Welcome SOLIDWORKS 2016 New User Interface – Flat Design

If you have not already installed SOLIDWORKS 2016, you may be in for a surprise that leaves you a little ‘flat.’ At first glance you will think that something just seems odd, and you may even be frustrated that some of the icons are different. But, there is good news!

  • SOLIDWORKS is not alone in making these kinds of changes.
  • The changes are setting you up for new changes in technology and increased productivity.


A few years ago, with the release of iOS7, Apple completely changed their user interface to something called a flat design. At the time, many bloggers opined on the matter – some loved it, some hated it, and others thought Apple was already behind the times.

The main driving force behind the change came from the field of computer science where a flatter, less life-like interface was being pushed rather than adding decorative rivets and knobs to sound control panels or torn pages to the top of a calendar. Even the decorative graphics that made buttons look 3D were removed in place of slight color changes to specify what was ‘pressed’ and what was not.

Many other programs have since been transitioning from the 3D skeuomorphic (that is the technical term) user interface to a more 2D flat design. After all, monitors are flat and rivets and torn pages don’t really do anything to the functionality of the program. One could argue that they take away from the potential productivity of a program.

In addition, as more programs are transitioning toward cloud-based services (much like Conceptual and Industrial Design), they are opting for the flat design. By keeping with this look, SOLIDWORKS is staying with the two current trend of software engineering and the modern look of operating systems and programs.


Aesthetics aside, there are some very important reasons for the change from a program consistency and technological viewpoint: scalable icons that are consistent across the different SOLIDWORKS product lines. With the new face-lift to the User Interface, the SOLIDWORKS software engineers not only took the time and remade all the icons to match up with their other programs like Conceptual Design, but made them vector-based graphics. This way, not only will you be more familiar with the interface as you move from one product to another during the different stages of product development, but as more computers are upgraded to high resolution monitors, the interface will scale appropriately. Ultimately, it is major convenience.


I have been working with 2016 for a few months now. Initially, I had some hesitation with the new look, but after working with it for a few days, I found my productivity had increased and much ease in navigating the interface.


I found that many of the icon updates were subtle, and where they were not, they were made more intuitive. For example, the eyeglasses that used to represent the hide/show functionality have been replaced with an eye. Now that is a change to get behind; I just wish they would have changed the save icon to a USB dongle…


Showing the similarities between the new UI in SOLIDWORKS (top) and Conceptual Design (bottom)

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GoEngineer delivers software, technology and expertise that enable companies to unlock design innovation and deliver better products faster. With more than 30 years experience and thousands of customers in high tech, medical, machine design, energy and other industries, GoEngineer provides best-in-class design solutions from SOLIDWORKS, Stratasys, CAMWorks, Altium and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM). For more information, visit goengineer.com.

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