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SolidWorks have never been afraid to innovate and the latest 2003 release is no exception, offering integrated functionality such as kinematic simulation and basic FEA plus significant advances in modelling methodology with the introduction of support for multiple bodies, shared sketches and FeatureManager folders.
Despite the core modeller offering more than ever, the product range has expanded to three with the Office version that adds a range of utilities including part libraries, rendering and animator, and the new Office Pro that integrates the recently acquired PDM/Works.
General interface issues have been tightened for instance allowing direct access to edit feature definitions or sketches from the parent child dialog and flexibility to roll back the design tree from a right click menu on any feature rather than needing to scroll the bar from the bottom of a potentially long tree.
Additional options include rolling back to the previous state, rolling forwards by one feature at a time and temporarily unabsorbing sketches to facilitate the addition of sketches into an existing loft or sweep.
Since the advent of surface features, complex constructions can result in a very long feature tree so 2003 introduces folders allowing features constituting logical design elements to be grouped together.
The FeatureManager can also display more descriptive feature, component and configuration descriptions.
It has been possible to make components semi-transparent for clarity in assemblies for several releases, but now other opaque parts can be selected through the transparency.
A significant modelling enhancement is the ability to interrupt builds.
Previously it was always just after launching the rebuild command that a further edit would be spotted, dictating a wait for the full rebuild before editing could recommence.
Although with experience it is possible to be aware of resource hungry features, a new feature statistics option displays the build time and percentage for each feature allowing disproportionately slow items to be investigated or suppressed until needed.