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Of the enormous range of new features and functionality in the 2001 release of SolidWorks, the most obvious is the considerable advance in the interface.
It is not that earlier versions were particularly lacking, but given the increasing complexity of the product SolidWorks have held true to their development strategy of avoiding the historic trap of getting locked into legacy technologies to appease current users that inevitably causes compromises in the longer term.
The goal has been heads-up user interaction.
Many commands have dynamic shaded previews, with handles for dynamic drag and driving dimension callouts displayed on the model.
Entities selected within a command such as guide curves and profiles in a loft are colour coded to indicate their selection set and labelled by callouts to uniquely identify them and aid correct ordering.
Most command dialog boxes have been replaced by the PropertyManager that appears in place of the FeatureManager down the side of the screen without obscuring the model.
The FeatureManager can fly-out temporarily from behind the PropertyManager in particular circumstances where a feature needs to be selected directly from the history tree.
The PropertyManager also dynamically displays properties while sketching so that accurate angles and lengths can be sketched and once committed automatically displays captured constraints.
When selected each constraint appears as a callout, highlighting any referenced entities.
Basic profile sketching is enhanced with the ability to sketch a sequence of lines and tangent or normal arcs without changing command simply by the travel of the cursor.