This is an announcement going out to the existing customers of our SolidWorks add-ins. We have adjusted each and every one of our 24 data exchange add-ins so that they work properly with SolidWorks 2011. So if you are a SolidWorks beta tester and would like to test your workflow with our add-ins you can now download the latest installers from the SolidWorks section of our web site.
When SolidWorks release Beta 1 we found that our add-ins in their current state were loading properly into SolidWorks 2011 and integrating well with the user interface. But when running them they caused SolidWorks 2011 to crash. Upon investigation we found that the crash was caused due to the fact that SolidWorks had changed compilers. This caused the SolidWorks code to link to a newer version of MFC (Microsoft Foundation Classes). Since all our SolidWorks add-ins use MFC, there was a MFC version conflict which was responsible for the crash.
As a side note, if you read my earlier post titled “Practice What You Preach“, you may also remember I noted that SolidWorks was not in the habit keeping their compiler up to date and yet expected their customers to use the latest version of their product. For SolidWorks 2011, they switched from Visual Studio 2005 to 2008, which happens to be a couple of years older than Visual Studio 2010, the latest compiler from Microsoft.
Anyways, we had to adjust our code a bit to avoid conflicts between different versions of MFC. The downside of the code adjustment was that we had to stop supporting SolidWorks 2001 Plus and earlier. Yeah, I know. You must be wondering what the hell are we doing supporting versions of SolidWorks a decade old. At SYCODE, we have a policy of making our plug-ins support CAD systems as old as it is technically possible and feasible. If there is one thing I learned about the plug-in business in these past thirteen years, it is that for some customers their plug-ins are crucial to their work flow. Moreover, we operate in the data exchange space, which can be quite a bottleneck or a show stopper if you don’t have the right software to help you get your CAD data across. At SYCODE we make it a point to do our best to stand with our customers even after their CAD vendor has retired their version of the CAD system and their resellers have stopped offering support for it. I know this sounds more like a marketing line, but we actually do this. Our products are proof of that. Sure we would like our customers to stay on subscription and keep paying us to use the latest versions of our products. But if that is not what they want to do then we will help them anyways.
Of course, like all CAD vendors, we also do our part in trying to convince our customers to upgrade to newer versions. Certain features of our products are disabled in earlier versions of CAD systems because back then, either the vendor’s API didn’t support it or a dependent feature did not exist. We point out the benefits of upgrading and leave it up to the customer to decide for himself, while letting him know that we will stand by him regardless of his decision.
And for those of you wondering how many people still use versions of SolidWorks that old, in the last month we had more than a dozen SolidWorks 2003 users try our add-ins. I am now looking forward to see the numbers for SolidWorks 2011 increase in SYCODE’s trial key request report that I keep a close eye on.