Other than its core design and modeling functionality, SolidWorks’s API is quite possibly the most powerful but least utilized tool that SolidWorks offers. The SolidWorks API allows us to automate repetitive tasks, enhance or modify built-in behavior of the software, or even write fully integrated add-ins (such as those developed by SolidWorks partner products).
For most engineers, automation is the key benefit of using API. Are there things that you do repetitively during a normal workday – defining custom properties or saving documents as DXF or STEP files, for example – that may only take a few moments to complete? Imagine reducing that process from four or five clicks down to one keyboard shortcut or mouse gesture. Not only do you save those few seconds or minutes, you also get to look away from your monitor and take your hands off the keyboard for a bit. Taking the mindless, repetitive tasks out of your workflow allows you to save that mental energy for the mindful, meaningful ones – like modeling and designing.
When it comes down to getting our hands dirty, though, I find that the most difficult part of convincing someone to use the SolidWorks API is getting past the initial, “I can’t do that, I’m not a software engineer” mindset. Well, you’re in luck – I’m not a software engineer either. So how do we, as non-software-engineers, go about getting started?
I always like to begin the process by keeping it simple with a few non-API questions:
- What is the main thing I need to accomplish? What do I want to end up with after my program is done running: A new document? Some useful information in a popup message box? A modified file?
- What are the steps that I would take to do this in the normal (graphical) user interface? Note that in many cases, we can accomplish useful things through the API that aren’t possible using the normal user interface. Regardless, it helps to think through and write down a step-by-step process for achieving the desired result.
Are you ready to start simplifying your daily workflow with the SolidWorks API tools? Take some time now and write down some thoughts on parts of your daily workflow that you’d want to automate so that you can make the most of this upcoming 6-part blog series on SolidWorks API.
If you’re interested in the SolidWorks API, make sure to check out this “Introduction to the SolidWorks API” webinar.