I have few doubts in Solid edge given below.
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I believe the Solid Edge center-plane relationship will provide the same functionality as both the SW width mate and symmetric mate.
1. Smaller File Size - Export the model as a Parasolid (x_t) to reduce the file size to almost 5% or the original. Alternatively, in the native SE format, suppress all treatment features to reduce the file size. You can use this utility to toggle the suppress state of all features of a specific type. Try using simplified parts.
2. Open Draft of a Model - You can start creating a drawing directly from a model - part or assembly - but opening the related drawing perhaps is not possible. You can perform a Where Used to find the associated Draft files.
3. Color Patterned Part - In the assembly environment, pick a patterned part and from the View tab on the ribbon, Style group, select face override and select a color. You can further specify to use the color for a single or all instances:
4. Assembly Mates - Answered by Greg.
If file size is important to you, then consider turning off saving the Viewer data in draft files. Obviously if you choose to turn this off, then you will not be able to view the file in View & Markup. To turn this off, in Solid Edge Options -> General, uncheck "Include Draft Viewer data in file".
Also, if you happen to embed image files into your Solid Edge files, consider linking to those files instead of embedding. This too will reduce overall file size. Obviously you will then have to address how to manage linked files when not embedded.
As to your first question my understanding is that Solid Edge Synchronous part files are considerably smaller than SW part files. Like so much comparative information between Solid Edge and SW this file size seems to be based on misinformation. I suggest that you model the same object in both systems and check.
I had tried creating simple parts with exact same dimensions and ordered sequence in SE and SW and found SW file was 85 kb Vs. 175 kb for SE.
Now with your hint with ST, it only got worse with an ST part at 195 kb but the real change and cross-over of size with SE ST size going down will come with more features built into the part leading to creation of a complex part, is what I feel.
What is the size of an empty file in both SE and SW ?
You will find that a large part of the SE file you created is just the template file (probably around 150KB) so the increase in file size due to features is probably not that different.
Why would file size be so critical anyway ?
Absolutely. And I agree. With storage available at very low cost and TeraBytes of hard disks becoming common, the access time and model regeneration time is what should matter. Synchronous models open faster than SW models since they do not store history which needs to be re-calculated to build the model - both first time and with each change.
Another important factor would be the runtime memory resources that SW takes up. Whereas Solid Edge occupies 250 MB - 350 MB, I have seen in SW 2014, it runs into several GBs. @Sandeep you should check this, for I have seen this for myself. Not aware if they have addressed it in R 2015.