Here's my intro to the SW12 Costing Tool: http://www.thefabricator.com/article/forceos/3-d-cad-setting-up-a-costing-tool
Even though I'm writing articles about it, I'm still learning the SW costing tool.
The feed back I'm getting from the magazine readership indicates that 1) job shops don't like to share trade secrets and 2) CAD Jockey's don't want to know enough about estimating to understand the information coming out of the SW Costing tool.
The idea that I had - that job shops would publish costing templates so that their customers could do their own estimating - is not being warmly embraced. Where it is being implemented, it is done under heavy cloaking where nobody can peek.
Starting in January of 2013, we're going to change the emphasis of the Precision Matters articles away from CAD and more towards estimating as a step in the overall manufacturing / business process. The main audience of the magazine is manufacturing and there's a lot of interest in estimating as a skill. We'll be keeping a close eye on CAD tools, but estimating happened before and will happen after CAD. Plenty to discuss without getting tangled in UI.
I think the SW costing tool has a role to play in professional estimating, but mostly as a method of identifying an inventory of features that need to be fabricated. Perhaps it would be good as the "SWAG" benchmark to catch data entry errors in ERP/MRP.
IMHO Everything else about estimating (and there is a considerable bit of fluff) is handled with databases and trade wisdom external and unavailable to the SW workstation.