33 Replies Latest reply on Jan 12, 2017 8:02 AM by Don Carter

    An old guy rant for the new year

    Gary Lucas

      We upgraded? from SW2015 to SW2017 before Christmas. Suddenly the world of SW has gone from 3D back to 2D! Color, the third dimension has suddenly disappeared. We are back to interpreting tiny drawings (icons for you young guys) based on line type, thickness, and the concept that an it is intuitive that an octagon means stop. When computer screens got color suddenly CAD became possible without screens that could display line width and line type. We were trained in the use of line widths, and line types, the language of drawings that the shop also speaks.


      Stepping into my Way Back machine and looking at Lotus123 which was an early icon user interface, I would test a Lotus users expertise using one of their magazine ads featuring a border of about 200 of their icons. No one could ever tell me what more than about 20% of them did! But they are intuitive! Nope they are like the octagon used in the context of the word Stop. Icons are a language that you learn. Suddenly I find myself at Starbucks sitting at my desk, trying to order a medium size coffee.  "You'd like a Tall sir?" I suspect we now have a cadre of young clueless graphics artists used to texting designing the user interface.


      I design user interfaces for the PLCs that I program to run waste water treatment plants. These displays are low resolution and color plays a large part in operator understanding at an unconscious level. A green background means you are looking at a filtering screen, blue background is a cleaning screen, white is a parameter entry screen, etc. Imagine if everytime I update a PLC program I changed the screen colors just because I can!


      This loss of knowledge applies to the physical world as well. A perfect example, a battery powered drill. They are almost useless for things like drilling holes and driving screws, because the handle design is all wrong!  I suspect this may have been intentional when battery drills were first introduced. They had very little torque so you could easily overload them if you pushed hard. So by locating the handle off the center line of the drill bit it reduced how hard you could push without bending the drill bit and breaking it or skidding off.  Look at corded drills, every single one has a handle you can grip using your thumb and forefinger, while pulling the trigger with your pinky. Used this way you can push really hard without bending and breaking the drill bit, or dropping the screw you are driving and gouging the work piece. This knowledge has been apparently lost by the young tool designers, even though the batteries and motors now have plenty of power.


      Rant over, Happy New Year!

        • Re: An old guy rant for the new year
          Solid Air

          I almost titled this from one old guy to another old guy, but I do not know what you consider old.  I certainly remember when corded drills were a wonder (if you had electricity ).  But from your rant, I assume you do not like the plain icon colors in SolidWorks.  You can get some of the color back if you go to system options, colors and select Classic for Icon color.


          Just a thought; Paul Simon use to say everything looked better in black and white


          • Re: An old guy rant for the new year
            Richard Cook

            I am not a fan of the new non-color scheme.  The classic setting only gets you part way back in function.

            In general I'm pretty disappointed with SolidWorks since the 2016 release. The product definition team is doing a good job of finding new features to add to the product.

            They are not good at where they add them in the menu system.  Many things take longer.

            Try to measure the distance between 2 parts in an assembly.  

            On my screen I must.  Open tools, hit the up down scroll arrow may times, then find Evaluate, then measure.

            Also now that I am using 2017, I have more crashes then the last 3 releases.

            I refuse to tell the Star Bucks clerk I want a "Venti" cappuccino.  I say I'll have a large cappuccino.  The usual follow up is is that a "Grande or Venti"?  My answer  is "not the small, not the medium, the large please." 


            Just a rant from a medium aged guy.

              • Re: An old guy rant for the new year
                Solid Air



                You know you can set up a short cut key?  Also if you use command manager, it's only a couple clicks away to the measure tool.

                • Re: An old guy rant for the new year
                  Gary Lucas

                  I have shortcut keys set up for (M)easure, (T)op, (F)ront, (B)ack, (L)eft, (R)ight and a couple of others.


                  Going back a few years there was a Rightist conspiracy to cripple left handed PC users.  The keyboards back then had ten function keys in a block on the left side.  Under your left hand you had Shift, Ctrl, Alt, and Tab along with the ten function keys.  You could use 40 shortcut keys with you left hand and never take the right one off the mouse!  This gave lefties a powerful advantage, so it had to be fixed.  They moved the function keys to the top row and added two more to disguise what they were really doing, leveling the playing field so everyone had to use both hands for two key combinations.


                  At my last job another engineer had his mouse battery die at the end of the day before he could save what he had been working on.  He had know idea how to save, close etc.  I quickly used Windows short cut keys to do everything.  He was amazed and wanted to know how I knew.  Those keys were not introduced in Windows.  They were introduced in Microsoft Works under DOS long before Windows, and have remained the same to this day!  Now THAT is good user interface design!

                  • Re: An old guy rant for the new year
                    Glenn Schroeder

                    Richard Cook wrote:


                    Many things take longer.

                    Try to measure the distance between 2 parts in an assembly.

                    On my screen I must. Open tools, hit the up down scroll arrow may times, then find Evaluate, then measure.




                    I also use the Measure tool many times most days.  I've set up a Mouse Gesture for it.


                    • Re: An old guy rant for the new year
                      Marty Laury

                      OK, I hated the monochrome icons.  I read here in the forum that after three months I would get used to that.  Well, being so old, I forgot that conversation until now.  I did get used to it, imagine that.

                      Don't like the Command Manager, all my frequently used icons are piled up on the left side of my monitor. I have a number of keyboard shortcuts.  I am the only one here who does that. Old habits are hard to break.

                      Regarding antiques, I started using AutoCAD 2.5 in 1982 with a monochrome monitor, XT computer and a digitizing tablet and stylus.  The stylus was replaced by a mouse with a cross-hair.  We spent lots of time watching the pen plotter.  The instructions for AutoCAD were in a hard-cover book. Well organized, there was an index.  Solidworks? I think it's better and easier to use. 

                        • Re: An old guy rant for the new year
                          Rick McDonald

                          Marty Laury, I started about the same time (1982) as you but I think we user an earlier version of AutoCad (1.1 is what I remember).  We weren't advanced enough to have the tablet and Stylus. It took a long time of playing but we actually were able to Zoom Out from the (I think it was called Universe or Earth) drawing (that came with it) and got out to the moon and zoomed in on that - it was a real challenge.  Around that time the Engineering Manager came down to our department to show off his Brand New 10meg hard disk (took up 2 floppy drive slots).

                          We didn't even get the books.

                          I agree, SW is definitely better and easier to use.

                            • Re: An old guy rant for the new year
                              Rick Becker

                              Back in the very early 90's I worked for a company that had Hewlett Packard Me10 system that ran on a proprietary Pascal based operating system. We had 4 stations with tablet & pen input that cost $25,000 each plus the server and hard disks (8" diameter platters 10 or 20 MB capacity). Easiest, most customizable (great macro system) and my personal favorite CAD system ever. As I remember it it was bug free.


                              The owner of the company drew our Solar System in actual size.

                              I always wondered why SolidWorks limit drawing size to 1 cubic kilometer. It's just numbers. When the numbers get too many decimal places, just revert to scientific notation.

                              HP must be better at math...

                                • Re: An old guy rant for the new year
                                  Gary Lucas

                                  My first CAD program was Generic Cadd running on DOS sometime in the 80s.  Great program, two letter commands for just about everything, and you didn't need to use the enter key!  Fast as all get out.  It was bought by the Evil Empire Autodesk and they killed it off, probably because it became so popular that in another year there would be more seats of Generic Cadd than AutoCAD.  So they tried to switch everybody to LT which a was dog at the time.  To add insult to injury the last Generic Cadd version had the translation to AutoCad function so badly broken it was unusable, so in essence they machine gunned the lifeboats!


                                  I then used Visual Cadd, written by the original Generic Cadd guys but for windows.  In fact it was the first windows cad program beating AutoCAD to market by a year.  Also a great program using the same command set as Generic Cadd.  I started using AutoCAD only because I wanted to change jobs and needed to be proficient with it to that. I use it all the time and I STILL think AutoCAD sucks!

                          • Re: An old guy rant for the new year
                            Paul Risley

                            I am laughing so hard now, this reminds me of my first computer and how "wonderful" & "new" it was.ti computer.jpg

                            4-6 hours to program something run it then shut it off and bam program again the next time you wanted to run it. Fun times.