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On the first day of SolidWorks World, you can always expect a big announcement. The big one this year is the announcement of SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual (SWMC). Last year they announced it as well, but this time it comes with a release date and pricing. $249/user/mth, available April 2nd. The price is already being discussed and debated online, but after a few discussions and even more questions we were able to determine and verify the overarching direction behind this new product and others to come.

The Conceptual Transition Into SolidWorks

Mechanical Conceptual was announced on the main stage with flashing lights, a multi-screen presentation and a full-on demo with process examples. It was then you found it stuck in a small kiosk at the back of the SolidWorks Partner Pavilion area causing us to wonder why it wasn’t more prominently displayed, you know, being the big announcement of their new flagship product to replace or transition from SolidWorks, or so we (and others) thought. Fact is, it’s not their new flagship product. It just one part of a bigger plan for SolidWorks.

With the announcement of SWMC, there also came the preview of another product, Industrial Conceptual. This will go into beta testing over the summer with a planned released later this year. So now you have SWMC and SWIC. With these two products it just wasn’t clear in the presentation whether they were meant to eventually replace SolidWorks. The messaging was that they complimented SolidWorks, which many read as a soft transition to a replacement for SolidWorks while not disrupting your business. Well, we determined that these new product are not a soft transition to another product and not an eventual replacement. It’s not that they compliment SolidWorks, it’s that they compliment your workflow into SolidWorks. A very, very important point that brings so much more clarity to all of this.

Dassualt is not replacing SolidWorks. You’re not replacing SolidWorks. SolidWorks isn’t dead or dying. It’s here to stay. Here’s how it breaks down. SolidWorks is the central application, the hub product, so to speak. These “apps” compliment your workflow into SolidWorks by adding additional abilities specific to a particular workflow or design process. Mechanical design capabilities for mechanical design, industrial design capabilities for industrial design and, we assume, future capabilities for plastic design, sheet metal design, mold design, etc., each with specific features to compliment the workflow of that discipline.

There a couple items that need more clarity though. The roadmap of the Conceptual product applications and their pricing.

Industrial design is not necessarily separate from mechanical design. Nor is plastic, sheet metal or mold design separate from the other. Often they’re all part of the same design process. Currently, the understanding is that you would just buy all the apps you need to compliment you workflow into SolidWorks. The philosophy behind this is that you are able to move seamlessly between each app and SolidWorks with everything tied together through the integrated project communities. So, all the apps you need in a single, cohesive environment to compliment your workflow into SolidWorks. But how much will all this cost? Currently,vSWMC is explained as being tied to a user and priced at $249/user/mth ($2998/user/year). If that is indeed the cost of one app and each additional app, that, times however many apps you need to compliment that workflow into SolidWorks, can add a lot of cost very fast–Your cost now includes SolidWorks and each app for each user.

For Dassault, this works out very good though. It keeps their users happy, it keeps their reseller channel happy and it adds an additional revenue stream. User can keep their SolidWorks. Resellers can keep their customers. Dassault can keep the revenue flowing in from their SolidWorks investment. That last point is key to all of this. The apps add a passive and increasing revenue stream with monthly/yearly payments. This is all on top of any SolidWorks licenses and yearly maintenance revenue. For the bottom line, it’s a brilliant solution to increase revenue while not disrupting what’s already there. For the users, however, the value, the roadmap needs and the cost needs to be laid out, cut and dry, clear as day. Their concerns need to be addressed straight away without disregard to their thoughts while trying to reinforce the ‘simple’ and ‘cool’ of a new UI for collaboration. We’ll see if Dassault can move fast enough to make this happen. It’s going to be interesting to see exactly how it all takes shape.

More than anything, we’re interested in what you think. Is this even slightly interesting? Is it what you need? Is there a better solution? We’ve talked to some who think there are better solutions, many more who are wondering about pricing and many, many more who want to get their hands on Industrial Conceptual.

To completely saturate your mind with all things SWMC, you can find Eight things you need to know about SWMC on the SolidWorks Blog, read the press release and find even more info on the SWMC product page. Images below show some of the main capabilities of SWMC, including motion, direct editing, how the community works and access across devices.

Filed under: CAD NEWS

  • Snowghost

    I think Facebook should just come out with there own CAD program. Seems to be what SWX and Autodesk are after. Having to manage a bunch of different apps and licenses for different tasks sounds confusing and restrictive. Personally, I prefer a one-stop-shop. A cohesive experience with unlimited product design capabilities that has no reliance on the cloud or web. Fortunately, there’s an app for that. It’s called NX.

  • Adam

    Who the hell thinks $3k/year for a “conceptual” (i.e. stripped down) package is a good deal?

    And I disagree: SW IS going to die. It may continue to exist just as ProE Wildfire does, but in time it will be increasingly marginalized.

  • I agree with the push by both DS and Autodesk to be the next Facebook for engineering. Both companies actively testing and seeking feedback to their (anti)social networks.

  • STB

    This SWMC, looks like CATIA V6R2014x, i think at some point CATIA V6 and SW will merge : same UI, same functionality for basics functions. We already saw that in solidworks folder with all the dynamic library CATxxx.dll taken from CATIA.
    They are trying to solve piracy problem, and money flowing on a regular basis.
    But i think they ‘re trying to catch up on Autodesk. But it’s maybe too late… I’m a user of SW since 1998, Catia since 2002, i’m seriously thinking shifting to Autodesk Fusion 360, less pricy and running on mac.
    Just some thought.

  • As long as part of that shift doesn’t also involve using Inventor…otherwise proceed with caution…

  • Kevin Quigley

    There is of course no guarantee the industrial design module will be “only” $3000 a year. Face it, mechanical modelling stuff is always cheaper than surfacing tools…compare Imagine and Shape module for CATIA with the mechanical ones.

    Even assuming that it is $3k a year it is still far too much for us, as a small 3 person design company, to justify. The thing is, we are the ideal customers. But we already use SolidWorks with the TSplines and Power Surfacing add ons. We use Rhino plus TSplines and Modo for conceptual work. We use Shark FX for ‘precision’ conceptual modelling. All these transfer to SolidWorks as dumb surfaces or solids. But then, so does Conceptual Mechanical.

    That, in the end, is my biggest issue. You see, what we are trying to do as a company is settle on a single platform. Like any small design company some days you do conceptual work, other days mechanical design, others just churning out drawings or doing visuals. What I want is a system where I can do it all, then go right back to the start and tweak things. Using Conceptual Mechanical or other similar tools means we start again.

    The thing is we already have that tool. Its called SolidWorks.

  • Adam

    Ridiculous. SW may not be “dead”, but it’s very nearly dead to me.

    Been talking with some people about some stuff. 🙂 Getting excited…

  • Lee Lloyd

    I’m still trying to get my head around the new product roadmap, but what I’m hearing at the moment, sure sounds to me like Solidworks just became prohibitively expensive, and I’m going to need to start looking for a new solution.

    Hopefully I’m wrong, but it sure sounds to me like all new features, all new innovation, and all new UI is going to be contained in these pricy subscription add-ons, and Solidworks, the program I bought (at no small expense to begin with) to do all this stuff, is basically dead, and will not get any new features, unless I want to start spending several multiples of what I’m currently spending on support.

  • Adam


  • Kevin Quigley

    Getting back to the costs again, I would like to buy another couple of licenses of SolidWorks. Here in the UK, even for the base version, that is a cost of £10,000….£4000 per license plus £1000 per license per year subs, payable in advance. This is too costly.

    It is exactly the same for other vendors as well. SolidWorks is actually the lowest cost mainstream vendor.

    So we have been looking at alternatives. We could use Autodesk Fusion 360 for $300 per user per year. That gives us 90% of the modelling capabilities of SolidWorks, on Mac and Windows, but no drawings. Yet. It also doesn’t do history and for doing tweaks history is difficult to beat, regardless of what Siemens say (and yes we have extensively trialled SolidEdge and Spaceclaim). But aside from that it is hard to ignore.

    Really, if SolidWorks wanted to revolutionise design as they have been claiming all week, they should have modularised SolidWorks. Base SW plus extras like Conceptual Mechanical rolled into higher level packages. Get Premium, you can pick a couple of extra modules etc.

    But a bigger revolution would have been to introduce rental pricing for SolidWorks itself. If SolidWorks base was available for say, £1500 a year rental, I’d already be using AT LEAST one extra seat.

    CAD vendors are good at hype, but poor at genuinely understanding the real needs of most users who actually push the boundaries of their software. They focus on the big accounts who offer easy sales and even easier follow on sales. Us small guys are tough sells yet we are often the ones who pioneer the techniques and tools the big accounts eventually buy into. Time for the vendors to start considering their real added value customers.

  • Troy

    I also agree with the previous comments, and here’s why.

    I have all of the functionality that I want now through companion tools like Rhino, and add-ons to SolidWorks like Power Surfacing. So complimentary added functionality is not really what I want.

    What I want is a better primary tool that dramatically increases my productivity, and reduces my daily frustration!

    I want something that just works better, faster, easier, and with far less frustration.

    What I have just seen has potential along those lines, but falls far short in overall functionality for way too much money! $3K/ year is double the yearly SolidWorks maintenance fee. And after only two years you’ve reached the initial full purchase price of SolidWorks. And we haven’t even added on Industrial Conceptual. That is NOT “complimentary” pricing. That is REPLACEMENT pricing.

    For comparison, Autodesk Fusion 360 kind-of has similar functions, though perhaps not as powerful, but is only $300 per year! Autodesk says it’s targeted for a different market and not a replacement for Inventor. But they also say Fusion will be constantly improved and new features added.

    Likewise, SolidWorks has stated that more functionality will be added to IC/MC and additional new products will be released. These new programs do look good and promising, so when they reach enough mature functionality, why would people still want to use the old programs? So don’t be fooled by Dassault’s or Autodesk’s marketing spin. There is just no logical way that these new tools aren’t meant as eventual replacements for SolidWorks and Inventor. The real question is just how long until full replacement?

    Two things could still derail me from switching to these in the future:

    The Cloud issues, and if a competitor offers something more compelling first.

    By the way, NX seems to come the closest to having all of the better power and functionality, and maybe even the ease and frustration reduction. But it is very costly, and hard to justify, mostly because it contains a ton of additional specialty functionality that I don’t need.

    So where’s the balance, and who’s going to win?

  • Lee Lloyd

    Good luck with Fusion 360. A friend of mine who is entirely an Inventor guy, tried Fusion 360 for a few months, and tells me it is pretty much useless garbage, not even really suitable for serious hobbyists. Now, I haven’t tried it myself, and it is just one man’s opinion, but given that I already kind of feel that way about Inventor to start with, I really haven’t given Fusion 360 a second thought since hearing that from an Inventor user.

  • Adam

    “who’s going to win?”

    Not these jokers, that’s for certain.

  • Ok, but how many years have SW users been crying to stop adding features (that usually were half-baked) and fix bugs/improve reliability? The one silver-lining of all this chaos surrounding the transition is that some of the things we’ve whined about for years are finally getting addressed.

  • Troy

    HAHAHA! Nice!

  • Lee Lloyd

    I’m in the exact same position. I’ve just spent the past couple years getting a solid Maya/Solidworks workflow for my two-man shop, and now I’m seeing that I probably was wasting my time and money. I guess I should have stuck with my gut, and gone with Alias, but at the time it seemed like Autodesk was trying to kill Alias.

    I hate when backing the wrong horse costs me tens of thousands of dollars. :-/

  • Josh M

    That’s the thing where I think people are still confused. SolidWorks is the core product. Still under full development. Still getting new features. (Some much needed ones in 2015 I might add.) and will no doubt continue to have more added to it to line up toward Dassault’s platform. They need to get pricing explained and fast. It makes sense for their bottom line but not for users. Imo, it was not the best way to launch it.

  • Adam

    I like new features that don’t suck. The second part of that sentence being important here.

    They can bug-fix the hell out of SW, but that’s not worth the cost of subscription.

  • Kevin Quigley

    Final comment. Like Adam I do think SolidWorks as we know it will start to stagnate. Whilst we users all appreciate better tools, and the 2014 release was a decent one, you do have to stand back and ask (in our case) if those changes are actually worth £1250 per year per license.

    We don’t use our VAR except when we have issues installing or upgrading (once in last 2 yrs). All we pay for is the upgrade and access to service patches…read bug fixes.

    I have been on subs since buying SolidWorks. This year I have to seriously consider the value. And if I choose to go off subs that is the beginning of the end with my use of SolidWorks. We start to use other tools, we learn to use those tools, and we work around the issues but we also save thousands in on costs.

    I said on Twitter and I say it again. Unless SolidWorks sort their sales strategy out PDQ 2014 will be a bumper year for competitor sales. If I were Siemens, PTC, Autodesk etc I would be targetting SolidWorks users right now with subscription swap deals. Pay the subs, get our software. Right at this moment in time, I’d be seriously tempted.

  • “not worth the cost of subscription”. Agreed.

  • Adam

    I don’t agree at all. SW is all but dead at this point, and SWMC and SWIC are absolutely intended to be the first part of part of a replacement strategy (witness outrageous pricing). They might leave the old clunker on the market for another 100 years, but that won’t keep it from being ever-more obsolete as their newer, better #3DX products roll out… along with everyone else’s.

  • Lee Lloyd

    Here’s the part that concerns me. What new features could Solidworks possibly get from now on, if all new mechanical design features are going to be put in SWMC, and all new industrial design features are put in SWIC? I mean, what we have, at least as of today, is Plastics, Industrial Design and Mechanical design all separated out as add-ons to the “core” Solidworks program. If, as your article suggests, the intention is to further break out sheet metal, mold design and so forth, in to other subscription products, then what does that even leave in the “core,” a sketch engine?

  • “not worth the cost of subscription”. Agreed.

  • Josh M

    Well by that logic all 3d software is dead. It’s always going to be replaced by a new version or improved. For SolidWorks it’s adding more 3DX stuff to SolidWorks and introducing these applications. I think they would have been better served however by releasing both MC and IC for free and introducing true subscription pricing that captures everything SolidWorks for one price.

  • Adam

    I agree that it comes down to pricing. If they’d included it as an “add on” for existing SW customers, that would be something. It would communicate appreciation of existing community members, and that the goal is to gradually augment their SW experience with better and better products. Instead they’ve thrown up this absurd pricing on a supposedly-peripheral app that actually costs more than the “core” product itself.

    Just one more proof that they’ve completely lost touch with real users.

  • Josh M

    I didn’t talk to all 5600 attendees, but I also didn’t talk to any that could justify the cost.

  • Dassault is attempting to force SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual users to a public cloud and make users rent forever while offering zero interoperability with legacy code SolidWorks. Very few companies will want to be forced into renting SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual forever.

    Sadly, SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual has a lot of good ideas in it! I like the 2D motion study stuff I’ve seen so far which seems like it’s much better than the approach you have to take with legacy code SolidWorks. I’ve never liked how legacy code SolidWorks does kinematic simulation. I like the heads up user interface and the non reliance on aWindows user interface. I feel confident that the next new app, called SolidWorks Industrial Conceptual, will offer way better surface modeling than legacy code SolidWorks because it’s all going to be based on CATIA’s surfacing.

    Despite all the good about SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual, I’m confident that very few people will rent it the way Dassault currently wants to license it. I can see SolidWorks Industrial Conceptual possibly working on the
    permanent rental scheme. Not well but certainly better than it will for
    SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual.

    The way it stands right now I see SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual as being D.O.A.(Dead On Arrival).

    Dassault’s arrogance continues to hurt SolidWorks. Dassault has left the door wide open to start ups like http://www.onshape.com who will give users more options such as the ability to use a private cloud as well as not forcing users to pay maintenance forever just so their CADCAM softwaree keeps working.

    Jon Banquer
    CADCAM Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn

  • Adam

    Jon, I realize that you and I have had our differences, but this is one case where I can honestly say that I 100% agree with you… about everything you just said.

  • Lee Lloyd

    Here’s my thing, and it remains to be seen how this plays out.

    If all the pure CAD features shown as part of SWMC (cleaner interface, simple sketch booleans, direct manipulation, so on), actually end up being part of the Solidworks application I already bought, and pay $1,500 a year for support on, and SWMC ends up being an add-on that includes collaboration tools, better validation tools, advanced simulation and such, then I’ll be happy. I won’t ever get SWMC, because I can live without those features at that price, but I’ll be happy with my continued investment in Solidworks.

    However, if all the features shown are unique to SWMC, and Solidworks keeps on doing things the clunky way they do things now, knowing full well that there is a better way to do it, and that their customers want that better way, then I’m done with Solidworks, simple as that. I haven’t shelled out this much money, and continuing maintenance fees, just so they can develop carrots to dangle in front of me, for the express purpose of getting me to double or quadruple my yearly expenditure.

  • Adam, I believe you can only become good friends with someone after you had a major disagreement with them. I both like you and respect you.

  • Adam

    awww, shucks

  • Anon

    If you think in terms of how Catia works, you’ll get it. It’s a base program and then you add modules (called workbenches). Perhaps SW is the core application and the 3dexperience modules are the workbenches. After all, Catia will also share the platform…still trying to figure out what that adds to the mix.

  • Adam

    But that’s exactly it: SWMC *is* a V6 workbench. It’s not just analogous, it is literally the case. This may explain its outrageous pricing.

    Un-bundling CAD products into “Apps” is all well and good for the software company, since they can charge way more in total than they could with a single product pricing strategy. But for users, it’s a clear lose-lose.

  • Anon

    …would those people be related to the old SW brain trust at Belmont Tech? Inquiring minds want to know which horse to back and getting in on the ground floor is always good.

  • Josh,

    SolidWorks is over twenty years old. SolidWorks is so broken and so hosed in many areas that Dassault has had to do things like add the Style Spline rather than try and fix the existing spline tool.

    Is any CADCAM program besides SolidWorks still using MS OLE technology? OLE never matured into what it could have been. Embedding an Excel spreadsheet in SolidWorks and working with it really sucks. SolidWorks should have its own spreadsheet software component like other CADCAM program do.

    SolidWorks 2D kinematics suck as well.

    There is no way Dassault is going to fix this kind of stuff because of the effort involved. There comes a time when it’s smarter and easier to start over. That time was probably well over five years ago for SolidWorks.

    While SolidWorks is getting some improvements it’s not getting anything really radically better. SolidWorks is almost in maintenance mode now. When DS finally figures out how to properly market apps like SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual, that are built on the Enovia “backbone”, count on SolidWorks improvements slowing to a complete crawl. Have you noticed that major enhancements to SolidWorks are all being done outside the core of SolidWorks? Major enhancements like SolidWorks Electrical and the coming SolidWorks Inspection are stand-alone programs.

    Legacy code SolidWorks is old and dated and if there is one thing that SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual does right its that it shows anyone who is objective just how dated SolidWorks has become.

    Jon Banquer
    CADCAM Technology Leaders group on LInkedIn

  • Adam

    [zips mouth closed]

  • Snowghost

    Whoa, some fire in here.
    I see a lot of comments that relate to many of the same frustrations I’ve
    been through with CAD. Just to give some perspective on my NX claim, I’d like to give a little background but will try to keep this relevant to SWX ICBM IDBC or whatever their called. (BTW, I have zero affiliation with Siemens but the company I work for was nice enough to spring for a few seats of NX Mach3 a couple years ago and I’ve been on it waaay to much ever since.

    Like many of you, the search for the ultimate CAD program has been exhausting for me. I moved from Pro-E to Solidworks around 2001. About the same time I started using Maya for conceptual and freeform work. From 2006 to around 2009 I used Maya and Solidworks almost exclusively and with some good results. Then I really started getting into Class-A surfacing and more freeform modeling. I tried Rhino and T-splines but found that Alias was really what I was looking for.
    And it plays really well with Maya. I still believe Alias is the best Class-A and freeform surface modeler on the market. However, with zero solid modeling capability, some things just take forever. By definition you cannot do Class-A surface modeling in SWX because you can’t control the degree and spans of the surfaces.

    I had a pretty good Maya-Alias-SWX workflow going for a while. Then, sometime around 09 SWX just started getting really quirky. Each release seemed to get slower and have more issues. The old bugs rarely went away and the core
    modeling enhancements that I was looking for just weren’t coming. Not to mention that once I got used to the curves in Alias, using the SWX spline made me want to puke. It is truly awful. After developing a temporary eye twitch trying to fix a broken model and meet a deadline, I lost all faith in the software. That’s when SWX died for me.

    This is just my personal opinion but I think SWX is broken and they can’t fix it. The original developers are long gone and it’s such a patchwork of other people’s technology that I don’t think it will ever get the functionality that people are asking for.

    We evaluated Catia a couple years ago but to me the interface was outdated, ugly and confusing. The whole V5 – V6 thing was even more confusing because we wanted the cool new V6 stuff but it’s just so tied to a PLM environment that it wasn’t worth the hassle.

    We also evaluated Creo. The app based approach was intriguing at first but once we discovered that you have to re-open the file in a separate app to go from say parametric to direct modeling it became instantly un-appealing. They are supposedly going to merge all that in the future but that just sounds like service pack hell.

    I’ve tried Fusion 360 a bit and just plain don’t like it. The facebook like experience is not at all what I’m looking for in a CAD package. I mean, I have skype and dropbox, and they’re free! Plus, a cloud only option is not even on the table for me. F’! that. I was really hoping they were going to put T-splines into Alias 🙁

    Our IT department must have thought I was nuts because every 6 months I had a new asset request. In a world where engineers are designing and designers are engineering; we really wanted one cohesive package that could handle anything.

    I’m not going to go into the details on why I think NX is the best CAD on the market and actually sort of worth the money; because this post would be way to long. I will say this though: NX is hands down the most reliable, stable, and powerful CAD package that I have ever used. The depth and breadth of its functionality is truly amazing. It can handle just about any type of workflow you throw at it. Plus all kinds of other tricks that really make you feel like your cheating. They’re a bit late to the Sub-D game (Feb17th! NX9.01) but I’m more than confident that it will be done right and in another release or two, Maya, Modo, and even Alias will somewhat sadly be un-installed from my machine. SolidQuirks is already gone.

    Anyway, this thread is about SWX and its new companions. I just feel that Solidworks is NEVER going to be the tool everyone wants it to be and neither will these companion products. People want it all and that’s why Dassault has Catia and Siemens has NX. I mean if Dassault gave people everything they wanted in SWX ; why would they need Catia? That’s exactly why we never even considered SolidEdge.

    Maybe what’s really dead is mid-range CAD. It seems that open-source and free or dirt cheap CAD will or, already can handle the majority of basic modeling and
    concept creation. The truly powerful stuff is kind of already available it’s just really expensive. But with mid-range capability becoming free hopefully the high-end stuff will get cheaper.

    If Siemens would just drop the cost of NX (significantly) and make a couple user ability improvements, I believe it would literally be – end game.

  • Playing devil’s advocate here…plus I just don’t know why so many are hating on SolidWorks, but…
    Yes, SolidWorks is “old” but so are many of the other CAD systems out there, especially if you include the number of “transitions” each of those companies forced upon their customers/users, so the fact that it has remained relatively constant I think is a testament to how well of an “all-around” tool SW has been over the years. And let’s not kid ourselves, SolidWorks has never been the “best” at any one particular thing; it’s just been the best “all-around” solution and one-stop-shop package that met most people’s needs, especially small to medium sized businesses.

    Excel spreadsheets? Yes embedded wasn’t as good as editing in native Excel, but it is a whole lot better than the “in-house” solutions that Autodesk has (which also offers the option for using Excel natively btw).

    Configurations? That’s one of THE #1 reasons to choose SolidWorks over any other CAD package, when it comes to speed and design. Have you tried using iLogic and configuring iParts in Inventor? Good luck. Now, as you mentioned though, its Achilles heel is when it comes to PDM. That I will 100% agree with you that it is a nightmare when dealing with PDM. However, given the benefits on the design side I think they’d be able to work around the limitations of it and come up with solutions, especially with their own EPDM.

    “…there comes a time when it’s smarter and easier to start over”. While I somewhat agree with you, that statement makes me cringe everytime a SW user says that about a drawing or model. 90% of the time it has nothing to do with how crappy the model is, and EVERYTHING to do with the fact that they have no idea how to go about fixing it, and because it wasn’t done using THEIR methodology. I’m assuming this has to be the same in the coding world.

    Yes, it is old, and we’re all SO frustrated with how slowly it took some things to get fixed/introduced over the years, and especially how vague/ambiguous DS has been treating us with what to expect for the future, but again, at the end of the day, it’s still a pretty decent product, and if we had a choice of what to work on in our daily work, would prefer it to any of the other solutions out there on the market.

  • “…they can’t fix it. The original developers are long gone and it’s such a patchwork of other people’s technology…”

    This would confirm my assumption that the coders who are currently in place simply don’t have the know-how to deal with overhauling it the proper way, much like most SW/AutoCAD users’ mentality of “just start over”

    Regarding NX, I admittedly have not used it since NX5, so I can’t speak to how much ease-of-use has improved, but that had to be one of the toughest/longest learning curves I’ve ever had to deal with. There’s a reason their GTAC technical support is so world-class…you need it! Those guys know their caca, and I was on the phone at least 2-3 times a day when I first started out. Would you say NX has improved on that front or would you say there’s still a steep learning curve starting out?

  • “Dassualt is not replacing SolidWorks. You’re not replacing SolidWorks. SolidWorks isn’t dead or dying. It’s here to stay.”

    Well… not exactly true.

    – Dassault has already replaced SolidWorks. With CATIA. Or, rather, the 3DExperience (of which SWMC is a part.)

    – SolidWorks isn’t dead or dying. It’s “undead” — in maintenance mode. It is supported, and updated, but not really upgraded.

    – SolidWorks is here to stay. Just like Windows XP.

  • Josh M

    Huh? Solidworks does have its own spreadsheet. I haven’t embedded in years. Also, we’re on the same page. I said it’s not dead. Didn’t say it’s not going to change.

  • The problem is Dassault and how they wish to do business, Bruce. I would like to suggest that you and others take note of just how many SolidWorks employees have left since Dassault took over SolidWorks. There is very good reason for this turn over which has been going on for many years now. Because of how outspoken I am, and because I’m not a fanboi of any CADCAM product, I tend to get a lot of email from CADCAM company employees who tell me how they feel and ask me for suggestions. What I’m frequently told by DS/SolidWorks employees, both past and present, matches what you can read here:


    Dassault is a very arrogant company who does not care about or understand SolidWorks users. Make no mistake, it’s going to get very ugly. It’s ugly now with Dassault employees trying as hard as they can to control the bad press SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual is receiving:


    SolidWorks attendees at SolidWorks World 2014 were asked not to tweet details on SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual when it became clear that Dassault attempts to force users to the cloud, rent SWMC forever and offer no interoperability with legacy code SolidWorks, didn’t go over very well.

    Trying to control the flow of legitimate information and ostracize those who question how Dassault does business is what Dassault has been doing for years behind the curtains. Dassault can no longer keep the way they wish to do business hidden like they use to.

    Dassault big push is going to be going after larger accounts and this is going to come at the expense of smaller SolidWorks accounts.

    Jon Banquer
    CADCAM Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn

  • Josh M

    The brand Evan, the brand. And functionality to an extent. SolidWorks, CATIA, it’s all part of the whole 3DX platform, not replaced by it so much. It changing no doubt. To extrapolate on your analogy, XP is one version of Windows. Windows is not dead or replaced. It has changed.

  • Ryan

    I think if DS was able to show how SW Mech Con works with SW Mech CAD we wouldn’t be even having this conversation. I was not in attendance so I can’t provide the answer. Did you see any integration with SW 2014 that shows how to get these history-less/free solids into SW to make detail drawings or how to get the unstructured assemblies into EPDM? If existing SW is the ‘Core’ then wouldn’t that workflow be paramount? That is the big question here. Wouldn’t you agree?
    BTW, I’m waiting for the for the SWITCH app…The SolidWorks I Thought Carefully Here app? 😉

  • Ryan

    I’m not trying to be sarcastic here but with all these add-on tools, why not look at NX? The investment you have in the add-on (I’m not sure) could possibly get you that NX Mach seat with integrated environment and parameters (if you need them).

  • Ryan

    Have you ever taken a good hard look at Solid Edge. It’s not the red-headed step child of Siemens anymore. A lot of the ideas that flow from SE up into NX. Let’s not forget that they have a monthly subscription. You can jump up and down on your required licenses. Need FEA for month bump up to Premium and then bump back down. Charge or hide the cost back to your customer.

  • Snowghost

    I came in fresh at NX8. Though with a couple decades of learning different CAD programs under my belt so honestly its tough for me to judge the learning curve. From what I’ve heard NX changed drastically in the last few releases. There are a few legacy tools left which I never use but they do seem kind of confusing. To me the interface is very well organized and easy to follow once you just get a few basics down. In 9 they went to a ribbon UI but thank god in true NX fashion it is completely customizable.

    We started with a solid week of professional training which was a huge help. One of the participants had been struggling to learn SWX (his first CAD experience) prior to our switch and surprisingly he thought NX was much easier to learn. I do think they’ve come a very long way with ease of use since 5.

    That being said, NX is no simple program. The menus go deeeep and a lot of the power is right on the surface with things like selection intent so I’d say the basics are a bit more than learning something like SWX. You can run it just like SWX or just like Alias though which is nice. You do have to pay more attention to what settings are active, etc. The feature previews are much nicer and very easy to read/see.

    The toughest part for me and what has taken the longest to learn has been the sketcher. I had gotten blazingly fast with SWX sketcher and the NX sketcher is way different. I’ve been using the same hotkeys for sketching for a long time now so setting those up the same was a big help but it just performs differently. I’ve started to realize the things I thought were deficiencies are actually just a better way to sketch. I will admit though that some days I miss the SWX sketcher but would still never go back.

    The assembly constraint process could use some refining. Its more like Pro-E and less like SWX. That’s the one area where I feel SWX has always been way ahead.

    A couple other wish list items but for the most part NX is just a much more professional grade package. Because of the tiny bit of extra effort required on the front-end by the user with selection intent; the models are much more robust and when things do fail the tree lights up much quicker than it would in SWX. By this I mean lights up in a good way. I think this helps reduce frustration levels with any user.

    With the right role (UI template) and the right training I’d say its just as easy to learn as anything else.

    Oh, and the command finder is awesome. You can type in command names from other programs and NX will show you the corresponding command and give a nice explanation about it. The tool tips in general are much more informative.

    And you’re absolutely right GTAC is world class support.

  • I’m still working with SolidWorks files that have embedded Excel spreadsheets in them. It’s actually the preferred method for many who I work with.

    Legacy code SolidWorks is dead as soon as Dassault can find a way to get users to start accepting SWMC and other apps built on the Enovia “backbone”.

    Jon Banquer
    CADCAM Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn

  • Ryan

    Hey, don’t forget current SW doesn’t run on XP anymore! 😉

  • Imagine if Siemens redid the NX user interface to be like the SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual browser type user interface.

    Jon Banquer
    CADCAM Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn

  • sj7007

    Siemens did. The new NX 9 User interface is now a ribbon bar just like SolidWorks.

  • Here are some videos of what SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual looks like. It’s very different than legacy code SolidWorks. No ribbon bar (It’s called a Command Bar in legacy code SolidWorks) and looks nothing like a Windows application:


    I think this type of user interface is what almost all CADCAM applications will look like in the near future.

    Jon Banquer
    CADCAM Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn

  • Peter

    Hey Josh,

    Any talk of a T-Splines modeler integrated within any of these future “apps”, such as the Industrial Design package you mentioned may come one day? Not just a viewer like tsElements, but an actual modeling tool a la Rhino? I realize this is unlikely with Autodesk’s purchase of T-Splines.


  • Lee Lloyd

    “This is just my personal opinion but I think SWX is broken and they can’t fix it. The original developers are long gone and it’s such a patchwork of other people’s technology that I don’t think it will ever get the functionality that people are asking for.”

    I find it ironic that you say this while praising Alias and Maya, seeing as how their original development team is long gone, like back before Autodesk even took over the software. I agree with most of what you say, however, I really don’t understand this all too common attitude that it is somehow an insurmountable task to update, rewrite and fix software. Companies that charge a lot less than Solidworks seem to manage it all the time. I think the issue is less a matter of the ability to do it, and more an issue of the will to do it.

    It seems pretty clear that the goal here is to turn Solidworks into a trial/eval/sales pitch for Catia. You might think that is great, and that anyone who “wants it all” should just somehow find the tens of thousands of dollars to go to NX or Catia, but personally, from almost 30 years in this industry, I have seen time and time again, those companies with the exorbitant prices all eventually end up either becoming irrelevant, or getting bought by Autodesk. If this is the way Daussault wants to go, then personally I’ll probably just go back to a Maya/Alias workflow (like I was using back in 2000), and wait a few years until the new Autodesk Catia is added to the Design Suite 😉

  • Neil

    Come on guys, the word has been put out from DS/SW – no talking about this on the street. It might upset the natives and affect shares….
    Anyway, where have you guys been, who are now complaining, over the past 3-4 years? Bit late now I’d say.

  • “Come on guys, the word has been put out from DS/SW – no talking about this on the street.”

    How’s that working out for them?



    Jon Banquer
    CADCAM Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn

  • Kevin De Smet

    Glad to see Gian Paolo Bassi is still with them.

  • Kevin Quigley

    Ryan, with respect, you clearly have no idea how costly NX is to buy into here in the UK. To get the level of package in NX that we have in SolidWorks with add ons would cost ober £16k per seat, plus (I recall) around £2700 a year subs.

    That level might work for companies like Dyson (who in reality never pay that cost as they benefit from scale) but makes it impossible for us.

    Yes, we have looked at SolidEdge. We trialled it when they were trying to switch SolidWorks users across last year. I have customer who use it as well (they bought it when it was subscription only costs). But I’m not keen on it. I don’t like the interface. The whole ST thing works only for prismatic parts – it is very easy to break. The surfacing is inferior to SolidWorks (and I’m not getting into an argument about that – for the type of work we do, it is).

    The thing is, I see SolidEdge has having the same issue as SolidWorks. It has a big brother that is more costly and more functional. There will always be a line in the sand and with SolidEdge it will be surfacing.

  • Kevin Quigley

    There is zero chance of TSplines being in anything other than an Autodesk application. But that doesn’t matter as there are numerous other T Spline like technologies out there.

  • Troy

    Catia has had it’s own T-Splines-like Sub-Division surfacing tech for a while now. If you look carefully at the screen shots shown of Industrial Conceptual, it clearly shows a Sub-Division object in one of them. So yes, that product will have something like T-Splines in it, but based on Catia technology.

  • Peter

    Thanks for the replies. My understanding is that T-splines is the only technology in which the sub-division surfaces are compatible with Nurbs (“Match” feature) which is critical for my application. Does the Catia version (or any others out there that Kevin mentioned) have this capability? Just trying to get a feel for what the sub-division modeling would be like in a future SW app if it has Catia-like technology.
    In my case, I am really looking for a package with interoperability between a parametric solid modeler, conceptual surface modeler and the technical surfacing modeler.
    If Autodesk were to integrate T-splines into Alias and/or Inventor (Rather than Fusion 360) I believe this would be the best solution for me. Even though this means transitioning from SolidWorks to Inventor, I think it would be worth it (*in my case).
    I can’t wait for SW much longer…I need the additional surfacing capabilities. Catia is not an option due to cost and the time I’d need to commit to learn.
    I’d appreciate any insight…

  • Ryan

    SWMC does have some pretty eye candy. Can you image the size of the toolbars you would end up with if Siemens adopted the look of SWMC for NX? There is just too much functional capabilities inside of NX to do that.

  • Adam

    Every major CAD system either already has or is working on a solution for this at this point. You can still use tsElements for SolidWorks (AD still supports it) and T-Splines for Rhino, and while they’ve not yet integrated it into Inventor and/or Alias, most of us think they will before too long. SolidWorks has the “PowerSurfacing” plugin for similar results, and CATIA’s “Imagine & Shape” workbench is ostensibly similar. CREO has their “Freestyle” app (though it has some serious limitations), and while Siemens hasn’t announced anything publicly yet, I’ve heard plenty of rumors. It’s really just a matter of choosing the pipeline that works for you.

    In my case, I use MODO for SubD, and export to SolidWorks using the Power SubD to NURBS export plugin. It’s a hassle, but the results are great, and MODO is a far superior SubD modeler to anything in the CAD world. I’m not recommending this workflow for most users–it’s pretty convoluted–but it works for me.

  • Ryan

    I wouldn’t say ‘just like SW’ but ‘just like Microsoft’. After all, why would a software development company want to maintain their own UI code when you can utilize the OS UI? Which maintains a tighter integration and certification. Only makes business sense to me and allows the ability to extend 3rd part add-ins directly to your toolbar or include NX directly on other toolbars.

  • Adam

    “There is just too much functional capabilities” for a clean UI? MO’ BUTTONS MO’ POWER!

    Good UI design makes complexity simple.

  • Troy

    If you’re talking about the ability to convert from the Sub-D surface to a Nurbs object, then yes, they pretty much all do that. T-Splines specifically, just refers to a particular mathematical technique to resolve some tricky situations where surfaces come together in complex ways. This helps it to convert to Nurbs more easily. But most of the other programs have their own way of doing the same thing. I currently have the Power Surfacing add-on for SolidWorks, and it converts to Nurbs surfaces perfectly.

  • Peter

    Thanks Troy. I was referring to T-Splines ability to “snap” to a reference Nurbs curve/surface while still in the Sub-D modeling mode via the “match” tool (prior to being converted to a Nurbs surface/body). I have not yet tried Power Surfacing for SW…does it have this capability?

  • Peter

    Thanks Adam…good to know.

    I guess I have a big decision ahead of me. I’ve been trying to figure out the direction I’d like to go for a while now, always hoping SW would come out with the perfect solution for me.
    I know there are a lot of other workflows as you suggested in which the final body is imported into SW. I have worked with a few of them. If/when T-splines is integrated into Inventor/Alias, I think I will finally make the plunge. I just like the clean linear workflow and the PDM integration. In the mean time I’ll check out MODO and the PowerSurfacing plugin to see how this works for me.
    Thanks again.

  • Troy

    OK, now I understand. And, no, Power Surfacing currently cannot do that, but they have discussed the possibility of maybe being able to do something like that in the future, but they are pretty vague about it. I have also heard claims that NX 9 might be able to do that, as well as Creo 3, but I have not seen any examples to back up those claims.

  • Lee Lloyd

    “My understanding is that T-splines is the only technology in which the sub-division surfaces are compatible with Nurbs (“Match” feature) which is critical for my application. Does the Catia version (or any others out there that Kevin mentioned) have this capability?”

    Actually, this is the main reason I still use Maya. Though not really designed to be a CAD program, Maya has always had the ability to convert back and forth between NURBS and SubD as a core feature of the program. The workflow is different that T-Splines, but you can convert a NURBS surface to a SubD (provided it doesn’t have any trims), work with it as SubD, and then turn it back into a NURBS surface. I do a lot of my freeform surfacing that way.

  • Neil

    …it seems quite well…other than an outbreak here and some initial tweets not a lot of dissent visible, and of course the media are all in hand.. DS tell users to bend over and take it, and they do…

  • Where you previously tried to build decent was a former SolidWorks fog blog that’s now shut down. Many SolidWorks users rejected that fog blog for very good reason. I and some others were not even allowed to post on that former SolidWorks fog blog. Some were harassed and labeled as drinkers for posting there. One was treated with so little respect that he refused to shake this former SolidWorks fog bloggers hand. I don’t blame him.

    I’ve mentioned to you several times before that you have wasted years of your time posting where you post and trying to build consensus.

    I suggest you see what’s being said on LinkedIn groups about SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual and about Dassault. One SolidWorks LinkedIn group I’m a member of has over 50,000 members. No one there that is actively posting is excited about how SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual is going to be marketed by Dassault. In addition I get a steady stream of DS/Solidworks employees who tell me privately what a nightmare it now is to work for SolidWorks and how Dassault has destroyed the company.

    Jon Banquer
    CADCAM Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn

  • Peter

    Thanks Lee. I have played around with Maya a bit and agree that the ability to work back and forth between Nurbs and SubD is awesome. It is surprising that it is not used that much in the CAD/product-design world. However Maya does not(yet) have T-splines(or a similar technology) where you can snap a SubD surface to a Nurbs curve/surface prior to converting (see my reply to Troy below). This is such an awesome feature when needing to design around engineering hard-points.

  • Lee Lloyd

    The reason no one uses Maya for CAD goes back to the early days of Maya. Early on, Alias decided to pull all the really advanced NURBS features, because it was cannibalizing Alias sales. Ever since then, there has been a conscious effort to keep Maya CAD crippled.

    As far as the use you are talking about, the way I deal with it in Maya, is I start as NURBS, making a loft that is snapped to the geometry I want to connect to, get the tangency and everything how I want it, insert an extra isoparm near the edge to maintain the tangency, then convert that to a SubD. It will stay aligned. Then I reshape it as a SubD, making sure not to touch the last two edge loops at the joining edge, and when I have the shape like I want it, convert back to NURBS.

    It isn’t as quick and easy as just snapping, but it gets you the same results 95% of the time, and if any cleanup is needed, it is pretty easy to get two NURBS surfaces to line up like you want.

  • Lee Lloyd

    Although ignore everything I said, because as far as I can tell (just checking) the NURBS>SubD>NURBS workflow in Maya 2014 is now completely broken.

  • Peter

    Thanks Lee, that is a super-helpful reply. I have not spent a lot of time in Maya and do not have a procedure down yet. At this point I am mostly trying to envision the ideal future-workflow for me. Before Autodesk’s purchase of T-splines I was thinking Maya/Alias/Inventor combination would be the answer. Now I am hoping I can cut out Maya, and just use Alias/Inventor with integrated T-Splines .

    Your suggested approach makes a lot of sense. I will try to tackle a simple model in Maya with this method.

  • Peter

    Whoops, missed this post while I was responding to the last…
    Oh ya, what changed?

  • Neil

    I would say it is highly likely OnShape will present you something just as O shaped as DS. Not something worth waiting for IMO.

  • Neil

    I have a hunch that man hug is about worn off.. 😉

  • Josh M

    I prefer no toolbars in SolidWorks personally. All s-key and mouse gestures for me.

  • Lee Lloyd

    Ok this is going to take just a bit to explain, so bear with me. The short version is that technically the method I mentioned still functions properly, but due to display issues, it requires so many steps, that it is a real pain now.

    The long version goes back in Maya history quite a bit (I’ve been using it since it was a beta advance release back in the Alias|Wavefront days, so I’ve seen the change from the beginning). Originally, Maya had three types of geometry, NURBS, Pixar SubD and Poly, back when it was literally the only program on the market that licensed and supported Pixar’s original SubD implementation. Somewhere along the way (I don’t remember what version), they added meshsmooth, which is what the rest of the industry was calling SubD, but is really just a smoothing (NURMS) applied to a poly cage, not a true multi-level Catmull–Clark subdivision surface. However, as smoothed meshes came to be what the industry considered “SubDs” Maya supported the feature.

    The previous workflow centered around the fact that it is very easy to convert between Pixar SubD and NURBS. However, in the most recent version, Autodesk has depreciated Pixar SubDs, and promoted NURMS, and provided no direct NURMS to NURBS conversion tool. What this means, is that while the functionality is still there to convert from NURBS to SubD, and SubD to NURBS, the resulting Pixar SubD doesn’t display properly, and none of the advanced poly editing tools will work with the SubD. This means instead that you have to convert from NURBS to Poly (using the Control Point conversion option), then smooth the poly, work with it in NURMS mode (3 on the keyboard), then when you get it where you want it, convert that to SubD, and then convert the SubD to NURBS.

    It works, and I suppose is easier than having to jump to multiple programs, but is nowhere near as smooth and nice a transition as it used to be.

  • Why would that be, Neil?

    This blog have always been exceptionally well run and moderated, unlike the highly censored former SolidWorks fog blog that you put the majority of your time into and that no longer exists.

    Jon Banquer
    CADCAM Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn

  • Adam

    Okay guys, simmer down now. Any more of this and we’ll start moderating.

  • Peter

    Lee, thanks for the great, detailed reply…
    The quest for a clean workflow with all the capability continues…

  • Currently discussing the interoperability problem between SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual and legacy code SolidWorks with a principal software engineer
    who has worked for SolidWorks for 17 years.

    I’ve pointed out a solution exists to solve this problem:

    Here is a link for anyone who is interested:


    Jon Banquer
    CADCAM Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn

  • Lee Lloyd

    To be fair, what has been working really well for me lately, and why I hadn’t notice the changes in the new Maya, is doing all my design work in Maya, leaving NURBS and smoothed meshes as their native geometry, then exporting all the NURBS as IGES, exporting all the meshes as FBX, bringing them into SW (I have the Power Surfacing plugin), and then doing all my trims, fillets, chamfers and CAM in Solidworks.

    Of course, as this whole discussion shows, that workflow might not be available for much longer.

  • Anon

    Actually there is a “Command Manager” bar, it’s at the bottom and hides ala the auto-hide taskbar option in Windows. But it does seem there is a focus on contextual menus based more on what you pick in the modeling window. The videos also show a breadcrumb like ‘featureManager’ above the command manager bar and the classic FMT is usually hidden. Looks like they have a pretty face on Catia.

  • I really like contextual menus. To me it’s a much more logical and efficient process than having to hunt and find the right toolbar button and then click on it. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of interaction with menus in SWMC. I think all CADCAM products should use this approach.

    Jon Banquer
    CADCAM Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn

  • Just love SolidWorks s-key. Brilliant. Could not live without it. I asked Missler Software to do this for TopSolid 7. Not sure if it will be available in 7.8 or not. Missler Software has spent the last year trying to become as impossible to deal with as Dassault and they have done an excellent job. : ( If this kind of behavior keeps up maybe I’ll change my last name to one that’s less French sounding. Maybe I should start now.

    Jon Easton
    CADCAM Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn

  • Here is a typical example of just how bad Dassault is
    at communicating with SolidWorks users. This was pointed out to me by
    DS/SolidWorks employee Matthew West when I complained on Twitter about
    no private cloud offering for SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual.


    “For the first release, hosting is only available via our Dassault
    Systemes cloud infrastructure. Hosting on a private cloud behind your
    company’s firewall is not possible with this release, but may be in the
    future. We will deliver an on-premesis version in the future.”

    There is no excuse with how long SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual has
    been delayed for a private cloud version not being available right out
    of the gate.

    I think it’s very unfair that Dassault makes DS/Solidworks employees
    clean up the mess that Dassault top level management makes.

    Jon Banquer
    CADCAM Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn

  • James Hunt

    I don’t know what is the purpose behind turning Solidworks into facebookCAD. Do we really need google sketchup with chat for a software mainly used by medium to small companies?. Do we really need to do stuff twice just because they are trying to rent us the V6 square peg to our “legacy” round hole?

    For us, people who devoted hefty hours to SW, this is a three stoges’ slap on the face.

  • ion

    Second world users creating first world products while consuming third world products, let me 3d print my rice bowl and get in line.

  • Lee Lloyd

    It has always been strange to me how little cross-pollination there is between 3D content creation tools and CAD programs. I would have thought by now the Maya Hotbox and context sensitive menus, as well as freeform node based layouts for complex components and assemblies would have become standard in all 3D programs. But while they had a huge influence on the DCC side, not so much in the CAD world.

  • Mark Young

    As an Inventor user, I watched the video for Mechanical Conceptual and was really jealous!

    But the price….not so much.

  • I’ve always felt that there should be a lot more of what you call “cross-pollination”. Not just with programs but with the people who use the programs.

    I definitely think node based layouts are underutilized in CADCAM. I discuss one program (Edgecam) on my LinkedIn group frequently that uses node based editing for making machining strategy decisions. I think it’s a brilliant idea.

    Jon Banquer
    CADCAM Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn

  • Jeff Mowry

    Wow, what a lively discussion to be late to join! Interesting to see so many shiny, happy opinions of the SW/Dassault business model. Wearing thin, perhaps?

    Pricing is something that seems to have run completely out of hand with all the new SW-related ventures. Darts on a wall that ALL happen to hit far too high. Seriously, how is Mechanical Conceptual worth as much—every year—as a new seat of core SolidWorks? Does anyone remember n!Fuze? (Anyone?) If so, do you remember the asking price for using it? Darts on the wall… The value of a given solution, for the price, is completely out of touch with the loads of small design houses out there where SolidWorks fits so well. That means none of them will buy it. It’s about VALUE—cost per benefit—and nothing else. Small solution, small price. Big solution, big price. If the tool doesn’t pay for itself, it’s impossible for a business to justify its purchase. But I’ve said all this before.

    Instability/unpredictability keeps me from trying out current versions (and those of most of the shops/vendors/clients I work with), so I don’t have much capacity to comment even on v2014 (other than it crashed incessantly during the roll-out demo—embarrassing). Some of the new items look cool, and I can really use the variety of conics-based stuff. I just hope it all works when I do.

    Just as huge monitors become cheap, SolidWorks moves to a clunky ribbon interface (as if screen space is now at a premium). I understand many people like this. I do not. Point-Click is faster—always—than Point-Click-Click-Repoint-Click. So I still have toolbars everywhere and shun the ribbon. Muscle memory and keyboard commands! Efficient. Microsoft is still reeling from years of “Hey, let’s change the interface all around just because we can.” The only people who remember Windows 8 are those unfortunate enough to have been forced to use it to accomplish real work. Do they have two teams of people for their operating systems? I’m guessing one crew was responsible for ME, Vista, and 8.

    Negative again. Darn. That happens a lot lately. I’ll close with this: SolidWorks is still the best overall CAD package I can find. I’ve seen some impressive things from SolidEdge (yes, even the surfacing), and will keep an eye on their wares. But in the meantime, I still begrudgingly shell out the “maintenance” costs year after year, put the new software on the shelf for the ten-month waiting period, and plug along. But I do it begrudgingly, because this can all be done so much better than it is now.

    Perhaps if I could speak French fluently I’d be able to discipher the odd use of words when making marketing announcements? It seems so easy to remain con!fuzed on the direction of SolidWorks. Why not simply communicate clearly?

  • Troy

    Thank you!! As I have been contemplating all of this even more, I came to the very same conclusion…VALUE! I was working on a post to that effect, but you beat me to it.

    Anyone remember WHY SolidWorks became so successful in the first place?

    Yep, that’s right, VALUE!

    At the time it came along, SolidWorks offered most of the main functionality people needed, was easier to use, and offered clear productivity gains, all for a lower price! And that’s the real equation that equals VALUE! And that’s why SolidWorks took over the market.

    But now, SolidWorks/Dassualt (and pretty much all of the other CAD companies too) have started equating value as how much ancillary add-on functionality they can bundle in with it for a certain price. But that’s the wrong equation! That’s not what real value is.

  • Troy

    Hey Adam,

    I forgot that not too long ago you actually posted an entire article that is basically all about this exact point.


    Seems even more relevant than ever now, especially the comments.

  • Snowghost

    From what I’ve seen NX9 is not a licensed MS UI ?? It is way more customizable. Making it look like SWMC would be a tragedy. It is already a very well organized and functional UI. The default layouts (pre-9) are a little cluttered but the customization is all there. I have plenty of room around the border of my main monitor for icons. Those are the tools I use least often. My most used commands are all marking menus and shortcut keys which I was able to set up very similar to my SWX and Alias settings.

    I believe Creo is a licensed MS UI. That’s why you can have any background color you like, as long as its bright white.

  • Pete Yodis

    I think what a lot of the discussion is pointing to here is the need for a market disrupter to do 2 things… lower the cost of CAD compared to the big boys and provide a one stop shop for all the functionality that users could want in a scalable way.
    I personally think the disrupter will use the Saas model, predominately because the costs will absolutely be lower to the users when you consider up-front software purchase, hardware purchases, installations, upgrades, testing upgrades, hardware for data management, configuring data management, testing data management before upgrades, subscription fees, etc… For all the reasons some give as to not allowing their data out of their walls, I think in the end the cost advantage of a Saas solution will make users cave to letting their data exist outside their 4 walls.
    I do not think an established major CAD company will be the one to do it right. That will be like suicide to them and their investors. It will take an outsider to do it right. I’ve been messing around with Lagoa recently. I think the CAD world needs someone like a Lagoa to shake things up.
    I plan on watching the Saas space, and consider paying/or not paying SolidWorks subscription. Dassault is clearly bungling things really bad now. For a company invested in SolidWorks and EPDM, what choice do we have at the moment?

  • Josh M

    I don’t even think it’s saas repackaged cad that will shake things up. What is that changing? It keeps everyone on the latest version sure, but there are definite disadvantages in cost for bandwidth with high-usage users and in offsite storage for access with throttled connections.

    These companies continue to ‘innovate’ around separating the parts of the design process. What’s going to shake up the CAD world is bringing them together, not through pop-up messaging, but, well, a ‘constructor’ of sorts that brings product development process together in a simultaneous operation.

    Baby steps I suppose, So, if the existing cad software companies, with their established user base, do offer a cloud version of sorts, it would be a way to compliment their software and offer additional capabilities. This is SolidWorks+SWMC to an extent, but again, separating the processes and did I mention the cost? I mentioned the cost yeah? 😉

  • Neil

    > Dassault is clearly bungling things really bad now
    Well I think its better to say they have bungled way back to about 2006 and now is the time we have a well polished bungle set in front of us to consider for purchase.

  • Pete Yodis

    Something like Saas is going to lower the COST to the user dramatically when you consider all of the costs with today’s CAD software. The bandwidth will only get better as time goes on, so that becomes less of an issue for many as time goes forward. Offsite storage is the biggest mental barrier to users today, but I think that will change because the cost to use a Saas system will be low enough for people to put off their objections.
    The established companies can’t lower their costs, because it would be death to them. Dassault is running in the other direction. They are attempting to price something new with the SolidWorks moniker that is twice the yearly price with not as much functionality. So I have to keep SolidWorks AND add SWMC? As you said, did I mention the cost??? That’s because this is the new Catia on the Enovia backbone. There will be more modules from them that cost just as much or more, and we’ll still be shaking our heads.

  • Troy

    Paying for Software as a Service I don’t think is really the main issue (at least not to me). It’s the DATA being offsite on someone elses computer, and I don’t have a local copy saved on my own machine. I think that’s what makes a lot of people nervous. Adobe is doing SaaS just fine without forcing your data to be stored somewhere else. You have to be connected online to use and pay for the software, but the program and all files you create with it stay on your own machine. Somebody else already asked why DS didn’t roll out at least a local installed cloud right from the start. They already mentioned in their 3D Experience conference back in Nov. that they already had this capability. So why did they choose to announce the release of this without this capability?

    I agree that it’s probably going to take a new company to shake things up by doing it all the right way, which none of these older companies seem to be able to figure out how to do.

    And it really is more about business decisions, not technical ones. Like Josh seems to be alluding to, it comes down to packaging the “parts” of the design process together that makes more sense and creates a better value equation, like I was trying to get at below.

  • Neil

    Ok so Josh found my last post too radical for comfort..
    I’ll try this one instead –

    One idea might be for users to see if they can put together a deal for the Chinese to buy Solidworks run out of the US. Why be passive victums of DS bad management? The Chinese will be happy to get rid of US dollars for a decent technology asset, users will be happy to see the back of DS, who don’t understand their customers and will always limit development in favour of their own Catia, and DS will come away with something of value when they don’t know what to do but perceive SW to be at the top and in decline.

  • Josh M


  • Josh M

    O_o You’ve been soaking in the rice paddy too long my friend.

  • Neil

    I’m being serious Josh, users need to help themselves. DS have shown they can’t run SW. Its ripe for someone else to take SW over and before it gets completely ruined.

  • Neil

    ..and besides, if DS assume they can rent-seek their customers, it seems fair and reasonable that customers should go ahead and arrange to sell the company form under DS doesn’t it? 😀

  • For a company invested in SolidWorks and EPDM, what choice do we have at the moment?

    You can always switch to Inventor/Vault like we did…oh wait…hold that thought.

  • “It’s the DATA being offsite on someone elses computer, and I don’t have a local copy saved on my own machine. I think that’s what makes a lot of people nervous”

    The only area where I think Autodesk did it right, with PLM360. Data management on the cloud; the actual data on your own servers, the two systems integrated and linked.

  • Neil

    Ok so I had a moment to rough out an advert to test the waters. What do you think?https://forum.solidworks.com/servlet/JiveServlet/download/407653-106895/new%20owner%20search.png

  • Josh M

    Makes no sense. Unless you’re talking about sw users jumping ship to another product, forcing them to change or sell.

  • Neil

    You disappoint me Josh. Humour aside users could have avoided these circumstances if they had done something other than just sit there waiting, and they could still.
    US readers might like to consider the probable loss of the reserve currency status or a substantial devaluation that may well make 3000 seem like 6000…
    The only recourse for DS now to get users to adopt Catia lite in the cloud would seem to be to set a date for the withdrawal of SW. That seems like commercial suicide but with this quality of management you never know…

  • Pete Yodis

    For everyone “nervous” about their data not being onsite….
    Where do you keep your money, and where does your company do its banking. Do you keep your money under your mattress? Does your company?
    Why do we trust our money to the “cloud”, but not the data?
    What is it about that, that is different. Do you think keeping data in your facility is safer than keeping it with a company like, Amazon, Google, or Microsoft?

  • Troy

    See my full comment on the other topic here:

    But the gist of it is this:

    …it’s the clients my company does business with that have the issue.

    The design firm I work for does business with mostly all fortune 500 type big companies, and several of them are so secretive about the design projects that they require us to never use email, and to even encrypt the project folders on our own computers that we are working on. Then destroy all of the files when the project is over! These companies would never allow their design data to be hosted somewhere out on the cloud that they do not have total control over. This is the issue that nobody, not even Jon Hirschtick, seem to be taking seriously enough. Especially with all of the revelations these days about how
    much data of all sorts from all places is being compromised all the time. There needs to be a major revolution in security understanding and security guarantees to make
    these “secretive” super competitive corporations feel more at ease, otherwise it’s a no go, no matter how cool and advantageous the cloud might be.

    And banking is full of insurance, regulation, and oversight, or at least it’s supposed to. That is what is supposed to make people feel more secure about doing banking. Even if all of that has been failing in recent times. But even if something happens, you can still sue. But in the cloud, and relating to IP security, these sorts of things are less figured out, and that is what is making people nervous, and why I said there needs to be a major revolution in both understanding, and regulation.

    Do you trust Google? Apple? Microsoft? Amazon? Which one do you trust the most, or least?

  • Pete Yodis

    I won’t say that CAD in the cloud or CAD as a Saas, will make everyone happy. I see things splitting into two camps. I think most of your customers would keep plodding away with what you are doing now. The other camp will be keen to move to it and pick up the efficiencies. The first camp might eventually change their minds if they fall behind.
    Regarding who I trust…. I’d pick anyone of them over my IT department. It would be really easy to get data out of this facility. I think it would be true for most other smaller companies.

  • Troy

    I think, perhaps a little irrationally, that it really comes down to business relationship trust. It goes like like this: Our company wins business from a new client by getting to know them (and them us) and building a trusting business relationship. They say, OK, here you go now, please help design this for us, because we now trust you to do a good job. But what if we then say, OK but we are going to put all of your design data out on cloud servers. Then the new client says, Oh No! We have a relationship with you, not that other company you want to let hang on to our design data. We know you and trust you to keep our design data safe and confidential. But we don’t know or trust that other company you want to entrust with our data, and besides, that’s not your decision to make on our behalf.

    That’s where I really see the dilemma, and where I think there is going to be a major hurdle that will have to be dealt with in the near future. Even if from a technology point of view, the cloud servers are more secure than any internal IT department. It’s still going to be an issue that has to be dealt with head on.

  • Neil

    I’ve pulled a lot of my money out of the system and parked it in physical gold and silver presently. People who think they have retirement savings are probably wrong. I definitely don’t trust bankers to look after my money and neither do I trust others to look after my data.

  • Pete Yodis

    I think I agree that the issue is one of perception and FUD. I think it will get dealt with when companies realize how much their FUD is costing them compared to other organizations that are unbridled by that. Things are usually settled because of the money involved.

  • Pete Yodis

    I would think that would not be the most efficient in the long run. Why not let them house the data for you, but provide a backup set of your data locally. That way working with the data is faster….and you still can have the data backed up to your site…just in case. Or is it still the issue of security?

  • Ryan

    Yes, you are correct. I got hold of my one of the product managers and NX utilizes a flavor of the MS UI. The MS UI wasn’t flexible enough for the CAD environment.

  • Ryan

    FDIC and the $100K insurance policy.

  • Curtis Rasmussen

    What happens if your SWMC subscription lapses? Does that mean you are cut off from your own data?

  • Curtis Rasmussen

    I wonder how cloud storage will work with classified information or ITAR. The host might decide they can make more money by relocating their servers to a foreign country, a huge no-no for ITAR.

    Hacking bank accounts is one thing, but hacking defense data that could be turned around and used against us is quite something else. I’d like to see a thorough analysis of the issues with cloud storage.

    Sorry for being late to the game.

  • Josh M

    Not at all, you make a great point. There’s a basic level of security cloud companies are addressing, but they’re going to need to get very specific about how data is stored. One court case could severely cripple a company where data is compromised.

  • Skud

    what if you are doing DOD work where the data can NEVER be on a cloud?

  • James Passmore

    For what it’s worth, I was speaking to an unnamed upper manager at SolidWorks a few months ago, and there are a few things I learned relevant to this article. First, they are also planning on releasing a designer focused tool similar to this one, called Design Conceptual (if my memory is right. It may have been Product Conceptual or something similar). It will feature sub-d modeling capabilities (!) and more Rhino-like surfacing tools (not his words, but that’s still the impression I got). While I don’t think SW is dead, there is a lot of re-org going on at Dassault and they do plan on making it part of an interlocking family of products. Long-term there will be part history interoperability between the the various tools, and SW will remain the “hub” application. At least this is their current goal.
    We also had a long conversation about Autodesk 360, and the impression I got was the popularity of this really caught them off-guard. They are definitely considering doing something similar, but are far from really knowing just what they want to do or what shape this should take. They do know they need to do something though, even if it does go against their traditional approach. I’m curious to see what changes they will roll out in the next few years. There will definitely be some. While I don’t think SW is dead, and I don’t think that is their goal, I do think they will take a path that will let them move away from it if it comes to that.
    I was very disappointed to see the price of Mechanical Conceptual, even though it does look like a decent tool. This should be a $100 a month product, tops. Dassault does it again….

  • samscholes

    SOLIDWORKS told me there
    is no way to save out every file automatically. You would need to export every
    file manually as a 3DXML file.

  • samscholes

    Jon, you make some great points about SOLIDWORKS Conceptual Design and SOLIDWORKS Industrial Design. The products were renamed at SOLIDWORKS World 2015 by the way. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform is exciting but the cost, the lack of interoperability with existing SOLIDWORKS 3D CAD, and the confusing social access are problematic. I hope SOLIDWORKS is working on some significant changes.

  • samscholes

    I asked SOLIDWORKS exactly the same question when I was at corporate in Waltham. Here is what they told me:

    No, there is no way for customers to store their data themselves. All data is stored in the cloud. Data is stored in data servers around the world and hosted depending on the location of the customer to optimize data retrieval speeds.All data is securely encrypted and there are no actual files, everything is
    stored in a database structure.

    They went on to explain that the reason it is not possible is because the 3DEXPERIENCE platform is based on their ENOVIA product. To host your own SOLIDWORKS Conceptual Design software you’d have to run your own ENOVIA system which would be very costly.

    I agree with you that not offering a private hosting capability seems like a big mistake.

  • samscholes

    Then you can’t use these products.

  • Adam

    Or, at the very least, a nuclear option for downloading all of your data if things go south.

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