Folks are asking about this, but I’ve written about this in the past. I guess you only pay attention when it suits you. Without re-researching it all again, here are some of the things I’ve read that V6 will contain. I can’t provide links because this is mostly from memory, but it was mainly from a 3ds.com domain.
Some Form of Direct Edit
From the 2010 SolidWorks V6 SWW demos, we remember that V6 has some sort of Direct Edit. Don’t know if it is exclusively direct, or direct combined with history. History buffs prepare. Your options with history are going to become limited. Direct edit can be good. Direct edit can include parametrics. Losing history is not necessarily bad, but it’s not going to be your choice if you follow SolidWorks down the rabbit hole. Doing something that is not your choice is the main thing to object to here.
To start believing in the Dassault vision, you have to essentially jump off the cliff without a parachute, without a plan, and without even a promise. All you have to go on at this point is your positivity. And possibly a pile of naivete. This is a company that hasn’t made a lot of great choices in the last 5 years. I’ll give them one chance in four of coming up with a scheme that I’m going to want to buy in to. In one of the comments “CAD Munkie” posited that V6 is going to be “CATIA ‘paired down’ with the familiar SolidWorks interface”. I’ll give you credit for a very positive imagination. But it’s hopelessly wrong. You’re going to get a Catia interface with a paired down Catia tool set on top of a Catia workflow. There will be nothing recognizable to a SolidWorks user about “Catia Lite”. That’s not to say that it’s bad, but if you really wanted Catia, you should have bought Catia.
Some Form of Functional Modeling
Functional modeling already exists to some extent in SolidWorks. Think about things like the Lip and Groove, the Mounting Boss, the Vent features… stuff you’re probably not familiar with unless you’re a plastics guy. Lip and Groove can be frustratingly slow. Vent has a lot of variables, and if they aren’t all just right, the whole thing will fail. Functional modeling is actually a very cool thing that can do some things independent of history, such as place a hole, and no matter if you put material there later, the hole will always be a hole. It’s kind of like library features. I’ve used the Lip and Groove many times on a recent project. It’s nice and automated, but it’s very slow, and it’s not as robust as manual methods. It’s just a different way of working with features that do more, more automatically, but also fail more. Remember with automation you ALWAYS give up some level of control and flexibility, and still wind up doing some things by hand.
Functional modeling, just so you remember, came to Catia through the purchase of ImpactXoft, led by none other than Gian Paolo Bassi. It wasn’t an accident that he was made the VP of development at SolidWorks. Functional modeling can be a great idea, but there are a lot of great ideas out there. If you liked functional modeling that well, why didn’t you buy Catia or ImpactXoft instead of SolidWorks originally? ImpactXoft was aimed at plastics design, which is why you see these features targeting plastics in SolidWorks.
The SolidWorks failed experiment in “dissection” I think may have had something to do with this. It at least bears some vague resemblance. The idea is that you can reuse any feature in your part, because it’s just an entry in a database that can be referenced anywhere you want it to. Huge departure from the “files on the hard drive” mindset, and it means that file management is going to be built in to your CAD. In the days of PDM, external files were referenced by the database, but in the days of 3DEXPERIENCE, everything is in the database. Again, this is not an inherently bad way of working, but what sort of investment do you have to walk away from if you have a current PDM system at your company?
So whether this is good or bad is entirely dependent on the implementation. The concept potentially could work well enough, but this could easily be made entirely unattractive, as you saw with dissection in SolidWorks. If you don’t remember, back in whatever year it was added, and turned on by default in the new version, users and CAD admin types were scrambling around trying to figure out what was driving their servers crazy at some specific time at night, 8 pm or 11 pm, can’t remember. This software was essentially a virus, and started taking over your computer at a certain time. Of course no one was even remotely interested in the results. Why would I want to save a sketch of a rectangular feature? I mean library features are useful enough, but many companies just don’t use them for whatever reason. So now you automate library features, and make them violate just about every IT policy in the books, and you have to wonder why people didn’t embrace the idea.
“But no, you’ll be able to search the database for anything?!?!” Google is God, so anything search based must be wonderful. Well, wrong. Search destroyed the help. I can no longer find something if I know what I’m looking for. Search offers a lot of (or you could say “mainly”) invalid results. I can’t imagine searching for parts is going to be any better. People will have to learn to name files according to some predetermined system, and use descriptions, and all sorts of “clerk” type metadata. Most of the users I know don’t have any thing like that, even though it’s a huge best practice. So CAD will just inherit the clerical headaches that have typically kept companies away from adopting PDM.
I know this is a recent hot button topic promoted mainly by The CADCAM Terrorist, JB. By locating this database on a cloud bank of servers, you’re supposed to get better multithreading. CGM (Catia’s kernel) is supposed to be multithreaded because the data is so segmented into database entries. Who knows if this is true or not, I don’t intend to touch this topic with a 10 foot pole, aside from mentioning that you might see it touted as a benefit of V6 and the cloud.
This is just info that I’ve heard from “sources”, but my impression is that some portion of V6 is exclusively based on a Dassault Systemes cloud. It could be the software or the data or both. And it could wind up that it will only function cannot or will not be able to function outside of that cloud. There are a lot of problems with the cloud that you read about in the news every day, and have been pounded to death on this blog for the last 3 years. While there are a lot of advantages of the cloud, there are many more problems with it. Although I’ve been through these before, let’s just reiterate them for the people who think I’m “negative”: access from anywhere, access from any OS, access from any device, less overhead of software installation, less need for workstation hardware, “immediate recovery from crashes”, no data loss during crashes, never have to worry about service pack installation again, never have to worry about version issues ever again.
A couple of these are complete BS, such as the version issues and service pack. The reason they can make these claims is that there is ever only one active version of the software running on the cloud. But you can’t access it unless you are paying for it. So ALL customers are by definition maintenance paying customers. This right here is going to be one of the biggest reasons people bail on upgrading to V6. Remember SAAS, and ASP buzzwords from the early 2000s? Cloud is just a more sophisticated attempt at the same idea. Both the crash recovery ideas are things that have existed in SolidWorks for years, but many users just turn them off.
There’s so much evidence that this is where we are headed. Dassault has bought into the “Big Data” market with the Exalead acquisition. Big Data is what you are going to have when you have all your CAD files, and all product information in one gigantic Enovia database.
And the argument against? Bandwidth. Infrastructure. Bandwidth. Security. Bandwidth. Security. Lack of control. Two additional layers of possible failure (cloud server and infrastructure) on top of the local data/power/hardware sources for failure. Military/government contracts that prohibit cloud use. Cost. Legal liability when data is stolen or when productivity time is lost due to cloud failure. Again, refer to the last 3 years of blog posts and comments.
Do you see a pattern here? The pattern is that most of the advantages of V6 are aimed at very large companies, the kind of companies Dassault is used to selling Catia to. Someone who’s necktie is too tight has decided that SolidWorks users are just like Catia users. It doesn’t take a CPA to tell you how wrong that assumption is. How many single seats of Catia do you sell? Precious few. How many SolidWorks seats are sold to a 1 to 3 seat company? About half as I remember it. Huge difference in business practices, huge differences in needs. I don’t need more non-CAD functionality pressed into an over-automated retraining nightmare.
I find no reason to believe that using Catia is going to resemble using SolidWorks in any way. SolidWorks was based on Windows interface, and Catia didn’t come from those roots. I think you’re going to get a Catia interface, with a stripped down feature set. If you really wanted Catia, why didn’t you just buy Catia originally? The answer is likely that you didn’t want Catia, and that you still don’t want Catia.
If I have to make a switch, I want to be the one deciding what to switch to. I’ll do a comparison, cost and capability will be primary factors. Dassault is not even going to have software for me to evaluate in the next year or two. They are trying to play both sides of the market. To one side, the current V6 side, they brag about what they are going to do with V6, and the large number of customers that they will pull over from SolidWorks. On the other side, they are downplaying the changeover to SolidWorks users. This is why the video came from a 3DEXPERIENCE conference, and why it was so far away (Korea). I’m surprised it wasn’t also in French or Korean. You would never have heard that speech at SolidWorks World for obvious reasons.
And then cost. I don’t believe there is any way that V6 is going to cost you less than SolidWorks. I would be surprised to hear that it costs less than twice as much annually. Cost has also been touted as a primary advantage of moving to the cloud. Don’t be the chump that falls for that one. Remember that just an online view and markup tool (n!Fuze) was listed for $79/mo/license. And it replaced something that was free (3D Instant Website).