After the SolidWorks Cloud marketing fiasco of the last year, nothing was shown from the main stage at last week's SolidWorks World 2011. Nothing! The only time it got mentioned was when new-CEO Bertrand Sicot promised that there would be always be a locally-installed version of Solidworks (*koff* as long as there is a demand in the market *koff*).
(I'm starting to wonder if nothing was shown because the project is hugely delayed. Last year, ex-CEO Jeff Ray said he was showing us the result of three years' work. In a recent interview, it sounded like there was another year or two to go. Four years in development, maybe longer. That's a long time in this world where components make it easy to cobble together a CAD system. As comparison, AutoCAD Mac took 18 months to be ported to OS X.)
Instead, we got a demo of SolidWorks Live Buildings, which has nothing to do with SolidWorks (as it now exists) and has nothing to do with mechanical engineering. It was, however, significant, because it is based on the same V6 technology as SolidWorks Cloud will be based. ("V6" is the general name for Dassault's next generation cloud-based, social, design software.)
When you look at Live Buildings, you are looking at SolidWorks Cloud.
During the demo, I snapped many pictures in rapid succession. From examining them, I've found the following user interface elements.
First thing to notice: no ribbon. Instead, LB sports the traditional menu bar.
Second thing to notice: all modeling is done in a fully rendered environment, with simulated shadows.
Parts Library -- lets you drag and drop pre-build parts (aka blocks, cells, components) into the drawing.
At-cursor tools -- small toolbar appears at the cursor from which you select relevant tools.
Bird's-eye view -- shows an overview of the entire drawing, in a semi-transparent rectangle.
Wheel with tools -- is the primary user interface, from which toolbars jut out when you select a segment on the wheel.
Floors (stories) -- quickly lets you navigate between floors on multi-story buildings.
Status bar -- is like a communications center (more later).
Triad -- shows the xyz orientation in 3D space. We saw another program that had a miniature version of the model at the center of the triad, and I expect that feature to migrate its way over.
Here is a close-up of the menu bar:
Ready for Selection -- I wonder if this provides a variety of selection modes, such as by geometry, by properties, by owner, by location?
Ready to Chat -- for communicating with other users on the project.
Ready for Propagate -- I think this is for updating the master model with changes made locally.
2D drawings can be placed, in this case from DraftSight. The 2D floorplan can be used as a guide to place 3D components.
Other data sets will be added later, such as zoning regulations.