15 Replies Latest reply on Jul 9, 2014 6:28 PM by Don Cheke

    SOLIDWORKS: Books for Beginners??

    David Lewis Jr



      My name is David and I work for a defense contractor. I have been given a directive by my company to obtain a fundamental understanding of solidworks. I have ZERO background in any type of 2D or 3D drawing software, exept a brief stint of AutoCAD for a couple of months a few years back. My current duties will be placed on hold for the next 6 months so i cna learn this software. I have already registered with our reseller for Fundamentals1 and 2. Those classes start later this month. Before i go to the classes i would like to purchase a publication so i can study up and come into the class knowing at least a tad bit of the basics. I am asking you guys if you have any recommendations on books for a newcomer like myself to this software.



        • Re: SOLIDWORKS: Books for Beginners??
          Alin Vargatu

          David, if you paid for the course already, ask your VAR to ship you the manuals before the class. There is no book that is even close to the official SW manuals from the quality point of view.


          Also, watch the free online videos from my.solidworks.com.

          • Re: SOLIDWORKS: Books for Beginners??
            Glenn Schroeder

            Welcome to the forum.  I agree with J. Mather about the tutorials.  In my opinion hands on working with the software is a better way to learn than from a book.   And you'll get more from the classes if you already have been working with it some before the class.


            And you're starting out very similar to how I did.  From my observations it may be easier to learn SW with no previous experience with other modeling or drafting software.  You don't have any habits to un-learn.


            Be sure to come back here if (when) you have questions.

            • Re: SOLIDWORKS: Books for Beginners??
              Alin Vargatu

              Everyone should ask himself/ herself at least 2 questions:


              1. "How fast do I need to become productive?".

              2. "Is it OK to learn bad habits right from the beginning?"


              Based on the answers, get a book, or follow tutorials, or watch youtube videos, or watch my.solidworks.com videos, or enroll in a course offered by a third party (like a college), or enroll in a course at a VAR, or ask for personal tutoring by an AE (also from a VAR).


              Of course, you can combine any of the above.

              • Re: SOLIDWORKS: Books for Beginners??
                Don Cheke

                I have been a provider of comprehensive project tutorials for a different CAD system since 2004 (sorry, they are not compatible with SolidWorks).


                What I discovered early in the process was that real world projects, laid out keystroke by keystroke, was what customers have found the most helpful. I write for many industries (mechanical, architectural, woodworking, etc.), so a new user picks one or two that look like something they might do at work (or where their interest lies) and work through them. By the time they have worked through the tutorial(s) they have learned how to set up the program, how to set up their drawing, learned how to create the many parts and the assembly. They have learned how to set up lighting, an environment and much more - all of which is applicable to future work. The full project tutorials range from about 250 pages to some over 400. To date I have written 100 tutorials with a total page count of about 25000. It has been great fun and has helped feed the family over the years.


                Once a new user has worked through a tutorial or two I suggest that they grab something around the house or office, take it apart, measure it and reproduce it in the CAD program. The user can then apply what they have learned and look back to the tutorial if they need a refresher on how to approach things.


                Although most of my tutorials have been full project tutorials, I have written some that are process/topic specific for things that almost all new users struggle with (understanding planes and coordinate systems, or establishing drawing templates, etc.).


                I was introduced to SolidWorks in 2011. One of my clients uses SW and they asked me to use it to create the CAD models and drawings for their business. At that time I became a newbie myself and I didn't like it at all. I had been so familiar with the previous CAD system (very different from SW) that having to relearn was painful. At least I was familiar with 3D modeling and drawings in general, so that wasn't a stumbling block, but tool locations and processes were another story.


                So how did I learn SolidWorks? Mostly I practiced with some of the supplied tutorials and I asked a lot of questions on this forum. I picked up a couple books that helped a bit. What I really wanted was a full project tutorial that would lead me through a real world project. I did not find any, but I did not check out all the varied options that exist for the SW user. Maybe someone can suggest something to you. You are lucky to have been offered the time to learn. Dive in and take advantage of the opportunity. It will seem overwhelming at first, but if you can find a comprehensive project tutorial you will get a handle on SW in good time.


                Oh, and watch Alin's videos for all kinds of tips that will come in handy.

                  • Re: SOLIDWORKS: Books for Beginners??
                    John Sutherland

                    "What I discovered early in the process was that real world projects, laid out keystroke by keystroke, was what customers have found the most helpful."


                    What other learning methods had they tried and found less helpful?

                      • Re: SOLIDWORKS: Books for Beginners??
                        Don Cheke

                        Good question John.


                        Based on customer feedback and my own experience, less helpful learning aids have been:


                        Tutorials that assume the users know more than they do (missing steps in the tutorial). These are real show stoppers at times and users just throw up their hands and move on to something else. Some will try to work it out, but it is difficult if they don't even know what to look for. As a tutorial writer I found that I received fewer and fewer emails from customers requiring additional help to overcome issues as my tutorials became more detailed over the years.


                        Tutorials that are too simple and don't really cover enough processes in the program to make learning go smoothly.


                        Tutorials that do not have an illustration (or enough illustrations) to go along with the description/explanation. Having both illustration and accurate text helps both types of learners (those that learn best by reading and those that are more the visual learner).


                        Videos without audio.


                        Videos that move too fast to follow.


                        Video that play music while the tutor explains the steps. The music is usually not the type the viewer enjoys and so it just adds to the stress of learning.


                        As video gets more and more popular I have had a few customer ask if I will ever get into making videos. At this time, as much as I would like to, I feel it is much too time consuming to make good videos. I do make the odd short video that I include with my tutorial bundles to further illustrate some points so I know what it takes. I sent out a customer survey a couple or so years ago and asked what they preferred in the way of tutorials. I would say 98% said they preferred the written works (PDF) so they could print it out or use dual screen to work with the tutorial and the CAD program easily. The other 2% said that they preferred video but would really like the tutorial in both formats (written and video). The combo of book and video won't be happening anytime soon. :-)