SolidWorks World Conference is never without excitement and new announcements. The General Sessions are always used as the platform to announce exciting future offerings and spark conversation among attendees. This year, SolidWorks ramped up the excitement by kicking off day one with the cloud-based, platform-agnostic SolidWorks version (unsure of the official name or release date), day two with James Cameron and day 3 with the sneak peak of SolidWorks 2011. A final announcement of a new SolidWorks PLM tool called SolidWorks PDS which stands for Product Data Sharing was also debuted with a promise delivery around the time of the 2011 product line.
SolidWorks PDS aims to address a group of users that fall into the category "Version-management challenged", which in my approximation would be about 70% or more of the user base. SolidWorks currently has two products in the PDM space, Workgroup and Enterprise PDM, that give small to large groups a good spread of document and process centric control of engineering project data. I have talked about the importance of data management with parametric CAD before but there are still a very large number of users whose companies do not have a system in place that addresses the issues of references and associativity within the CAD data.
SolidWorks PDS is built on the Enovia V6 cloud framework and brings the benefits of centralized storage, workspace control, sharing access levels, as well as 3 main platforms (SolidWorks TaskPane, web-client, and mobile platforms). PDS utilizes the essential aspects of PDM, simplifing deployment by not requiring any IT infrastructure setup and focuses on automatic version control and data sharing. Files are worked on locally and uploaded/shared to the cloud, enabling users to comment and share files as easy as sharing photos on FaceBook. Users would then have the power to create their own engineering communities, share data quickly and ensure that versions are maintained and backed up off site.
I see this as a tool for those users without a PDM system in place, however SolidWorks PDS might act as the collaboration mechanism for SolidWorks PDM packages in the future. This might be the first step for SolidWorks enterinig back to the 3D TeamWorks days of hosted services (SaaS) and I believe the time is right. ~Lou