I have used numerous 2D and 3D CAD systems over the years and recently lost access to CAD tools at work (retired), and I found I need to have something to support my "hobby" interests". A former co-worker suggested Solid Edge's free drafting software for 2D layout/detailing.
While I found the "Ribbon" interface layout to be visually attractive and easy to navigate/learn, I envision it becoming an impediment to productivity - too much mouse motion is required to get things done. A CAD tool needs to strike a proper balance between being an easy to learn and one that supports that task at hand efficiently - 2D drawing/detailing is particularly sensitive to (requires) a UI that is weighted heavily to user efficiency; unfortunately ST3 leans way too much towards the "easy of learning" side of things.
A UI that supports both is possible. What is missing in ST3 is the ability to drive the tool via the keyboard, mouse buttons, and mouse gestures. The optimal UI for a CAD tool allows the operator to maintain eye and mouse pointer focus in the graphics area, with one hand on the keyboard to invoke commands and the other on the mouse to select entities and graphic locations.
The constraint (dimension) driven drawing process is an interesting approach, but completed ill suited to classical 2D layout iterative design usage. The product certainly does not scale to drawings with complex geometrical containing numerous entities. This is not to say that constraining tools are useless, they can be a very power design aid in solving design problems.
The 2D draw and constrain approach makes much more sense in the context of sketching 2D for a feature in a 3D modeling environment where feature geometry relationships are important to design intent and where the 2D sketches are far simpler.
I think the real purpose in making this software free and constraint driven is to attract potential paying customers into the Siemens arena: 3D Solid Edge, UG NX, TeamCenter, and consulting services. Think of ST3 as a loss leader product to get people to transition to 3D modeling.
My personal needs require more of a classic 2D drafting tool where drawing geometry comes and goes, with lots of design change. A constraint driven approach is not practical (very cumbersome) here.
P.S. Suggestion to Siemens
You also have an existing 2D drawing product called I-DEAS Drafting that has most of the important qualities for a highly functional and efficient 2D drawing/detailing product. Even though the product is very dated, being in an orphaned state for 10+ years, it still outshines every 2D drawing tool I have ever used for drawing and detailing of mechanical drawings. Why not offer this for free? Your are much more likely to make a better impression with potential paying customers with I-DEAS Drafting than with ST3.
I agree ! SE 2D is far from complete, and I call/find it the most incomplete part from SE.
Really, SE is a very,very good Solid modeler.
Their is nothing wrong on that part of the software.
(Sure it must grow in time, but thats what every software needs to do to survive.)
But the support of them is really great. So just post some things you really miss in SE 2D like the functionality in IDEAS drafting. (I have seen a demo of it a long time ago, really liked it but the company I worked for at that time did choose for Pro/e what also have a great 2D environment.)
Anyway great to read your comments about SE.
Keep on posting them !
And let us hope that more people will make the people of 2D SE development aware of the weakness of SE 2D ! So that they soon can act in proper way.
And end up with not only best in class modeler but also best in class 2D environment.
I here always the same thing from people coming from 2D environments.
SE 2D is to basic, for daily or professional use.
There are a huge number of keyboard shortcuts to tools, but they are not seen on the surface so you have to look for them in the help files. You can also assign a bunch of things to shortcuts and change the existing shortcuts if there is something that you prefer.
It appears you can turn off most of the features that you don't want so all the constrained areas should be able to go away. Sometimes I do find the relate tools to get in the way, but if you hold down the alt key they are all turned off while holding the key.
I still think that this would be a better understood application if their was a using manual that you could actually read through and not just the help files. The help files are indeed extensive, but you have to know what to search for to find the help.
And you are right, this is a loss leader to get people into the full version. But I will say that as a novice who has never taken any training for any CAD program it works really well for me at this stage in my usage.
Guys, Thank you for the input. As you assume, part of the intent of Solid Edge 2D Drafting is to get users familiar with Solid Edge. All that you learn with Solid Edge 2D Drafting can be applied to using the full version of Solid Edge. In ST3 we have added the ability to customize the UI. Commands that are used often can be added to the Radial Menu. The radial menu can be displayed under the mouse by Right Mouse Click and hold+Drag of the mouse. You can customize this menu to add the commands you use most often. You may have to play with it a bit to get the feel for getting the menu to display. Regards, Rick B.