...in/XOR/category_id/56

                                                                                  I like that the PropertyManager equivalent doesn't pop up on top of the FeatureManager equivalent very much. I also like that the PropMgr is transparent and only takes as much space as it needs.

                                                                                  Another cool thing is that they have some sort of a magnifying glass function where you hit a key and it blows up an area around the cursor temporarily.

                                                                                  Watch the videos.
                                                                                  • Examples of great UI
                                                                                    Pete Yodis
                                                                                    Hi Mark,

                                                                                    If this thread is still not dead yet... I would like to add that tabbed browsing of documents would be a welcome addition. I absolutely love working in IE7 and middle clicking on a link and it opens in a new tab. This works great for reading on Wikipedia - I'll have something like 15 tabs open and I am poring through related content. I could see this being really nice in SolidWorks if we could have a button on the new heads up toolbar that would allow you to open a document in a new tab. All your tabs could be strewn across the top of that unused space in the 2008 GUI. See the attached image.

                                                                                    Also, after using other CAD products like AutoCAD and DWGEditor along with PDFRevu from Bluebeam - I really miss the zoom extents functionality by double clicking the middle mouse button. I always want to do that in SolidWorks but can't. That would be really nice if we could.

                                                                                    Pete
                                                                                    • Examples of great UI
                                                                                      Andrew Mattocks
                                                                                      I have quickly looked through what's been mentioned here so far, but has anyone mentioned Cimlinc 2D CAD system? This was the first CAD system I ever used in anger in 1990 (I think).

                                                                                      It had the icons all down the right and you drew on the main screen just like many systems. But when you wanted to pick an icon you middle clicked (if I remember rightly) and your cursor jumped to the icon bank. You made your choice and released the button where upon the cursor was back where you were drawing on the main screen. Once you got used to it it was great - much less scooting back and forth across the screen - much like SW08 is aiming for I guess.

                                                                                      It also had "strokes" (like the i-Phone?) where certain quick movements of a depressed button would perform a particular function. So for instance (and I am scratching the limits of my memory here) you could zoom all by stroking a Z or window zoom by stroking from top left to bottom right and back again over the area you wanted to zoom. And you could program your own strokes to do what you wanted too!

                                                                                      I was dead impressed with it at the time - very different before everything started to settle into the "standard" way of doing things.

                                                                                      Good luck with your new project Mark.
                                                                                        • Examples of great UI
                                                                                          Peter Nichols
                                                                                          Andrew,
                                                                                          I too was a Cimlinc user before we swapped to SW back in '95. The strokes were perhaps its best feature, much quicker than accessing the menus or multiple mouse clicks. There is a progamme 'Strokeit' that works almost the same as the Cimlinc version and allows programming of strokes. You can download it from www.tcbmi.com/strokeit. It dates from 2005 but seems to have an active forum.
                                                                                          Regards
                                                                                          Pete
                                                                                            • Examples of great UI
                                                                                              Jim Wilkinson

                                                                                              Tim R wrote:

                                                                                               

                                                                                              Example --> RMB context menu.. Alot of the commands that used to be text selections in SW2k7 are now icons and as far as I can tell icons only.. When SW makes a change like that, why don't they leave both methods of selecting there and let the user turn off the ones they don't want to see? I still don't know where some of the text selections went to or which icons now are the equivalent. Like you said, is there an easy way to customize that in SW? I haven't found it, but I haven't been digging for it. I don't think SW should make it so difficult.

                                                                                              Hi Tim,

                                                                                              This is easily changed in Tools, Customize, Toolbars.
                                                                                              There are two check boxes under "Context toolbar settings" that turn this off either for regular selection or in the shortcut menu (RMB menu).

                                                                                              I hope this helps,
                                                                                              Jim
                                                                                                • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                  How many times do we have to say the redundancy is there. There are at least four different ways to create a sheet metal part and at least two different ways to access each of those commands. I get your point in saying there should be a command line for peaple that want it but there realy is no need. Why take the time to move your hand away from the mouse to type in a command when you can type "s" and bring up the very custoizable shorcut bar that changes commands available based on what you are doing. The shorcut bar is about two times faster than a command line could be. You should give it a try and once you have it set up I think you will be very pleased
                                                                                                    • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                      If you want a command line solidworks does have one.

                                                                                                      Tools
                                                                                                      Add-ins
                                                                                                      Solidworks 2d emulator

                                                                                                      I still don't know why you would want it still. Useing the "s" shortcut bar are much faster when you get used to it and you don't have to try and remember what that command was called. The command line is a left over from days before there was a Graphical user interface. Only peaple who need to use it now are programmers and debuggers. I bet you in 3 or 4 years even AutoCADs command line will be hidden like Solidworks. Things like solidworks shorcut bar and assigning keyboard shortcuts have made the command line obsoleat.
                                                                                                        • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                          OK then lets get back to your main poit. You say that there are not enough ways to start a command. I have to disagree. Let me name a few. Toolbars, rightclick on the feature manager, pull down menus, shortcut toolbar, keyboard short cuts, right clicking on a face or edge, contexual toolbars. You can start the same command any one of these ways. Only thing thats hidden is the command line.

                                                                                                          If your VAR's classes don't show that there are at least three of these ways to start commands then you should probably get a new VAR
                                                                                                        • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                          Opera: Internet Browser, seamless transition from page to page, and great search options, if SW could incorporate a way to use the same quick left click right click combo that this internet browser uses to go back and forth between utilities it would make the whole experiecne much more efficient

                                                                                                          Jordan
                                                                                                  • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                    I agree with many of the users here on the consistency, but have a suggestion for your interface work. You first must "fix" what you already have before creating something "new". I would strongly recommend Solidworks review every Sketch tool, feature, and command then apply consistent mouse and keyboard behavior to all of these as mentioned. Enter = OK, ESC = escape, F1= help on that tool, consistent layout of mouse buttons, etc.

                                                                                                    It just feels like Solidworks was and is being made by 100s of individuals each having their own ideas of how things should work. Standardization and consistency goes a long way to making things quick to learn and efficient.

                                                                                                    The command manager is the big ripe fruit after the consistency project. It is a good idea and should stay, but I think it should not overlay the feature tree and be a separate pop up window of consistent size that can be placed wherever the user liked (even on screen #2). This could then eliminate the feature tree having to move over to the right and into the design space. The feature tree is such a fundamental entity in SW that it should always be there to help in geometry selection.

                                                                                                    Another idea that I have is more based on good practice, but would help speed things up and help new users create better files. I always like to dimension off of past sketch entities in preference of solid geometry in both parts and drawings. If you don't know about this, it is essential to making files that are just about bullet proof with respect to rebuild errors or dangling dimensions. Solidworks can create problems with a dimension that was to face1254, but now Solidworks renamed that entity face1255 because a feature was added or removed.
                                                                                                    It would be nice if SW would allow this without me having to "show" the sketches manually in the feature tree. I think Solidworks could automatically show all of the sketches on planes parallel to the open sketch plane or drawing view when you are inserting a dimension. This would be a good UI item to allow users to turn on and off. Basically anything SW can do to allow the user to quickly or automatically reference off of past sketch geometry instead of solid geometry would be a huge help.

                                                                                                    I do applaud your polling of the community for ideas and just wish it was more widespread in everything Solidworks does.
                                                                                                    • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                      Chris  McAndrew
                                                                                                      Mark,
                                                                                                      Because you said it's for a side project I figured I'd chime in since most stuff here was SW related (along with my take on SW or course)

                                                                                                      GIMP - This program does have some serious drawbacks but the ability to customize "Docks" is great. Especially with dual/multiple monitors this allow for viewing of what you care about (The image) on one main screen while still saving all the things you want to access in plain site on another screen. I routinely keep my main image open and any other images I'm using to work with it go on a separate screen along with layer docs and customized cods that I feel I'll be primarily using, then the main dock sits in my furthest corner or behind something in case I need it. I'm certain there are people here that will not agree but as this pertains to solidworks it would be great to have a graphic window that pops out and can maintain a full screen (ideally something comically large like a 42" flat screen)

                                                                                                      Google Reader - Simple, effective, does exactly what you would think (aggregates RSS) and is customizable for pro users or can be used by a novice very efficiently. The major actions needed are easily apparent on on posts and CLEARLY defined. There is nothing I hate more than a bunch of archaic symbols that I'm supposed to easily understand. If I want to send an e-mail it's much easier to read "e-mail" then it is to try to intrpret the thousands of e-mail icons used. Yes some things get away with icons (think apple products) but those icons routinely take up a lot of space and still hurt the learning curve.

                                                                                                      Phun- A 2D physics program that is rather basic but still a great use of simple features.

                                                                                                      Firefox - Massively customizeable and the one thing that is assumed is that you will customize it. This is a result of the community of course making things easy to mesh with (most add on's are one click additions) but still it's a great community created interface.

                                                                                                      BAD
                                                                                                      DirecTV DVR on screen menu and controls. This thing is freaking horrible. It lags, it's not intuitive, easy things like deleting shows from a dvr (on mine it's a double click of the _ button) and recording settings are so hard to get to you practically need a full day every time you want to switch something. This is partly due to the input interface (seriously, a remote is still the best option? no keyboard w/ scrool pad?) of course this can be modded but the out o the box setup here is the biggest failure of interface design of any product I've come across.
                                                                                                      • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                        Andrew Hallas
                                                                                                        There are several ways to access SolidWorks commands, icon or pull down menus.

                                                                                                        AutoCAD is a 25 year old program and Autodesk are now trying to fix the mess they have made in having so many different ways of accessing the same command or having several commands that do the same thing. Just take a look at AutoCAD 2009 and you will see that they are trying to streamline the interface with a Microsoft ribbon (AutoCAD diehards wont like this) and removing redundancy in the user interface. I also on occasion use AutoCAD Mechanical 2008 and if i turned on all the icons I could fill my screen 10 times over with icons that do the same thing.

                                                                                                        A few of the AutoCAD features are welcome but alot of them are not. We don't want to turn SolidWorks into an AutoCAD clone.
                                                                                                        • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                          Have you seen Google's SketchUp yet. That program is awesome and could teach SW many lessons in how to quickly create 3D geometry.

                                                                                                          Just watch some of the videos on youtube to see this thing in action. Google is such an awesome technical leader.

                                                                                                          http://sketchup.google.com/
                                                                                                          • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                            With so many multi-button mice available now, it sure would be great if we could make use of the additional buttons for shortcuts.
                                                                                                              • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                Jay Andrews
                                                                                                                noting that you said ui and not gui...

                                                                                                                I really like the way inventor hotkeys work where it allows you to use multiple keystrokes for a shortcut, i.e. l for line and ll or le for leader, allowing for much more intuitive shortcuts rather trying to remember if that was ctl+alt+l or alt+shift+l which I almost never remember shortcuts I set up that way in the long run in solidworks.
                                                                                                                  • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                    Dale Dunn

                                                                                                                    Jay Andrews wrote:

                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                    noting that you said ui and not gui...



                                                                                                                    I really like the way inventor hotkeys work where it allows you to use multiple keystrokes for a shortcut, i.e. l for line and ll or le for leader, allowing for much more intuitive shortcuts rather trying to remember if that was ctl+alt+l or alt+shift+l which I almost never remember shortcuts I set up that way in the long run in solidworks.

                                                                                                                    I like the sound of that. How does it know when you're done hitting hotkeys? In ACAD's CLI, you hit space or enter after you type an alias. Is it like that?
                                                                                                                      • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                        Karl Zemlin

                                                                                                                        Dale Dunn wrote:

                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                        I like the sound of that. How does it know when you're done hitting hotkeys? In ACAD's CLI, you hit space or enter after you type an alias. Is it like that?

                                                                                                                        With Pro/E Mapkeys, something similar is also possible - and since there aren't typed commands in Pro/E, there isn't any confusion about what's a macro and what isn't. You just have to make sure that short key sequences are not repeated in longer commands.

                                                                                                                        L and LL would not work in Pro/E you'd have to do something like LI for line and LE for leader, and those two-letter combinations cannot be used to lead off a 3-letter mapkey - but there's no need to terminate the commands.

                                                                                                                        • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                          Jay Andrews

                                                                                                                          Dale Dunn wrote:

                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                          In ACAD's CLI, you hit space or enter after you type an alias. Is it like that?

                                                                                                                          Yes
                                                                                                                    • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                      Josh Brady
                                                                                                                      You can, Ray. It's in your mouse driver settings. Set up your other buttons to send hotkeys.
                                                                                                                        • Examples of great UI

                                                                                                                          Josh Brady wrote:

                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                          You can, Ray. It's in your mouse driver settings. Set up your other buttons to send hotkeys.

                                                                                                                          I wish that were true, but starting with 2007, SW disables the extra buttons. Don't know why. The VAR doesn't know why. I don't need another research project, so I just live with it. I want my buttons back.
                                                                                                                        • Re: Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                          Kevin De Smet
                                                                                                                          I don't want to come off like a SolidWorks evangelist here, but I believe its interface post-2008 is truly par excellence. It is easy to complain about a few inconsistencies here and there but I have seen plenty of absolutely backwards user interfaces in other application - I'll refrain from calling names however.

                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                          So on a slightly off-topic que - that's my 2 cents
                                                                                                                          • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                            Tom Nicholson
                                                                                                                            I'll agree With Kevin, and I love the S menu.. I've since gotten rid of all toolbars and working explicitly from the S key. Now if they had more control over flyout menu's, I wouldn't mind that.. (eg. create your own, add/del things, etc)
                                                                                                                            • Re: Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                              Kevin De Smet
                                                                                                                              I do have one suggestion to chip in. In some applications when you right-mouse click the menu pops up immediately, in SolidWorks most such menus require a click-mouse over-click. If the menu would appear immediately after pressing the button you could simply click-mouse over-release.

                                                                                                                              It's kind of sad how small of a deal that is...
                                                                                                                                • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                  Jim Wilkinson

                                                                                                                                  Kevin De Smet wrote:

                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                  I do have one suggestion to chip in. In some applications when you right-mouse click the menu pops up immediately, in SolidWorks most such menus require a click-mouse over-click. If the menu would appear immediately after pressing the button you could simply click-mouse over-release.

                                                                                                                                  Hi Kevin,

                                                                                                                                  The reason we don't do this is because RMB drag performs another function in some cases. For instance, RMB drag us used to rotate components in assembly. Therefore, we can't bring the RMB menu up on RMB mouse down, but instead bring it up on RMB mouse up. This is consistent with Microsoft. Microsoft also uses RMB drag to perform functions (like copying a file/folder as a shortcut with RMB drag vs. copying it directly with LMB drag).

                                                                                                                                  Thanks,
                                                                                                                                  Jim
                                                                                                                                • Re: Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                  Kevin De Smet
                                                                                                                                  Here is a quick video I recorded of a panning enhancement I think would be a cool addition to the Solidworks UI experience:
                                                                                                                                  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zOSV9bXb84

                                                                                                                                   

                                                                                                                                  I believe the term is panning through the screen but, that's just a guess.
                                                                                                                                  • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                    Kevin De Smet
                                                                                                                                    I just found out this actually already happens when you drag a spinner!
                                                                                                                                    i.e. double clicking on a dimension and dragging the big wheel, gives me exactly what I have in mind for rotating/panning/zooming as well.
                                                                                                                                    • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                      Karl Zemlin
                                                                                                                                      My favorite CAD UI was Pro/ENGINEER back before they started doing the toolbar thing. A long list of text menus - always in the same place, always in the same order. No need to try to decifer one one symbol means compared to another - the name of the command spelled it out. Better than pull down menus, because it's always there - you don't need to go looking for it.

                                                                                                                                      That UI had it's deficiencies - end - end - end - quit - quit - to back out of a stack of menus, but that would have been an easy enough fix.

                                                                                                                                      Toobars have just gotten out of hand. A complex CAD program has so many different functions and levels, that trying to define a meaningful symbol for every one seems futile. I think most CAD users are literate. What's wrong with using words?

                                                                                                                                      Also, with SW - not all commands are in the toolbars - why is cosmetic thread found only in the pull down menus, when the rest of the annoation commands are there AND in the toolbar?
                                                                                                                                        • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                          Dale Dunn

                                                                                                                                          Karl Zemlin wrote:

                                                                                                                                           

                                                                                                                                          ...

                                                                                                                                          Toobars have just gotten out of hand. A complex CAD program has so many different functions and levels, that trying to define a meaningful symbol for every one seems futile. I think most CAD users are literate. What's wrong with using words?



                                                                                                                                          Also, with SW - not all commands are in the toolbars - why is cosmetic thread found only in the pull down menus, when the rest of the annoation commands are there AND in the toolbar?

                                                                                                                                          Most of the tools in menus can be added to tool bars. I know I have the cosmetic thread added to mine.

                                                                                                                                          I hear what your saying about text vs. icons. Once you learn them though, icons use less space on screen, and the eye supposedly recognizes them faster than text.
                                                                                                                                          • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                            Kevin De Smet

                                                                                                                                            Karl Zemlin wrote:

                                                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                                            A long list of text menus - always in the same place, always in the same order. No need to try to decipher what one symbol means compared to another - the name of the command spelled it out.

                                                                                                                                            I don't think it matters that much, names are just as vague as icons. If not more so. I can't tell by the name what loft or sweep would do if I was just getting started. And probably couldn't either with a symbol.

                                                                                                                                            I guess it's a matter of personal preference.
                                                                                                                                          • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                            Jeff Mowry
                                                                                                                                            Ray, you can map the "S" key to your mouse in v2009. I mapped it to my "back" button on my MX Revolution. Works great!

                                                                                                                                            I did this through the Logitech SetPoint software (mouse drivers) where I can assign specific buttons as hotkeys within specific applications. (Sort of bypasses SolidWorks this way.) Check it out.

                                                                                                                                            I've heard of some glitches when using some of the Microsoft mouse drivers, but am not sure what they are--you can probably search and find the issues here.
                                                                                                                                              • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                                Jeff, have you had any performance problems with SetPoint? I installed it a while back and it was like having a virus. It sucked up all of my processor time, so I had to uninstall it. Have your results been better?
                                                                                                                                                  • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                                    Adrian Velazquez
                                                                                                                                                    Karl,

                                                                                                                                                    I have to dissagree with you, I think the Pro/E interface has a poor workflow, compare to SolidWorks whe everything you need to create a feature is in the property manager.
                                                                                                                                                      • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                                        Karl Zemlin

                                                                                                                                                        adrian velazquez wrote:

                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                        I have to dissagree with you, I think the Pro/E interface has a poor workflow, compare to SolidWorks whe everything you need to create a feature is in the property manager.

                                                                                                                                                        While I'm a big fan of Pro/E, there are plenty of things - old and new - that could be improved, and SW has done a lot of inovative things that have driven all the CAD vendors to update their products. My main point is that there is nothing wrong with a list of commands. When there are hundreds of commands in a program, creating a cute little icon for every one of them may not be the most effective way to get the point across.

                                                                                                                                                        My biggest gripe with the SW UI is speed. It takes too long for all the context sensitive crap to update. When I pick something, I want the system to react NOW. Pro/E does that, for the most part.
                                                                                                                                                  • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                                    Jeff Mowry
                                                                                                                                                    Along the lines of what Dale mentioned, I've gotten so used to the position of Hide and Transparent icons near my pointer in v2008 that I found myself hitting the wrong icon over and over and over in the context of an assembly over the weekend (killer-deadline project). It turns out I was selecting the SPACE of the correct icons when in the context of the part, but the icons change their positions when in an assembly.

                                                                                                                                                    I'm surprised how quickly I learned/memorized where these icons reside, given my limited use of v2008, but it's so difficult for me to change now that it's stuck in my head. An improvement on this would be homogenizing the very spaces of given icons, such that they always appear in their same spaces, whatever the context. The habit-clickers like me would then save vast amounts of time, since instead of getting "edit feature" (or whatever I kept accidentally selecting), I'd get Hide Part/Body, as I intended.

                                                                                                                                                    • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                                      Jeff Mowry
                                                                                                                                                      Ray, I had some difficulties with earlier versions of SetPoint (like three or four years ago), but these newer versions work fine for me. Running between 8MB and 17MB as a process on my machine as I write this. Maybe try it out again if it's been a while. Map the mouse buttons like mad within SetPoint (even for your browser or whatever you like)--very productive addition.

                                                                                                                                                      • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                                        Mark Matthews
                                                                                                                                                        I'm going to agree with Karl about one point of the old Pro-E interface (before they went to wildfire) was that it was very easy to write mapkeys to do very complex menu picks. Actually, if you didn't have mapkeys set it would take a long time to do anything. All it took to write a mapkey was to list all the menu picks you were making in each box that popped up (you type them directly into the config.pro file); there was no need to know programming. I have to say that I hate attempting to make any kind of custom macro in SW as it is anything but intuitive. I shouldn't have to take a special class in Visual Basic to make one.
                                                                                                                                                          • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                                            richard wagenaar
                                                                                                                                                            I cannot agree more about the ability to have
                                                                                                                                                            shortcuts for everything possible. Also the XX
                                                                                                                                                            shorkeys for a command like in Acad, ProE is
                                                                                                                                                            is very usefull. I can imagine someone not switching
                                                                                                                                                            from Pro/E to SW, you have have to look at a
                                                                                                                                                            CAD system after it is optimized and not at a
                                                                                                                                                            user interface out of the box. The shortkeys in
                                                                                                                                                            SW are very restricted.

                                                                                                                                                            This is one of the main reason we stay on the old
                                                                                                                                                            (before 2008) user interface. We can program simple
                                                                                                                                                            macros with an external macro program that records keys
                                                                                                                                                            just like in Pro/E buy accessing the pull down menus.
                                                                                                                                                            For example when editing text.
                                                                                                                                                            We can add a pefix or additions to a dimension with a
                                                                                                                                                            recorded shortcut which we cannot anymore in >2007
                                                                                                                                                            because everything is locked in the property managers.

                                                                                                                                                            These property managers >2007 are the biggest killers
                                                                                                                                                            of productivity for us, something that Solidworks just
                                                                                                                                                            doesn't seem or want to understand.

                                                                                                                                                            Does it make sense if Solidworks out of the
                                                                                                                                                            box can only do something in 1 mouseclicks and 2 long
                                                                                                                                                            mousemovement to and from the tree if this cannot be
                                                                                                                                                            easily optimized by a shortcut. The shortcut is at
                                                                                                                                                            least about 5 times faster and your right mousehand
                                                                                                                                                            has rest which is important for preventing RSI injuries.

                                                                                                                                                            We have achieved at least 50% productivity gain with
                                                                                                                                                            all kinds of macros and shortcuts which will be gone
                                                                                                                                                            for a big part when using SW2008 or SW2009 apart
                                                                                                                                                            fromother regressions.

                                                                                                                                                            We need to add some notes on a dimension so often which
                                                                                                                                                            is a crime in Solidworks >2007. A lot of things that need only
                                                                                                                                                            one shortcut in <2007 needs 2 long mousemovements
                                                                                                                                                            and a couple of mouseclicks. Once you are used to the shortcuts
                                                                                                                                                            for often used sequence of commands it is a waste of
                                                                                                                                                            time to go >2007.
                                                                                                                                                            Apart from some regression the UI of >2007 is the main
                                                                                                                                                            reason to not upgrade, it would be a major productivity
                                                                                                                                                            loss for us.

                                                                                                                                                            So what is an example of a good UI?

                                                                                                                                                            A good UI is a UI that can be customized in every possible
                                                                                                                                                            way with shortcuts. There is no user interface better than that.
                                                                                                                                                            You cannot make users unhappy by adding this, if you don't
                                                                                                                                                            like it don't use it, somthing you can't say of other modern
                                                                                                                                                            UI Windows compliant inefficiency.

                                                                                                                                                          • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                                            Mahir Abrahim
                                                                                                                                                            Richard,

                                                                                                                                                            Although your existing 3rd party macros may not work with SW>2007 , I don't believe this is a permanent deterrent to upgrading. Recording keystrokes may have had its advantages at the time, but I think your problems really reside in your resistance to programming actual SW macros using VBA. If your company had figured out how to write your existing macros in VBA, then those same macros would very likely function just fine in both 2007 and 2009. Trying to recreate ProE's mapkey recording of keystrokes and menu clicks was a shortcut that obviously has downstream ramifications. Even in ProE, a mapkey you recorded in WildFire2 may not work in WildFire4 due to subtle interface changes. A better idea is to stop depending on specific key sequences & menu clicks and access the commands directly using the API. Even ProE has figured this out and introduced a VBA interface.

                                                                                                                                                            Here's an example for you. You referenced being able to automate the adding of and modification of notes. This, specifically, is very simple to achieve with VBA macros. I once wrote a macro that could increment the instance count (e.g. 3X) in front of a dimension +/- 1X (i.e. to 2X/4X). This is something you'd be hard pressed to achieve using a keystroke recorder, but SW's VBA interface can handle it quite readily.

                                                                                                                                                            Bottom line, I'm all for an infinitely customizable interface. I agree that multi-keypress "XX" shortcuts would be a valuable addition. I'm also aware that the UI switch from 2007 to 2009 required an adjustment period. However, don't start faulting the SW UI for lack of customizability and for breaking your shortcuts when to be honest you're not doing very much to take advantage of all the customization tools at your disposable. By limiting your methods of customization, you've closed the door to a very long list of possible enhancements to company efficiency.
                                                                                                                                                              • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                                                richard wagenaar
                                                                                                                                                                Hello Mahir,

                                                                                                                                                                Well to be honest you are right. I will try to make
                                                                                                                                                                time for this as it makes a lot sense.
                                                                                                                                                                We already did a lot with VBA, but for some reason I
                                                                                                                                                                find this is for the difficult applications we have and
                                                                                                                                                                not for simple shortcuts.

                                                                                                                                                                There are some other things, for example to get in the
                                                                                                                                                                text editor I use a shortkey and be directly on the place
                                                                                                                                                                before a dimension so I can start typing there, another
                                                                                                                                                                shortkey gets me out.

                                                                                                                                                                The before SW2007 editor is a pop up which I like much more,
                                                                                                                                                                I don't need to move with the mouse, just press ALT+4 when
                                                                                                                                                                the mouse is on the text.
                                                                                                                                                                Alt+4 creates a mouseclicks and some keystrokes that place
                                                                                                                                                                me directly before the text.

                                                                                                                                                                I don't know if this would be possible with VBA. I can do this
                                                                                                                                                                now very easily with SW<2007 with shortcuts and a macro
                                                                                                                                                                recorder aimkeys

                                                                                                                                                                I would like shortcuts to be much easier than in VBA though.
                                                                                                                                                                The macro recorder in SW is only a start and often needs
                                                                                                                                                                a lot of rework.

                                                                                                                                                                It is just that there are so many shortcuts that we use
                                                                                                                                                                which would take very much time to make in VBA but
                                                                                                                                                                in the end it is probably worth the investment as the chance it
                                                                                                                                                                will work in a next release is much higher.

                                                                                                                                                              • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                                                Mahir Abrahim
                                                                                                                                                                Richard,

                                                                                                                                                                There are plenty of people here, including me, that would be happy to help with any API roadblocks you might run into. There are also many examples on the web (SW API examples, 3D Content Central, Google, etc).
                                                                                                                                                                  • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                                                    richard wagenaar
                                                                                                                                                                    Mahir, thanks. Maybe SW 2010 might
                                                                                                                                                                    have easier ways to edit (dimension) text
                                                                                                                                                                    without needing so much mousemovement.
                                                                                                                                                                      • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                                                        Mike Lydon
                                                                                                                                                                        I learned CAD on Autocad R10 DOS. I still think the command line interface is the best. I had all of my common commands as one or two letter shortcuts. Mouse clicks were for picking geometry, dimensions, or text. Much more of the screen was useable real estate. My right hand stayed on the mouse, my left hand knew all the shortcuts without looking at the keyboard. There was no wasted mouse movement to pick icons. The GUI with icons is an example of the dumbing down of CAD. Make it easier to do some work quickly, instead of better to do the whole job. Just my two cents.

                                                                                                                                                                        Mike Lydon
                                                                                                                                                                          • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                                                            Kevin Quigley
                                                                                                                                                                            Sorry I totally disagree Mike. Whilst the command line may work for intensive CAD use 100% of the time many people are not full time users and a GUI is far more productive. Also the command line implies you are using a small feature set. The GUI opens the whole application up be enabling visual access to commands rather than havign to navigate menus or reference manuals to find the appropriate comand line command.
                                                                                                                                                                              • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                                                                Mike Lydon
                                                                                                                                                                                Kevin,

                                                                                                                                                                                I guess my problem is that I do intensive CAD work 100% of the time...well, maybe 90%, the other 10% is creating BOMs in our enterprise system. So, for those of us who are CAD jockies, and not part time users, I stand by my preferences. My preferences may not be the same as yours. That's ok.

                                                                                                                                                                                Mike Lydon
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                                                                    richard wagenaar
                                                                                                                                                                                    I do agree with Mike, I worked the same way 20 years
                                                                                                                                                                                    ago with Autocad and I can assure you it is much and
                                                                                                                                                                                    much faster than a mouse driven GUI.
                                                                                                                                                                                    I have setup SW with as much as possible
                                                                                                                                                                                    shortcuts and it has at least 50% productivity gain.

                                                                                                                                                                                    The left hand doesn't need to move when invoking
                                                                                                                                                                                    a command and it can be simultanous with the mouse
                                                                                                                                                                                    so it is easy to see how it is faster.
                                                                                                                                                                                    Why use one hand if we have two?

                                                                                                                                                                                    The best thing is that a command line UI or
                                                                                                                                                                                    shortkey driven UI can exist perfectly next the
                                                                                                                                                                                    mouse driven UI, so both type of users can be happy.
                                                                                                                                                                                    It is not an "or" thing but an "and" thing.
                                                                                                                                                                                    So basically both users could be happy.
                                                                                                                                                                                    I think the Solidworks UI is now too much mouse
                                                                                                                                                                                    driven causing performance loss.


                                                                                                                                                                          • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                                                            Dave Zinn
                                                                                                                                                                            I think a great UI improvement would be to add the ability of selecting more than one element or object or entity at a time. Example: hiding edges in drawing views. What would also help in this scenario would be the ability to select whole features.

                                                                                                                                                                            Also, (Im using 2009) when I hit the pulldown view menu, then hit "hide all ..." in order to turn it off, the menu disappears and I have to hit it again to select types of things I want to see (or not, as the case may be).
                                                                                                                                                                            • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                                                              Charles Culp
                                                                                                                                                                              So why are people (richard wagenaar, Michael Lydon) saying that SW does not have shortcut keys? Shortcut keys can be mapped to (almost) every function. I have 30+ shortcut keys. It just does not have multiple character shortcut keys. You can only use CTRL/ALT/SHFT modifiers plus the regular keys. I do understand why some people don't like CTRL/ALT/SHFT, and prefer to have them as multi-character shortcuts.

                                                                                                                                                                              I agree with the mouse movement thing, I do not have any toolbars at all. I only use the shortcut toolbar. You can see my interface here, as of SW2008: http://forum.solidworks.com/fo...atid=24&threadid=11007
                                                                                                                                                                                • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                                                                  David Anderson
                                                                                                                                                                                  in my opinion, a great UI is one that does not require me to move my mouse OR my eyes from the geometry i am working on in order to execute a command.

                                                                                                                                                                                  thus keystrokes are most efficient to execute commands. menus and toolbars and popups are great for learning, but if i never had to use a menu or pop up for modeling and drafting tasks, i would find that very productive. certainly settings and controls etc lend themsevles well to menus, but hide planes or show axis certainly do not need a menu to execute.

                                                                                                                                                                                  when i used autocad, i had 109 keystrokes defined. some executed custom lisp routines and others simply mapped to native commands. although it sounds like a lot to learn, after about 40 hours of use, most are burned into memory. and for the rest, a cheat sheet sufficed until all were learned.

                                                                                                                                                                                  i realize SW allows key mapping, but it is really limited as once you go thru the alphabet, you are now forced to the cntrl, shift alt combos that become physically impossible to reach and for me require me to glance down at the keyboard.

                                                                                                                                                                                  autocad waited for a prompt to execute kestrokes. i used the spacebar and thus most commands were a single key or 2 closely spaced keys and then the spacebar.

                                                                                                                                                                                  it would be nice if SW provided for the option to enalarge the space for mapping of keystrokes w/o the cntrl/shift/alt option.

                                                                                                                                                                                  best,

                                                                                                                                                                                  dave
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                                                                    richard wagenaar
                                                                                                                                                                                    Charles,

                                                                                                                                                                                    The ability to have a shortcut for a sequence of commands
                                                                                                                                                                                    for example adding a prefix to a dimension(text) is what
                                                                                                                                                                                    I miss in the latest SW UW. We use an external program
                                                                                                                                                                                    (aimkeys) for this which is not usable with the SW UI after
                                                                                                                                                                                    2007. The old pop up menus of SW <2007 could be used
                                                                                                                                                                                    easily automated.
                                                                                                                                                                                    The property managers after SW2007 are mousedriven
                                                                                                                                                                                    and cannot be automated and they cause too much
                                                                                                                                                                                    mousework. It would be good if SW could just like Pro/e
                                                                                                                                                                                    have a shortcut for a sequence of commands.
                                                                                                                                                                                    Of course you could do this with VBA but that is many times
                                                                                                                                                                                    more work. I think I have over 150 shortcuts including all kinds
                                                                                                                                                                                    of shortcuts for often used text in drawings. It saves a lot
                                                                                                                                                                                    of time.
                                                                                                                                                                                  • Re: Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                                                                    Stuart Graham
                                                                                                                                                                                    I have not read through all the posts in this thread but here is my input. Get back to basics guys, start off simple. Not with the interface enhancements and new ways to edit things etc, get back to basics and fix what is already there before trying to change something that is not even working properly.

                                                                                                                                                                                    For instance. I have an assembly with 10 different configurations. EVERY time I go into and edit the configuration I get this pissy little ‘modify configurations’ window that I have to resize. I run dual 1920 * 1200 displays and it seems like this window dates back to the 1024*768 days. Not good enough. It is a simple thing, but one that irks me every time I use the software. BTW, the open file dialog box remembers its size and location, why can’t this box?


                                                                                                                                                                                    The add/modify dimension micro sized dialog box. When I go to type in a dimension, I get this very small dialog box, and if I want to add an equation I have to click a down arrow, select ‘add equation’ and type it in there. Why the extra steps? Why can’t I add the equation directly there?
                                                                                                                                                                                    I know this is only small stuff that people have lived with forever and a day, but if you cannot get the small stuff right, what chance do you have of getting the bigger stuff right. What I am talking about here is basic on-screen workflow.

                                                                                                                                                                                    My message to Solidworks, fix what is already there before trying to add more features for every new release for marketing purposes.

                                                                                                                                                                                    Stu
                                                                                                                                                                                      • Re: Examples of great UI
                                                                                                                                                                                        Mauricio Martinez-Saez

                                                                                                                                                                                        "When I go to type in a dimension, I get this very small dialog box, and if I want to add an equation I have to click a down arrow, select ‘add equation’ and type it in there. Why the extra steps? Why can’t I add the equation directly there?

                                                                                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                                                                        When you go to the "equation" entry window (after click down and select add equation) you have also access to functions to be used on the equations (pi, sqrt, int, tang. cos, etc.) if you do not need any functions, just enter simple algebra a+b, c*a, etc. then enterign equations on the dimension editing small dialog box will be ok.