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RealView on a Mac...Secrets Revealed!

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When Apple switched their architecture from PowerPC to Intel in 2005 the race was on to get Windows running on Apple hardware without emulation.  Since then we all know the story and anyone can get Windows running on a Mac in a number of configurations without much effort.

I have been doing this since 2006 and have run all the SolidWorks products on 4 different Apple Macbook Pros from the first Core2 MBP in 2006 to the newest Macbook Pro Retina now running Windows 8.1.  Over the years I have gone to great lengths to run SolidWorks on my Mac without limits, including support for RealView.  Apple has changed video cards, video card manufacturers and Microsoft has shipped 32/64 bit XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 and now Windows 8.1.  Saying that the playing field has changed a bit would be an understatement to say the least!

On the first builds I had to use Riva Tuner from Guru3d.com to build a hacked or "tuned" driver that enabled the pro series features on my "gamer card" that ships with the Macbook Pro.  This method was necessary to meet the requirements on the "Approved" SolidWorks video card testing site in order to unlock the RealView functionality.  The other issue was simply the earlier video cards in the various Mac lines were very under powered and tuning was necessary to handle the graphics load of SolidWorks.  

The good news is the hacking is over and there is a simple way to enable RealView on your Mac.

Disclaimer...

A word or warning though, as you all know SolidWorks still states very clearly on its system requirements page that:

Apple Macintosh®-based machines running Windows using Boot Camp are not supported.

I think it is also safe to say that someone whom uses a Mac has it for reasons beyond just using SolidWorks and want the ability to use the same machine for any application, Windows, Linux, or Mac.  If you don't have a need to use a Mac, don't buy one.  Alright.  Now that that is out of the way, here are the bits you were after...

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  1. You must be running SolidWorks 2011 or later (might work on earlier builds but have not tested prior to 2011)
  2. Close SolidWorks... 
  3. Launch regedit and go to key:   HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SolidWorks\SolidWorks 2012\Performance\Graphics\Hardware\Gl2Shaders\NV40
  4. Under the NV40 key (This will work for many of the nVidia line for ATI the RV420 key works for many of them) create a new key called GeForce (you can use the full name shown in your device manager as well)
  5. Under this new "GeForce" key create a new DWORD (32-bit) Value called "Workarounds"
  6. Double click the "Workarounds"  and enter a hex value "40008" (without "") (this is the setting for the nVidia card, ATI is typically 0 but it varies)
  7. Launch SolidWorks... (Should see the RealView gold ball now)

Keep in mind...

There are a few things that I have noticed since using this registry tune for displaying RealView.

  1. Editing the registry can cause OS level damage so make sure you know what you are doing...consider yourself warned
  2. Typically I have to reset this reg key after installing a service pack so you may want to right click on your key and export it for a simple double click after a patch.
  3. This step by step is my procedure for the last 3 Macbook Pros that all were running nVidia cards so if you have the ATI version, make sure you use the RV420 key instead to add your generic key to. 
  4. This does not work with virtual machine solutions like Parallels or VMWare Fusion (Only booted into Windows native via Bootcamp). 

I get 20-30 emails a year asking me how to do this and I wanted to share it with all of you that are using a Mac and running SolidWorks.  It's understandable that SolidWorks has to limit the scope of support to exclude this configuration from its supported list (as they do for some builds of Windows).  However, I can personally say that I have been able to successfully do this since 2006 and my Mac laptops have been some of the fastest systems I have owned to date.

I have spoken to hundreds of people that are already running SolidWorks on their Macs via Bootcamp or even using Parallels or Fusion to get their jobs done. Whether you have a Mac for  "religious" reasons or require the platform for similar reasons as I do (hardware quality and application preferences only on OSX), this solution will make the SolidWorks experience in Bootcamp at par with most Windows-based laptops.  If you run into any issues trying to get this to work, please leave a comment or drop me a line and I'd be happy to help out.   ~Lou

eDrawings for iPad Goes Pro

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Back at the beginning of May DS SolidWorks launched the 1.0 version of the long awaited eDrawings for iPad.  This first release was far from perfect but SolidWorks opened up the suggestions box and asked for feedback from the community.  Many of the feature requests were addressed in the 1.1 version that shipped just 45 days after the debut of eDrawings for iPad.

Although the biggest request was a version that would run on Android, which has still not been addressed, the feature list that makes eDrawings useful to a majority of it's users (Markup, Measure, Section, etc..) was still absent from the mobile version of eDrawings.  It appeared that subsequent updates would trickle out but that the buik of what this mobile client would do was somewhat feature complete.

On the last day of August 2012, DS SolidWorks launched another version of eDrawings for the iPad called eDrawings Pro for iPad, bringing almost all the features still missing in the standard version.  In addition to the first generation build, eDrawings Pro for iPad will add the following functionality:

  • UPDATED Interface
  • Read and create markups
  • View Decals
  • Measure
  • Apply cross sections

SolidWorks, on their blog, listed many features that were already in the first version of eDrawings along with the pricing for this new offering.  The official price will be $9.99 but will debut for 30 days at a 50% discount of $4.99.  I think the $4.99 price is probably fair but the $9.99 price tag might me a bit high unless this is a must have app for you.  Some folks seems to think this is a hefty price considering they already bought the first version that does most of what this version does.  Maybe I'd feel that way at the $10 mark however it would have been wiser to make the Professional features available as an in-app purchase in the original version for $4.99.  Perhaps this would ease the pain of buying the first version not knowing the Pro version was right around the corner.  Unfortunately I will probably just delete the original version of eDrawings since it has been obsoleted by the Pro version. ($2 early adopter fee?)  

It's interesting how the mobile app marketplace has changed not only the price point of apps but also the expectations of it's users.  Five years ago, people wouldn't even complain about an application that had a $10 price tag, in fact they probably wouldn't even hesitate to purchase it.  However, today a $10 mobile app brings a lot of  "purchase hesitation" where as a $4.99 price may be still considered an impuse buy.

Below is the updated compatibility chart I built from the first version of the application.  Obviously there are still things that can only be done on the desktop version but overall this mobile client is the one to have of the two.  It is not apparent if the new interface or other pre-existing features will be updated in the standard version of eDrawings for iPad.

As far as plans to eventually support Android, well the stance is the same:

"We opted to concentrate on iOS for the time being because we felt we would reach the most users that way. But as I said earlier, we welcome any and all feedback."  - Matthew West, Social Media Manager, DS SolidWorks

Personally I have purchased a Google Nexus 7 and think it is one of the best tablets I have used to date.  Having owned the original iPad and now the iPad 3rd generation, as a utility device, the Nexus is at par with the iPad and has become my go-to device.  I hope Google entering the market and making a reference design will promote more quality devices to be made by its partners and boost the Android tablet market.  At this point counting out Android on tablets is just not going to happen and more companies have to start giving Android love on day one instead of treating the platform like a second rate citizen.

eDrawings Pro for iPad is the real deal and is the feature set I have always wanted to see on a tablet.  At $4.99, it is worth every penny, even if I already paid for the first version.  I have invested a total of $7 into having this functionality on my tablet and would like to see it make its way not only to Android but also to phones since that is the platform that will reach the masses.  Having this feature set on any mobile device will move SolidWorks in the right direction to addressing what users want in the mobile space. ~Lou

Deploying EPDM on Windows Azure

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Two weeks ago I did a show on my experiences of setting up a test server for EPDM on Microsoft's Platform as a  service (PaaS) and have been testing this setup over the last week.  I wanted to show a quick setup tutorial since this services has a 90 day trial where you can test drive it fully!

Since many of you probably have a Microsoft account, especially if you are testing Windows 8 or more primitivlely have a Hotmail account login, you can sign up for the trial and then get access to the Portal for Windows Azure.  Here are the options that you get access to once you complete the trial signup process.

For EPDM purposes there were two services that I was interested in, Virtual Machines and SQL Databases.  At first my thought was to use a VM to host the server requirements for the archive and database services and a drive to house the archive hive (data store for file versions) and then host the database on the hosted SQL database service.  

Before I move forward, I tested if this SQL service would support all the same features as the on-premises version .  After further research, this was more of a service to power database applications and does not support stored procedures and other requirements needed for the vault creation wizard (SA access or db_owner access).  I did try a few other tricks like creating the database on a local machine and then importing it to the SQL store but no luck.  In SQL Management Studio 2012 there is a new database task to deploy to SQL Azure which failed when I tried with the Conisio Master and vault database:

So despite wanting to use the hosted SQL platform, I had to resort to utilizing a local instance of SQL on a Windows Azure virtual machine.  The saving grace to using the Windows Azure VM is that you can literally deploy an instance in about 2 minutes with SQL already installed and setup.  The other benefit is downloading the 1GB EPDM install package also took only 3 min to download from the deployed VM!

So here is the quick list to build your own testing vault for EPDM with a picture step by step:

Once you follow the steps in the VM creation wizard, you will need to wait until the status of the VM show "Running".  You will then be able to click "Connect" which will create an RDP file with all the required connection info.  Now you have remote access to a brand new VM running Windows Server 2008 R2 with MS SQL 2012 installed.  There are a few changes to the setup that will need to be adjusted before use with EPDM is possible:

  1. Switch the SQL instance to Mixed mode and set your SA password (I am assuming you know how to do this -> Properties of the server in MS SQL MGT Studio.)
  2. Add connection endpoints in Windows Azure to allow specific port communication with the new server (I used different ports for the archive server for the external port.
  3. Possibly open up ports in the firewall on the server as well (3030 and 1433/1434)

Now that the server is setup, the rest is done on the client machine.  On the client machine, add the public name of the server to the client machine's hosts file (C:\Windows\system32\drivers\etc) and point it to the public IP address shown on the VM dashboard on Windows Azure.  Now you can add the server and create a new vault hosted in the cloud.

Now I know I left out a few steps but there are a few things to also mention about this platform.  If this is going to be a production system, this setup does not address encryption, therefore all traffic is open and would recommend setting up a server to server VPN so that traffic is secure.  The other mention is that this does have to eventually be paid for so if you are curious on the cost of a hosted server, Microsoft has built a beautiful pricing tool that gives you live feedback of the monthly cost for your cloud setup.

I run into a lot of companies that do not have an IT staff and/or resources to setup the infrastructure required to deploy EPDM.  Having a service that can provide a server at a reasonable cost, with nearly no maintenance and automatic backup off site can be a nice resource for the small business.  I like it for testing new software since I can deploy quickly and not impact my production environment. ~Lou

eDrawings for iPad UPDATED...

About a month back SolidWorks released eDrawings for iPad and for a V1 release it was a nice viewer.  I wrote up my thoughts after my initial install and although it was very lacking on the collaboration/markup/measure features, it had some fundamental issues even as a viewer.

Today version 1.1.0 was pushed out on the App Store which has addressed many of the major bugs and added a few nice feaures to bring it closer to par with the desktop viewing experience.  

Here are the additions:

What's New in Version 1.1.0

We’re back ! A great update with many new features and enhancements that you have asked for :

- Transparent parts
- Standard orthogonal views
- Shaded with edges mode
- Perspective mode
- Hide, show & make components transparent
- Select components from graphics area
- Hyperlinked views in drawings
- Sort files by name, extension, date and size
- Leave file open during background execution for fast app switching
- Fixed shaded drawing views during panning and zooming
- Fixed incorrect legends in SolidWorks Simulation files
- Various bug fixes

Here are a few screenshots of the updated features:

The update added filters for the file library, interaction in the UI for hide/show/transparency and nice standard view shortcuts.  It now respects password protection and supports fast app switching so the application doesn't relaunch when you return to the app.

Overall this is a quality update and makes eDrawings for iPad a good viewer.  I have attached an updated compatibility map for the features I have tested. ~Lou