SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual aka SWV6 at SWW13


Today Fielder Hiss took the main stage at SolidWorks World and revealed a new product that will be delivered from Dassault Systemes to focus on the conceptual design process.  A few things we know after this morning...

  • It is built on the "3DExperience Platform"
  • It is focused on conceptual design (thus the  intuitive name?, looks like they are taking after Microsoft in the marketing department)
  • Will be able to move the concept over to SolidWorks for further design completion
  • Appears to have modeling and assembly capabilities.
  • Design process starts in a similar layout sketch feature with associative nature (like layout sketches in SolidWorks)
  • Has integrated version management for keeping track of concepts (looked similar to snapshots in LDR in SolidWorks combined with a similar swapping capability of that in SolidWorks configurations.
  • Will perform Simulation
  • Has integrated Chat
  • Has screen sharing
  • History-based and Direct Editing
  • Can share to private collaboration social platform (like posting screen shots and markups with threaded discussions)
  • Will be available on Mobile

There was no use of the word "Cloud" which leads me to believe they learned their lesson back in 2010, however they did mention that it was "always connected".  The product appears to be installed locally (maybe a lightweight framework) with its data populated from DS own servers.  They also mentioned the ability to save state in order to address the instance of connectivity unexpectedly disconnecting so data stability in in tact.

There were no bits on pricing or how anyone would pay for it but they are going to be finding customers that would like to try it out for production., which they described as a test case and not a "beta test".  Although that sounds like semantics, this is DS asking for direct input which is very positive.  

Once this private test is complete, DS will open this up for public trials in October/ November this year.  I have heard this before with products like Live Buildings and the original SolidWorks V6 platform since 2010.  The only part of today that makes me think they might be aggressive in their attempts to meet meet those dates was the amount of detail they showed.  Unlike 3 years ago, this looked like a product that could be used and not a technical trial and vision product that they got working on stage in Anaheim.

I am sure more details will come out over the next couple of days but so far this looks like a pretty feature-rich tool but hands on with actual users will tell the truth.  More to come soon... ~Lou

"SolidWorks V6": The ChromeOS of CAD?

I've been thinking a lot about State-less computing since I recorded Episode 312 on State-less CAD, especially since I have been living in Google Apps, Chrome Browser and Google's Chrome OS for over a year now.  One of the parallels in the CAD market is Cloud-based CAD, which has gotten more press than it deserves at this point in the technology stage but there is an aspect I believe seems to be overlooked.

Let's take Google for example.  They launch a browser that is limited at first but very fast and grows it into a huge player in the browser market.  On the success of the Chrome desktop browser Google announces a new operating system called ChromeOS, which builds on the speed aspect of it's desktop counterpart and positioned as a fast, secure and state-less system that complements your computing needs.  That is the part that some seem to miss, complement.  Google is not trying to get you to ditch your desktop in hopes to only use ChromeOS. I believe they understand there are situations where you will still need the desktop and through sync they can move your settings from ChromeOS to the desktop's Chrome browser and vice versa.  This provides a cheap, lightweight, portable solution to access your data from anywhere you have a connection.  Now this is not to say that 5 years from now when connection speeds are 5 times what they are today and connectivity is ubiquitous that people won't ditch their attachment to desktop applications, although less likely for the masses.  This type of shift will probably be more a generational position as opposed to technological limitation.

Now think about what SolidWorks announced last year at SolidWorks World 2010.  That was a peek of what everyone has collectively nicknamed "SolidWorks V6" which showed a CAD application delivered via the Internet (SaaS).  After first glance the consensus was that this was going to be replacing SolidWorks as we knew it, ditching the locally installed desktop application.  In response, the following week in a blog post, SolidWorks outlined the technology that was previewed and ensured customers that the desktop version of SolidWorks was here to stay for the long haul and there was now two solutions for customers to choose from. 

Personally I think "SolidWorks V6" could follow a roadmap similar to the one Google is taking with ChromeOS. Let's say that SWV6 ships and is offered as a complementary product to the desktop version at first, allowing the early adopters to take hold and see where they need to draw the line for usage. SolidWorks on the desktop can continue to be the place were a majority of time is spent but when collaboration or mobile design is necessary, data could be then accessible from SWV6 for those operations.  This would obviously require the files to be bi-directional or use the same file format so data translation is not an issue for this symbiotic relationship.  As releases go by, features are added to both systems, growing their capability as technology allows and elevating SWV6 to a product that could replace the desktop version of SolidWorks as we know it today.  Jeff Ray had said that "If anyone is going to kill SolidWorks, we should be the ones to do it!"

There are a number of options/features/speculations to how the two platforms could work together for the near term and as connection speeds, performance technology and cloud-based user adoption increases, a decision could be made to pick one platform over another.  Personally this is how I use Microsoft Office and Google Docs.  They both work with each other but I do about 95% of my office documents on Google now and only a very few situations require me to use the desktop versions of Microsoft Office today.  The benefits of having my data centrally located, easily sharable and have the ability to collaborate or publish my content has made the hosted solution a more attraction option for my use case.

Since there seems to still be so many unknowns to all the questions that users will have to the hosted offering, one thing is certain, SolidWorks is not going to throw one platform out to replace it with another.  However, maybe there will come a day when the desktop version is no longer as appealing to the masses and no longer worth supporting but I believe that will also be generational. I am anxious to hear more details outlining "SolidWorks V6" at this year's SolidWorks World 2011. ~Lou