Watch a Cynic’s Eyes Begin to Open

It has been a while since anyone considered me a Synchronous Technology cynic, although that’s initially exactly what I was. ST1 came out in about 2006, and it was preceded by an incredible hype parade. It was the first real news anyone had heard from Solid Edge in years. We didn’t even know what it was, but most of the professional  (and semi-pro and amateur) CAD press had a lot to say about it. I visited Huntsville and got to ask questions and play with the software, but I was still unimpressed.

When ST3 hit the shelves and they united Synch and Ordered modeling, the lights suddenly came on, and I got it.

Since then I’ve watched the lights go on for other former cynics. The latest SolidWorks user who is starting to understand is Jeff Mirisola. I’ve known Jeff for a while. We share some traits, including Boston blood, and maybe we’re both a little unvarnished from time to time.  Jeff was at the last Solid Edge University, and his write up of the company, event, and product at that time I thought showed he spent more time looking for the free beer than looking at the software. If I know Jeff, he’d probably agree with that summary. His write up was cynical on multiple levels, without even mentioning the software.

Just this week, Jeff had a look at a stripped down version of Solid Edge called 3DSync. As the name implies, it’s just the synchronous part of the software. If you read his article, you can watch it slowly dawn on him that Synchronous is a step up from your normal SolidWorks methods.

It’s 3DSync’s ability to recognize design intent that sets it apart. As I played with it, I came to realize just how much more powerful it was, how much more streamlined.

Jeff’s only point of reference is SolidWorks, so you can tell that actually working with the synchronous tools is a bit of an eye-opener for him. He almost seems apologetic about not bashing Solid Edge.

Frankly, I think Siemens may be on to something here. I was initially incredulous, knowing full well the power of a history-based system’s capabilities when importing non-native files. It’s the editing aspect that is swaying me.

When you peel yourself away from the idea that history-based modeling is the indisputable king of CAD, all kinds of things become possible. It took me until ST3 to see it. Jeff’s seeing it after ST6. When will you see it?

10 Replies to “Watch a Cynic’s Eyes Begin to Open”

  1. I hope Siemens will do in future something like Solidworks with the configuration.

    From my point of view the Siemens solution with adjustable parts and family functions are far behind the Solidworks configuration.

    1. Donced,

      Do you have examples of what you like better about configurations?

      In my experience, configurations can be convenient, but they are also trouble. Toolbox is such a disaster because of configurations. The way its set up, different users get the same filenames with different contents by default. This violates the first rule of file management, and has caused lots of SolidWorks users over the years to lose fastener data when they share an assembly with someone who uses a different toolbox. If you use Toolbox such that the sizes are sent to separate files (like SE’s Family of Parts), then toolbox is not as dangerous.

      Also configurations are a huge offender when it comes to file sizes. Family of parts doesn’t suffer from this problem.

      It’s hard to line up SW and SE functions directly. SW configurations really encompass more than just FOP and adjustable parts.(Adjustable parts lines up more with in-context than configurations – configurations combined with in-context is another dangerous combination).

      SolidWorks in general takes the fast-and-loose approach making things easy and convenient, without much thought to power and stability. That’s really one of the basic differences.

  2. While Inventor is my bread and butter, so to speak, I am quite fond of certain aspects of SE. Really cool aspects in assy design (like face relate, etc) and optimization of non-native cad model data (ST6) are my favorites.

    I don’t think that it would be unreasonable to expect technicians who have used one vendor’s software for most of their career to be hesitant to embrace a whole new way of thinking (except ProE users). I have yet to see a single CAD platform that can outperform another in every aspect of design.

    Solid Edge Synchronous capabilities provide great solutions for certain design problems, and I hope that Siemens continues the product’s development. I think many of us are wondering how it will transition in the next 3 years, as technology across all vendor’s evolves.

    1. John,
      You raise a point that puzzles me and perhaps I am just different than most CAD guys. I did not have a long career in CAD before I saw ST for the first time. I had been using VX for five years then but like these long time CAD guys you mention it was all I knew and I was comfortable with it because I had learned to use it ugly history warts and all. The very first time I saw ST just before the release of ST1 what I saw was freedom from the time consuming aggravations and history based constraints of what I had been dealing with. Especially in the area of customers who were always changing a part.

      So my question for you is where I saw freedom from the restrictions of history based CAD why do you think these long term guys you mention do not? This is an attitude that really puzzles me. Here we are as a profession supposed to be looking for better quicker easier more efficient ways of doing things. Why does this not translate into wanting this in the tools we personally use for our own jobs? I really want to know because I just don’t understand this concept of designing newer and better things and then refusing to even look at newer and better in our own work processes.

  3. Unvarnished? Me? I’m quite sure you’re confusing me with someone else…
    I’m not sure I’d call myself a cynic, more that I was just ignorant. SolidWorks has been my bread & butter for a long time which creates a sense of loyalty, which I still embrace.
    In the not too distant future, though, I will be trying out full-blown Solid Edge, which I’m very curious about.

    1. Hey, Jeff,

      Thanks for stopping by. I don’t have all the answers here, but someone else will. Feel free to ask about things that might not make sense.

      Just imagine what it would have sounded like if I had used the word “ignorant” instead of “cynic”.

      Anyway, glad to see you checking out the software.

  4. I remember watching these ST haters get assimilated by ST over the years. ST4 seems to be the one that really started getting their attention. You WILL be assimilated if you expose yourself to ST for any length of time.

  5. It took me until ST4 and I was still was using Solid Edge V20… wouldn’t even touch ST even for ordered. I didn’t want to convert my years of CAD data with a newer version in case I were to go back to V20.

    But my ST4 work was still almost 100% Ordered/History. But it was ST5 that convinced me to work in Synchronous. ST5 finally started to give the user more feedback as to what Live Rules was up to, so making edits became more intuitive. Past releases seemed to make too many assumptions about the user’s design intent, but gave very little clue as to what it was driving or constraining.

    I hope Jeff maintains his open mind, because there will be this one day he’ll be stumbling with SW and he’ll say “damn if I were only doing this in Solid Edge, I could do this so much more productively”.

    Maybe then he’ll also begin to understand why Solid Edge is so “obsessed” with SW users… with our similar DNA (Parasolid Kernel) it’s like trying to convince your own brother to see the light. Whereas AutoCAD users are a completely different can or worms…


    1. “Whereas AutoCAD users are a completely different can or worms… ”

      Which one are they… a can, or worms? 😛

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