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Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
Jeffrey Rowe has almost 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the design … More »

Where’s SolidWorks?

 
July 9th, 2013 by Jeff Rowe

I know we’re in the midst of the dog days of summer as far as the season goes, but we’re also in the dog days as far as the MCAD industry goes, as well.

Historically, this time of year things are relatively slow for business in general, and the CAD industry is not immune to this phenomenon.

However, one CAD vendor in particular has been uncharacteristically quiet since well before these dog days of summer — SolidWorks, or more properly, DS SolidWorks.

Most of SolidWorks’ competitors have made announcements the past few weeks — some relatively major, some relatively minor — but they have made at least some announcements. Not so, SolidWorks.

For example, Autodesk announced some new cloud-based offerings, Solid Edge announced ST6, and PTC announced new versions and products in its Creo line. The most significant bit of news coming out of SolidWorks during this time period has been the release of its 2013-2014 Education Edition.

I can remember a time, and not all that long ago, when a virtually continuous stream of news was coming out of SolidWorks — new software products and services, products designed with the software, new customers, and so on. Periodically, a SolidWorks staffer would even reach out to me to see if there was anything I needed from them, or would discuss future developments and industry trends off the record.

I realize that things can’t stay the same forever, and CAD vendors are no exception, but those days of candidness with a relationship that fostered goodwill between a vendor (in this case SolidWorks) and a member of the industry press are no longer. It’s become more of a “What have you done for us lately?”

Not only are a lot of good folks I’ve known over the years gone from SolidWorks, so is much of the excitement within the company that translated into positive energy for customers, as well as members of the media. In years past (starting in 1995), development managers, technical staff, inside and outside PR/communications, and executives were always approachable and available. These days, I can’t get a phone call returned or a response to an email. Things have changed, and in my world, not for the better.

Although not totally groundbreaking technology, check out SolidWorks’ “Next Big Thing” — Mechanical Conceptual — that was announced in January 2013 at SolidWorks World:

Exactly where is SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual that was announced in January? Where does the next version of the SolidWorks product line stand? Where is the old SolidWorks customer and user community excitement? I ask the question, “Where’s SolidWorks?”

Nothing stays the same, but SolidWorks, c’mon back, you’re missed. Get over the dog days and back in the game that for many years and on many levels made you one of the very best players in the game for mechanical design.

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15 Responses to “Where’s SolidWorks?”

  1. Michael Lord says:

    SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual as far as I’m aware is still under going private Beta Testing and it was announced at SolidWorks World 2013 that it was due for release in November 2013

    SolidWorks 2014 is now in public Beta (until September) and is normally released around October

    News on SolidWorks may appear quiet as last year they had the release of SolidWorks Electrical as well as eDrawings for iOS (then followed with Augmented Reality) Which was further up dated today! . We are all awaiting eDrawing for Android!

    Michael Lord
    http//:www.michaellord.me

    • Jeff Rowe Jeff Rowe says:

      The announcements for new products and technologies were made months ago, with virtually nothing regarding progress or status since then. I can appreciate keeping the cards close to the chest, but, based on my experiences of late, it’s become a cloak of secrecy and embargo on open communication. I understand, too, that every company wants “good press,” but that requires being at least somewhat forthcoming with information that maximizes basis in fact and minimizes speculation.

      I’ve been a friend, but also an objective critic of SolidWorks since its inception, and will continue to be, but need an informed foundation of ongoing communication to remain an independent source that speaks to the end user/customer.

  2. Jon Banquer says:

    Nice to see someone in the CADCAM press start telling the truth about SolidWorks and not roll over and play dead when questioned. Hope this is the start of a new trend in better CADCAM reporting.

    There is no doubt that SolidWorks is now in deep trouble. Censorship and banning on the SolidWorks official forum is at an all time high while interest in SolidWorks is at an all time low.

    I think it’s long past time for new CADCAM products from new companies to fill the huge vacuum that legacy code products like SolidWorks, Mastercam, etc. have left.

    Jon Banquer
    CADCAM Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn

  3. Mark Stapleton says:

    I don’t know what happened to the post that mentioned departures of quality assurance personnel from SolidWorks, but it has been my opinion since the early 2000’s when several of us loud complainers were invited to “clear the air” up in Concord that the QA manager, while seeming to be a very personable guy, was not driving the QA department hard enough. It’s still pretty obvious that SPR’s hang around for years and regressions are common from release to release and from service pack to service pack. Hopefully, there HAVE been some changes in the QA department, for the better.

  4. Sam Scholes says:

    SolidWorks has no plans to abandon their current architecture and move away from the current Parasolid kernel. Here is a statement from SolidWorks CEO, Bertrand Sicot from April 2013:

    “SolidWorks Mechanical CAD is currently used by over two million engineers and designers around the world and will continue to leverage the Parasolid kernel. There is no plan to change the kernel.

    As we have stated previously, we will continue to develop and improve SolidWorks Mechanical CAD, and have no end-of-life plan for this tool that so many of our customers use and depend on today.”

    SolidWorks is the most successful, most popular 3D CAD software available today. It is a very profitable product for Dassault Systemes and they’ll be developing and selling it for many years to come. SolidWorks 2014 is currently in beta testing and will be released around October of this year. Development of SolidWorks 2015 and 2016 is currently underway and SolidWorks has development planned for future releases beyond that.

    SolidWorks is not not going anywhere. Any rumors to the contrary are nothing more then attempts at spreading FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt).

    • Jeff Rowe Jeff Rowe says:

      We’ve heard this before, even though it does not make a lot of sense to license a technology from a competitor at the same time you have something similar that is “homegrown” in the DS ecosystem, such as CGM.

      • Jon Banquer says:

        When you have made as many mistakes as Dassault has made with SolidWorks V6 marketing and development you learn to shut up.

        It’s been years and nothing really innovative has been shown in regards to SolidWorks V6 which morphed into SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual. It’s beyond obvious that DS/SolidWorks has made several false starts and that serious improvements in legacy code Solidworks have vanished in the last 5 years or more. Legacy code SolidWorks has no real direct editing tools, lousy CAM integration, surfacing that’s still far to hard to use and often delivers unpredictable results… I could go on and on. There is no longer any excitement over SolidWorks. Even most of the SolidWorks bloggers who get special treatment don’t bother to rave about SolidWorks anymore and their fog blogs are dead or mothballed.

        Maybe it’s finally time to look at the big picture in regards to CADCAM? Maybe we should be focusing on what’s really wrong with the CADCAM industry and why badly needed real world efficiency improvements aren’t happening? I think the next big breakthrough in CADCAM needs to be much better user interfaces to manage all the CADCAM data we have to deal with. I’ve been a SolidWorks user since 1997 and for sure I think some drastic changes in the user interface are needed to increase efficiency in both CAD and CAM. When you think about it, most CADCAM programs look basically the same and have for like 20 or more years. The way I see it, that kind of obvious lack of innovation and original thought is killing the CADCAM industry.

        I wish more CADCAM users would speak up about much better user interfaces for CADCAM as I feel this is an area where all CADCAM vendors have dropped the ball.

        Up until now I’ve been very hesitant to speak up about some of the CADCAM users interface ideas I have had for years now. Unfortunately, there seems to be little or no interest from CADCAM users about what can be done to make managing the massive amounts of data we work with easier.

        I have some very specific ideas on what’s so wrong and much better ways to manage CADCAM data…specifically as it relates to managing toolpaths and planning machining operations.

        I started a discussion about how poorly most CADCAM makes use of the information a solid model contains that quickly morphed into the problems with current CADCAM user interfaces. I’ve illustrated some of the CAM problems with video examples showing how things could be better. I intend to add more if interest grows from CADCAM users.

        Here is the link to that discussion:

        http://tinyurl.com/kh6a88b

        Jon Banquer
        CADCAM Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn

  5. Sam Scholes says:

    SolidWorks releases new versions of their products every year around October or November. This has been true for several years. Beta testing for the new release usually begins in the summertime, around June, and summer announcements beyond that are not common.

    Here is the 2014 SolidWorks 2014 Product Launch schedule:

    • June 24th – Beta Begins
    • July 22nd – Beta 2 Begins
    • September 5-6 – Press/Blogger Events
    • September 9 – Pre-Release of SolidWorks 2014 available (usually download only from the Customer Portal)
    • September 9 – Press Release Announcing SolidWorks 2014
    • September 9 – Launch Site Live (new SolidWorks 2014 web pages go online)
    • October 1 – Launch events begin (these are SolidWorks reseller sponsored events to introduce the new functionality and features in SolidWorks 2014 products)

    If you’re interested in attending a SolidWorks 2014 Launch Event contact your local SolidWorks reseller.

    • Jeff Rowe Jeff Rowe says:

      I am familiar with the release cycle that has been in effect for a number of years. I was referring more to the general lack of news coming out of DS SolidWorks and general communication. Years of hard work establishing good channels of communication seems to have been undone in a matter of months. I will say, however, that I have been contacted by a couple DS SolidWorks folks, both internal and external agents, and this is a good start.

  6. Kim Corbridge says:

    Jeff, Interesting Article — perhaps the DS folks don’t have much positive to talk about.

    They have announced the new product (2-3 times in various forms), which, regardless of what they may claim, has to be taking resources that would otherwise be adding customer requested capabilities in SolidWorks.

    I have been around long enough to see this transition with several other products many of your readers may have never even heard of (CADDS, I-DEAS, Applicon, PrimeDesign, Clama, Personal Designer, Mechanical Desktop, CADAM, etc.). None of these products are around today because they were replaced by a newer products in almost all cases by the company who also made these products.

    Is SolidWorks on this same path as DS pours money into Mechanical Conceptual?

    SolidWorks probably has most of their resources focused on creating, testing and documenting the new product. However, they are not ready for the reaction when customers finally figure this out. DS has tried to explain this 2-3 times. It has never gone well.

    Someone once told me it is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than open your mouth and remove all doubt. Perhaps DS has figured out that saying nothing is safer than trying to spin this one more time.

    I did find Michael Lords defense of DS interesting. If SW Electrical, E-Drawings on the i-Pad and Augmented Reality and the promise of drawing viewing on Android are the evidence of new capability, I would ask “Where’s the Beef?”.

    While these might be nice window dressing, none are improvements in core geometric modeling and drafting tools that engineers and designers spend the vast majority of time using. Engineers I interact with would rather have tools to cut modeling and drafting time in half, than a viewer for the iPad.

    I would argue that SolidWorks is behind the technology curve in these core functions. ent They are riding their market position, but their technology is stagnant because they are they are focused on creating a new product.

    For example, Siemens generated next generation core modeling tools with the implementation of Synchronous Technology on both Solid Edge and NX (Unigraphics). Six years later, SolidWorks is still a 100% History based system. Are these guys technology leaders – maybe in drawings on the i-Pad, but not in the heart of a CAD/CAM System — modeling and drafting.

    Compare SW Electrical, E-Drawings on the i-Pad and Augmented Reality to Solid Edge ST6. The Siemens information claims to have addressed 1300 customer enhancement requests. Be assured that the bulk of these were core geometric modeling and drafting enhancements — the “Beef” of a CAD system.

    Oh, and by the way they also have a viewer for the i-Pad.

    If you want some details about Solid Edge ST6, you can join a web based “What’s New” session by registering here: http://allyplm.com/solidedgetutorials/ By the way, there is so much beef in this release, this has to be to split it into 2 sessions.

    Kim

    • Jeff Rowe Jeff Rowe says:

      If DS Solidworks folks don’t have much positive to talk about, that would definitely be a first — up until recently, the company has just about always had something to talk about.

      • Jon Banquer says:

        Maybe it’s time to start talking about massive problems with the SolidWorks API that are limiting CAM developers?

        This is just pathetic:

        http://www.emastercam.com/board/index.php?showtopic=73924

        “We’ve been working with SolidWorks API support on this issue for several years and have never gotten to the root of the problem.

        Sorry.”

        Jon Banquer
        CADCAM Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn

    • Michael Lord says:

      Jeff, Kim

      I wasn’t really defending SolidWorks (they don’t need me to do that) I was just stating a few facts.
      Jeff’s article (as interpreted by others here) is that SolidWorks is in this downward spiral! People are reading 2 + 2 equals 27!

      News always goes in cycles! Of course people are talking about SolidEdge, Siemens have just release it’s new version (and I hear very good things) as well as holding their national conference! Where I understand SolidWorks was mentioned almost as much as SolidEdge! I would be more concerned if people weren’t talking about it!

      Come September there will be a flood of News from SolidWorks when 2014 is released! The flood gates will open in November when SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual is due for release. I’m sure we will see as many negative articles as we will see positive reviews!

      Companies will always put there own spin on what they want you to hear! Their competitors will put their own spin on what they think you don’t want to hear! That’s Marketing! (Never let the truth get in the way of a good story)

      As they say, we live in interesting times and I’m sure the next 6 months will be so!

      Michael

      • Jon Banquer says:

        Dasssault themselves now have had to admit that SolidWorks sales are flat.

        SolidWorks sales will continue to be flat and will probably slow ever further than they have already slowed:

        http://schnitgercorp.com/2013/07/30/ds-q2-ahead-on-some-metrics-not-on-others/

        “SolidWorks revenue was €105 million, just about flat with the March quarter but up 3% as reported and up 6% in cc. In Q1, the number of new license sold was up 1% y/y; in Q2, it was down 3% y/y to 13,403. DS appeared to acknowledge that the confusion about what the new version of Solidworks would (and wouldn’t) be has caused sales to slow. M. de Tersant told one investor that Solidworks will only start benefitting from the V6 migration next year, so “I don’t think we need to count on much new license growth for SolidWorks in the second half.”

        Jon Banquer
        CADCAM Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn

  7. Gal Raz says:

    Jeff, I couldn’t agree more. nothing changed since my post, a year ago, about the same subject – http://displaystatesen.blogspot.co.il/2012/08/solidworks-how-about-some-diy.html

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