Dynamic Helpers Shorten the Solid Edge Learning Curve22 Jun, 2011 By: Russell Brook
On the Edge Solid Edge Tutorial: With these handy aids, you can stay productive while transitioning to a new system.
Editor's Note: This tutorial courtesy of Siemens PLM Software.
Learning a new CAD system can be a daunting task — especially if you are already familiar with another system. Switching software to accommodate a technological shift or a new job can mean a dip in productivity while you learn your way around the new program.
To help you transition from 2D to 3D or from other 3D systems, Solid Edge provides dynamic helpers, so you can be productive while you learn. They automatically switch off as you go, becoming less obtrusive as you gain more experience. Helpers in Solid Edge consist of the start-up screen, tool tips, command tips, Command Finder, and more.
Let's start by pointing out where to toggle helpers on and off and control how they behave. This is helpful if you want to reset the helpers for a new user or switch them off altogether on a clean install (or after an upgrade, if you are an experienced user).
Start Solid Edge, go to the Application button, and choose Options.
The start-up screen options allow you to choose to see the screen when you launch Solid Edge, choose the default template you use most often, or continue with your last saved document and choose between synchronous or ordered modeling tools (Note: Since ST3, you can switch between the two at any time). You can also define which templates show on the start-up screen and applications menu, and default templates when a file is automatically created.
To show helpers, the "Show tool tips" and "Show command tips" boxes in the General section should be ticked. Conversely, un-checking the boxes turns them off. To reset the tips so we see them as a new user or someone starting Solid Edge for the first time, click on the Reset Tips button. You can also adjust the application color scheme and the appearance of the pathfinder.
Tool tips are turned on or off under the Command Buttons section. Farther down in the dialog, there are also options to set the user interface to use horizontal toolbars or vertical docking window styles. You can also turn on gestures in the Radial Menu section (I'll cover these in another tutorial). Live Rules appearance setup is at the bottom of this dialog.
Now that you know how to control the helpers, let's take a look at how they work to compress your learning curve.
The start-up screen is a place you can begin Solid Edge. It offers a choice of things you can do like start a new document, launch the interactive tutorials, store your favorite links, or launch documents you have recently worked on.
To help you become familiar with Solid Edge quickly, tool tips provide advice about what commands do. Just by hovering over an icon, you can learn what the tool does before you select it. Tool tips are on permanently unless you turn them off in the options.
The command tips walk you through a command and provide dynamic information about the interface as you use it. They activate automatically while you work, and the system is smart; after a tip is closed, it won't show up again unless you reset the tool tips in the options.
As you add a feature, Solid Edge provides step-by-step prompts letting you know what to do, options available, or input the system is expecting. These prompts are displayed in the PromptBar along the bottom of the Solid Edge application border.
The Command Finder is found next to the view icons along the bottom edge of Solid Edge. Command Finder helps you discover where commands reside in Solid Edge, and also finds similar commands named differently in other systems. It works across all Solid Edge applications, assembly, part, sheet metal, and draft, and finds equivalent commands from all popular 2D and 3D systems.
For example, typing Shell in the Command Finder (step 1 in the image below) quickly shows Solid Edge equivalents, Thin Wall and Thin Region. When you hover over the hotlink in the Options dialog (step 2), Solid Edge points out where to find the Thin Wall command (step 3). Other related commands are also found; in this case, Thin Region. You can navigate and click on the command in Step 3, but clicking on the hotlink (step 4) executes the Solid Edge command straight from Command Finder.
The same techniques also work in 2D, which is handy if you're an AutoCAD user moving to Solid Edge. For example, entering the AutoCAD Snap command finds Solid Edge's equivalent, the Alignment Indicator.
Helpers are just a few of the tools inside Solid Edge that can shorten your learning experience. Solid Edge also comes preloaded with an electronic Getting Started guide and more than 30 built-in tutorials.
To learn more tricks like these, visit www.solidedge.com/demos or read more Cadalyst Solid Edge tutorials. Until next time, good luck using Solid Edge.
In her easy-to-follow, friendly style, long-time Cadalyst contributing editor Lynn Allen guides you through a new feature or time-saving trick in every episode of her popular AutoCAD Video Tips. Subscribe to the free Cadalyst Video Picks newsletter, and we'll notify you every time a new video tip is published. All exclusively from Cadalyst!