Solid Edge and the Final Frontiers

Reading a few things today over at the Siemens BBS forums for SE and some thoughts came to mind regarding corporate philosophy of management and percieved shortfalls of Solid Edge by prospective and current users.

It has been interesting to watch over the last three and a half  years how the nature of the complaints by users on the BBS have changed. The primary and most oft repeated complaints were for some time unintended consequences of direct edits and this was a problem. As always with new technology there was both user inexperience in proper workflow and genuine software problems mixed together for a less than satisfactory result in many cases. Two seperate domains of modeling where never the twain shall meet was as big a problem especially as we could see that NX allowed the two to meet and that was what we wanted too.

ST3 arrives and with the joining of direct and traditional plus better implementation of live rules by SE. Seat time by users bringing better understanding of how it all was supposed to work along with the big improvements in SE solved for the most part the old complaints but was leading into new ones.

ST4 was primarily about making the tools of geometry creation more reliable and the workflow to use them easier. After all, did we not buy software to create geometry? This was also the opinion of Siemens and SE management and they determined that geometry creation for MCAD and being the best at it was their goal. This was the driving philosophy behind the features in ST4 and I expect in part for ST5 too.

We arrive today with only one serious objection to the capabilities of SE by users. It is also the one most mentioned by bloggers and users of other CAD programs and utilized by companies afraid of competition. Keep in mind I am not talking about an “ecosphere” of integrated apps like the one SW has done so well over the years. I am talking about SE by itself and the last big objection to it’s capabilities. This is surfacing and the creation of swoopy, curvy and twisty objects like those so often found in molded parts.

I never had these concerns as my parts are pretty straight forward and basically never stray from the world of MCAD where the vast majority of us live. But I watch with interest what others who do this kind of work say as who knows when it may be my turn to have to do this kind of stuff.

Today there was a post talking about modeling and in chimes Dan Staples. Now first off I am going to make a philosophical point here. I have had very poor experiences with companies that are run by CPA MBA types and whose sole qualifications seem to be cost cutting without understanding the ramifications of their actions to the product. The mindset that seems to say please the shareholders and investors first with slick words and new features that don’t mean squat to users but look good to the outside world.  I know Dan and I see his geometry creation passion in his actions and words and here he is once again on his own time commenting on the forums.

Here is a direct quote,

“OK. I don’t technically qualify as a user, but I sometimes spend significant time with the software, to understand where to improve it. I spent quite a few hours on surfacing recently — that leads me to an insight on where you can rock out Synchronous today, even if you are are a dinosaur (Rick’s word, not mine!).
Do all your sketches in Synchronous and all the surfaces in Ordered. This turns out to work wonderfully — you do have to remember to switch to ordered and back. The reason it works wonderfully is the fluidity with which you can switch back and forth between sketches (which are highly interrelated in surfacing workflows) but still benefit from associative recompute.”

Now I don’t know why this was not publically mentioned before except that the mind is a funny thing. How often are we locked into a way of thinking because of how we have had to work for years and don’t experiment? I think this is a case in point. Here are unplanned capabilities and a new way of doing things that simply needed someone to find it. There is significant benefit to users by having the guy in charge of their software be an expert in it who wants improvements because improvements will happen.

Later in this thread is a post by Imre Szucs where he does just such a part. It starts a little slow so stick with it, it is worth it.

I have watched over the last few years how things seem to work with SE. I see Dan show up at Matt Lombard’s blog where a rather lengthy discussion happens on surfacing. I see Dan showing up on the BBS talking about the same stuff. Generally this is an indication of where things are headed and what is being developed even though you won’t get anyone to come right out and say so. I am quite certain surfacing will no longer be a complaint in the near future.

I am also going to take a moment of your time and talk about the direction that SE and the SE Velocity family of software is taking. I look at SW and I am envious of the incredible amount of integrated apps there are for them. This did not happen over night and is the result of many years of effort. I get really impatient with the pace of change at SE in regards to this until I consider the following. Yeah, it’s almost tax time again. Wasn’t it tax time a couple of months ago or so it seems? How often do you find yourself lamenting how fast time can go away?

Karsten Newbury, the guy that is over the SE and SE Velocity family happens to have a Masters in Industrial Engineering. His backround IS industry and not counting dollars and planning stock leveraged buyouts/sellouts or stupid social media gamification of cad. He is aware of the lack of integrated products but has had to work on a bunch of stuff to get to the point where this can really be addressed.  I have recently been told that things are going to change in a big way in this area. Every time Karsten has made a public or private to me statement he has delivered. His philosophy here is that he will not make promises he can’t deliver on and he means it. Look for integrated apps, they are on the way. Remember this, even though SE has been around for a number of years in many ways it is a new company with a new philosophy that is replacing the neglect it has suffered from Integraph days through the UGS days. Fixing this is not easy but it is being done.

I think about the upcoming University for ST5 with anticipation. We are all going there with excitement about what is in store for us. I happen to know that the “Final Frontiers” are being driven through at this time and soon this last serious objection to SE’s geometry creation capabilities will not apply anymore and neither will the lack of key integrated apps.

Life is good and if you are a user of SE do you really want to miss this years event? It will be well worth your time to go if you can and I look forward to seeing and commenting on the upcoming new goodies.

2 responses to “Solid Edge and the Final Frontiers

  1. Very Very good article!!

    • Hey Billy, You made the switch here from SW so I would like to ask you if you have had any problems with parts creation compared to what you used to do in SW? I know I hear that SW is supposed to be so better in surfacing compared to SE according to some bloggers and users and would like to hear from you as you have been a user of both.

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