SolidWorks Social Support Mechanism

Published 14 December 2008

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with: solidworks, training, social media, support, informal support, learning,,

A couple of issues ago, I talked about how the death of the printed manual perhaps stifles the learning process for complex 3D modelling systems (yes, they are still complex). As part of that, we talked about how those informal learning methods, those that fit into the working day, give you the insider knowledge, the tips and tricks that take you from being an average user to expert in no time at all. Alongside manuals, the other big one is peer support. When you have a group of users working in the same system, knowledge gets shared, tips and hints shouted across the office, by email even.

Now, think about that in the context of today’s hyper-connected world, where people are connected together: whether it’s facebook, twitter, linkedin. Is there potential for the world of technical software and 3D CAD in particular, to take advantage of the social media revolution? You see it everywhere, people helping each other out with problems, with software issues and beyond, whether behind closed doors on vendor support forums, user groups. But can this be brought into the interface to keep you focussed on the group at hand, stop you from twitching for that alt-tab keycombo?

Ben Eadie, professional Canadian, world record holder, video star and creator of has just launched an interesting service, called It follows a very simple premise. Connect up SolidWorks users, provide a method for users to ask questions about issues they can’t figure out and other users answer them or give a few hints. The premise is simple and from what can be seen, pretty effective. What’s really interesting is that Ben’s just released an add-in for SolidWorks that gives access to this resource from with the navigation pane of SolidWorks. There are plans for a few extra tools, such as tools that will capture a screenshot and post it on the site, as well as pack and go your data for passing around problems. The whole thing is pretty nice and its interesting seeing how Ben’s developing it in very quick reaction to users requests and issues.

The work to integrate it into the SolidWorks UI is fascinating, but what really interests me is how this formalises a lot of the things that go on outside of a vendor’s control. Yes, many users have support contracts with resellers, but there are many that don’t; whether that’s students or professionals that simply can’t justify the support/maintenance costs. There’s also the fact that its often quicker to get a response in this way than going through a reseller. There are support forums run by SolidWorks, but again, this is a much more informal thing - quick questions, quick answers. Best way I’ve thought of describing it is a social support mechanism for SolidWorks, without the group therapy and 12 steps; and it’s fascinating.


Wow, Thanks Al, great write up. <BR><BR>Ben

Posted by Ben on 01 January 1970 at 02:00 AM

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