So there are a few things you won’t see in SolidWorks 2010. No big deal? Well, another one of those things is no CATIA-SolidWorks translation.

Jeff Ray, CEO of SolidWorks, commented in a recent interview with Ralph Grabowski that, “Customers are fed up with not being able to share data between Catia and SolidWorks.” Are you? If not, you may be after you see the following, and you may not even care about CATIA translation. Deelip Menezes reveals the game being played by Dassault and why the users, are the big losers.

The Dassault Systemes Joke

Why is it a joke? Because other CAD companies that can translate CATIA data are actually laughing. Deelip lays out the reason too. He knows what’s going on, because his company SYCODE creates the largest amount of Data Exchange solutions you could ever imagine. Read the entire post and comments to see just how much of a joke this is. Here are the highlights:

  • Spatial, another company owned by Dassault Systemes, has a product called 3D InterOp.
  • 3D InterOp’s CATIA reader reads CATIA files and creates corresponding ACIS entities.
  • all [SoldiWorks] needs to do is license the CATIA component of 3D InterOp from Spatial and SolidWorks will be able to get rich 2D and 3D content (not just dumb solids) from CATIA files
  • Dassault Systems allows Spatial to offer its CATIA libraries to companies like SpaceClaim, IronCAD and KeyCreator among others.
  • the only MCAD software that cannot read CATIA files is SolidWorks.
  • Even Adobe Acrobat Pro Extended, a software that is not even a CAD system, can read CATIA files.

The Reality is Sooooo Sad

That last point is real. I use Adobe Acrobat 3D to not only open and view CATIA files (large ones I might add) but I also use it to convert them to a Parasolid format that can be read by SolidWorks. I also use SpaceClaim to do the same thing and that works even smoother. So, why do SolidWorks users need a translator if they can just use other tools? Maybe we’re just freakin’ out for nothing and it’s just a small minority raising a ruckus for nothing.

The real annoyance is simple. To the users, SolidWorks and CATIA are the same company and it doesn’t makes sense that CATIA works better with other 3D platforms. Jeff finished his Ralph finished Jeff’s thought above by saying, ‘At some point, a translator will be delivered.’ Why would he say that?

Matt Lombard asks in a related post, “is Jeff Ray just trying to dance a political tight rope by expressing real customer frustration while lighting a small fire under Dassault?” – My hope, yes. I’m one of the frustrated customers. I know others who are. Fire lit Dassault. Your freakin’ move.

Update:A message I received mentioned the difference between a ‘Translator’ and ‘Native Interoperability’ – they are indeed two very different things when you get down to it. Translation simply bring geometry in. Bringing in a Native file with features, PIM and sketches is just that. My thought, translation would due at the very least. There would be wild fanfare for native interoperability. Either way, Dassault is capable of allowing either or both.

Image via Flickr


Josh is founder and editor at, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.