Is Solid Edge the Best CAD Program You’ve Never Heard Of?

I’ve heard a few people ask this question with more than a little irony in their tone. Solid Edge is certainly an underrated CAD package. Not so much because of the legacy, but because of the last several years of development effort. It’s also difficult for Solid Edge to get much traction with Synchronous Technology because Solid Edge itself has been old news for a long time. Synchronous Technology might have made a bigger splash had it been associated with something new (and news worthy) like Spaceclaim, even though I don’t think Spaceclaim is half the software that Solid Edge is.

Part of the reason for this lack of traction might have to do with what seems like a low acceptance rate among existing Solid Edge users for Synch Tech. In this way, maybe the brilliance of the development has also turned out to be one of its biggest hurdles.

Imagine this: Solid Edge, back in 2005 or so was a forgotten also-ran and distant 4th place in the mid-range CAD world. Imagine if they had just ditched Solid Edge itself, and created a brand new CAD package called something else, say maybe “V2” or whatever. So then V2 gets all the attention of a brand new CAD product. Instead what happened was that the “V2” was integrated into the existing Solid Edge. Which approach do you think is better? Personally, I like the integrated method. It isn’t as flashy, and it doesn’t make as much marketing sense, but it does respect the existing users.

Here’s the shame, from my point  of view. Solid Edge spent all their marketing capital on ST1. You might remember that there was this huge hypebeast thing going on around the initial release of Synchronous Technology in 2008. I was very skeptical about it, dismissive, maybe even derisive. I had written a series of very forgettable blog posts that in hindsight, were really awful. This was of course before it had been really released, when nobody except a handful of insiders really knew anything about it. While the huge hype around Synch Tech undoubtedly got a lot of tongues wagging, I’m not sure it really did much good, because no one understood it. This is not like consumer products where you might buy something just because the name is stuck in your mind. I think people who buy CAD do some research, especially if they will be buying into an entirely new way of doing things.

The Solid Edge guys brought me down to Huntsville to have a look at ST1. I could tell they were distrustful, because I had stated that I didn’t really believe the product was all it was hyped to be. At first Solid Edge was going to contract me to write a white paper about the first release of Synch Tech, but I eventually backed away, saying that I didn’t really believe in the product, or the direction. You see, all they had done with ST1 was bolt ST onto Old School Solid Edge (oversimplification, but that gets to the gist of it).

It wasn’t until ST3, when they really integrated the two that they had something I thought was special. And this was when it became clear to me that the approach of integrating new and old was far more brilliant (and probably a lot more difficult) than just throwing away the old way and building a new way.

And now with the threat of Synchronous Technology being able to work with non-prismatic shapes, as we keep hearing little bits about, it really threatens to become a truly general-purpose CAD tool that you can use for sheet metal, machine design, and more organic, consumer oriented type shapes.

Breaking out of the shadows of last place in the CAD world has been difficult for Solid Edge, but I believe this is the direction they are headed, especially at a time when the current CAD leaders seem to be abdicating their position. Solid Edge, with a matured Synchronous Technology is in a position to start leading the revolution. I think other CAD companies are starting to imitate the successful implementation of Synchronous in Solid Edge. PTC has done it. Autodesk has done it. We may even see DS release their version of a Synchronous knockoff some year soon.

While raising a last place product to the level of a serious contender has been and continues to be a difficult battle for the Solid Edge guys, I think it is the best approach. Imitation is the highest form of flattery. I think taking a product that has existed for nearly two decades without extraordinary success and turning it into something with eye-popping power and usability when other products its age or younger are throwing in the towel takes a lot of courage. More than that, I think the product actually has what it takes to pull it off.

So yes, Solid Edge may be the best CAD program you’ve never heard of, but I think this is a situation that is changing. Synchronous was a good start, ST3 was the correct adjustment, and ST6 is going to broaden the capabilities to really give it what was lacking. There will no longer be any reason left to ignore it, and Solid Edge will start getting the recognition it deserves.

40 Replies to “Is Solid Edge the Best CAD Program You’ve Never Heard Of?”

  1. I really like edge for mechanical engineering . I have worked for quite a few engineering comapnies I always ask why they chose cad package x. They always said it came down to price, I am now working in a company that wastes engineering time due to the fact they chose the wrong CAD package for the job.

  2. OBJ Export for Solid Edge OBJ Export for Solid Edge is a Wavefront (.obj) file export add-in for Solid Edge . This add-in gives Solid Edge the ability to export 3D solid and surface data from a Solid Edge part or assembly document to 3d polygon meshes in an OBJ file.

  3. Matt,

    It’s odd reading this (and I didn’t even realise it was your blog until I’d finished it – the tricks of an RSS feed maybe) because there’s a huge sense of deja vu. Not only have I had this conversation this week with a few folks, but I’ve been having the same conversation with the Siemens/UGS/EDS/Unipgrahics/prettymucheveryone  people since 1998 (I didn’t get involved with them till after Intergraph sold it). It’s always been the same conversation. It goes something like this:

    “We think this is the best release of Solid Edge yet”

    “Yes, they’re always good, solid and consistent. But why doesn’t it sell more?”

    “We don’t know. Do you?”

    “I haven’t got a bloody clue”

    “Is it the product?”

    “Don’t think so. You do a good job of it. You weren’t first to the market, but you weren’t the last. The product is solid, it’s always been loved by those that buy it and you’re always adding in depth of functionality rather than glitz and demo ware”

    “Is it the marketing?”

    “Might be.”

    “Oh. How do we fix that?”

    “I’ve no idea. You’re the marketing folks. Maybe tell more people about it?”


    Then you have a brief moment of quiet, everyone pretends to scribble a note or two and carry on.

    Here’s a paragraph for you:

    “From the outset, Solid Edge has been one of the most impressive mainstream products available, though of late, it does seem to be taking a bit of a back seat. From its days at Intergraph, it has always been focussed of the production process, something which dove-tails rather nicely with EDS’ process-centric vision. This release is full of good solid functionality enhancements, which although they may not have the pizzazz of other competitive systems, only go to show that it’s the quiet ones you really have to watch.”

    Now. That’s a conclusion from an overview I wrote on Solid Edge. In 2003. At a different magazine, for a different company. Another decade. But with a few edits, it could read the same now and be entirely valid.

    They’ve tried everything. Solid Edge Origin. Part modelling for free (in the early 2000s). They’re now trying it again with 3D Sync.

    The whole “Best kept secret” thing absolutely applies, couldn’t agree more. But after 15 years of saying the same thing (i’ve said the same as you do here. Many many times), there comes a point where you have to ask whether it’s the product, the people or the plain and simple fact that despite everyone’s best intentions, best efforts and hard work, someone always has to be in third place.


    PS: While trawling the WayBack machine, found this old thing on V14 (they skipped V13) – – Note the section on Rapid Blue. It’s uncannily familiar.


    1. That’s the same conversation that happens here in the US. Siemens/EDS/UG Solutions/UGS has never, ever, ever had a “successful” marketing campaign- which resulted in people knowing the name of UG/NX or Solid Edge. Ask an engineer at from any small or medium sized company if they recognize the trade names of NX, Solid Edge, Teamcenter, etc. “Never heard of it.” Which tells you Siemens doesn’t focus on S-M businesses.

      Recognizing this truly exposes the core of the issue for SE. Siemens doesn’t have the name recognition at the S-M business level. This means, it would be very difficult for the SE marketing to get funds to focus in those area- the parent company doesn’t focus there.

      It was just announced that Siemens signed up Waggener Edstrom for a global marketing partner. I truly hope that this makes the difference and that it is not too late. I’d love to have more SE and NX employment opportunities in my area!

      I think that the best Marketing piece that Siemens/EDS/UGS/ UG Solutions did was the “Catch lightning in a bottle” Here it was UG Solutions which was an independent company, not part of a larger organization!

      Take a look at was 10 years ago but it’s still pretty neat today.

      The main image on the marketing materials:

      If we can get back to this type of materials I think we can get some excitement going!


    2. Hi

      I’m not sure about the marketing either?

      EDS did some good marketing campaigns (The running of the squirrels, Herding cats, etc) that were memorable, but were aimed more at the document management market, but I’m still not sure that this is the way to go?

      I see adverts in things like tenlinks, but surely it would be far better to see articles and tips featured on there as well to make it visible. The other main 2 products have their own section with three or four comments/tips every day. We are lucky if Solid Edge gets a mention more than a couple of times a month. I think that more of this would make it a lot more visible to a lot of people.

      Maybe Siemens, as well as resellers and users, need to be writing small snippets of information that we can share with other users (including users of other CAD products) highlighting all of the good things that SE can do – Bob’s post earlier is a prime example expressing how useful ST was in working with a (chair) design that he knew was going to need changing and how it saved many hours of re-work when those adjustments needed to be made.

      Many people still look at ST as only good for modifying imported data, but once you get into using it, designing from scratch is way quicker too. And how many times have you done a design that hasn’t needed to be modified! The speed and ease with which changes can be made to parts (multiple fetaures in one hit) and multiple parts in an assembly, with one operation, can only be good. The improvements to Live Rules and flexibility of the steering wheel make this such a flexible tool that we are making life harder for ourselves if we don’t embrace this technology!

      Make sure you see  Bob’s avi of how changes were made to his chair and think about how features would need editing in a history based model?

      Here are some other examples:


    3. Al,

      I have a few thoughts about why SE has languished so long. Not all of them have the same level of validity. Let me throw a few out:

      – SE has always been a little brother, and that is now part of the brand psyche

      – A lot of the people who have been there have been there a long time. Most of the people are excellent at what they do, but I think frankly that a lot of them are rather comfortable with last place. The only way to change that is to shake things up.

      – I get the impression that they are trying to act like SE is a startup, independent from the giant corporate umbilical. It’s not really working, and that may be because they have so much inertia, with all those 15 year employees still doing things the same way.

      – Not being a marketing guy, I’m not going to comment on the success or failures of the marketing. But…maybe they might try some rock and roll, though. Not literally, but act excited, and like you expect people to think you’re cool.

      I stand by the idea that the new direction is the right one. Everyone else is copying it. There is a big enough difference now between SE and SW that SE shouldn’t be hidden by big brother’s shadow any more. There is a big enough difference that it would make sense to change from one to the other.

      By the way, that old reference to the Blue Dot stuff was cool. Blue Dot with its order independence was probably the beginning of thinking about how to escape the tyranny of history modeling when it really isn’t necessary. It’s strange now that Blue Dots are trapped in ordered modeling, and most complex shapes are closed out of synch altogether.

      1. Matt.

        No no, I disagree, maybe that do literally need some rock and roll. Make a noise, shout, ditch the leather elbow patches, show off what they’ve got, not as “An alternative or a best kept secret”, but as SOMETHING THAT IS ****ING COOL and crank it up a notch.

        I wouldn’t suggest leather pants (either the british or american definition of the word), you have to draw the line somewhere.

        You’re right about the long term nature of the people on the program. And they’re all, to a man (or lady) good, honest, decent people doing a tough job. But maybe they need a bit of new blood, a few peeps with some new ideas, inject a bit of life into it. Maybe it’s a budgetary issue. if it is, it’s a crime. There’s so much potential there to do something interesting, something that grabs people by the nether regions and makes them WANT it.

        Christ on a bike, give them all a can of red bull and an iPod full of Gallows albums. Cattle prod up the wazoo.


        Stability, reliability and robustness are one thing and one thing that many companies crave when they’ve invested in a mission critical tool like a design system. But those same principles don’t apply when you’re at the point of purchase or putting together the “Potentials list.”

        Black Sabbath vs. the Dave Matthews Band*. Doc Martens Vs. Birkenstocks. The Sex Pistols vs Blink 182.

        People don’t enthuse about the bland and also rans.


        * I know, I know, people love DMB. They’re mostly accountants. So, therefore, inherently don’t count.

    4. Don’t know how I overlooked your comment Al.

      YES YES YES how long can this silly do nothing and say nothing stuff continue? I don’t get it and it just blows my mind. Why can’t UGS/Siemens find someone qualified to run PR and advertising? I froth at the mouth when I think of this and after all the hard work done by development staff is it just to be trashed? Will the PR department once again snatch defeat from the jaws of victory? Even a bad campaign is better than no campaign and I just wish someone could prod these do nothing whoevers into some sort of action. Lets all just hop into a Loco Motors we hear about briefly and putt-putt down the street to oblivion once again, golly what a fabulous campaign of publicity. I can only guess that whoever is in charge of PR is incapable of making a decision on what to do and does not fully understand the folly of allowing time to pass fruitlessly by. No one I talk to understands how this situation can possibly be continuing. I am sitting here and thinking what is wrong with this picture I have in my mind that I spend my time blogging and promoting SE because I believe in it for free. But the guys who are getting the big bucks and have the big guns don’t want to be bothered. I have probably said more here than I should but this is a profound problem that WILL KILL this whole thing if not fixed and it bothers me a lot. OK PR guys here is a hint. A cookie cutter slick-o Siemens web site is not sufficient. You have to go to where your potential customers are and talk to them in their language and do this time and time again and compell them to be interested. What part of baiting your hook and then leaving it on the shore does not catch fish do you not understand?

      Perhaps PR planning meetings in their current innovative state as evidenced by what the public sees would be better used as advertising for the Serta Mattress company. At least someone could benefit by them then.

      I really hope I will be somewhat embarrased by what I say here today in the near future. It is my hope that tremendous things are planned and I am just not privy to them and all these great things will culminate at and be launched at SEU2013.

  4. “What did you have to change in your thinking/workflows so that you could make the switch?”


    To be honest it was a Furniture project and specifically the Anstead Bouncer chair that let me explore ST and see the light. I, like everyone else, always had a reason to avoid Synchronous Technology because of the time needed to learn it, but more importantly the fear of getting myself into trouble with my client if it didn’t work out or I was late. Also ST5 finally made Live Rules somewhat user friendly. I still don’t know as well as I think I should, but it now not a show stopper, and when it does give me trouble, I can now do a better job of deciphering what I was doing wrong. Is it perfect… NO, but not anywhere as frustrating as pre ST5 releases.

    So my customer was asking me to design this Anstead Bouncer but indicated he wasn’t sure about what he wanted…. always good to know when starting a new project. So after talking through with him just what he thinking of changing, I decided it had Sync written all over it.

    So II decided to jump in with both feet and design the complete chair using Sync and just see if I could get it to do all that magic. Well I choose this piece because there were some specific desires by my client to make some design changes. So off I went, however I kept my expectation low. But once I got done, I was truly smitten with how well Sync would let me make changes and control the details my customer wanted to play with. I’ve attached a short video of what my customer wanted to look at. Sorry for the quality issues but we can only post AVI format here. But keep in mind Sync is dealing with true modeled “perforated” metal seat and back on this chair. I believe there are 8,000 punched holes that Sync has to grab and move in real time… pretty impressive.

    Anyway after this little foray into the deep waters of Synch, I became a big convert. I think having such great success gave me the confidence to try it again. And the Fuel Cell Bonding Machine was another example of just diving into it and having the confidence it would get the job done.

    But I fully understand and respect those still waiting to jump in, since I was definately there at one time and probably would still be, if I just didn’t make the effort. I think if everyone just would keep an open mind to it, and try it on a small project, they’d eventually get more confidence and move to more complicated stuff. Then maybe they’d see how with a little re-education and time, they can really leverage Sync to make themselves more productive.

    It’s funny how little I miss Ordered environment, and when I’m forced to use it, I get my stuff done, I quickly use the “Move to Synchronous” command.


  5. People, it was my intention just to voice my first experience with SE and to express an opinion, nothing else.
    The main idea was for Dan Staples to take note, and after some research if he finds my opinion valid, to make the necessary corrections.

    By the way. I appreciate the above links. I will take a close look of them.

    1. Thanks for the feedback. On the main point of the “Horizontal Icon-Based Command Bar”, you are right that this interface is compact/productive, but harder to come up to speed on. We also offer a Vertical Command Bar (set this in Options> Helpers) that is a lot more like SolidWorks and has text for every button so its easier to learn. In ST6 we are making this easier to find out of the box for newbies and folks coming from SolidWorks.

  6. over 5 years lost development, I can not say more about the sync nonsense.

    I do not know anyone who works with it really, Just playing around.

    Where are necessary function like:-3D Sketch

    -advanced surface features
    -tolerance Analysis
    -wall thickness analysis
    -Multy-Body ==> Why so late?
    -advanced 3D PDF functions
    -PDM without MS sharepoint
    -Viewer with measurement functions
    -revision manager looks prehistoric and does not work really well

    From my point of view SE is behind SW, Creo and Inventor.

    And the Sold Edge website, a startup company provides more information.

    1. Hey, you have PDM without SharePoint. It’s called Teamcenter or Teamcenter Express. 🙂 Although with the tight integration with SharePoint, you should be able to access your engineering data across all your other SharePoint-based corporate software. When used correctly you can tie systems together like a CRM, MRP and your CAD. Huge benefits to an organization if leveraged correctly.

      1. Sure do. I’ve installed and set it up a couple of times. Once with Teamcenter and others with Teamcenter Express. Teamcenter will run on either Oracle or SQL although SQL is probably the prefered tool. Remember, you said SharePoint not SQL! 😉

    2. “I do not know anyone who works with it really, Just playing around.”

      Well then that’s all one needs to know. I am so amazed sometimes as to the lengths people will go just to convince themselves they’re right on subject. Not saying your experience is wrong… just your ability to open your mind.

      Donceod, I have no problem with you not embracing Synchronous Technology but I do believe you’re wrong about misplaced efforts by development for the past 5 years. I have to be honest I was just as critical of SE Development’s distraction with Sync up until ST4, but as mentioned above, I am happy to say now it was all worth it. Yes there are numerous things lacking with both Solid Edge and Synchronous Technology, but NONE are show stoppers. With ST1 thru ST3 there wasn’t much to disagree with you on, but credit is due to Dan Staples and SE Development Team in responding to most of these complaints.

      And as for SE being “behind SW, CREO, and Inventor” I’d like to see specifics. Do you actually work/model in these other CAD packages or just rely on demo’s and press releases? I’m sure you’re aware there’s a big difference.



      1. “And as for SE being “behind SW, CREO, and Inventor” I’d like to see specifics. Do you actually work/model in these other CAD packages or just rely on demo’s and press releases? I’m sure you’re aware there’s a big difference.”

        Of course I have practical experience with it.

        I have worked for 3 years with SW, now we are working parallel with Creo and it looks like we will say goodbye to SE and move to Creo.

        You can forget Solid Edge specifically Sync Technology for plastic parts.

        Doy you have any experience with other CAD?

        1. We are in the mold industry for plastic parts, so yes, we know the limitations of Synch Tech when working with surfaces, and that is stated by Siemens itself.

          There are still some areas where ST is not efficient and surfacing is one. But ST6 is coming and let’s see what it brings us regarding surfaces.

          Also, ST is in continuous development, and I believe it will be used for complex surfaces and, therefore, for plastic parts. So, SE is not perfect, neither is any CAD program in the market.

          But the good thing is that you can work with ST or with the traditional modeling IN THE SAME MODEL! And this is like having the best of both worlds in your hand! I’ll give you an example:

          -Before ST, when we had a mold plate with hundreds of features (thread holes, water circuit, injection circuit, mold components, etc), at some point we had to make it a dumb solid (remove all the features and just stay with the solid body) so we could work with it as it was way to heavy to maintain all the history. Then, changes needed to be made and, if you still had your history based model, just to reposition a hole, it could take minutes of calculations and then some rebuild time. If it was already a dumb solid, we needed to recreate part of the plate. After ST, we simply select the hole and drag it. The time it saves is huge!

          So, ST can be used together with traditional modeling. You just need to adjust where and when to use it so you can get the best of both worlds.


        2. “Of course I have practical experience with it.”

          Nobody was questioning your manhood Donceod. But I’m glad to hear you have such experience with these other systems. What would be really convincing then is to show us exactly what Creo and SW can do that you find so difficult in Solid Edge.

          As Carlos mentions above SE affords you to work in both History and Direct Modeling within the same environment. From what I understand Creo does not.

          But the bottom line is Solid Edge isn’t for everyone, and we all should search out tools that fits our needs. But making snide remarks just to make yourself feel better, doesn’t convince anyone. So show us how well Creo and SW does with Surfaces that can’t be done in SE.

          Attached are 2 pictures using ST5 and is done with Synchronous Technology and utilizes dozens of complex surfaces to make the Flowing Arms and basket seat and backrest.

          Does ST5 have surfacing limitation… YES, but I think ST6 will not only address that but make Solid Edge even more competitive in this arena.


          1. Bob,

            Your  stuff, as ever, is drop dead gorgeous — simple, but beautiful. PS> Looking forward to one of your chairs (wood) on the ST6 splash screen!

          2. Dan,

            Thanks for the kind words, but I have to give a lot of credit to my customer John Danzer of Munder Skiles. Here’s how most of the furniture is developed for Munder Skiles. John drags some antiques he found in a junk shop to my shop and we have a design discussion about them. Most are anywhere from 50 to 100 years old and all have details or features that John found interesting. The Zarf Chair shown in my above post was derived from a piece that had the basic bones and design ques, but had horrible ergonomics and was executed very poorly. So my job after we meet is to develop a modern version of it and refine the details.

            So part of my job is interpretation and the rest is Industrial Design. Usually when I get the design to were I like it, I’ll either email John picture or 3D PDF’s for review. Then together we tweak it until we both satisfied.  The other part of this that I love is we always need to make different versions. Below is another picture showing both the Dining Chair  and the “Relaxed” Lounge. The original was more of a lounge style, but John wanted a Dining Chair. So this project first started as making the chair (shown on the left) then “relaxing it and adding “wings”….Thank You Synchronous Technology for making that a dream to do. First we pitch the chair back so as to “relax it” and get rid of the upright stance, But that wasn’t enough so adding the “wings” are classic John influence. He looks at it, and says we need to push this further…. and bang, it’s got these wings or better yet ears on it. But getting those elements to flow nicely in the model, but more importantly in production, was one of the more challenging tasks.

            Anyway I wanted everyone to know this is NOT all me, and have a better understand how these pieces evolve.

            So thanks again and I’ll be sure to pass your kind words on to John.


          3. Hi Bob

            What great images, I especially like the machine design.

            I was wondering, however, whether you would have any comments for those that have not seen the light yet with ST? We still have a lot of customers who are still suing ordered (some are using part copies extensively, so I can wait til ST6 for them), but still get the tired old arguements – I don’t have time to learn, it’s too complicated, I want to drive it all from sketches, etc.

            What did you have to change in your thinking/workflows so that you could make the switch?

  7. Milimetro,

    Just curious to know what type of training you had for SE and if you ran through the sets of tutorials that come with SE. A switch from any program to another one always seems to be rife with complaints many times simply because “that’s not the way we did it in Brand X”.

    Could you post a picture of floating tool bars? In general something that you find irritating has a simple answer if you just ask. Ask it here and get an answer and this is much quicker and easier than fiddling around with try this and that.

    Dimension placements. Yes I will grant you that one and it still irritates the heck out of me with quirky and inconsistent seeming behavior. It should be one click and drag but rarely seems to work that cleanly for me.

    The closed forums do serve a function for paying customers and sadly in this world it is a legitimate one. How much time should a company spend having to filter out pretend users like Jon Banquer to keep content on track? Now that having been said this is a complaint that is being listened to and I believe that there are plans to break out a separate public category for SE. I am sure someone will correct me if I am wrong on this. There is another category that is currently ignored which I find sad and that is past customers of SE who because they are off maintenance can’t access the forum. I think a webkey from any version proving you were a legitimate customer at some point in time should allow access.

    Eng Tips has a good public forum for SE and some SE power users seem to monitor comments there and you can find answers there to.

    1. The fear people seem to have of being invaded by hundreds of Jon Banquers is unfounded. The SW forum is open in comparison and hardly anyone aside from users goes there. In my memory only the occasional student or high school teacher drops by sometimes in error or else they have some CAD related questions to ask. In my recollection they have always been afforded courtesy and are grateful for the assistance they receive.  JB has his views but is well behaved in comparison to the exasperating manic free for all that is present in the news groups and I am sure he would be soon dealt to if he wasnt. Someone needs to emerge in SE who is going to take it forward. It always appears from the outside that either there are self imposed barriers or self defeating behaviours to wider SE success and a lack of promotion, limited access to info/forums and rather staid and dated company/product presentation are some of them. I also note although there is a general concensus that these difficulties exist there is a somewhat conflicted view as to what to do about it.  I dont think this helps either. Best go behind closed doors briefly and sort out some strategy/identity that will work and eveyone can get behind.  Just my few cents.

      1. Neil,

        One thing I can tell you is that these public comments that are made by potential customers and then feedback from actual customers are listened to. I would bet that if enough complaints about this happen something will be done. I am interested to hear what you said about JB and the SW forums not being a big problem. This being the case IF there were troll police so things did not get out of hand I would be for public forums. I think potential customers should have some mechanism to see what current users are going through for better or worse because the decision to buy and use software is not cheap and eats up a bunch of your time. Buyers deserve to hear and see more than the nice fluffy stuff some sales nut puts on them.

        I can see both sides of the coin and sometimes I have to wonder if the restriction has more to do with past policies of keeping the forum closed as a perk to current maintenance customers. Kind of like if you don’t send us the money you can’t play here.


  8. After trying ST4, reading commentaries in this blog and talking to my colleagues, we have reached a negative conclusion; Solid Edge is not ready for prime time, even if ST6 brings the so necessary extended surface capabilities.

    Some people makes an interesting comparison, SE would be Linux and SW would be Windows. The first one powerful and hard to master for many reasons. The second is powerful as well, its geometric development was stopped years ago, but it has a fundamental advantage: it is far, far, far more intuitive and for the newie it feels just right.

    There are so many small details in SE asking for a modification, a little example would be the first impression SE gives:

    Something so fundamental as the sketcher feels wrong, dimensions are RED color, perhaps the rational mind accept this as a programer decision but the subconscious is screaming inside my head that something is not OK.

    When I tried to reposition dimensions, the numeric value detached from them. This was an unexpected and undesirable behavior, and took me a considerable amount of time to find out where to click and drag to avoid that.

    Most of the commands I tried (I do not remember if all of them) fetch a floating bar with icons. May be for the seasoned SE user is clean and neat, but for the newie is cryptic and a huge barrier. Also those icons would need a redesign because they look similar and their ideogram usually is not intuitive at all. And again, if most of the icons look in color and ideogram shape similar, is hard to fix in the user’s brain their function.

    Another barrier is a closed community forum, only available to paying costumers. Nothing wrong with it (it is the Siemens way to do business), but if they really want to promote SE, let the outsiders take a look and learn from former users.

    1. Millimetro  “There are so many small details in SE asking for a modification, a little example would be the first impression SE gives:

      I think you’re criticism of Solid Edge and especially Synchronous Technology is misplaced. Nobody will disagree with your remarks regarding the GUI… In fact I make the same argument But as anyone who’s on the SE newsgroup will attest, I’m one of SE’s biggest critics when it comes to the GUI. just the use of “Orange” in the GUI sends me into a rage. Some dumb ass Human Factors jerk did some study showing orange contrast well to the human eye, and we’re all stuck with this God awful color combo from the 60’s… like it freak’n matters in Software. It’s only slightly less annoying as to how many clicks one needs to make to get past all these Ugly Orange buttons! Even my 2 Audi’s both use this same butt ugly scheme and it makes me wonder who the hell makes these decisions…. I guess Lawyers drive this thinking at Audi, but MicroSoft and Solid Edge have no excuse. Orange for Safety Cones might be good, but for the GUI in Software it’s simply offensive… but I digress!

      So to dismiss Synchronous Technology solely based on the GUI is absolutely unfair.

      Not to say Sync is perfect. There are numerous things that need work, but what CAD program doesn’t have it’s issues?

      As Dave Ault so correctly points out:

      “I on the other hand feel that it is a false savings of time because once you learn to use ST all this “time” you lose learning it is made up in spades by increased efficiencies. I honestly think no one has sat these non-adopting companies or users down and personally shown them on their parts the power of ST. So they labor on with shackles on never knowing better”

      I couldn’t agree more… and that’s in spite of the GUI with all it’s short comings.




      p.s. and opening up the newsgroup to the outside… I have one word for that “Jon Banquer”  We don’t need morons like him stinking up the place.

    2. Prime time

      I would be curious to understand what you mean by “not ready for prime time”. What software do you feel is ready for prime time? How would you define “prime time”.


      I would also like you to define “nebie”. Is this a person who has never used a CAD product or is this a user who is bring over learning experiences based on a history-based CAD package and expecting one system to work and operate just like the known software?

      Bird and Fish

      Expectations truly makes a huge difference and I can speak volumes on this topic. I’ve had 20+ years of NX and tried SW. I was pulling my hair out because the software (SW) was extremely limited, doesn’t allow true top down design, couldn’t handle multiple solids in a file, didn’t work the way I want or expected and it had a “gazillion” different keyboard and mouse functions that if you didn’t know about made the design process a horric process. My point being, I brought over years of how things “should” work in CAD- in NX- and was trying and expecting the same thing in SW. These are two differenct CAD animals. The same thing goes for SW and SE. They are two different animals and they don’t act the same and they shouldn’t..ones a bird and ones a fish…

    3. Milimetro, all of what you gave as feedback was good to know as a pre-dispositioned user of another system or as even a novice, and are all addressable through Solid Edge configuration settings.  The default color of the dimensions can be changed, the floating horizontal command bar can be switched to a vertical docking bar with text..  You may have noticed that when you first used Solid Edge that Command Tips would pop up to help you get your feet wet and that all command buttons showed a tool tip with a description of the command.  Also, Command Finder located in the bottom right corner has an index of other systems commands including SolidWorks and offers a quick way to locate the similar command in Solid Edge even expanding any menus to said command.

      That said, a person who is not familiar with SE and has not had the benefit of ANY training should have a better experience out of the box, so this is indeed valuable criticism.

  9. I remember Bob’s complaints over the years and with ST1 and 2 they were completely justified. It has been fun to watch the “old ordered dogs” change their tune and all I can say is that you to, if you are an ordered or history based modeler only will be assimilated someday by direct editing. Pardon me if I smirk 🙂

    Bob had a good point about no time to learn new tricks and this was the number one reason for the lack of Synchronous adoption at the Huntsville user group meeting attendees. I on the other hand feel that it is a false savings of time because once you learn to use ST all this “time” you lose learning it is made up in spades by increased efficiencies. I honestly think no one has sat these non-adopting companies or users down and personally shown them on their parts the power of ST. So they labor on with shackles on never knowing better

    The only way for ST6 not to be a huge success will be the failure of marketing. All the good stuff is there courtesy of the guys from Huntsville so lets see if marketing can demonstrate the same caliber of ability.

  10. I’ve been using Solid Edge since 2000 V7 and remember when Solid Edge announced Synchronous Technology. Soon I saw a demo at a trade show and walked a way in utter amazement at it’s potential… I was just blown away by the power of it. But once ST1 was delivered, I became disillusioned by the complexity of making it work seamlessly. There was too much hidden from the user. Design intent had been handed off to some programmer, and only the intrepid types could sort through all those damn Live Rules to get it to work. So like many long time SE users I continued to use the older V20 version waiting for the folks at SE to turn this around. I didn’t even see the sense in using the Ordered Option (history based) since my fear was that 10 years of SE CAD data would be pushed into a new format with no going back.

    However by ST4, SE Development made great strides in making ST more likeable. Then ST5 made even greater strides where Live Rules became very manageable and easy to use and now Sync was enjoyable and almost fun to use… no it truly made it REAL FUN!

    I give huge credit to Dan Staples and the rest of SE Development… he along with the rest of the folks in Development had ever right to punch me in the nose on many occasions, since I had become one of Sync’s biggest critics. It was more like cynical of Sync… so just say I was Synical!  I’m sure there were many days and nights that Dan and the others cursed this crazy Italian from New York, who says what’s on his mind, and damn anyone’s feelings. But to their credit they took it in stride and then went on to prove me wrong. And there’s nothing better then being proven wrong when it you end up as the beneficiary of the outcome. YES indeed Sync is not only revolutionizing the way 3D model is done, but it’s making it fun again. Once you get off the History security Blanket, you start to enjoy the flexibility of Sync’s on the fly editing. Being able to edit a number of parts right from the Assembly Environment is absolutely brilliant. And after such edits, you can go into ever part and see well behaved geometry… no more crapped out parts needing time to repair.

    Is Sync perfect…. NO! But either was Solid Edge History based. This is the biggest thing I realized in my quest to go Full Sync. If you’re honest with yourself do a little test. The next time your fiddling with a History based Assembly watch all the subtle work arounds and fixes you need to make along the way. If you’re like me, you’ll see that these have become so commonplace you simply don’t notice them anymore. However just like trying another CAD package, when you approach Sync your expectation are not only biased, but your patience to understand what the software is looking for is truly diminished.

    So here’s my take on why Sync might seem to be a failure from a Marketing standpoint.  First off Marketing made a huge error is going with F’Fluent GUI from Microsoft. Yeah, yeah, it’s all over the place, but who the hell cares. CAD is not about writing a letter or making a spreed sheet. Anyone with an once of knowledge about how CAD is used could have figured that out. Pull down menus 3 and 4 deep are for chumps! You Click your damn life away and Sync suffers from this still. Please FIX THIS… I’m getting old and my time is important.

    But back to the real reason I believe Sync is taking so long to become mainstream. Users have a lot of “new stuff” to learn and old thinking to jettison… and how many of us have the time. The economy is in the tank, so companies are thin on staff, and expectation to get things done fast and right for less cost is all I see and hear. Trust me this is not an excuse, but face it, how many companies right now are interested in one more thing to spend time and resources on, when sticking with status quo is safer.

    The other thing people must appreciate, and I doubt Siemens did as well, is this is an evolutionary product as much as they hoped it to be a revolutionary one. And personally I am glad it’s not revolutionary. It was disruptive enough in getting me to evolve. But in a few years from now as the hype of Sync has already faded, they will see their payoff. And those Users smart enough to invest the time to give Sync a REAL try, will also smirk when they think back at what all the fuss was about.

    So don’t take my word for it… open your mind to how this works, and embrace it. Those who know me understand that I don’t endorse much… remember I’m a REAL cynical New Yorker… were everything sucks… like the Yankees this year! What a bunch of old bastards! ahem sorry!

    So again THANK YOU Dan Staples and Solid Edge Development for sticking with Synchronous Technology in spite of people like me. Oh and especially for not telling my mother (mothers are the only thing New Yorkers are afraid of) that I was such an ass for not believing you back then. Synchronous is truly a big time saver for me and every new release is going to make the folks from SW, AC, and other green with envy. I only wish we didn’t have to blaze the trail for them, but with a 4+ year running start, I’m sure it’s going to be hard for them to catch up.

    Here’s my most recent 100% ST5 Sync Assembly



    1. Bob,

      Great looking machine! One thing you don’t see much from Solid Edge is rendering. Thanks for putting that together.

      Although I’ve been on the other side of a different fence, I agree with your timeline about the progression of Synch Tech. I stopped paying attention to Solid Edge probably about the time you got on board with it. IIn the early days of ‘Works, it was a thorn in our side (1997-2000) because of drawings and sheet metal.

  11. Well its sort of got a utilitarian profile…more of a draught horse that a stallion. I kind of think of it as a tractors and scissor lift program wheras SW has a bit of a Tesla S about it. I dont think they have found a good marketing pitch/identity for it yet. Even come ST6 I dont think it will stand out much. Another tick along from ST5. It just doesnt have an excitement factor to it. Possibly the need to capture the audiences imagination as well as present the practical side. Not necessarily like DS fantasy bonded stuff like pyramids and icebergs but something with a bit of ‘wow I want to do that factor’. I dont know…maybe CERN equipment…the hunt for quarks or something. High tech , frontier science, precision engineering, clever design etc. I guess its an association thing. Like Huey Lewis it can be Hip to be Square. Doesnt mean they need to try to be something they arent or outdo anyone SE  just need to be a little more adventurous/out there and confident in what they have IMO 🙂

    1. Neil

      I met at SEU12 or PLM world last year someone from Stanford Linear Accelerator Lab.

      He said they have their whole accelerator in Solid Edge.  I think he said the accelerator has a miilion parts in it.

      I need to try to locate his card.


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