Archive for the ‘How-To’ Category

Enable RealView on gaming Graphics Cards

October 28th, 2011

RealView (top) and No RealView (bottom)

RealView Graphics in SolidWorks (View drop-down -> Display -> RealView Graphics) makes your models look visually impressive on the screen. You get to see the materials and floor reflections in real-time, without having to render the model in PhotoView.

There are certified graphics cards recommended by SolidWorks (ATI FireGL and nVidia Quadro ranges) which have this RealView functionality, however they can be expensive (as they are specifically for CAD Applications, as opposed to Gaming). In saying that, you can get a cheap RealView certified graphics card for ~€125.

Gaming Graphics Card used

A while back, I got a Medion MD8855 computer in Aldi, which had an ATI Radeon™ HD 5670 graphics card with 1024 MB memory. As expected after installing and opening SolidWorks, the RealView graphics icon (View -> Display -> RealView) was greyed out. Also, under Tools -> System Options -> Performance, “Use Software OpenGL” was unticked, as it should be, unless you have an onboard or very poor graphics card.

RealView Icon

Software OpenGL Option








Enable RealView Graphics

If you google, there are two main methods. One is using RivaTuner to adjust your graphics card/drivers, saying your graphics card is actually a ATI FireGL or nVidia Quadro. Another is to modify SolidWorks with a RealHack exe program (which edits the registry settings for SolidWorks). The RealHack program worked perfectly for me with SolidWorks 2011 SP5 x64 on x64 Windows.

  1. Download the RealHack program
    (google realhack rar download) (local copy)
  2. Make sure SolidWorks is closed
  3. Run the exe and click ATI or NVIDIA.
  4. Open SolidWorks. Check for the RealView icon.
    (I didn’t have to reboot the PC)

Note: This didn’t work for me previously on SolidWorks 2010. If it doesn’t work, then there is not much you can do, but to research the references and find out more information. Links to reference websites for RealHack are Ref1, Ref2, Ref3


Using process monitor, you can see what realhack does. It appears to (only) add entries to the registry. There is also a RealHack 2.0 available which supposedly works for SolidWorks 2012 (which has Ambient Occlusion). Again, you can find this with google (local copy). Presumably this app enters different registry entries depending on what your current graphics card is. Of course SW may change things in the future and this app may not work. It is surprising however as to why SolidWorks doesn’t allow RealView to work on more graphics (gaming or other) cards.

How-To, Misc. ,

Copy and Paste a SolidWorks Drawing directly into Draftsight or AutoCAD

May 17th, 2011

I recently came across a Youtube video showing how in SolidWorks 2007, a drawing view (2D) could be copied and pasted directly from SolidWorks into DWGEditor (now called 2D Editor). As DraftSight is the new free 2D CAD Tool, I wanted to see if this would work in SolidWorks 2011 and Draftsight.

It does work, and very nicely.
If you want to quickly copy a SolidWorks Drawing View into Draftsight/AutoCAD/DWG without having to go Saving As a DWG etc. this tip will save time.

Copy from SolidWorks to DWG / Draftsight
  1. Select the Drawing View in SolidWorks
  2. Edit (drop-down menu) -> Copy to DWG Format
  3. Go to Draftsight
  4. Edit (drop-down menu) -> Paste
  5. Left Click to Paste the View into Draftsight


Select Drawing View in SW -> Edit Menu -> Copy to DWG Format -> Go to CAD -> Edit -> Paste

Of course the reverse is equally true. You can copy and paste directly from Draftsight DWG into a new Sketch in SolidWorks. CTRL+C and CTRL+V make things nice and easy.

Copy from DWG / Draftsight to SolidWorks
  1. Window select what you want to copy in Draftsight/CAD
  2. Press CTRL+C
  3. Go to SolidWorks
  4. Create a New Part
  5. Create a New Sketch
  6. Left Click into the Graphics Area
  7. Press CTRL+V
  8. Zoom out
About Draftsight

Just a quick word on draftsight. It is a free 2D CAD Program which will let you open and save all version of AutoCAD. Its interface is very similar to AutoCAD with layers, grid, layouts and object tracking (called etrack). I remember using AutoSketch in 1999 which I got from a Computer Magazine, to draw up go-kart plans. If I had Draftsight back then, things would have been a lot easier. Draftsight is available for Windows, Apple MACs and also Ubuntu Linux. Head to to download your copy now.

How-To , , ,

SolidWorks Error: Hole Wizard / Toolbox Not Expected Version

January 22nd, 2011

Typical Error message when going to use the Hole Wizard / Toolbox.When you go to use the Hole Wizard or Toolbox you get the following error:

Error: The database file ‘C:\SolidWorks Data\lang\english\swbrowser.mdb’ is not the expected version.

Typically you would see this error if you have recently upgraded your SolidWorks install to SW2010 or SW2011. SolidWork should have updated your HoleWizard/Toolbox database, or maybe it installed a new one, and the wrong path is listed in Tools -> Options -> Hole Wizard / Toolbox.


  1. Using My Computer, look for C:\SolidWorks Data, C:\SolidWorks Data (2)
  2. Open SolidWorks, Tools -> Options -> Hole Wizard / Toolbox. Check that the path is correct and if different paths were found above, try browsing to them.
  3. If you have another computer running the same latest version of SolidWorks, copy their C:\SolidWorks Data to your computer.
    Browse to: “C:\Program Files\SolidWorks Corp\SolidWorks\Toolbox\data utilities” and run UpdateBrowserData.exe Browse to the swbrowser.mdb file inside C:\SolidWorks Data\lang\english and click “Update”. That should do the trick.

SolidWorks Update Toolbox Database utility to use when upgrading to the latest version of SolidWorks.

How-To, Note to Remember , , ,

Windows Installer Error 1719 (Windows 7 x64)

January 22nd, 2011

I was recently trying to install SolidWorks 2011 on Windows 7 x64 and it failed. Typically I’d expect problems with XP x64, but not with Windows 7 with .Net and Windows Installer all part of the OS.


The SolidWorks Installation Manager provided a link to the Installation Logs ( C:\Users\username\AppData\Roaming\SolidWorks\Installation Logs\2011 SP0 ). Looking at the latest txt file ( SummaryIMLog_20110.txt ) I saw “Installation Error 1719” and “Installation Error 1603”.

I also looked at the Windows Event Viewer, and saw the failed installation and the Error 1719. See image below.

Windows Event Viewer Logs showing the exact 1719 SolidWorks Installation Error

First Attempted Solution

  • As Windows Installer v5 is part of Windows 7, it would not show up in Add/Remove Programs to do a repair (as I would have done for XP).
  • Make sure that the Windows Installer service is running  (Control Panel -> System and Security -> Administrative Tools -> Services)
  • As on the SW KB, I had tried registering and reregistering Windows Installer.
    Command Prompt:
    msiexec.exe /unregister
    msiexec /regserver
    C:\Windows\Syswow64\Msiexec /regserver
  • I even browsed directly to the SolidWorks setup (bypassing the Installation Manager), but it immediately threw up the 1719 error and stopped.

This image shows the exact path to the Manual Setup for SolidWorks 2011 x64 bypassing the Installation Manager.


Final Solution to 1719 Installation Error

  1. Start, then Run, then type regedit 
  3. Right click on WOW64, then select Modify      
  4. Set Value Data to 0 (mine was set at 1) and Base should be Hexadecimal
    (see below image for screenshot)
  5. Close the Registry Editor
  6. Reboot the PC
    Command Prompt: net stop msiserver    and net start msiserver
  7. Install SolidWorks 


The Windows START -> Run option in Windows 7. Note the run box is now the search box in Windows 7.Screenshot of the Registry showing the 1719 solution which worked.

How-To, Note to Remember , ,

Restore .NET Framework back to its original state

July 25th, 2010


If you have done a clean re-install of SolidWorks and are still getting strange errors (such as missing dlls, or “unknown file types”), it may well be Microsoft .NET Framework at fault. Most of the time, looking in the Windows Event Viewer will confirm this if there are .NET Framework errors showing up.

The first step is to do a repair of .NET Framework, by going to Add/Remove Programs, right-clicking on .NET Framework (choose 3.5 or 3.1 if present) and going Repair. This should work, however sometimes it doesn’t.

You can also try:
Exploring the SolidWorks DVD and in the prereqs folder run “dotnetfx3.exe” (or dotnetfx3_x64.exe). I tried this however I got strange errors about “mscoree.dll” etc.

Download and usage

If all else fails, you can use a “.NET Framework Cleanup Tool“. It works really well and has worked for me every time. You can download this Executable Tool (in a Zip file) from:

  • Just run the exe file and go “Cleanup Now”.
  • It takes around 5 minutes to process and at the end you will be prompted to Restart the Computer. Restart the Computer/
  • After the reboot, look in Add/Remove Programs. If its Windows XP, you will see the original .NET Framework 1.1 listed. Thats perfect.
  • From the prereqs folder of the SolidWorks DVD run “dotnetfx3.exe” or “dotnetfx3_x64.exe”.
  • Once this is installed, you should be able to start SolidWorks. (No need to go reinstalling SolidWorks)
  • Fingers crossed the dll errors or strangeness in SolidWorks will have gone.

This worked fine on SolidWorks 2009 and SolidWorks 2010
Search the SolidWorks Knowledge Base for the dll error messages or for errors regarding the feature you are having issues with (such as property tab builder etc.) It will typically tell you if its a .NET issue.
Link to dotnetfx3.exe and dotnetfx3_x64.exe
After running the cleanup tool, rebooting, installing dotnetfx3.exe SolidWorks will work fine.
Installing .NET Framework 3 (the dotnetfx3.exe linked above and on the SW prereqs folder), will install .NET Framework 2.0 and 3.0.
I suggest you run Windows Updates, several times. More than likely a .NET 3.5 will have to be installed. Note also, until you run Windows Updates and install all .NET Frameworks that were in place (in Add/Remove Programs in the very begining), some other installed programs on your computer may give out.
Lastly, use at your own risk!

How-To, Note to Remember , , , ,

Macro Tip – How to quickly stop a SolidWorks macro

July 3rd, 2010

CTRL + Pause/Break

Especially useful for macros which loop through lots of operations.

If you have a looping MsgBox() popup, the above CTRL+break doesn’t seem to work. In this case:

Task Manager -> Processes -> swvbaserver.exe (End Process)
Note: SW may have to be restarted to allow a macro to run afterwards.


How-To, Macro

SolidWorks 2010 Initial Review

August 24th, 2009

SW2010-Install-4Well after getting my hands on SW2010, I got straight into installing it and looking through the Whats New PDF. The install went fine, albeit I had to end Windows Explorer and WinSCP processes (hopefully this means that the install will be rock solid). For those people who may not be familar with the procedure, I put up some screenshots. In the case of the third image, you may need to go to the View -> Select Columns -> PID to see the appropriate column. Remember, this is only a beta release! I also did change the install directory to Program Files/SolidWorks Corp 2010/.


The install finished fine. No need to restart the PC as I ended Windows Explorer (and left explorer.exe closed for the duration of the install). I started SW2010 up, activated it and that was it. Easy.
I won’t put the Whats New 2010 PDF here. Here are a few things I like:

PhotoView 360:

  • Choose a 2d Background Image
  • Choose a 3D HDRI Image
  • Save a Custom View!

SolidWorks 2010:

  • Multi-bodies in Sheet Metal
  • SolidWorks RX – Download Graphic Card Drivers automatically
  • Mouse Gesture Support
  • View Decals in eDrawings and SW w/out PhotoWorks enabled
  • SolidWorks Network Monitor (interesting)

That’s it for the moment. Lots and lots more to come.


How to Recover Virtual Parts in SolidWorks

August 3rd, 2009

recovering-virtual-parts-in-solidworksThis article outlines how I saved myself an hour of work by been able to recover virtual parts after SolidWorks crashed.

While I was working on an old assembly project, I took some parts, and went “form new subassembly”. It prompted me for a template and off I went opening up the New sub-assembly. I saved regularly. Little did I realise that I was working on a Virtual sub-assembly. After spending 60+minutes working on the sub-assembly, saving it religiously (thinking I had it saved externally). I went back to the main assembly and was fixing a few mate errors when, solidworks froze. I was a little impatient, thinking I had my sub-assembly and 60+ minutes work saved! After re-opening the assembly I saw no sign of my work, and was about to pack it in for the day.

After a bit of looking, I found my virtual assembly and virtual parts :-)
They were located in:
After sorting by Date Modified, the parts were in a folder called “swx5792”. I copied the part out of there and to safety.

Phfew. Thanks SolidWorks. As virtual parts become more and more mainstream, I hope this tip will help somebody and save them some time.


Debugging SolidWorks – Part 1 (problems when running SW)

July 20th, 2009

This article outlines the methods I use to debug SolidWorks whenever it starts behaving badly, i.e. crashing or hanging on a consistent basis. Of course you need to be able to replicate the crash / hang in order to track down the problem. I will attempt to place these methods in order of how I would proceed when diagnoising an issue. This article, part 1 focuses on SolidWorks crashes / hangs when running or opening the program (as opposed to install problems which will be covered in a later article).

Why might crashes or hangs occur?

There are a number of reasons SolidWorks might start crashing or hanging. What is very important is “when” did SW start behaving like this.

  • Service Pack upgrade to SolidWorks
  • Recent install of other Software
  • Windows issues and Windows updates
  • Network issues and congestion
  • Use of SolidWorks Add-Ins or 3rd party software
  • Anti-Virus software

Step 1 – Replicate the Issue ***

It is extremely important to narrow down the cause and timing of the crash as much as possible. There is nothing more difficult to analyse than “my computer is slow today” or “solidworks is crashing all the time”. While you replicate the crash, write down the scenario, what files you have open, what method are you doing. Try replicating the issue on different files. If a person can say “When I do XYZ, ABC happens” then is makes things a lot easier.

Step 2 – Disable all Add-Ins **

Open SolidWorks -> Tools -> Add-Ins and untick everything.
If you can’t open SolidWorks to disable Add-Ins
START -> run -> regedit -> Browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SolidWorks. Rename SolidWorks to SolidWorksOld and start SolidWorks. More specifically, the Add-Ins which are marked as for start-up are located in: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SolidWorks\Startup\Applications\ I always find that it is much safer to rename folders rather than deleting them.

Step 3 – Use Software OpenGL

Being a 3D CAD package, SolidWorks makes extremely heavy use of the graphics card. If you get “blue screens”, computer shutdowns / reboots, then you need to try enabling Software OpenGL. Even better, however takes a little longer, is to check and upgrade your graphics card drivers.
Open SolidWorks -> Make sure there are NO open Parts/Assemblies or Drawings -> Tools -> Options -> Performance -> Use Software OpenGL.

Step 4 – Plug out the Network Cable *

A lot of people store everything on the Network, and as such work directly off the network. Thus if SolidWorks hangs for a while, a quick test is to plug out the network cable. Note: this is not an ideal method. Its better to disable the Local Area Connection Adapter. But if SolidWorks starts responding immediately after been disconnected from the Network, things are looking up. See the step below for “Process Explorer”. If you have a SNL network license, it should be ok, as SW has a network timeout period. If its a PDM issue, then your going to have to do connectivity tests (separate debugging required).

Step 5 – Research the SolidWorks Knowledge Base ****

It is essential for you to search the SolidWorks Knowledge Base for keywords describing what you are doing to cause the crash. It may be a Vista specific issue. It may be a 3rd party software issue. It is vital at this stage that you consult the KB to see if there have been similar issues. You will also need to know what version of SW you are using, and what Service Pack version you have installed -> Open SolidWorks -> Help (drop-down) -> About SolidWorks.

SolidWorks Knowledge Base search engine for issues or queries.

SolidWorks Knowledge Base

Step 6 – Log on as a Different User ***

The three stars in the heading shows that this is an excellent step to try. A user’s profile may become corrupt or have poor settings etc. Logging onto the computer as a different user, and starting SW will provide a new SolidWorks user profile. If it works OK for this other user, then you should be well on the way to getting this fixed. If SW works fine for the other user, then you need to look into and do the following:
START -> run -> regedit -> Browse to HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\SolidWorks. Rename SolidWorks to SolidWorksOld and start SolidWorks. Then create a few parts and drawings and restart SolidWorks.

Step 7 – Consider upgrading to a later Service Pack (if available) *

While it might take 30-60 minutes to upgrade to the latest service pack, it is advised. It could save a lot of further work.

Step 8 – Try a “Repair of SolidWorks”

SolidWorks has a repair install option. To access this:
START -> Control Panel -> Add / Remove Programs -> (scroll down to) SolidWorks 2009 -> (right-click) Modify / Change
On the first screen of the SolidWorks Installation Manager, choose “Repair”. Note: This is not available on SolidWorks Installs done using an Administrative Install Image.

Repair SolidWorks Installation - 2009

Step 9 – Process Explorer ****

This simple tool, which can be downloaded here (local mirror), requires no installation, and has solved a number of problems for me. Process Explorer can show what files SolidWorks opens on startup and throughout, all network activity associated with SW, processes called by SW and a host of other features. SLDWORKS.exe will show up in the top screen. Once it opens, double-left click on SLDWORKS to bring up a properties dialog, from here you can choose TCP/IP.

process-explorer-1 process-explorer-2

Step 9.1 – Process Monitor

Process Monitor is better that the above Process Explorer. You can apply a filter for processes running and then view network, disk, registry and process activity. You can save and open Events for later analysis. Download from Microsoft. Use the Process Name “sldworks.exe” to monitor SolidWorks.

Step 10 – SolidWorks User Forums & Google

Typically I look at the SolidWorks User forms at http://forum.solidworks.comaround now. Having said this, the search facility in the new forums has improved and should speed up things. Note: Make sure you login to be able to search!! As you will see in the image below, there are other users out there who have gone through similar problems. I remember finding out about an issue with logitec drivers and freezes in the graphics area.

Googling a particular issue or dll or file which may be suspect from the Process Explorer may yeild some results.

SolidWorks User Forums

Step 11 – SolidWorks RX ***

SolidWorks RX is not only useful for recording a problem to send to your local VAR, it also has some very useful information which can help to track down what is happening. Go to -> START -> All Programs -> SolidWorks 2009 – SolidWorks 2009 SP4 -> SolidWorks Tools -> SolidWorks RX. More and more functionality is getting added to this tool which makes life very easy for diagnosing errors on other peoples computers. Some of the functionality RX has is as follows:

  • SolidWorks Safe Mode Options!!
  • Quick Diagnostics
  • Problem Capture (which can record information from a previous crashed session of SW)

In the resulting Zip file given by the Problem Capture, take a look at the following files: swxJRNL.swj (a macro of a SW session) and SolidWorksPerformance.log (shows idle time, total running time etc.). There could be an entire post on RX (maybe will post one later if people are interested).

Step 12 – Windows Pre-Requesites .Net, C++ **

As the SolidWorks software is typically newer than Windows (XP is many years old at this stage), several Windows updates and pre-requesites are required for SolidWorks to install and function correctly. For whatever reason, (AntiVirus etc.) certain dlls or pre-requesites may not get installed during the install or upgrade of SolidWorks. Whats more frustrating is that no immediate error might appear. Instead an error or “strange behaviour” may occur when using SolidWorks.

Windows Pre-Requesites must be installed manually when using an Administrative Image install method! Check if the install is created using an Administrative Image ( Add / Remove Programs -> Change/Modify SolidWorks. When SLDIM starts, if the only option is to Remove, its an Admin install image ). I’ve had quite a few headaches caused by incorrectly deployed Admin Images.

Of course all these details are in the “SolidWorks Installation and Administration Guide” which we all read, don’t we? ( SolidWorks 2009 Installation and Administration Guide ) On the previous page, go to: Multiple Installations -> Installation -> Deploying Installations to Clients -> Command Line Deployment -> Preparing Clients for Administrative Images.

If you “browse” your SolidWorks DVD you will find a “PreReqs” folder. Take a look at S-034736 on the SolidWorks Knowledge Base for further information. XP is more likely to require these updates, opposed to Vista.

SolidWorks Pre-Requesites

Step 13 – Complete Un-install and Clean Install ***

I will leave this for another blog post. Suffice to say:

  • Add / Remove Programs and Remove SolidWorks
  • Delete all folders and traces of SolidWorks from C:\Program Files\; C:\Program Files\Common Files; C:\SolidWorks Data;
  • START -> RUN -> regedit and remove all traces of SolidWorks under HKEY_CurrentUser and HKEY_LocalMachine.

Final Words

Of course the methods and procedures to debug SolidWorks are endless. Above are some of the ones I use. I do recommend that Windows does be wiped and installed a fresh. Everyone I have talked to agrees that reinstalling windows breaths new life into a computer. A combination of Windows updates, redundant software, excess software and plugins cause a pool of potential problems. Also, make sure to contact your local SolidWorks VAR and let them know of your issues. They will know the most common issues for particular service packs and versions and will be immediately poised to help you quickly resolve any issue.

Feel free to leave any comments below.


Create a Custom Excel BOM

April 26th, 2009

While using an Excel based BOM (as opposed to a standard BOM) is not as flexible as a standard Bill of Materials, there are various customisations which can be done. E.g. if you want a complete project costing (taking into account price per meter length of piping or weldments). Note: in recent versions of SolidWorks (2008,2009 etc.) it is possible to do totals and equations in standard BOMs, however they require some post manual tweaking.

This post shows how a custom Excel based Bill of Materials for a SolidWorks Assembly drawing can be created.

  • Find out where BOM templates are stored: Open SolidWorks -> Tools -> Options -> File Locations -> BOM Templates
  • Open bomtemp-all.xls  Look at the various Headings in Row 1.
  • Remove/Add Columns to suit making sure to type in the SolidWorks File Property name into the “Name Property” box (see image below).
  • Do NOT remove the Item No. Column or Part No. Column (otherwise your Excel BOM will act strange, adding several duplicate rows into the BOM.) (I spent quite a while caught on this.) FYI this fact is noted in the SolidWorks Knowledge Base. Customers on subscription can view the SolidWorks Knowledge Base at
Name Properties used in Excel

Name Properties used in Excel

Its also possible to see all Name Properties in an Excel file: Insert -> Name -> Define (Excel 2000/2003)
(In Excel 2007, its called “Name Manager” and its on the Formulas button. Alt+m+n also works)
This shows up the list of Name Properties in the Excel file. Be extremely careful!

Once the Excel file is saved, go to SolidWorks, pre-select the view (typically the Isometric view) and then go: Insert -> Tables -> Excel Based Bill of Materials. Choose your template file, and voila. Note: The name you entered in the “Name Property” box in Excel must correspond with the Property in the PART. Go to the Part, File -> Properties -> Custom and make sure the Property name is present.

If you formatted the Headings in your Excel template, and wish for these to come through, make sure to have “Use the document note font when creating the table” unchecked when initially Inserting the Excel Based BOM.

In a recent Piping SolidWorks Project, I wanted a complete costing done on my BOM. I created several columns, including “Unit Cost”, “Pipe Cost”, “Total Unit Cost” and “Total Pipe Cost”. In the once-off parts I created a unitcost SW Property in the parts. For the piping (same with weldments), I opened the source pipe file (used in routing), and added a costpipe property (which had a cost per meter). An image of the completed table can be seen below. This Excel template file can be downloaded from here. (There are 2 columns containing calculations which are hidden. This level of detail would not have been possible in a standard Bill of Materials).

Excel based BOM used in Project Costing Example

Excel based BOM used in Project Costing Example

This level of customisation available within SolidWorks is just the tip of the iceberg!

EDIT ——————-

So I came across an issue with Excel BOM’s which caught me.
It is not possible to have properties such as SW-Title, SW-Author, SW-Filename, or any property with a hyphen ( – ) in its name in an Excel based Bill of Materials. This limitation is caused by Microsoft Excel. In the Name Property box for each cell, it is not possible to have a hyphen ( – ). The workaround given by SolidWorks (S-015804) (On the Knowledge Base at ) is to create a Custom Property (as normal in SolidWorks). E.g. to have SW-Title appear in a BOM, you need to create a Custom Property called SWTitle and link it to: $PRP:”SW-Title”. Then when creating the Excel BOM template, insert the Name Property SWTitle. Of course if you have a project already created, and only realised this at the end, its a little more difficult. SolidWorks Task Scheduler may be able to add this Custom Property to all of your files.

Hopefully this will help someone, and me too in case I forget!