As you can probably tell, we're pretty excited about the new features in SolidWorks 2014. Hopefully, you were able to join us at our Rollout events last month and catch a glimpse of what's new for yourself (if not, there are plenty of places for you to look to find the highlights).
A lot of the really big enhancements are getting plenty of attention*, but I think some of the enhancements that see the most life in your day-to-day grind are the ones that deal with your ability to access information. As engineers, we build our lives around having more information at our fingertips. For those of you who work in larger engineering departments (or even smaller ones), you can also appreciate how important it is to have simple ways to share that information with others. And it's in this area where I feel like SolidWorks has made great strides in the last several releases.
SolidWorks 2012 gave us the Command Search and introduced the Part Reviewer, tools that made it easier for us to find little-used features and to better document our design notes (respectively). SolidWorks 2013 radically improved the Part Reviewer and gave us a simple method (through the Favorites Folder) to to keep track of the most critical features in our tree. I loved all of those new features simply because it gave us easier access to features and information about our designs... and I'm the kind of engineer who loves using tools that make information easier to find.
So what does SolidWorks 2014 have to offer us in that same vein? This year, that improvement is the History folder, conveniently found right at the top of your feature tree. The History folder will maintain a running list of recently created or edited features in your feature tree. By right mouse clicking on the folder and selecting History Options, you can control how many recent features are listed in the folder. You can store anywhere from 1 to 99 of your most recently created/edited features. You can also use the Hide/Show Tree Items... option to decide if you want to see the folder or keep it out of sight.
Unlike the "undo/redo" options that you see in most Windows applications, this list is not session specific: you can save and close a part, open it up on a different machine and still see the same list of your most recent commands. The feature history data is saved with the file, not stored in local RAM and cleared out when you close the file. This can be a very helpful tool for giving both you and your collaborators a simple way to find the features you've been working on in your files.
*Since I'm talking about it, here are my personal favorite 2014 enhancements, in no particular order
- Automated Cache Management in Enterprise PDM
- Increased support for managing equations and global variables across configurations.
- Replace Sketch Entities (alter your sketch geometry without massive rebuild errors)
- Integration between toolbox components and bolt connectors in Simulation (I will no longer define a bolt connection manually, I swear!)
- Also in Simulation: There are some fantastic changes to the user interface for post-processing that I love (and will look familiar to those of you who have used Flow Simulation).
Want to learn more about new features of 2014? Here's a Simulation tip: Matereality Partnership with Simulation.