28 Replies Latest reply on Jan 23, 2009 11:01 PM by Kenneth Palkow

    Why Were the Thumbnails Changed in SW 2009?

    Rio Benson
      SW: The Thumbnail Views in previous releases were quite helpful to many of us. In SW 2009, however, the thumbnail size (not the space required) has been reduced by approximately 50%, the viewing angle has been changed from trimetric to some oddball orientation, and the view shows up distorted on a wide-screen monitor. The thumbnail views are now virtually useless to quickly identify a file. Why the change? What was wrong with the way they were presented previously?
        • Why Were the Thumbnails Changed in SW 2009?
          I tried copy 2008 version sldwinshellextu.dll file to 2009 folder to overwrite it and fix the problem (after a restart of SW). Please backup your original dll file before doing this.
            • Why Were the Thumbnails Changed in SW 2009?
              Rio Benson
              Thank you, Shaodun, for the reply. I did as you suggested without success. The thumbnail icons in Windows Explorer remained as they were after installing SW2009.

              So, my question remains. Why did SW 'fix' something that wasn't broke? And worse, why didn't they check it before SW2009 was released?

              If anyone cares to check it out, there are a number of other suggested SW2009 Beta fixes that didn't happen, along with previous fixes that were implemented that, for some unknown reason, reverted to their earlier unfixed state. See "Matt Writes" at http://dezignstuff.com/blog/ for more info.

              I truly don't want to appear overly critical of SW, but this type of thing is exactly what some of us long-time SW users have been complaining about for years. We are not getting our money's worth with new SW releases, and you have to wait until update 3.0, or so, for all the user's problem reports to be acted upon. The users are having to pay for the 'priviledge' of doing SW's trouble shooting for them. Why not slow down the release cycle while SW thoroughly checks their work prior to a new release?
                • Why Were the Thumbnails Changed in SW 2009?
                  Rio Benson
                  Well, I guess no one is interested in this topic, SW in particular. Ignore the fact that there was a screw-up and it will be forgotten, right?

                  I'll grant that this is not one of the more pressing problems with SW 2009, just one of my pet peeves because the thumbnails were a useful tool for me. But, it is one more reason why I probably will not renew my subscription after this release. Perhaps I'll give Solidedge a try, next time; they seem to be somewhat more responsive to their customers!
                    • Why Were the Thumbnails Changed in SW 2009?
                      Matt Lombard
                      I agree. This is lost functionality. It is even worse if you use Vista, because the preview window in the Open dialog is gone.
                        • Why Were the Thumbnails Changed in SW 2009?
                          Anna Wood
                          Not sure what you guys are seeing. The previews on my Vista x32 machine with SW2009 install works just fine both in the SW Open dialog and Windows Explorer.

                          I have both SW2008 SP4.0 and SW2009 SP0.0 installed.

                          In SW2009 the previews work the same as they did in SW2008 on my machine.

                          Not sure why this bug keeps coming up. I suspect the Windows OS is a big player in this bug.

                          FWIW,

                            • Why Were the Thumbnails Changed in SW 2009?
                              Rio Benson

                              Anna Wood wrote:

                               

                              Not sure what you guys are seeing. The previews on my Vista x32 machine with SW2009 install works just fine both in the SW Open dialog and Windows Explorer.

                              I have both SW2008 SP4.0 and SW2009 SP0.0 installed.

                              In SW2009 the previews work the same as they did in SW2008 on my machine.

                              Not sure why this bug keeps coming up. I suspect the Windows OS is a big player in this bug.

                              FWIW,

                              Anna,

                              I don't think it is in Windows; it might depend on how you updated. Could you list your update steps?

                              In my case and since I still need SW2007, but believing SW2008 is nothing more than a Beta release for SW2009, I deleted it, and then tried to upgrade, but failed. I then had to do a clean uninstall, reload SW2007, then load the SW2009 upgrade in separate folders. Talk about chasing your tail, all this took more than 3 hours over broadband.

                              Upgrading from SW2007 instead of SW2008 might have something to do with what we're seeing.

                              This would be a good place for SW to chime in, don't you think?

                                • Why Were the Thumbnails Changed in SW 2009?
                                  Anna Wood
                                  I always do clean installs. It is a clean install of SW2008 SP4.0 and also SW2009 SP0. I never, ever do an upgrade.

                                  SW2008 SP4.0 was installed before SW2009 SP0.

                                  Thumbnails render onscreen differently in Vista then in XP. One of the things I really like about Vista is the thumbnails for all the file types are actually useful as you can control the size and actually be able to see what is in the file.

                                  Cheers,

                                    • Why Were the Thumbnails Changed in SW 2009?
                                      Rio Benson
                                      Anna,

                                      Thank you for your itemized upgrade input. Anything else you would like to contribute relative to your Vista/SolidWorks experience or thoughts would sure be appreciated, at least by me.


                                      Ken,

                                      I followed your suggestion of unregistering SW2009's sldwinshellextu.dll and reregistering with SW2007's sldwinshellextu.dll. I was surprised at the number of entries, but it definitely did the trick. Why couldn't SW think of that? Didn't want to own up, wouldn't you say?

                                      Thanks again, Ken.

                                  • Why Were the Thumbnails Changed in SW 2009?
                                    Ken Fields
                                    First, let me say that this problem has been reported by several people including S. Lin and myself going back to at least Beta2. I reported this in Beta2, Beta3, PR1, and PR2. Why and how this remains a problem is almost mind boggling, especially so given that fix is trivial.

                                    I believe that there are two separate although related issues at play here depending on the dll that controls the thumbnail preview. As reported by Rio Benson, the thumbnail images are completely useless under SW2009 (nor does there appear to be any way of resizing them as the registry variables ThumbnailSize/ThumbnailQuality do not seem to be respected by this version). But additionally, the SW2009 version does not seem to support thumbnail previews outside of SolidWorks. That is, you can see the thumbnail view (for whatever that is worth) only when you are navigating within SW. This mode of operation is completely different when using the 2008 dll. With the SW2008 version, one just needs be using a thumbnail view -- regardless of whether one is navigating within SW or within XP using Windows Explorer -- and the registry size/quality variables are also respected. With SW2008, the .dll handler (sldwinshellextu.dll) is a 4.4 MB file, while the SW2009 version is a .dll of the same name but weighs in at only 161KB. Clearly there is some difference, but whether this is the expected functionality or if there is supposed to be yet another dll, is unclear as I have not received any response from SW regarding this issue.

                                    There appear to be a couple of ways to deal with this. I copied the SW2008 dll (sldwinshellextu.dll) into the SW2009 directory and then unregistered (regsvr32 -u sldwinshellextu.dll) and then re-registered (regsvr32 sldwinshellextu.dll) with success. One should also be able to simply un-register the dll and then register the 2008 version instead, but I'm (naively) hoping that SP1 won't overlay that dll and we'll wont have to go through this again...at least until the 2010 version Clearly installation order is important. If one installs 2008-SP5 over 2009-SP0, the problem will "disappear", until one installs the next 2009 release.

                                    Other notes. The documentation on Show thumbnail graphics in Windows Explorer talks about a "palette of 16 colors" being used for the thumbnails. This would cause major degradation in quality and I'm unclear if this information (and the option itself) are really out of date or if this is why the default 2009 version looks so bad. Finally, my experience is limited to XP and as was shown by A. Wood, this does not appear to affect Vista (unless she installed 2008SP4 over 2009SP0, which would seem unlikely).

                                    -----
                                    Ken
                                    • Why Were the Thumbnails Changed in SW 2009?
                                      David Demaria
                                      Im using Vista32 at home and XP64 at work. So far I am only getting this issue with the XP machine. Pain in the neck actually as thumbnails are by far the easiest way to recognise components when using alpha-numerically (non-descriptive) file names. I installed 2009 several hours ago and have a bug reporting that "shell extension server" blah-de-blah isn't behaving.
                                  • Why Were the Thumbnails Changed in SW 2009?
                                    Mike Puckett
                                    Rio,

                                    Keep us informed of how your switch to Solidedge goes. Lots of people talking about making a switch, but no one ever seems to do it. Nice to see someone finally publicly commit to making the switch like you have!
                                  • Why Were the Thumbnails Changed in SW 2009?
                                    Vajrang Parvate
                                    Hello Rio (and all),

                                    Please rest assured that we are indeed monitoring the feedback in the forums.

                                    The reason why we 'fixed' the thumbnails in 2009 is a bit technical, so please bear with me :

                                    The problem in 2008 and before is that the sldwinshellextu.dll which is the DLL responsible for generating the images required by Windows Explorer loads into the same process as the application. In other words, if you're browsing with Windows Explorer, it gets loaded into explorer.exe. If you are looking at the images in a file-open dialog in *any* application, that DLL gets loaded into that application's exe process.

                                    Now the problem is that if you are browsing a folder with thousands or tens of thousands of SLD* files, the generation of images can take a really long time and appear to hang that process. Also, the explorer shell can decide to start up any number of threads to generate the images. This is highly unpredictable and also differs in XP and Vista. To add to the mix, one of those files could potentially be a corrupt (yes, I know in an ideal world, we won't have any corrupt files..).

                                    We observed over the lifespan of 2007 and 2008 via the feedback logs that a lot of the "random crashing" that happens in the SolidWorks File->Open dialog was related in some way to the sldwinshellextu.dll. As I mentioned above, because of the indeterministic nature of how the thumbnails work, we can never guard against such random crashes 100% and we decided to change the architecture of the thumbnail generation in 2009 so that any random crash in the image generation will never bring down the hosting exe.

                                    In 2009, there are now two components : one is still called sldwinshellextu.dll and the other one is sldShellExtServer.exe. If you notice, the dll in 2009 is much smaller (around 160 KB) than in 2008 (4.5 MB) and the reason is that the 2009 DLL does almost none of the work to generate the thumbnails. That work is now done by sldShellExtServer.exe. The advantage to this approach is that even if the image generation is faced with a corrupt file, it will only bring down the sldShellExtServer.exe, not your main application like sldworks.exe.

                                    The downside to this approach is that because the image data is being passed across between 2 different processes, there are limitations on how much data can be handled and what sort of image processing can be done on the thumbnails before they are shown.

                                    While we certainly recognize the fact that changing anything is prone to some risk and we will not undertake the change if there was no just cause, we did see that the file->open random crash was in the top 5 of our reports, so it was imperative that we fix that.

                                    I'm not offering this as an excuse or justification for the issues you are seeing, but I hope it explains why we chose to change the behavior of the thumbnails in 2009.

                                    Regards,
                                    Vajrang.

                                    [Update] : While there will be some changes to the size and aspect ratio of the images that are seen in explorer that we cannot change, all icon images should still be 'legible' in Views->Details mode in explorer. We are looking into that issue at this time.

                                      • Why Were the Thumbnails Changed in SW 2009?
                                        Wayne Tiffany
                                        Vajrang,

                                        Thank you for that explanation. I like it when we get to see the reasoning behind changes. Sometimes this is available during the Beta testing, but the average user doesn't get to see it then.

                                        Was the programming decision this time one that all users will agree with? Probably not. But it also points out that SW is looking at performance reports and is taking a proactive approach to crashes, which will benefit everyone.

                                        WT
                                        • Why Were the Thumbnails Changed in SW 2009?
                                          Ken Fields
                                          Vajrang --

                                          First, let me say thank you for your reply and for the explanation of this situation.

                                          But while I appreciate your response, I must say, respectively, that it is clearly late in coming. For months, this "problem" has been reported without any explanation, update, or fix forthcoming. More importantly, this problem was not just isolated to the SW2009 Beta release, but had the side effect of changing the way Windows Explorer and other production versions of SW handled the display of thumbnail previews. And it just didn't affect them in some subtle way (e.g. by changing the thumbnail orientation from isometic to dimetric) but essentially made thumbnails not work at all.

                                          While I am not in a position to second guess the decision to modify the approach for the display of thumbnails (although I might have looked into making sldwinshellextu itself more robust in dealing with corrupt files), I would certainly argue that there has been little/no testing of these changes by SW nor have all of the consequences been considered. Let me recap the issues as I know them under XP:

                                          1) Under this new scheme, when navigating in Windows Explorer (outside of SW), SW thumbnail previews are displayed as icons. It is not that they are displayed with a lower quality image, etc., it is that there is no thumbnail view for SW files whatsoever. This is independent of the status of Show thumbnail graphics in Windows Explorer.
                                          2) The thumbnails when viewed inside of SW are completely and utterly useless. It's not that they are of lower or marginal quality, it is that they are completely illegible.
                                          3) Under this new approach, when viewing a folder that contains SW files, the folder no longer displays four smaller thumbnails giving a hint as to the content of this particular folder.
                                          4) Under the 2008 version of sldwinshellextu, the option Show thumbnail graphics in Windows Explorer was not necessary or didn't seem to affect things.
                                          5) The documentation for Show thumbnail graphics in Windows Explorer seems to suggest that there is a 16 color limit to thumbnails. If this is still the case, it would make the display of thumbnails extremely coarse. Additionally, seems to suggest that the thumbnail view is the last saved view. This is inconsistent with the prior version which alway used the isometric view, although given the quality of the thumbnail, it is not possible to determine what view it is really using.

                                          I suppose that the bottom line, at least for me, is to ask SW to re-think this strategy. In order to solve a problem which affects those users who keep 1000's of files in a single folder, a significant amount of functionality has been deprecated. I would ask SW to consider the following:
                                          1) How many users are there that actually store 1,000 to 10,000 files in a single folder in comparison to those that have either more modest file requirements or who take advantage of file hierarchy.
                                          2) Consider making the sldwinshellextu.dll more robust in dealing with corrupt files.
                                          3) If one must split the functionality, then the new approach should provide at least the same functionality as the old -- Thumbnails outside of SW, respect for Thumbnailsize/ThumbnailQuality, etc.
                                          4) If not possible to meet the needs of all users, then offer both. One for those users who must store 1,000 of files in a single folder and everyone else.
                                          5) Finally, and most importantly, regardless of the technical decision made, do not slip this change under the rug. This should be discussed as part of the the SW2009 documentation, so that everyone knows at least what the expected functionality is.

                                          Thank you for your consideration,

                                          Ken




                                          • Why Were the Thumbnails Changed in SW 2009?
                                            Vajrang,

                                            Thanks for the explanation. I think SW users would be more understanding of changes like this if we understood the reason behind it. To us it looks like functionality lost, it's hard for us to connect that loss to the reduced number of random crashes without an explanation.
                                            • Why Were the Thumbnails Changed in SW 2009?
                                              Jason Capriotti
                                              Vajrang,

                                              This fix isn't working for me at all...its worse. I have a folder with right under 10,000 files in it. In 2008 this viewed fine as thumbnails in either Windows Explorer or the SolidWorks open dialogue. Now in 2009, its hanging badly in the SolidWorks dialogue and the sldShellExtServer.exe is running in the background constantly at around 10-20%. SolidWorks finally came back after 2-3 minutes had passed.

                                              I've also noticed that if you have "Show thumbnail grpahics in windows explorer" unchecked, you cannot view thumbnails in the SolidWorks open dialogue even if you check that option. I never have used that option as sometimes I want to see the part/assy/drawing icons. When I want thumbnails, then I click that option in the display options. Best of both worlds.

                                              As this is, my thumbnail viewing ability is gone.

                                          • Why Were the Thumbnails Changed in SW 2009?
                                            David Demaria
                                            Hi Shaodun, did you still have the older (2008) version installed on your machine or did you do a clean install as I did. I swiped my hard drive of the earlier release and now connot re- register the oloder 2008 dll.
                                          • Why Were the Thumbnails Changed in SW 2009?
                                            Jason Capriotti
                                            The thumbnails they use are not even the same image....here are the same files viewed from the open dialogue in both 2008 and 2009. It's not just an aspect ratio issue....the picture is different.

                                            • Why Were the Thumbnails Changed in SW 2009?
                                              d a
                                              hello, i had the same problems with thumbnails in winexplorer... let me explain... i installed a MasterCam on my PC and because of that i couldn't see solidworks thumbnails anymore. so if someone have mastercam installed on pc then press Start/control panel and there u got mastercam x icon and open it. there u got ¨File open dialog style¨ and set it on Microsoft Windows standard. It workes for me...
                                              • Why Were the Thumbnails Changed in SW 2009?
                                                No way Rio Benson, I disagree: "I'll grant that this is not one of the more pressing problems with SW 2009, just one of my pet peeves because the thumbnails were a useful tool for me."

                                                I'd say this is a HUGE problem with SW 2009, for me, this "convenience funtionality" trims seconds off every file search I do; 'seconds' doesn't sound like much, but for someone who opens hundreds of files a day...

                                                Big mistake on Solidworks' part.
                                                  • Why Were the Thumbnails Changed in SW 2009?
                                                    It would be cool to have a rotating .gif like icon.
                                                      • Why Were the Thumbnails Changed in SW 2009?
                                                        Kenneth Palkow
                                                        Greetings,
                                                        I just wanted to add that I was running SW09 on an XP Pro 32 bit machine and had no problems at all. When I upgraded to XP Pro 64 bit and installed SW09 64 bit.... that's when the problem started. I went as far as to low level the drive and re-install everything..... same issue. So, I installed the 32 bit XP Pro and SW09 32 bit and guess what..... no problems. Yet again, I went back.... low leveled the drive.... re-installed Xp Pro 64 bit and SW09 64 bit and wouldn't you know..... problem is back. From this info, It's safe to say where the issue may be linked to. Now, Solidworks needs to come up with a solution.