Manufacturing

SolidWorks Rx: The Computer Doctor Is In

22 Sep, 2004 By: Greg Jankowski

New diagnostics tools assist your support technician even when you can’t.


CAD can be demanding on your computer. Technical problems are not uncommon. Whenever you have a question, it can be difficult to give the support person a complete description of what's happening and how your computer is set up. A support technician might contact you repeatedly, asking a different question each time: What is your operating system version? Software versions? Hardware drivers? RAM? Disk space? and so forth -- and requesting ever more information and files. All this is important to the support person, but you often don't have the answers.

SolidWorks has addressed this issue with a utility called SolidWorks Rx. SolidWorks Rx is designed to reduce the burden on the user when technical questions arise and provide the support person with more complete information.

Diagnostics
The first phase of SolidWorks Rx looks for common issues that arise concerning computer configuration and setup, and then reports its findings. This diagnostics section reports common settings and recommends improvements for things such as video drivers, disk space, and RAM (figure 1). Review this information to see if it lists items that you should address. Once you address those issues, click the Reload Results button to reload the diagnostics.

figure
Figure 1. SolidWorks Rx runs diagnostics on your computer and lists suggested improvements for your review.

A Google web search tool is also built into the interface, so if you're looking for the latest video driver, you can do a Web search from SolidWorks Rx. Commonly used links appear under the See Also section of the pull-down menu. These are references to SolidWorks and other related technical support sites.

At the bottom of the diagnostics page are two safe modes. Choosing the first ignores the graphics card driver and starts SolidWorks in Software OpenGL mode for the next SolidWorks session. This can help rule out a graphics card issue. If this safe mode resolves the issue, you'll know your problem is related to your card and can get a new driver or replace the old video card.

The other safe mode is Ignore Tools/Options Setting for the next session. This uses the out-of-the-box settings for SolidWorks and turns off all add-ins. If this safe mode resolves the issue, you might need to fix a SolidWorks setting or an add-in product.

Problem Capture
If the diagnostics doesn't point out a setup issue, the next step is to look at capturing information about your system; record the steps used, and add the related SolidWorks files, then put the entire package into one ZIP file you can send to the support person.

For this procedure, use the Problem Capture page (see figure 2). The problem capture phase consists of three steps: record the issue, describe and categorize the issue, and package the support and optional SolidWorks documents. The user interface is simple and has quick tips to assist you with each step. The intelligent interface also knows when you've completed each step and when you should proceed to the next one.

figure
Figure 2. The Problem Capture page lets you record the steps that lead to your computer problem so a support technician can play them back.

Use Section a to start SolidWorks and record the steps that lead to the computer problem. A video of the SolidWorks session is encoded into a WMV (Windows Media Video) file you can replay in Windows Media Player v7 or higher. The idea is to capture the problem so the support person can watch what happened. The old adage "A picture is worth a thousand words" definitely applies here. The video files are

Use Section b to describe and categorize the issue. This information supplements the video. The more information you can provide, the easier it is for the support person to find an answer.

Section c is used to package the issue and optionally include SolidWorks documents. SolidWorks Rx remembers the last set of documents that were opened and adds them to the Add Files list. You can add or remove files from this list. You can also include other files that might be helpful, such as Microsoft Word documents or screen shots, to the final package. The Add Files dialog box also can find and add external file references for assemblies and drawings. The software packages the SolidWorks documents into a Files directory within the ZIP file.

Conclusion
When you have a question or issues with an application, the support person can't see what you're doing, how your computer is set up, or the files in question. Use SolidWorks Rx to run preventative diagnostics and to package the system and SolidWorks files so the technician can better address your problem with minimal effort on your part.


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