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First Look: YouTubing Inside Solid Edge ST 6

By Ralph Grabowski, September 23, 2013

One of the more interesting new functions in Solid Edge ST 6 has nothing to do with MCAD: it’s an innovative ability to play videos from YouTube and to record the CAD program's actions for sharing on YouTube. Let's take a look at how it works.

First, here’s how to access the YouTube function. I failed when I l initially looked for a "youtube" function on the ribbon. It turned out that access is through two spots along the window's edges (see figure 1):

 

Figure 1: Accessing the recording and viewing functions

Finding and Viewing Videos

The YouTube docking pane lists overviews of videos promoted by Siemens PLM Software, as well as the results returned from searching YouTube. Here are the steps I took to find and view tutorial movies:

  1. I clicked the YouTube button found along the right edge of the Solid Edge window. The docking pane appeared.
  2. In the search field, I entered "drawing," and then clicked the Search button (looks like a magnifying glass).
  3. Instantly, YouTube returned 20 videos, along with a Next button for listing more (see figure 2). It's not clear to me the order in which videos are listed; perhaps it's random, as I saw no pattern with regards to title, popularity, views, or author.

Figure 2: YouTube returning results after searching for "drawing"

  1. Choosing a video brought up a dialog box in which the tutorial was played back to me (see figure 3).

Figure 3: YouTube movie playing back inside Solid Edge ST 6

The Filter button lets me narrow the search according to criteria listed in figure 4:

Figure 4: Narrowing the search field through filters

Searches are limited to videos relating to Solid Edge. I checked this by entering "mst3k" into the search field, and was rewarded with a blank list. So, no Mystery Science Theater 3000 videos during your work hours!

Ready and Action!

To record my own video about Solid Edge, I took these steps:

  1. I clicked the Record button (found in the lower right corner of the Solid Edge window). The Record function is also available in the YouTube docking pane and the playback window. The Record Video dialog box appeared with options for how to make the recording (see figure 5).

Figure 5: Video recording options from Solid Edge

  1. Of the options in the dialog box, perhaps the most important is Area To Record, which determines how much of the screen to capture:
  • Active Document Window - best choice when recording tutorials that concentrate on the model or drawing
  • Solid Edge Application - best choice when recording tutorials that involve the entire user interface
  • Custom Area - prompts you to pick two points that define the area to be video-taped; allows you to include other applications
  1. I slid the dialog box to the side, and then clicked the red Record button. If my computer had a microphone (mine doesn't), then I could have narrated my actions.
  2. After manipulating the model, I clicked the Stop button.
  3. To review the movie, I clicked the Play button. Windows prompted me to choose a video playback program; I chose one, and then watched the movie I had made.
    TIP
    : To begin recording right away without the dialog box, just press Shift+F9, and then press Shift+F10 to stop recording.
  4. To upload the video to YouTube, I clicked the Upload button. The dialog box had a number of fields for me to fill out, the most important being Tags, because this is how other users will be able to find our videos - after they enter terms into the search field.

Figure 6: Setting the upload parameters

  1. The Upload button did not become available to me until I signed in with my Google credentials: clicking the Sign In button displays Google's standard sign-in screen.
  2. Clicking the Upload button displays a dialog box asking me to confirm that I own all the rights to the content.

After Solid Edge uploaded my drivel movie, I wondered if Siemens PLM has a quality control system in place to weed out useless videos, like mine - which you can view at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hTCpdc4D_o.

The technical details are that Solid Edge saves the video in WMV (Windows movie) format at the same resolution as the area being recorded. So, the higher the resolution of your monitor, the higher the resolution of the video - and vice versa.

The Off Switch

There is, naturally, some concern about engineers watching cat videos under the guise of part modeling, and so the YouTube function can be blocked should head office prefer not to implement this function. In any case, it depends on the local computer having Internet access, and some companies block communication with the outside world as a matter of policy to protect intellectual property.

To block YouTube, take these steps: set up SEAdmin, and then change the user options to disable YouTube search and playback, as well as upload through the UI.

Conclusion

I am a cynic when I see vendors integrate some Internet thing into their CAD software; any aspect of the Internet is added to inside the software is always done more easily outside of it.

In the same way, the YouTube implementation in Solid Edge ST 6 is limited. The way that Siemens PLM limited it, however, makes sense. It only views tutorials about Solid Edge; access to cute kitties is blocked. It is targeted at making videos about Solid Edge, although you can include other software in the Custom Area rectangle. And CAD administrators can entirely eliminate access to the function, should it be deemed necessary.

I found the new YouTube function to be a good balance, because working with video can sometimes be an exercise in frustration. Siemens PLM included sufficient options to make it useful, but not too many to make it intimidating.

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About the Author

Ralph Grabowski, TenLinks managing editor, is one of the leading CAD journalists and authors, with over a 100 books and many hundreds of articles. His upFront.eZine may be the industry's longest running newsletter. Ralph holds a civil engineering degree. More...

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