Vendor Lock-in

Reading this morning a reply from Adrian got me to thinking about when I made the move from VX, now ZW3D, to SE and how it seems CAD companies put roadblocks in the way of CAD users who contemplate leaving.

In my discussions with other users  before leaving VX that was the big problem then and now and indeed always has been. How to move all your legacy stuff without gobs of headaches.

Leaving was for me a two step process in that first I had to get mad enough at long term unsolved problems to consider leaving and then the process of wading through all the information online and the sales spiels and the  “WE have the best stuff tailor made for you” sales litanies.

Even though VX licensed the Parasolid kernal from Siemens as indeed many other companies do how they implement it is another story. Even into their current 2011 beta for instance imports from SE into ZW results in cylinders  broken into segments. Instead of having just one 360 degree face I would end up with three most of the time. One would usually be 180 degrees, the next 179 and the last would be tiny at 1 degree or less and if you did not learn to catch these things it would ruin your day in a cam plan. Sadly these segments would be what I got back into SE from VX on a number of occasions to. Since Siemens writes the parasolid kernal you can suspect whom I thought to be the one doing it right.

So whether deliberatly done to make translations or switching to another program difficult or just an effort to differentiate  how the product will work the end result is the same for users. A heap of trouble.

Transmagic is a company that has a translator function I have never tried but it has interested me for some time. It is a batch translator where supposedly you can translate a number of files at one time. It seems to be a great idea and I would like to hear from someone who has used this especially in the area of assemblies and how well the data comes through.

It would also seem to me that it would be a great tool for a cad company to author  in house to offer to those who are contemplating switching to their product to ease the pain of doing so.

If you were fed up with your current CAD vendor just how much more likely would you or your company be to switch to a different product if you knew a competent batch translator was available in the new program?

5 responses to “Vendor Lock-in

  1. Hi Dave
    We are considering a change to SE from SW we are concerned about stability as well as conversion of files, we use routing of pipe and flexible tubing that seem to cause many crashes in SW. We are a small machine manufacturer, fabricated and machined parts some sheet metal and piping. In Matt’s blog it sounds like we would be an ideal candidate for SE. Can you answer a few questions?
    1. Is SE stable?
    2. Are the VAR’s helpful?
    3. Will SE be easy for us to use (model, draw, etc)?
    4. What is the training like (tutorials)?
    5. Does SE use configurations like SW (excel spread sheets)?
    6. I have a quote for SE classic but have no idea what features classic includes vs. std. or premium?
    7. I have seen SW part models opened in SE and they look fine, what about assemblies (mates, etc)?

    • #1 If you are asking about does SE crash on you I can say in my case only once and a while. Not often enough for me to start being irritated to the point of wanting to keep track of it.

      #2 I use Ally PLM and the answer is very much so. I think it behooves you to shop for VARS in any case no matter which cad flavor you buy as there are good and bad ones with every company. What area of the country are you asking about?

      #3 I have only switched cad programs once so my comments will be based on that. Once you learn a parametric modeler there is commonality with how programs work and terminology and where are all the little icons and tools you need will be the real time consumers in learning. With ST there is another little hurdle to cross and that is your mind set. ST is really about how do faces relate to each other and they are what you will be working with especially in editing. I chose SE for direct editing to make my life easier in particular with families of parts and imported parts and I would not even consider going back. Drawings and the rest are just fine and sheet metal is very good. So yes in a nutshell certainly no harder to learn than other cad programs and much easier to use I believe once you have learned.

      One additional comment here. The topic of vendor lockin is what started this post. Direct editing on imported geometry is the best tool I know of to work on imported parts and not have to worry about how did someone else do it or dependencies on surrounding geometry. I can edit I dare say in most cases an SW, or any others, part faster than the original author. To date this has been true with parts from SW, ZW3d, and Inventor, the only 3d cad programs I recieve files in. All my other imports have been from 2d programs.

      #4 There are a number of usefull tutorials that come with the program and more at the Siemens web site. I don’t have that link right at hand but I will post it here later. One of the other best tools for learning is the SE user forums and I have found lots of great help there and people willing to spend a good amount of time with you to help.

      #5 Yes to excell sheets

      #6 If your potential VAR is not giving you a list of features I am not sure why. Thats their job to give you information and if they are not SE would like to know who it is. Ask for this and if they won’t help let me know.

      #7 I have opened parts from SW and like you my experience is they open just fine, including some assemblies, I have not done enough of this personally to be able to make blanket statements on reliability. I have not really analyzed how well constraints come through as I do not need things like motion analysis as much as I need to be able to seperate out parts as individuals for machining or fabrication. I will say that all the parts and assemblies I have opened from other cad products have imported well and are immediatly editable with ST which is where I do almost all my work now. 75% of the files I import for my major customers are still sadly enough 2d drawings where I end up having to do the 3d model myself.

      • Thanks for the answers Dave
        we are located in FL. SE sent me to a VAR in CA. doesn’t make sense!

      • Was the company Saratech by any chance? While they are based in CA they have field staff here in the South East. I don’t know a whole lot about Saratech except that they have been very supportive of the Huntsville user group and my dealings with them there have all been positive. Ask for local referalls and see how existing customers like them. If they can’t do that it’s a big red flag.

        SE as far as I know does not dictate to you who you buy from. My VAR is 300 miles away but gave me a super deal and internet support means I don’t have to have them right next to me.

  2. Unfortunately it’s not only about the data translation (which is the most important). In my current company we have users trained to use the current software, we have contractors knowing the current software only.
    The ties are many and excuses to be complacent even more. It is hard to define how much pain you need to accumulate before you decide you have to switch. Does it pay off?
    I switched from AutoCAD 2D/3D to SolidWorks in 1999. In 2000 we switched to SolidEdge because of West-coast users complaints related to sheet-metal features in SW. In 2006 we switched back to SW because the entire corporation but us was using SW…
    A year and a half ago I switched companies and I now work with Inventor and Mechanical Desktop (!!!) .
    So switching is no problem for me personally but I found many people scared of it all these years. I prefer to make an extra effort myself rather than hearing other people complaining about working with a different application and not being able to perform because of that…

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