Whose Vision are YOU paying for?

This post started over at another machine shop yesterday. I went to get some part files and the owner there knows I am a big fan of Solid Edge and speak disparingly of Solid Works when the topic of CAD comes up. “So” he says , ” what is all this talk about SW going away anyway? All my customers use it and none of them use Solid Edge”. He is not a CAD guy and uses files others create to machine from so it is kind of hard to explain to him why this is so. I mean it does work for him and the heavy CAD lifting is done by others and they use SW so what could be wrong, Right?

Perhaps those of us who read posts and industry related articles are the abnormal ones. Maybe most of us just use what tools we are given by our employer and watch the clock so we can precisely time our exit from purgatory to the precise millisecond. And I begin to wonder how many others who actually own businesses who have that same interest level in these software tools they use.

To me fascination with all things CAD/CAM is of interest as it is an integral part of my life and my future and directly impacts everything in my business. I can’t fathom not being interested. professionally as a user I should think looking at trends and capabilities of the software tools would be important. As a business how could I justify ignoring everything about directions of the companies whose software products I buy and also ignore emerging new better ways to do things. Sad to say I think the vast majority of CAD users fall into the I don’t care ignorance is bliss  categories.

Trends and capabilities of your software are important. Are you planing for the future in terms of multiple years or just day-to-day? When I look at software I am looking for stability, longevity and functionality for the rest of my business career.  I seek the answers which best provide cost-effective time use and where I can expect to plan for the future with a consistent forward-looking customer oriented company that understands if I don’t prosper they won’t either over time.

I ran across and article by  on May 2, 2012 and the link is http://gfxspeak.com/2012/05/02/is-catia-v6-over-the-hump/       I will be using quotes from this.

Now before I go further I want to say that the myopia of many with SW, soon to be Catia Lite, and Dassault and Catia may well only be exceeded by the directors of Dassault. I am going to talk about some of these major disconnects.

File compatibility. This is one of the biggies for me as I often get files from others and I have to be able to use these. Direct editing solves this for me in an elegant fashion. There was thought behind ST to make it so.

“Neither Bell nor Cessna has yet grappled with how to share data with suppliers who use file-based CAD software from Dassault Systèmes or other vendors. Dassault announced recently that Catia V6 R2012x will be able to exchange data bi-directionally with an upcoming release of V5 dubbed V5-6R2012x.move to V6. Speaking at the 2009 COE conference in Seattle, Kevin Fowler, vice president of systems integration and process tools for Boeing’s Commercial Airplane division, said his company needed to recoup its investment in migrating from Catia V4 to V5 before considering a move to V6. Today Boeing people say their company still has no plans to move to V6.

Other Dassault Systèmes customers have taken the more radical step of announcing plans to migrate to Siemens NX instead of dealing with the complex transformation of their data-management systems required by V6. Such customers include Daimler Corporation, Chrysler Corporation, and Huntington-Ingalls’ Newport News Shipbuilding division. H-I’s Ingalls division in Pascagoula, Mississippi announced plans to move from V5 to a combination of AutoCAD and ShipConstructor, an AutoCAD application.”

OK, this is a big deal. If you can’t utilize past creations in an effective trouble-free manner in this new and improved way you are being asked to pay for what does that say about contempt for your time and money? I don’t have any trouble opening up files that are 8 years old from VX CADCAM in Solid Edge. The only problem I have had in opening files from anyone from any program has been that hole data does not come through RE threads. The rest is there. I can’t say how this would work with Catia because I have never had a file from them. (does this mean that no one uses Catia??? har-de-har-har).

If you can’t reliably open files from others exactly where does that leave you since oddly enough you will at times get files from others.

Just how does your software play with others anyway? How does it even play with itself? Now it would be nice if I could stay on one version and it could save forward to future versions. I don’t expect that nor should it be possible without crippling future advancements. But I do fully expect that my software should be able to open reliably past versions of itself. I have been told NX for example opens up NX stuff from way back in the 90’s reliably. SE will reliably open up prior SE stuff  back to V6 or 1998. What you do today does not become obsolete here. I think it is safe to say that it will be this way for a long time since Siemens/UGS owns the proven kernal they have been using and have no need to change. Now I know a lot of this article from Randall touches on PDM PLM stuff and all I can say is that these big wins by Siemens were because Siemens set it’s software up to play well with everyone else AND deal with legacy files to.

Now remember SW users, where you are headed is to “Catia Lite” and so those Catia problems will of course become yours to I would think.

“called coexistence, the method of sharing data among three Catia versions turned out to be more complex than expected. Hull devoted most of his talk to the subtleties of doing so. Hull takes exception to Etienne Droit’s claim that importing V5 data into V6 is “a piece of cake.” “I’d accept that if he’d said fruitcake,” Hull quipped. “There are hard, chewy bits in the middle.”   Coexistence actually involves migrating all V4 and V5 data to Enovia V6 with all the attendant errors listed below. The difference is that coexisting data is treated as a copy whose master is a V4 or V5 model in an older PDM system. So if a coexisting model needs to be changed, the change must be made in the legacy Catia system. However, V6 lacks implicit controls to prevent users from changing coexisting data. Consequently, system managers must make sure that V6 users don’t have permission to change V5 models. Setting up these permissions for a bulk data transfer requires writing business-process scripts and debugging them.   Simple feature-based V5 parts may slip easily into V6, although the process involves “ripping each file apart,” in Hull’s words, to store its components as V6 objects. But parts with embedded Visual Basic scripts can have syntax errors. Sheet-metal parts may lose their design-table column headers. Electrical parts may suffer unspecified errors, and parts in some assemblies may be missing.   Moving V4 files to V6 also can be troublesome, Hull said. Assembly constraints may not translate perfectly, and V4 mockup data also causes problems.

Neither Bell nor Cessna has yet grappled with how to share data with suppliers who use file-based CAD software from Dassault Systèmes or other vendors. Dassault announced recently that Catia V6 R2012x will be able to exchange data bi-directionally with an upcoming release of V5 dubbed V5-6R2012x.”

Now for SW users add in kernal change, GUI change, translation problems and a big fat question mark behind the can you use your legacy data comment. I think Airbus if I may be so bold can certainly talk about electrical parts and Cat4-5 translation problems.

I read stuff like this and I wonder at what will happen to those who are willfully unaware of the future. You have to plan for it I think and these Dassault self-induced problems you users are going to have to pay for both in fees for the software and especially in problems in its excecution are going to be onerous ones to bear and will last for years. Research these things I am talking about and don’t just take my word for it.  Dassault has spent four years of their SW subs money to do things they wanted and not give a flip about their users and I expect at this rate this will go on for easily another four years providing GREAT value for subs money both today and in the future.

Or on the other hand I am sure that Lemmings were comfortable in following their peers until that last step over the cliff. All I am saying here is that you really need to dig into the facts,data and history available and not be complacent about the tools you use. There is danger and a cliff on the horizon for those who don’t care. Yes maybe your contacts use it today. Is that not the same thing ProE users and Authors used to say?

16 responses to “Whose Vision are YOU paying for?

  1. R. Paul Waddington

    You know Dave, as a young bloke I learned draughting and design guys are amongst the laziest people around when it come to looking after their own interests in the working environment. So interested in just “getting on and doing the job in hand” that they would toting ignore the fact their working conditions were sub-standard.

    When ever I challenged my work mates as to why they put up with their conditions I was often dismissed as a trouble maker.

    I truth many of these guys were some of the best tool and machine designers around and, I owe a lot of what I know to them. Their employers got (still get) huge value for money (their pay cheques less than a P.As) and those same brilliant guys would create amazing products using old draughting tools and in office environments few management or sales staff would accept. Something I never did for any longer than I needed too.

    When it became obvious CAD (PC CAD) would become the future tool of choice – at an industry meeting – I made the statement “this was the opportunity draughtys could use to improve their lot”.

    I reasoned, management were going to need to so spend much more on CAD equipment for their draughting staff (than was ever spent on older type tools) that this would translate to a greater understanding of the worth/value, of design staff, and would translate into a general improvement. It did require the recipients to change their attitude as well and this proved to be where I was too optimistic. Few if any changed with the result IT people chose the computing tools sometimes even influencing the software selected based on their preferences for control than on what was most suitable for good design and the future.

    The same lazy attitude raised its head years latter when I raised the issues of licencing: interested more with just getting on with the job (again/still) users of CAD just let vendors and dealers walk right over the top of them seemingly believing “they had no choice”. So committed to particular CAD tools nobody (save a few with their eyes open) wanted to or were game enough to challenge vendors and force a change.

    Myopia, apathy or laziness, call it what you will, design staff appear destined to be a group of people who are instruments of change, creators or all we use and yet so shortsighted in applying the lessons of change – they cope with and triumph over on a daily basis – to themselves and their working environment, it is enough to make an old fighting dog like me weep.

    For the moment vendors/management/accountants & IT rule and will continue to do so until design staff COLLECTIVELY rebel and stand up for themselves in preference to simply accepting what they are told or playing follow the “leader” without keeping abreast of all aspects of our business by critically analyzing just what affects what and why.

  2. Can Solid edge read files from newer releases of solid edge? Are the relational attributes preserved? The one way file transfer in SW bugs me.

    I am pissed that SW2011 still has geometry bugs that were around from SW2003. SW2011 has slower interaction than SW2007. The real time rendering in SW2011 real view is showy and beautiful.

    • Rick-
      No, SE does not have the ability to read newer version files in older software versions. Very few CAD softwares have this ability! The reasons for that is called “progress” not regress! If you are referring to the SW ability to read older versions- well that’s just a recent “new” function and is caused because the SW kernel is frozen you don’t have to worry about progress.

      But to the benefit of SE and ST, you really don’t have to worry about newer files. Just read the parasolid in and make the changes you need.

    • R. Paul Waddington

      Rick, picking up on your reading ealier version thing. I use a number of CAD programs and do quite a bit of complex 3D contract modelling and you know the joke surrounding the compatablity issue of 3D modellers is, I pass 3D models up & down versions of AutoCAD without problems. Only yesterday taking a AutoCAD 2013 3D model back to a 2004 version for a customers specific requirements.
      Laugh, as many do, at using AutoCAD for 3D. A close look at much of what is done many could be found to have wasted a lot of money (chasing) upgrading 3D modellers to “stay current and profitable”.
      The lastest laugh I had (last night to be precise) was taking a detailed ceramic product I had recently modelled (in AutoCAD format) for a customer and openig it in Cubify Invent. A $49.00(US) 3D modeller which would handle, and model, a great percentage of commercial 3D models many would want to create.
      For my customer if he now wants to to tinker with his models he can get me to do the hard yards and then view or make (some) adjustments with a $49.00 dollar job 😉

      • Yes, I agree Autodesk has that ability, but remember this is another one of those softwares that have a “frozen” modeling kernel! They originally ran on ACIS and then Dassualt bought ACIS. Autodesk fearing to be in the position that SW is currently in, bought a copy of the ACIS code, rebranded it ShapeManager and really haven’t done much with it until recently.
        Try and take this data down into Mechnical Desktop!

        But to your point, there are plenty of tools that will read 3D data and allow you to make modifications. You use the tools that get your done so you either make the most money for your time.

      • I missed the word “work” in my last sentance. It should read “You use the tools that get your work done so you make the most money for your time.”

      • R. Paul Waddington

        Ryan, Mechanical Desktop has posed no real problems for me in going back to MDT4 & 6. The caveat here is I have only taken 3D solids this route.

  3. Hi Rick,
    I don’t know. I usually have the latest version of SE loaded and I have never had an opportunity to test this out. In general I would expect past files to be opened by current software but not the reverse. Thinking here of ST’s introduction and the transition from ST2 to ST3. I don’t see how this big of a change could be accomodated to allow you to write to future versions without crippling the ability of the software to advance with new features. I will post a question on the BBS forums today and see if someone has an answer for you.

    Long standing problems are no fun. These are why I will be leaving ZW3D CAM this summer. I am glad I am not in your shoes as you have some big decisions to make soon and past unsolved problems I fear will be the least of your worries whenever Dassault decides to finish Catia Lite. .

  4. “And I begin to wonder how many others who actually own businesses who have that same interest level in these software tools they use.”

    Funny you made this statement today. I just had a budget meeting today on some big projects that I am working on and I needed to get the maintenance pricing for our CAD tools. I’m looking at a whopping $31,000 a year just for maintenance. I stop and have to think what did SW or the VARs do for me that was worth $31,000 this year? Or what in SW 2012 or 2013 is going to be worth $62,000! We are still on 2011 so I included two years.
    With that kind of money you can do a lot in an engineering department. So to your comment. I have a huge “interest” in the level of software tools we use. Especially since we are looking at spending another ~$120K in services and automation tools to improve our process over the next year.

    Now the money isn’t the problem for me. The ROI is easy to achieve. For me it is the throwing of money into systems that have expiration dates “bar codes” on them! Now I use bar-coded because it means something to someone but the consumer can’t read them. Kinda like what SW is doing to its customers with the lack of information on the future of their system. Is the money better spent on moving to systems that does have a life.

    Granted my options are 1) stop paying and download the “latest and greatest” software and stay on it; 2) nothing and continue to hope things work out or; 3) invest in something else. Tough questions and decisions to be made!

  5. Hi Ryan, your answer to Rick is indeed what I have been told to.

    There comes a point in time where a company has to look at what does their bottom line need. Now in CAM it is a bit different. If my mill is a 2012 I can reasonably expect to be able to use a particular CAM program for many years and not suffer as the parameters on the mill have not changed and so unless there is a real advance in tool paths strategies I can stay with an old seat. There is a ton of users out there still using mastercam V9 and doing well with it. I can see the day in the next few years where I will not be renewing any CAM program with only ten or so years of working career left.

    Cad however is a different story. Companies, ahem, create additions to the kernals and introduce software tricks and in some cases actually bring something worthwhile to the table and then you have to choose to stay current or fall behind as some of your customers move ahead of you with new versions.
    I think in the case of SW though it is not so important to stay current anymore with tons of users on versions as old as 2007 and no problems. There have been no major advancements or changes now for years and I suspect there may not be for a few more as they can’t get their act together. The very idea that they are talking of making past versions capable of saving in new versions tells you that they are not planing on doing anything significant for some time. Let me rephrase that. They are not intending to do anything significant with SW in the future which is why they are making this promise. It is an end of life promise that is engineered to keep customers hanging on longer than they might otherwise choose to do.
    When change does come if indicators and rumors are correct Catia Lite will probably be on the cloud and be subscription based perhaps even monthly or rent by the hour or who knows. Sad thing is I think Dassault does not know either as they can’t make things work at this time it appears. I bet it will end up being all about cash in their pockets and lockin. I think many companies are going to make a decision to stay with their last good permanant seats of SW and if they move forward it will be to a stable company that does not have a history of tossing their customers onto the rubbish heap. For the first time in a long time with a CAD program you could probably save your company a ton of money by not renewing and not hurt them.

    By the time Dassault gets done mucking things up I am certain they will be offering significant amnesty programs so what is there to lose by telling them to go fly a kite till they get their act together?

    Afterall, they have been taking your money for years that was supposed to support SW and taking it to do things their customers did not ask for and do not want. Do you really want to continue to feed that bunch piles of cash? Is it prudent to do so and does your business see a compelling reason that benefits them to do so?

  6. Dave, have you ever used SolidWorks 2007? What about SolidWorks 2012? Saying that there has been no major advancement between 2007 and 2012 makes me think that you do not really know what you are talking about.

    • If you mean I am not a user yes that is true but I am not oblivious to other programs. My personal experience with SW is limited to the two times I went to four hour hands on demo days and one 30 day trial. My opinions are however based upon power users like Matt Lombard and Devon Sowell who are most eminently qualified to make these judgements.

  7. Then you should mention their name when quoting them. 🙂 Otherwise people might think that you are the one who is an expert in SolidWorks and found no value in the past 6 releases of the software. 🙂

    That being said, I have a few questions, if you would not mind:
    – Do you actually create geometry on a daily basis?
    – Do you use a CAD software for conceptual purposes?
    – Do you need to create assemblies, drawings, BOMs…?
    – Do you need to prove a mechanism concept before start the creation of the 3D models?

    Reading through your blog, I got the understanding that you get models from customers, maybe do some changes if needed and machine the actual parts. I do not have any problem with that, do not get me wrong. I just want to understand the extent of your expertise in 3D modeliing, that is all.

    By the way, I like most articles on your blog. The only thing I do not understand is where is the hate towards SolidWorks coming? Why do you feel the need to bash a software that you know little about? Your blog would be much more credible if it will concentrate on areas you are an expert in.

    • I think in general people do know that and I have made no secret of it. Yes I do create geometry although generally about three days a week. Define conceptual. Yes to assemblies and drawings. Boms no. Not quite sure what you are asking on #4.

      What I am is a design build small job shop. Most of the parts I manufacture are from files I have created. In general the majority of files I have not created myself come from a couple of companies that use me for machining when they get buried and the files they send are from SW.

      In regards to SW. I am interested in CAD and CAM in general. I am particularly interested in the industry leader which is SW and what they are doing to their customers. I guess it is a fascination with how a company can take the golden goose and consider killing it off and in the mean time not seem to care much about the investment their customers have in their product.
      Most importantly however is the cloud aspect of what they are doing. Yes I hear their denials about users being forced to the clouds but I don’t trust them to be honest here. The cloud is what got me going on SW. I feel that if any major CAD or CAM company can successfully force it’s user base to the cloud and monthly fees and having to rent their own data back just to be in business others will follow. It is afterall the holy grail of the MBA types. To be able to keep you locked in to their program no matter how egregious the problems and then force you to pay each month you intend to be around. Permanent seats on autonomous workstations mean user independence and they can do just fine for years without paying the software author anything. Just like how many people using SW have stayed with versions as far back as 2008 because they see no need to go further. I think if a big stink had not been raised about the cloud there would be no question about the future of SW in this regard. I DO NOT want to ever see this cloud junk get a firm grip on the CAD market as who knows. If it proves profitable enough and the majority of users dumb enough to allow it to happen with SW it could be my turn next with SE.

      I know Autodesk is going there to or so they say. I don’t have the same sense of urgency with Inventor as I do SW however as I feel that Dassault is the chief proponent of this cloud junk and Autodesk is following their lead.

      For what it is worth if Dassault suceeds here and others follow, like SE, I can see the day where I will not be renewing with anyone. Would someone put a stake in the heart of this cloud vampire please?

      • I think turning the “Golden Goose” into a “Golden Rooster” is a better analogy.

        I’m still up in the air- no pun intended, but maybe it was- about the Cloud. As far as renting your data, well, CAD companies have been doing that for years…it’s called PLM and PDM to some degree. You put your data in these software hands, which is actually a database, and you access your data via the software through to the database. You can get your data out to a native OS system but you then lose all those “connections and ties” to your workflows and other documents
        You buy and pay for maintenance on the PDM/PLM software. So the argument can be made that PDM/PLM users are already paying a company to manage their data already–let’s call this the fog- since it’s a cloud on the ground!

        The Cloud just takes away the requirements of a company to design, build and maintain their own data centers- big $$$. Now, this isn’t for everyone but why shouldn’t the little guys have the same ability as the big guys?

        Now, I understand that the Dassault approach to Cloud was to actually take your model and break it apart into little data modules and store them in a database. This does allow for some really cool abilities IF it could be accomplished and managed correctly. (It’s funny how all the BIG impactful words in our life are small words- yes, no, if, but, etc.)

        As I recall, the rumors are that DS had to scrap this concept for SW V6. So, it will be interesting to see what the future holds…cocka-doodle-do…Mr. Rooster is the sun rising or setting?

  8. Thanks Dave, now I understand a bit more about the “why”.

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