SWW13: So What Does it All Mean?

There’s a lot of stuff flying around. I think some people are starting to get wind of some of the stuff we’ve been talking about here for a couple of years. Here’s a link to the SW forum. That conversation is a few days old, and doesn’t have anything new in it, aside from different sources. Scott Baugh was a SW reseller employee for a while, and has always been a SW fanboy. He’s excitable. Seeing him say something that isn’t entirely positive about SW is a shock. Not sure who his source is, but there are a lot of disgruntled former SW employees running amok these days. I don’t believe the “Siemens asking for their Parasolid back” thing is true, I suspect Scott misunderstood something. I have nothing to go on except my own hunch and the word of people I don’t trust, but I don’t believe it’s true.

Anyway, that story really doesn’t have anything to do with SWWorld. The first part of the SWW story has to start with the fact that they “only” had 4500 people in attendance this year. Last year 5600. This year, economically speaking, was supposedly better than last year, so the drop in attendance must have had some other cause. Someone said that Matt West, the hapless social media manager, attributed the drop in attendance to “location”. Disney World. Really. Location? If you had said Trenton, NJ or Stockton, CA, or Scottsbluff, NE, I might agree. But Disney World is a location that doesn’t attract convention goers? Matt West is gonna get his “pass” card revoked. Since he started at SW in about 2008 or so, I’ve given him a pass on most of what he says because he’s just the guy in the middle. But when you come out with something like “Disney is not an attractive convention location”, it’s just a hot, steaming pile of bs.

So attendance is down.I’m not sure how to read that. It’s not the economy. It’s not the location. It must have something to do with customer’s relationship with SW. If people come to SWW because they love SW, they why do they not come? Whenever people don’t believe what I have to say about SolidWorks peaking out (reaching the top of their arc, as we saw with Apple last year), what they don’t realize is that the beginning of the fall-off always starts at the very top- when the company or product is as high as it is going to go, the next thing it does is start coming down. I’m guessing that SolidWorks has peaked. None of the things that made them great are in place any longer. And lets try to remember what made them great:

  • “3D on every engineer’s DESKTOP” (emphasis mine – remember, the in the 1980s engineering applications belonged on mainframes)
  • by engineers for engineers (no accountants, no spark jockeys, no girly artists)
  • focused on mechanical engineering CAD (we slew PTC with this, because they were so distracted by other non-CAD related junk)

Is it ok to grow or stray from your original mission? Growth is inevitable if they do things right. But what has happened is that Dassault started messing with the success of the SolidWorks machine. SolidWorks by itself worked. The change I guess I’m opposed to here is Dassault. There’s NOTHING about Dassault that I find appealing as a company. I would not/will not buy software from Dassault. Is this a nationalistic thing? Not consciously, but I know for a fact I don’t relate to the Dassault vision, and I do resent taking the Americans out of leadership roles. Bernard Charles seemed to gloat at one point from the SWW13 stage “SolidWorks looks like an international company, with a Frenchman and an Italian”, or something to that effect, without sorting through the Tuesday speeches again. Mr Charles seemed to question if Bertrand Sicot was indeed French or American. The Italian of course is Gian Paolo Bassi, VP of R&D.

The next thing was the expected announcement of Catia Lite V6. It came in the form of announcing Mechanical Conceptual. It will beta in May, and release 4th quarter. Again, with Dassault, a fair question would be “what year”. Mechanical Conceptual is a mechanism concept development software. At the press conference, SW officials would not confirm that it was based on the (Catia) CGM kernel. When a company refuses to answer direct questions with direct answers, they give up the right to accuse others of throwing “FUD”. The truth is that SolidWorks Dassault is purposefully sewing confusion. They could clear it up with a single word, but instead, chose not to. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that it is indeed based on CGM and V6. It is thinly veiled and severely stripped down Catia assembly modeler. They say it can trade info with SolidWorks, but talk is cheap, especially when no one can use the software to verify for another 10 months.

Funny story, Monica Schnitger was looking for a less clumsy name than the adjective soup SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual. So she shortened it to SoMeCon. Dave Ault pointed out that it could also be recombined as “Some Con”. I laughed.

In a way, a concept tool is brilliant as a way to introduce V6 because it isn’t expected to have a full palette of tools. Even better is a concept tool that won’t exist for 10 months, because no one can challenge anything you say about it. In another way, it may turn out to be disingenuous. If you start a concept in the new tool, then transfer it through some combination of magic and pain to an old tool, well, that’s the wrong direction.

A robotic bird made a big hit.

Participation in the SolidWorks forum Top 10 event leading up to SWW13 was also low, according to Matt Lorono. The Top 10 as listed by SolidWorks was reported in yesterday’s post, but one item that SolidWorks claimed to have already put into the software was again at the top of this year’s list. Apparently, SolidWorks users do not agree that what was added to the 2013 software was indeed “reverse compatibility”. It was a weak attempt in any case. Just allowed them to check a box on a form without fulfilling the spirit of the wish. Users want real compatibility between versions, SolidWorks offers something that only works when it doesn’t matter.

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The Top 10… maybe I’m getting a little jaded, but this has almost no affect on me any more. It used to be the main thing I was interested in, aside from what’s new in 2014. This year, none of it excited me at all. You hear the same things over and over in the Top 10, and you get a hyperinflated view of future features. Honestly, eDrawings for Android is the only thing that even gets a rise out of me. Fixed length spline maybe.

My.SolidWorks.com is (from an anonymous tip) led by the same person who led n!Fuze, the failed web-based markup platform. Based on that “experience”, expectations are low. It’s powered by Netvibes and Exalead. Not sure what Exalead does, but I use Netvibes as a web homepage for aggregating blog and news info in a single place. Not sure what the difference between My.SolidWorks.Com and Netvibes will be, it sounds like it does the same thing. Maybe My.SolidWorks.Com will automatically exclude Dezignstuff ;o) Not much to look forward to, but in a year of not much news, it makes the headlines.

eDrawings for Android to me seems more significant than anything else. Matt West at one point said:

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That, along with an unfathomable Apple fanboy attitude coming from several DS employees, really rubbed me the wrong way. What it said louder than anything else was that DS had their head firmly planted in their…. uh… sand. Apple was cool, and DS wanted to be cool, so they were ignoring the facts. First of all, people don’t just carry around 10″ tablets everywhere they go, but they do carry around phones, and Android phones are big enough to see things on, even if iPhones aren’t. Secondly, there were more Android devices out there than iOS. The fact that DS reversed on this issue means that they aren’t as irretrievably stupid as they first portrayed themselves. That’s as positive as I can take that one. Vajrang Parvate and Matt West were going out of their way to support the iOS only policy. They were clearly wrong then, and fortunately someone with an open mind realized this more recently and reversed course.

Again, though, not due out until summer (which year). eDrawings on Android is something I will use frequently.

And then, did you notice the Catia sessions in the breakouts? The writing is on the wall. Wake up people. For Catia sessions to get into SWW, well, it doesn’t happen by accident.

When put together, what does all this mean? I think it means that DS is taking a step backwards. They heard, understood, and are acting on the criticism that they don’t understand the primary SolidWorks constituency. They are slowing down the V6 development. If SolidWorks V1 has a renewed lease on life, it is primarily because of the backlash against V6, vapor-ware as it is. V6 for the mid-market will be developed in chunks. Simple part and assembly modeling first. Maybe simple drawings next. Maybe a complex shape concepter after that. So in this way, V6 will be phased in over time, and you may buy portions of it to complement SolidWorks, although I frankly doubt there will be much in terms of compatibility. When the development is ready, it will replace SolidWorks.

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The scary thing here is the cloud. And this gets scarier the more you see how hard this is being pushed by a lot of people. All of the people pushing cloud have something to sell. Cloud will not be pushed for technical reasons, or performance reasons, we are all getting a hard sell because this benefits the developers. Technical sessions on the cloud during the breakouts, hardware vendors pushing data center hardware. From one guy who’s behind the scenes, the way DS is developing its own cloud is producing something that even he, as a cloud enthusiast, wouldn’t put his own data on. This is why DS is so vague about stuff. They know that the details are not only hard to swallow, but will be difficult to accept or pay for.

24 Replies to “SWW13: So What Does it All Mean?”

  1. @Alex Numann
    It didn’t look particularly comfortable, so i blended it with a traditional design. 🙂
    (Creo Freestyle)
    [img]http://www.dezignstuff.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Modified_ribbon_chair.png[/img]

  2. Re: Disney vs San Diego attendance-

    I noticed that the Dolphin seemed much smaller than San Diego. I was at SD last year and that building is easily triple the size of the Dolphin. You could have another conference the size of SWW at the same time at SD and no one would notice. The food is inside also, not in a parking lot tent.

    Just looked up seating capacities:
    San Diego F&G Halls: 12000
    Dolphin Pacific: 6100

  3. @David Paulson
    My reading of the DS vision is they want to to create a set of apps built off the 3D Experience platform (whatever that actually is??) that can work together seamlessly. For that to work, the kernel would surely have to be common amoung the apps and that could only be CGM.

    I can only guess the reason they won’t talk about it is to avoid all the awkward questions like “what can I do with a CGM dumb model inside SW?”, and “if I have to rebuild it to make it useable inside SW, then what is the point in SMC?”.

    I guess i’m just trying to make sense of the complete reluctance to provide even basic detail on a launched product (I say launched, because they insist the May trial is not a beta).

  4. @David Paulson
    If it’s difficult to move from one kernel to another, wouldn’t moving between two kernels be twice as hard? I don’t know, I suppose anything is possible.

    The “may not work on x86 hardware” is one that scares me. I’ve heard other things that suggest something like this could be the case. If it’s true, there will be no local version.

    As to the “it could not possibly have taken this long”, I think they may be extending it intentionally. They may see that the SolidWorks market isn’t just going to embrace Catia Lite with open arms.

  5. So, SWW2013 has come and gone, and many of us have the feeling that we just received three lumps of coal for Christmas. What we did get was a future product called Solidworks Mechanical Conceptual. What an awful name. Why not just call it CONCEPTUAL???

    But the elusivemness of Dassault to identify the kernal of Conceptual, begs another question. Perhaps it is not Parasolid nor is it CGM, but rather a NEW kernal that will translate easily between Parasolid and CGM. This would make sense from a strategic point of view, and would certainly explain the long development time for SW V6. I DS just wanted to port a Catia Lite version of SW, it could not possibly have taken this long.

    So, my take is that Conceptual is based on a NEW KERNAL. And this kernal may not work on x86 hardware……………………

  6. Hey,
    nobody realized that we already have a SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual in a SolidWorks Premium license. Have you ever used Sketch blocks in SolidWorks Motion ? It’s almost like using Working Model. Watch here:

    http://youtu.be/G3L1HusmaUk

    I’m just joking.
    I think that what they have shown is not eveything they have to offer, or maybe they just built a demo that doesn’t show its full potential. They must be very very late respect to the schedule.
    Otherwise why showing on youtube mechanical conceptual (general session day 1 video) and not SolidWorks 2014 new features ? (Notice they have cut the SolidWorks World 2013 Day 3 general session video because it doesn’t show 2014 new features).

  7. Reading all these cross fires between the users and the company is amusing, but its time to change the subject somehow, maybe a small surfacing challenge is a good idea, so we the readers can learn something again 🙂

  8. SolidWorks (i.e., Dassault) has been out of touch with its user base for at least a decade IMHO. The only reason I’ve stayed with the software at all is because of its market share, and when they lose that they lose (not just me … period). I’ve had much too much of broken promises, regressions and the inability to fix problems that have been around for, oh, a decade. Right now my clients and my employer use SolidWorks. When I have any input I’ll urge them to think about something better.

  9. @Michael Hinton
    Michael, I agree. I think Mr. West should understand how to use social media (which includes blogs) to his best advantage. But I don’t think he does. I’ve protected him a few times by not relating certain stories. In this particular incident, he made his comment, then tried to delete it. That’s an amateur social media move. If you don’t mean to say it, don’t push that “submit” button. Once its out there, its out there for everybody to see for ever. That was why he got the “hapless” label from me. I’ve got more stories, let’s hope I don’t need to tell them.

  10. I responded with wide eyes to Matt West’s first comment. He comes off as touchy and defensive. Matt Lombard, I really appreciate your point of view and I support you a great deal of the time. I’m surprised that Matt West is the social media face of SolidWorks. I would think a true professional in his field would not be so accusatory “getting paid by our competitors to badmouth us.” Nor be so snide as to sign as this blogs nickname “Hapless.” If Matt West is to respond I would expect it to be cheerful and upbeat and showing the position of SolidWorks. His response really makes me believe all the more that SolidWorks is out of touch and could care less about the users, especially those critical of of the product. When listened to, the critics are the ones who improve a product the most.

  11. I would say attendance is down due to the conference not having as much value as in the past. When I go to SolidWorks World I want to find information that is going to help my company’s success. It seems like so many of the presentations are the same presentations as previous years or a sales pitch. There were two presentations that I went to that I walked out on. One was a presentation on Enovia which was titled, “Working with the Extended Enterprise,” or something like that. The other was an attempt by a consultant to gather names for his business. My only note from that session was to never attend a session by his ever again, sorry Jerry Winters. On a positive note about SolidWorks World, I did get to meet with product definition, meet so many other users that I hope to stay in touch with (you never no when they might have the answer to a problem), and attended many great sessions (Todd Blacksher session titled, “Costing – Our Approach,” was one of the best). I will continue to attend SolidWorks World in the future for those nuggets of great information. They are just much harder to find than they were 10 years ago.

  12. @gal
    In your dreams. Stuff isn’t going to be priced that way anymore. It might be $500/year, but I’d bet more like $1000/year is what they ask for it.

  13. So attendance is down.I’m not sure how to read that. It’s not the economy…

    Well, I’d be careful with that. Sure, we’ve been in “recovery” with “green shoots” since 2009 according to official propaganda. But I think the near future will reveal—even officially—we went into recession again in the last half of 2012. That’s not published through official mills (like CNBC) so much as “fringe” blogs like zerohedge. (That, and adding $200 to admission fees as Rob said is a real killer.)

    Maybe folks are beginning to move on already, too. It’s tough to be much of a fanboi with such uncertainty about the future—whether sown by a CAD company or by the remainder of reality.

    Hey, how ’bout that AAPL bubble, eh? Getting back to the economics thing, judging an economy by a central-bank fueled market frenzy isn’t the best of ideas. The big banks are stuffing the markets with cash in hopes of getting some return on the dollars they’re not lending out. Rational thinking, of course, but that also has risks. We’re seeing a lot of hedge funds being stung by the group-think dynamic of holding large amounts of AAPL (with little reason to do so coming from merit). So it goes. Next, I anticipate we’ll see some collapse in capitalization of some of these banks and they’ll be asking the Fed for money (bailouts—again). Maybe, maybe not. But it’s probably best that we all be wise with our money in the meantime, eh?

    Thanks for the reporting of the SWW scene. I’d forgotten about that entirely until you posted about it. Need to catch up on the forum a bit, too.

  14. @matt

    Then my apologies to you on the first part, and yes, I explained the attendance issue publicly on LinkedIn. There are a lot of customers in Southern California and we get a lot of walk in traffic that doesn’t occur in other parts of the country. It may sound odd, and you may have a hard time believing it, but it’s true.

    And FWIW, there were no plans to develop for Android when I was answering those questions. And even though I’m not an Android user myself, I advocated for the development to the product team simply because I had to personally field so many requests. And they listened.

  15. @Matthew West
    Matt,
    Not that it’s anyone’s business, but my contract with Siemens is complete. The contract made no mention of badmouthing anyone, in fact, I had specific instructions to avoid that. Based on having dealt with both companies, I have some definite ideas on which I prefer as a company. So no, I’m not being paid by anyone to badmouth anyone. Even when they were paying me, it was only for the OnTheEdge blog, and Dezignstuff was and always has been separate. If you will read, you will find a marked difference in tone between the two blogs. Siemens were very conscious of keeping an upbeat tone. I’m just doing this on my own. And you know I’ve got a reason to do it. SolidWorks and its employees have gone out of their way to annoy me personally in ways that were completely unnecessary. Oh, and by the way, SolidWorks has also hired me to do some writing. How do you think we should characterize that? As a freelancer, am I not free to take jobs from whomever I want?

    So you don’t see what you said as being fairly summarized by “location” as the reason for low attendance? You can surround it with as many words as you like, but it boils down to “location”. Whoever said that to me was apparently correct. Thanks for the confirmation.

  16. I know you’re getting paid by our competitors to badmouth us, but insulting people and putting words in their mouth based in something you heard second hand is just bad form. I never said Disney was not an attractive event location. What I said is that I have access to historical attendance numbers, and that attendance this year is on par with what we saw the last time the event was in Orlando, back in 2009. I also said that we historically see higher attendance in Southern California because there is more local walk in traffic. If you ever feel the need to verify something I said in the future, you know how to contact me.

    Signed,

    Hapless

  17. One very obvious reason for the drop in attendance was a 200$ raise for a full conference pass compared to last years.

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