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Why I'm giving up n DSM

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15 comments

  • Official comment
    DesignSpark Mechanical

    Hi all,

    We have not 'turned off' access to existing users of DSM v2, although we continue to recommend the v5 upgrade as it has the latest bug fixes and feature enhancements. New users of DSM can no longer download v2 since it has been 5 years since its last maintenance update (v2.1) and has reached End-of-life (EOL). The developer does not recommend EOL software to new users as it is not possible to guarantee the best user experience.

    Existing v2 users who require more time to migrate to the latest 64-bit DSM version can troubleshoot their access to the software using this FAQ or by sending us a support ticket: https://designspark.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360009296677 

    Regards access to your v2 designs, every new version of DSM is backwards compatible so you will not lose your projects when using v5. If you choose to use a different program, DSM supports a few industry standard formats like SKP you can export to.

    If you have any trouble upgrading or using the new version of DesignSpark software, reach out to us with a support ticket and we will do everything in our power to help.

    About the constraints sketcher, it is a brand new feature in the developer's own paid software (SpaceClaim) and they are working to improve its ease-of-use. So constraint-based sketching is optional and you can switch to the classic 2D sketching interface from File -> DesignSpark options -> Advanced. See more info along with the tutorial here: https://designspark.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360012404637-Constraint-based-sketching-with-DesignSpark-Mechanical 

    Best regards,

    DesignSpark support

  • Jacant

     ...And as I drag it,other circles start changing size at the same time. Cannot show this, it changes from attempt to attemp...

    This is because you have not unticked the 'Maintain sketch connectivity' box.

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  • Me Here

    Thanks for the explanation -- I have that defaulted off in v2, so I don't think about it -- but it only explains one of several problems described.

    The biggest being that someone, somewhere can at any time decide that I cannot use DSM any more, and consign my work -- and there is a lot of it -- to the bin.

    Add to that the lack of interoperability, and despite that I think DSM is the best thought out UI of all the CAD packages I've used -- and that's quite a few -- I see no other recourse.

    I've spent the last few months fighting to impose some level of sanity on the UIs of both FreeCAD and Blender, and the fact that I came back to DSM for a look tells you how far I have got. None the less, at least they won't suddenly stop working as v2 has done.

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  • tab...

    Buk.

    You have given the forum some exceptional designs and i'll certainly miss your inventiveness...

    I have migrated everything ever done in V2 ( although i didn't use it long) into V5 without any issues.

    I've gotten use the new Constraint Sketcher to work in ways ( seemingly unfathonable) beyond the brief published 'introduction videos' but no variables sadly - yet. They're not exactly 'Killer App' but a very big useful forward step i believe and i'm completely behind it being considerably more robust with a good restore ability.

    If you have any interest left, i'll publish them.

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  • Me Here

    Tim,

    The v2->v5 migration is not the issue here. Being forced to migrate IS.

    The fact that I'm still reading this forum -- heck, the fact I started this thread at all -- surely means that I am really reluctant to give up the usability of DSM; but the fact that access to my designs can be taken away at a moments notice without my having any recourse, just stops me dead in my tracks.

    Combine that with the  inability to interchange my designs --  something I have been hacking my way past, but as the designs get more complicated, manually extracting and converting the individual .sab files and then reassembling them together in other tools is just to laborious and error prone -- makes using it untenable.

    I guess I was hoping someone would show me a way to alleviate these concerns, but I don't see  that happening as there never seems to be any "official" response here any way. If it wasn't for you and jacant, no questions would ever get answered as far as I can tell.

    With regard to Constraint sketching: I'd be really interested in hearing how you think it benefits you -- you specifically, rather than repetition of the (IMO) justifictions (spelling intentional) of the official line.

    The basic premise behind constraints is that they allow/simplify subsequent modification, but the fact that most -- if not all -- of the constraints do not survive solidification (the return to 3D mode and conversion to solids), means that doesn't really stand up.

    In a parametric modeller -- where constraints originate -- sketches persist and can be returned to at any time. Without that ability, given the transient nature of sketches in DSM, I'm struggling to find a purpose for them.

    When I first read the new features list for v5, I had hoped that a combination of Equations and Constraints might allow (for example) the construction of a 'templates' for things like threads, gears, bearings etc.

    So -- by way of example -- when you needed a (metric) machine screw in your design, you load up a template, fill on the pitch size, diameter, length (and perhaps head style) and it would generate the required screw for you. The formulae for the thread form is all defined in terms of the pitch, add diameter and length and it ought to be doable.

    Ditto for my gears: diameter and modulus define a straight cut spur gear; add helix angle for helical gears; Bevel gears are a little more involved but are eminently scriptable if your tool has that facility.

    Anyway, if you feel like posting a description of how you are using Constraints to benefit you, I'd be really interested to read that.

     

    Cheers, Buk.

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  • Me Here

    Tim, My full reply is "pending approval"; maybe you'll get to see it one day. Buk

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  • tab...

    This is a way to work and keep and insert constrained sketch's.

    In V5 with Constraints it does not allow the use of multiple open documents - will can be a interruption for smooth working / designing. ( This appears a new restriction - unknown if it will continue in the future)

    One solution is to run up 2 DSM ( maybe more ) and work between them however it's not possible for both DSM's to have simultaneous ( and automatic) updating of 'open' common inserted files between them sadly.

    In DSM 1, Make a constrained sketch, providing you only 'save as', it's possible to change sketch dims as you wish, complete the sketch making a face,  save as ( something like Face 1>Face 2 )etc. then undo 2 steps to the dimensioned sketch. Always close the file in the 'sketch open' condition - it opens up all constraints intact.

    It's convenient to put this face on another layer which is also inserted....

    These face parts can be inserted file anywhere ( and locked ) in another file ( preselecting of existing face/ part comp etc) within DSM 2 ( as an example ) , then Copy the face (unlocks and preserves the Inserted face/ position), make the pull etc.

    Go to DSM1, change the sketch. make a face, save as Face 3, Go to DSM2, select any or all inserted file faces ( locked or not  ) and rmb on Inserted file / files, >source>replace 'Face 3'...

    Just an example of how it can all work...

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  • tab...

    Sketch's can be simple or can be used as shape iterations - just another way to work...

    Splines can be controlled...

    Here's just a hole patterning with variable separations and corners etc. It took quite a while to make all the associations...

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  • tab...

    My inspiration is studying what is done with all the other major cad programs on Youtube, and attempting to copy the example. Solidworks/ Solidedge etc. Obviously DSM / Spaceclaim can't skin a modern car as it doesn't have all the necessary curvature controls. However, I am learning how to 'persuade' it gently along the way. I really like the Curve / Grid surface inspection visuals.

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  • tab...

    In working with Inserted Parts, V5 Constraint Sketcher doesn't allow this or working with multiple open documents - again, i'm unaware of the future direction, a short term restriction or not.

    The below i'm fairly sure you know Buk. it's included here for others if following this post.

    But working like this on multi inserted files is possible.

     

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  • Me Here

    Tim,

    As an exercise in finding ways to make constraints useful, this is all *really impressive* -- I greatly admire the perseverance and inventiveness it must have taken to find these methods and workarounds -- but the fact that you had to, is less so.

    It'll take me some time to work through all this and try it out; but my initial impression is more than ever that constraints as currently implemented in V5 are not ready for prime time; and even, more trouble than they are worth.

    Sad thing is we know that this stuff has been in SC for years and are complete, so the restrictions and limitations are purely how useful a tool they are prepared to give away. The upshot is I'm moving further and further away. :(

    Thanks for posting this. Buk

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  • tab...

    No problem Buk - but constraints is new , it's evolved now with variables in SC R2021 R1 ( DSM v6 ?) and is alledged to be of greater benefit when combined with Block recording for history playback with modification. ( ever included with DSM ??? , i've no idea, i will pray though.)

    The Insertion file/ face / replacement concoction was dream't up this morning after reading your post reply - along with using 2 DSM's...never done it in anger but the principle works - your previous/original comments about parametrics and going back to originating sketch spurred me on...the principle of files with only contrained but always available / modifiable profiles, has merit in some design paradigns - i like the hole / edge / corner patterns. I've a few of those now for sheet metal designs.

    Agreed, constrained sketching takes longer than traditional, but i really enjoy my little current design puzzle and the more i use, the faster / better i get at it. I also thought as every other cad does it that way, i'd better learn. This process produces a better accurate sketch than before and makes me 'pause for thought' before continuing...

    I've been secretly hoping you'd figure how to apply the Involute formulea into a tooth profile - and in a constrained sketch way but that's impossible, due to Equations ( curves) not yet implimented in Constraints. SC now has it but i don't know how deep it goes. We'll have to wait for V6 for further enhanced Constraints functionality.

    ***Edit: Just like Constrained Sketches, you can work with 2 DSM's using Equation Curves , using 'save as' again permits a similar procedure allowing complex cure creation and insertion. The equation dialogue provides 'some' dynamic adjustment / sizing - could be useful. I have not used the equation tool at all :( yet.

    The spline control was a pleasent discovery. Combining points and reference lines with Splines and constraining is the way to control - all that i gleamed from SolidWorks demo.

    Regards.

     

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  • Me Here

    I've been secretly hoping you'd figure how to apply the Involute formulea into a tooth profile

    I did look at that, and it would be possible, but it is just much simpler (for straight cut or helical gears)  to import a fully formed gear profile from elsewhere.

    Where it could help is with the creation of bevel gears -- where my current method requires me to project an imported spur gear profile onto the front and back cones of the gear profile and then blend between the two to form the teeth -- but without some level of scripting or at least the ability to call one user equation from another, it is still a largely manual process and still requires great care to obtain good results.

    Blender has a built-in scripting engine -- Python, which I loath, but can live with -- which has made it possible to write a script that takes tooth counts, modulus and intersection angle and generate bevel gears pairs.Then I can export them as .step files and import them to DSM.

    I almost had that working when v2 stopped working.

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  • Me Here

    "We have not 'turned off' access to existing users of DSM v2, although we continue to recommend the v5 upgrade as it has the latest bug fixes and feature enhancements. New users of DSM can no longer download v2 since it has been 5 years since its last maintenance update (v2.1) and has reached End-of-life (EOL). The developer does not recommend EOL software to new users as it is not possible to guarantee the best user experience."

    As an ex-software developer, I fully understand the need to EOL old versions, but software does not need to be supported -- much less have 'the best user experience' (whatever that is), -- to continue to be useful. It just needs to not stop working.

    There are a variety of reasons why I would prefer to continue using v2.1; not least of which is that the 64-bit version (inevitably) uses more memory. v5 uses 1.5 GB just to load, where v2 (from memory) was less than 0.5 GB. And (I assume, I've yet to make proper comparisons) the loaded models will probably use considerably more once loaded into 64-bit memory space given that all pointers will double in size.

    My most complex models (the ones I really care about) were already butting heads against the 32 bit memory limit. When v4 (64-bit) first came out, I hoped that would alleviate the memory problems, but whilst the executable can address more memory, it also consumes it at a prodigious rate, meaning that I'd need to double my RAM to compensate. I have found ways around some of the memory problems I was encountering with v2, by moving complex sub-.assemblies (coils, bearings, springs etc.) out of the main model and substituting simpler solids as placeholders. It complicated the upload of the complete model to FEA (magneto-static/dynamic and von Mises), but that's pretty complicated anyway given that everything needs to be converted to a different format for upload.

    "Existing v2 users who require more time to migrate to the latest 64-bit DSM version can troubleshoot their access to the software using this FAQ or by sending us a support ticket: https://designspark.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360009296677 "

    I do not remember the exact error message I was getting from v2 -- and I'm not sure if I still have the v2 MSI somewhere on one of the harddisks I removed from the old machine, so I cannot immediately install it (given I can no longer download it) to verify my memory -- but I am pretty sure that the error was not "Internal server error". More like "cannot authorise"; so I doubt I would have ever found the linked post.

    Given the timing of the sudden failure to authorise being pretty coincident with the release of v5, I didn't bother posting an enquiry here as I guessed that the response would be "Upgrade",

    "Regards access to your v2 designs, every new version of DSM is backwards compatible so you will not lose your projects when using v5."

    As I explained above, it is not as simple a question of v5 being backward compatible; there are other issues at play here.

    "If you choose to use a different program, DSM supports a few industry standard formats like SKP you can export to."

    I'm not sure that I would call SKP an "industry standard format", more "another proprietary format". And not a very good one at that. This is what one of my models looks like in DSM:

    And here's what it looks like after conversion to .SKP format:

    All that faceting of cylindrical surfaces you see in the latter image also affects the carefully profiled gear teeth. This might be fine for 3D printing a few plastic knick-knacks, it is entirely useless for FEA purposes.

    And given that uploading it to the FEA site (simscale) would require two more conversions -- first to a format they will upload (pretty much any of the professional formats including: Parasolid (.x_t, .x_b);SolidWorks (.sldprt, .sldasm);Autodesk Inventor (.iam, *.ipt);Rhino 4, Rhino 5, and Rhino 6 (.3dm);CATIA (.CATPart, .CATProduct);ACIS (.sat, .sab);STEP (.stp, .step);IGES (.igs, .iges);REVIT (.rvt)) and then conversion to their own internal format (parasolid) -- by the time you get to performing the analysis, the part barely resembles that which was originally (carefully) constructed.

     

    "If you have any trouble upgrading or using the new version of DesignSpark software, reach out to us with a support ticket and we will do everything in our power to help.

    About the constraints sketcher, it is a brand new feature in the developer's own paid software (SpaceClaim) and they are working to improve its ease-of-use. So constraint-based sketching is optional and you can switch to the classic 2D sketching interface from File -> DesignSpark options -> Advanced. See more info along with the tutorial here: https://designspark.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360012404637-Constraint-based-sketching-with-DesignSpark-Mechanical "

    The problem with videos like the one linked is that they tell you --sometimes in excruciating detail -- how to use the features, but they do not tell you why you should. Given the not inconsiderable extra work involved in fully constraining a sketch, what benefits are there given that the sketch gets thrown away as soon as your finished with it? Even in parametric modellers where the entire change history is available, I have personally found that other than for a few standard components (screws washers and the like) it is usually easier to delete and create from scratch than to try and go back and edit old sketches, because the ramifications of the edits affect everything you did in the model after you created the sketch.

    v5's implementation of constraints --even given this early stage -- with the automatic adding of the obvious constraints, seems very well thought through. Hand and shoulders above (for example) those in Onshape which forces the user to explicitly define every one. (That may have changed, its been a while since I tried to use Onshape.)

    But still, I have yet to see a coherent, real-life benefit that comes from using constraints. And the few possibles I have read about disappear the moment you throw away the sketch?

     

    I've tried hard to not be negative about DSM, because I really do love both the design philosophy and (for the most part) its implementation. If I could afford the ~ £6000 for SC, I would do so immediately. But, I'm a retired engineer on a very limited income trying to scratch a few itches that accumulated over my career that I never had time to pursue whilst working. But for the interchange problem (and the recent fear that my access might go away at a moments notice) DSM is as near perfect for my needs as this beggar could ask for.

    Add in scripting ability, which (I think) SC has, and it would be perfect; but I guess it would then have become too useful.

    Cheers, Buk.

     

    BTW. Thanks for the response.

     

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  • Me Here

    I said: " I am pretty sure that the error was not "Internal server error".

    However, the title of this article caught my eye

    "Can Not Connect To The Internet" issue in DesignSpark Mechanical v2. Patch available! (October 2020)

    and reading the description of the problem and its resolution, (from memory) it seems likely this is the cause of my v2 problems.

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