The New Normal or The Rudderless Ship, You pick which fits best.

There has been a phrase coined in the last two years to describe lousy economic conditions and no hope for significant positive change any time soon. It is basically a phrase used to describe negative things right now and negative harbingers for the future. The New Normal.

Apparently we have a New Normal for the cad world. The journey for Dassault into self immolation began a few years ago and became public when the grand announcement that all would go to the cloud and into the brave new world of the DSS future. Lots of hoopla about revolutionary new ways to do things and how it would all work flawlessly on the cloud and everything would be lovely.

The first day of SW2013 is in the books and what is remarkable is that after years of publicity and effort to produce CAD revolution we have instead the New Normal for Dassault. A twenty percent drop in attendees and I think reading comments from those there who are not part of the official SW/DSS blog squad it is clear why. Lack of hope for powerful product launches or announcements this year has fizzled enthusiasm in a big way for the product and attendance. I think Ralph Grabowski summed it up best with a comment on Deelips blog.

“It is very disappointing that after six years of development, that the best Dassault Systemes can show is a few screen grabs. Not even a canned video!
Well, at least they announced the next delay in shipment. In that, they have been consistent.”

Further reading. One of the major announcements. Welcome to the world of CAD social media. Really this is one of the three big deals so far. Monica comments and in part I quote. I am pretty amazed at how after some pretty fluffy bits for DSS she then brings up the mental image of users who want different things than the Dassault leadership does and that users may not want to tow the Dassualt iceberg around behind the software they thought they were going to get. At least this is how I interpret what she said.

“My bottom line from the first 24 hours? SolidWorks may be part of DS but is a very different animal. Lots to be proud of but not much swagger. Loyal, excited users who want to improve the world but aren’t committed to towing icebergs. An audience that listened to a brief 3D Experience message but doesn’t see it rocking their world any time soon. Resellers that are focused on the world of CAD and closely related solutions. In all, it’s a very different vibe than we had at the 3DEXPERIENCE Forum just a few months ago, a few miles away. Best of all, DS seems to realize that it’s got a great thing going here with SolidWorks and may, just may, be backing off a bit to let it evolve as it will.”

I like quotes. I tend to think all words mean things and you see truth or evasions with many shades of reality in between. Many of us grew up with the “What, me Worry” Alfred E. Neuman guy from “Mad Magazine” Maybe the following is a little over the top but I have such a hard time trying to figure out why one of the pre-eminent software companies in the world has such a profound disconnect from the reality of what their customers want. Years of promises and evasions and broken time lines from Dassault. So I bring you “Folle Magazine de Dassault” and here is the first article.

Look folks, is CGM the next kernel or no? What about Catia Lite? Is this new “SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual” the new deal and the replacement for SW and does it have to work on the cloud? What about direct editing? Why are they talking again about unproven products rather than bringing beta tested proof of concept to the biggest annual SW conference? You read the above link and tell me I am wrong when I say the future Dassault wants for SW at this time is social media and cloud based group think stuff with out a single shred of evidence they can be made to be secure and work as promised. If I were a thinking Solid Works user I would be hopping mad over this patronizing and cavalier treatment and just what the heck have they been paying for anyway? Wasn’t CAD design software supposed to be about geometry solving the best way possible? Hate to say it Dassault but that still is the purview of autonomous seats, workstations and internal server networks that don’t go online and that’s why after all these years you still can’t make it work right.

This goes directly back to what is the corporate philosophy of the authors of the software you use to make a living. Do they have a coherent plan? Do they have a plan that includes your needs and desires? Are they honest with you about their direction and goals so you can rationally plan for your future? I read this market speak double dealing smoke screen stuff from Dassault (Sorry if you think this is a bit harsh but is it not true none the less?) that they put out to the public and expect you not only to believe but gladly embrace and pay for. Then I sit back and ponder the corporate and PR leadership mentality that evidently thinks their users are so stupid or captive that whatever drivel they put out as long as it is accompanied by many flowery adjectives and phrases they can get away with anything.

My opinion for what it is worth is that Dassault has to much pride or a true fantasy vision for the future and they are not going to back down until disaster profoundly strikes their sub numbers. How many years of successive failed concepts and failure to make this stuff work right on the cloud have already passed? And is this not still their goal reading the official press stuff? Read what they are saying and the smoke screen is there as they try the old end run gambit to fool their customers into doing what Dassault wants.

This is an article from two years ago. I asked these questions going into the SW conference that year and to date none of these have been answered.

I have a question for all you Solid Works users. At what point in time do you consider the actions of Dassault towards gutting the software you bought into, years ago in many cases, the constant uncertainty and inability to deliver on any significant promises for years now, and their determination to do what the vast majority of you clearly do not want as reason to look elsewhere? If this years conference is not a wake up call I don’t know what would ever be. Get your life rafts prepared. Legacy files or not can you afford to be where your security and desires are ignored?

I think even if you do stay the legacy file thing is going to bite you in a big way. Don’t you know if Dassault could have produced Catia Lite on the CGM kernel (which they don’t seem to want to talk about this year) they would have? So you stay and you are still going to have legacy file problems as far as I am concerned when you have to translate from Parasolids to CGM.

The light in the Dassault train wreck tunnel is two years bigger with Alfred E. Neuman watching his iPad and not paying attention to the throttle. This whole thing just fascinates me. I can’t grasp how such a company as Dassault wants to self destruct one of their pre-eminent products. Unless of course their true unstated goal is to drift away from pure CAD creation with exacting parameters and drift into lesS precise social media based things. I still have not ruled out the possibility that Dassault looks at Facebook and Google and is seeking a way to participate in social media stuff which clearly can be wildly profitable. Just grasping at straws here to try to understand what appears to be corporate insanity on the surface. The only other and scarier thought is that they truly think they are visionaries and correct.

That will lead to future issues of “Folle Magazine de Dassault” no doubt. Tune in next year for more of the same I fear.

6 responses to “The New Normal or The Rudderless Ship, You pick which fits best.

  1. I had to laugh when Monika shorten the moniker of SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual to SoMeCon… can break that down to “some con!”

    • Hi Ryan, Yeah I know. I sent an email off to others earlier laughing about her Freudian comments and that was included. SomeCon is just perfect for this whole mess.

  2. Dave as always your commentary is so right on and so laced with such deep philosophical meaning.
    I could state this about every post that you put up. 🙂

    Keep up the good work………….. Billy

    • Hi Billy, I don’t know about all that deep stuff but you are welcome. I think I will leave the deep stuff for marketing people. Like maybe the ones from Dassault 😉

  3. R. Paul Waddington

    Dave, interesting post.
    Read your post then the others;
    Except it is to be seen in writing; I would never have believed Bertrand Sicot’s, sitting in the management position he does, would put his name to that post.

    It shows an appalling lack of judgment and pays absolutely no respect to Solidworks users/customers. Much of what is said is rubbish.

    What is outlined is in no way indicative of the processes many who design and draught use.

    I remember having a discussion along these lines years ago, early in the ‘development’ of Inventor, with Andrew Anagnost. As an example of how trying to automate/replicate engineers design thinking with software I used an example of lengths of steel angles being bolted together to make particular structures. The problem was the structures being made meant most of the sections – at the bolted joints – were not flat face to face and used no spacers to make good the gaps. Anagnost replied “no engineer would ever bolt two pieces of steel together which were not flat” and using that thought said there was no necessity to try and get Inventor to assemble items in that way. He saw what was asking for as being stupid!

    I then showed him where the problem came from, why it was so important, how common it was and how we did it in AutoCAD; he was left speechless. He saw examples of the problem on a daily basis and had never recognized it.
    My point is, the harder these guys try to define how design happens the more difficult it will become as each step forward in one direction will move further away from the direction another may take and or, it may, alienate some designers/problems altogether.

    I have said on many occasions, CAD software should be a ‘set of tools/functions’ for designers/draughties to use in any combination as required and, that is what should be the focus of CAD vendors and developers. They should not waste time trying to second guess how I might design tomorrow because at this stage I may not even know what that problem may be.

    I have also said there is NO design/object needing documentation which cannot be adequately done with the likes of AutoCAD/Draftsight etc. Flexibility is the key which is why 2D still has a role and direct editing (in 3D) has an important place along with the other methods The sooner CAD developers wake up to those realities the smarter they will become and the better will their products become.

  4. Hi Paul,
    This whole regressive process with Dassault is a mystery. Why would anyone want as their legacy the memory of ProE Two where they can honestly say their efforts took the leading midrange MCAD product and turned it into an also ran rather than remain King of it all? And to top it off on the way down constantly spouting off with all this market speak duplicitous verbiage like your customers are totally stupid and will never know. I don’t know about SW users in general but as for me I have no patience with this kind of patronization and the people who try it on me know real fast where they stand.

    You are right, tools should not be dictated to CAD users by some out of touch cloistered management group. They should be asking what tools the users need as exemplified by the problems they experience in day to day creation where they earn a living to pay their bills. This is precisely what drew me to Solid Edge originally as the first time I saw direct editing I could see huge benefits since so much of what I do is with imported parts or parts that change all the time. It was a tool I wanted as a user. It is also what by the way ended consideration of Solid Works by me at that time because they had nothing like it.

    I wonder what it would be like to live in the minds of Bernard and Sicot for a day. Would it be a fascinating sojourn into the realm of solipsism or an outright scary trip into corporate insanity?

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