Research Retrospective – Play SolidWorks

Do you want to "Play SolidWorks" ?

An area we've explored in the past was whether it is possible to use a game controller to drive SolidWorks. This evolved from a Research investigation to determine whether a user could effectively use 2 mice for 3D Design and Modelling.


"Play SolidWorks" was a mini-project which was allowed a maximum time of 1 day to create a viable Proof of Concept for driving SolidWorks using a game controller which connects to the PC using a standard USB port.

A simple mechanism is required to allow input from a game controller to drive SolidWorks using simulated mouse events and keyboard presses.

There are a number of software packages available that allow a user to define what happens when using a game controller to drive a Windows application. The one I used is the Pinnacle Game Profiler software obtained from

The software is simple to use and recognised that the controller I am using has a combination of 12 buttons, 2 joysticks and an 8 way direction pad.  

I made the following assignments for the various controls.


Joystick 1 (on the left) is assigned as equivalent to a middle mouse button and Joystick 2 acts effectively as a left mouse button.

The direction pad is coded to select one of the 4 predefined views front, right, top or isometric with a single click.

Other buttons were assigned to zoom in/out simulate LMB, RMB, ESC and Enter key hits

I also created a number of macros and setup SolidWorks to execute these from a single keystroke, this keystroke is then assigned to one of the available controller buttons ( see buttons 1-3 createBox, createCyl and createSphere).

Total time to configure the controller, experimenting with various combinations macro writing etc. came to about 2.5 hours.

And finally – Play SolidWorks

Matthew West

SolidWorks alumnus. I like plate reverb, Rat pedals, Thai curry, New Weird fiction, my kids, Vespas, Jazzmasters, my wife & Raiders of the Lost Ark. Not necessarily in that order.