An article on Graphic Speak blog by Randall Newton contains an interview with Gian Paolo Bassi, the new VP of R&D at SolidWorks. One item of interest in the article comes when Mr. Bassi is asked about his vision for SolidWorks:
GfxS: What is your vision for SolidWorks the product?
GPB: We will focus on performance, and not just the pure architecture of the product. The future of SolidWorks is about providing more power, more ability, more tools for collaboration, and the opportunity for exploiting smart phones and tablets. We are excited about the opportunities to improve performance.
One key to improving performance is to rid ourselves of the history-based design paradigm. There has been a rediscovery in the industry of a need for direct manipulation of shape, to give designers more freedom. We will work to give SolidWorks better design freedom performance, better computational performance, and greater flexibility…
The answer or the question is possibly not as defined as it might be. Before you can consider the content of the answer, I think you have to clarify that even though the question clearly is talking about “SolidWorks”, the answer is about a product that does not as yet have a name, and has been called variously “SolidWorks V6”, or “Catia Lite” for lack of a real name. So this is not really about what we think of as SolidWorks, it’s a brand new product from Dassault.
What I’ve read in other places is that the Catia V6 platform is said to be based on what they are calling “declarative modeling” . At this point, any distinguishing marks between “declarative” and “direct” are opaque, but I don’t see any mention of combining direct modeling with history based modeling, in the way that Synch Tech does.
What, if anything, does this mean?
First, it means that transitioning from SolidWorks 2013 to Catia Lite 2013 won’t be the utter feature failure nightmare that you imagine when changing kernels. That’s because there won’t be features in the way you’re used to thinking about them. Direct edit (and I suppose declarative modeling) works with what history users would call “dumb solids”. They may arrange for some sort of “features” like the features in Synch Tech, where … wait.
It looks like the next generation SolidWorks is going to work much like how Synchronous Technology has worked for the past 4-5 years, but possibly without the flexibility of using history modeling where it makes sense.
So. If you plan on following the SolidWorks directed path and moving beyond the current SolidWorks product, which becomes obsolete as soon as Catia Lite starts shipping in 2013, it will be pretty much just like buying a new CAD package and starting over. New interface. New paradigm. New pricing. New product names. Everything is new. So what should you do, move to a brand new product which might take 3 years to work the bugs out, or move to an established product? Siemens (Synch Tech), PTC (Creo), and even Autodesk (Inventor Fusion) already have software in the marketplace that have different methods of combining direct and history modeling. SolidWorks (or shall we just call it Dassault, because the SolidWorks product remember will be phased out at some point after Catia Lite hits, and the SolidWorks name is not even on the new headquarters building) Dassault, for all their chest thumping about doing this so that they are first with new technology, will wind up being dead last of the four major players. Their silence on the issue has been meant to buy them time so that customers aren’t thinking too much about direct edit, or that history modeling has some limitations.
So does Bassi’s description sound good? Yeah, it sounds like there are some useful ideas in there. A lot depends on specific implementation, and anything can happen, but it’s potentially a big improvement. My question is, how are they going to induce you to move to Catia Lite without causing you to consider Synch Tech, Creo, or Fusion?
Notice the only mention of “cloud” in Randall’s article is in the author’s caption on an n!Fuze screen capture. Does that mean they have backed off full blown CAD in the cloud, or they are just being coy? Why would he not ask Bassi about cloud, since cloud is one of Bassi’s “things”? Bassi was previously at a company called Riwebb, which had this on their site:
The site has since been taken down, but Bassi did CAD and “web enabled solutions”.