Funny thing, these 3D CAD user interfaces. I figured I’d spare you any 2008/09 SolidWorks interface opinions and show you what the other CAD companies are doing. It looks like some are getting a little inspiration from each other, but really it just the onslaught of Ribbon bar bliss brought about by Microsoft and their Office 2007 program interfaces.

Think about it, how much can you really do with a the top left corner of a CAD program? Here’s the three – SpaceClaim, Siemens SolidEdge and AutoDesk Inventor.

SpaceClaim has been out a while with this interface, SolidEdge got revamped with the Synchronous Technology (ST) version and AutoDesk is getting ready to bring forth the ribbon bar wrath with an Inventor 2009 update.

Microsoft Office 2007

SpaceClaim, SolidEdge, and Inventor

A ‘Cleaner’ SolidEdge Ribbon (Courtesy of Mark Burhop)

Mark Burhop, a developer for SolidEdge, seems to think the ribbon bar provides productivity. Ralph Grabowski of WorldCAD Access seems to think it provides confusion. I would tend to side with Ralph. I love new interfaces and seeing better ways to use programs, but I found it strange when I didn’t like, in Office 2007, how commands were grouped in the ribbon bar, how much space they took up and changing tabs.

What do you think? Is it good business practice to create a UI similar to a Microsoft product? SolidWorks kind of has a ribbon bar too, although it differs quite a bit from the Office 2007 layout, the concept is the same… I have it turned off. Why did the CAD companies decide to go this direction? I know I’m extremely glad Adobe and Firefox, the two other most frequent programs I use, have chosen not to imitate the form of programmatic interaction determined by Microsoft.


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.