The new Solidworks is here! The new Solidworks is here! Yes Solidworks 2016 is nearing its official release and they’ve cooked up some exciting new features. The first enhancements you are bound to “run into” first are the changes to the User Interface (UI)

Focus on your design, not the software: Work smarter and get the CAD system out of your way.”

The UI has been updated as it is now modern, sleeker, and less cluttered… and its going to be a shock to a few long-time Solidworks users. I personally love it, but I’m one for the modern approach to UI design. I appreciate the “darker” modes even if they are experimental, as it makes it more like my two favorite UIs (at least in appearance): AutoCAD and Photoshop. Call this UI SWx 2.0 as it is the foundation for software developers to build upon for future enhancements.

SWx 2016 - Screen Colour Modes


To come in line with the Dassault portfolio a new icon style is in use within 2016. It will be the first thing you notice. Gone is the green and yellow, replaced with simpler stylizing which uses blue to highlight the key feature in the icon. You should also notice that the perspective of each icon is standard across the board for consistency and shadowing is applied which makes the icons “pop” more.

SWx 2016 - Icon Style Update

What’s good is that the icons are the same, just updated. There shouldn’t be a huge learning curve in figuring out the new icons. The bad? I don’t see anything… love the new UI!

High-Resolution Screens

Solidworks 2016 officially supports high-resolution, high-pixel density displays. I’ll be honest I do not have access to a device to try this out so I’m going strictly off the help. Solidworks 2016 automatically scales the UI to “respond” to Windows display scaling. This includes the buttons (even with text), all dialogs, the PropertyManager, and the browser. To aid with the scaling, toolbar button icons can be shown as small, medium, or large.

Triad Updates

All on screen triads and manipulators now provide easier manipulation and better visibility, especially when in 3D. They definitely “pop” out of the screen more and I find they don’t blend into the model like they used to. The controls are now orange and turn blue when you hover to show what your selection will be. Use rings for rotation and handles for translation.

SWx 2016 - Updated Triad Manipulators

Show me the Primary Planes!

The three primary planes automatically appear with the first sketch you create then automatically become invisible.

To show these planes:

  1. View > Hide / Show > Planes
  2. Heads-up View toolbar > Hide / Show items >  View Planes
  3. View > Hide / Show > Primary Planes

PropertyManager Updates

Input boxes within the PropertyManager no longer only show three lines as it will auto expand to show all selections. You can also drag the box to manage its size…. it means no more scrolling!

SWx 2016 - Expanded List Box

Tab support to move through each control on the form… for the keyboardists out there.

D to Confirm?

Yep, whenever you need to confirm an operation, press the D key and the confirmation moves to your mouse cursor (pointer) location. That’s right, no more moving allllllll the waaaaaaay over the side of the screen to say yah or nay.

SWx 2016 - D to Confirm

Adding Sketch Relations

When you select multiple sketch objects the sketch toolbar appears and stays visible so you can continue to add relations… without the need to activate the toolbar again.

SWx 2016 - Sketch Toolbar

Hansel and Gretel Breadcrumbs

And Hansel said to Gretel: “Let us drop these bread crumbs so that together we find our way home”. Because losing our way would be the most cruel of things. This year I lost my way”

This caught me off the guard the first time it appeared on me, which made me uneasy, but now its growing on me, and I’m really starting to like it.

The new Selection Breadcrumbs show related features both up and down the tree… without having to right-click or activate any feature. So far my favorite part is quick access to the sketch that defines the selected feature.

SWx 2016 - Breadcrumbs

In fact why not go FeatureManager-less? Breadcrumbs don’t rely on the FeatureManager in that they appear by selecting geometry in the window as well.

Picking a breadcrumb displays the appropriate toolbar, right-clicking shows the context menu. Press my new favorite key D to move the breadcrumb to the cursor.

[If you really don’t like them they can be turned off in the System Options.]

Show me thy references!

To see how a feature is related to other elements in the model, hover over a feature in the FeatureManager and arrows display showing the relations. This is called Dynamic Reference Visualization,

SWx 2016 - dynamic reference visualization.

If the feature is not expanded the arrow points to the feature containing the reference.

What Else?

  • With certain add-ins a new Analysis Preparation tab will appear in the CommandManage, pre-populated with the more frequently used tools. This is also completely customizable.
  • Menu consolidation to make it fit better on your screen
  • While entering filter criteria in the FeatureManager design tree it now waits for you to finish typing which leads to better performance, especially with larger trees.
  • Toolbar docking is changed to help reduce the accidental docking to the CommandManager.
  • To freeze layout of your docked toolbars go to Tools > Customize > Toolbars tab and select Lock CommandManager and toolbars.


Remember this is just the User Interface changes!

Feature Image: “Mago // Magician” by Eva Peris