A Sick Dassault Systemes Joke

In his interview with Ralph Grabowski, SolidWorks CEO, Jeff Ray said “Customers are fed up with not being able to share data between CATIA and SolidWorks. At some point, a translator will be delivered.” This, ladies and gentlemen, is a sick Dassault Systemes joke, one which I have deliberately not gone into detail on this blog until today. I did not do so mainly due to the fact that SYCODE is a SolidWorks Solution Partner and I wanted to keep it that way. But now seeing Jeff’s frustration I think it is safe enough for me to let SolidWorks customers know exactly how sick this joke is.

Spatial, another company owned by Dassault Systemes, has a product called 3D InterOp. Its product datasheet reads: “Spatial’s InterOp CATIA V5 Reader and Writer use native CATIA libraries from Dassault Systèmes, Spatial’s parent company, to provide unparalleled accuracy in translation“. This page on the 3D InterOp Wiki adds, “No separate licenses of CATIA V5 are required for using this translator“. Basically, 3D InterOp’s CATIA reader reads CATIA files and creates corresponding ACIS entities. Not only does it convert CATIA solids to ACIS solids but it also converts sketches, axis systems, materials, annotations, dimensions, manufacturing data for holes and even PMI data in CATIA files to corresponding ACIS entities. And why not? It uses the authentic libraries from Dassault Systemes, not some reverse engineered third party libraries.

SolidWorks already licenses ACIS from Spatial, not just the component to read and write SAT files, but the kernel itself (spaacis.dll) along with a few advanced components like Blending (spaablend.dll), Local Operations (spaalops.dll), Space Warping (spaawarp.dll), etc. So all it 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 with “unparallelled accuracy”. And since 3D InterOp can also writes CATIA files we have a complete solution to a problem that Jeff Ray claims has made his customers “fed up”. Ironically, this solution existed years ago.

Interestingly, SolidWorks can read and write CATIA Graphics (.CGR) files. CGR files contain the visualization (mesh) information of a solid which is pretty much useless for solid modeling, just like STL or any other mesh format. The point to be noted here is that the CGR read/write feature is wrapped in a DLL called sldcgrru.dll which is a SolidWorks DLL. This DLL makes calls catviz.dll, a Dassault Systemes DLL, which actually does the reading and writing of CGR files.

This means that Dassault Systemes does not mind sharing its CGR read/write library with SolidWorks, but is not letting them come anywhere close to the library which reads and writes .CATPart and .CATProduct files, the files that contain the CATIA solids and other useful data. And neither is Dassault Systemes allowing SolidWorks to license the CATIA component of 3D InterOp from sibling Spatial. Because if they were then Jeff Ray would have licensesd 3D InterOp years ago and would not have had the problem of  “fed up” customers trying to do a half ass job sharing data with CATIA using neutral formats like IGES and STEP.

But if you think the joke on SolidWorks and its customers ends there, there is more. Dassault Systems allows Spatial to offer its CATIA libraries to companies like SpaceClaim, IronCAD and KeyCreator among others. Not to mention that Solid Edge, Inventor, Pro/ENGINEER (using ATB) and NX can read CATIA files by themselves or though some third party library.

So if I understand this correctly, the only MCAD software that cannot read CATIA files is SolidWorks. Well, not exactly. Alibre Design cannot read CATIA files either. But then Alibre does not have Dassault Systemes for a parent, now does it?

Dassault Systems has made laughing stock out of SolidWorks and its customers. Even Adobe Acrobat Pro Extended, a software that is not even a CAD system, can read CATIA files. How much more sick can this joke get? And how long more will Jeff Ray and his customers will be willing to take it?

  • Matt Lombard

    Wow.

    We’ve speculated that this was a business decision to ratchet people into CATIA and avoid canibalization for years, but this is the best proof of that that I’ve seen.

  • Matt Lombard

    Wow.

    We’ve speculated that this was a business decision to ratchet people into CATIA and avoid canibalization for years, but this is the best proof of that that I’ve seen.

  • nurk

    Looks like SolidWorks will never open catia file directly 🙁
    DS not confidence with the power of catia. So they will not let solidworks to open catia file.

    So sad….

  • nurk

    Looks like SolidWorks will never open catia file directly 🙁
    DS not confidence with the power of catia. So they will not let solidworks to open catia file.

    So sad….

  • nurk

    The ONLY CADCAM software that not provide free viewer is CATIA. To open catia file we have to purchase another software or separate viewer.

    @Deelip,

    have you experience handling catia file using adobe acrobat 3D ?

  • nurk

    The ONLY CADCAM software that not provide free viewer is CATIA. To open catia file we have to purchase another software or separate viewer.

    @Deelip,

    have you experience handling catia file using adobe acrobat 3D ?

  • What about Catia users that want to open SW files? Users may need this as well.

  • What about Catia users that want to open SW files? Users may need this as well.

  • nurk

    Yes, Catia user cant open sw file directly.
    But at least sw provide free sw viewer.

  • nurk

    Yes, Catia user cant open sw file directly.
    But at least sw provide free sw viewer.

  • @nurk: “The ONLY CADCAM software that not provide free viewer is CATIA.”

    Never realized that. Come to think of it, just about every CAD vendor does provide a free viewer. I have imported only a few CATIA files into Acrobat 3D. Not much experience.

    @Phil Sluder, as I explained in my post, 3D InterOp can convert from SolidWorks to CATIA as well. So giving CATIA users a SolidWorks importer should not be a problem. But it looks like Dassault Systemes does not want CATIA and SolidWorks to talk at all.

  • @nurk: “The ONLY CADCAM software that not provide free viewer is CATIA.”

    Never realized that. Come to think of it, just about every CAD vendor does provide a free viewer. I have imported only a few CATIA files into Acrobat 3D. Not much experience.

    @Phil Sluder, as I explained in my post, 3D InterOp can convert from SolidWorks to CATIA as well. So giving CATIA users a SolidWorks importer should not be a problem. But it looks like Dassault Systemes does not want CATIA and SolidWorks to talk at all.

  • Joke, indeed. Thanks for the insight with this post, Deelip!

  • Joke, indeed. Thanks for the insight with this post, Deelip!

  • C!

    Dessault should integrated Imagine and Shape into solidworks.

    C!

  • C!

    Dessault should integrated Imagine and Shape into solidworks.

    C!

  • nurk

    Hi C!

    I think it will never happen.
    And remember the price will be 5K + 9K or more…. 🙁

    I like to see SolidWorks + Tspline.

  • nurk

    Hi C!

    I think it will never happen.
    And remember the price will be 5K + 9K or more…. 🙁

    I like to see SolidWorks + Tspline.

  • Its one thing not having an in-built CATIA translator and quite another in claiming that ““Customers are fed up with not being able to share data between CATIA and SolidWorks…”. I’m not sure what Jeff was thinking when he said that. CATIA/SolidWorks translators have existed for several years now and many of them without the need for a CATIA license (“CATIA independent”). Even we at CCE, have had our CAT5Works product (it is a SolidWorks Solution Partner product that reads/writes CATIA V4 & V5 files) in the market for years and truth be told, its been one of our best selling products for some time now. What it simply shows (apart from the fact that this is a gr8 product – ok, ok its difficult to stop a salesman from selling!;-)) is that there is a big, big market for CATIA/SolidWorks translations. Visting the SolidWorks “Partner Products” page on their website and searching for “Data Translation Software” will throw up several names. So, between CCE and these several other partner products, the so-called “fed up” customers have known where to go for a while now. The thing is, since these are all third-party solutions, there is a cost involved. If it gets shipped with each license, the expectation might be that it will be at zero additional cost to the end user. Whether that will (ever) happen, is for us to wait, watch and speculate! As for Jeff, I think he should drop this discussion topic till such time there is sometime more concrete to offer than “At some point, a translator will be delivered”. We’re all waiting Jeff.

  • Its one thing not having an in-built CATIA translator and quite another in claiming that ““Customers are fed up with not being able to share data between CATIA and SolidWorks…”. I’m not sure what Jeff was thinking when he said that. CATIA/SolidWorks translators have existed for several years now and many of them without the need for a CATIA license (“CATIA independent”). Even we at CCE, have had our CAT5Works product (it is a SolidWorks Solution Partner product that reads/writes CATIA V4 & V5 files) in the market for years and truth be told, its been one of our best selling products for some time now. What it simply shows (apart from the fact that this is a gr8 product – ok, ok its difficult to stop a salesman from selling!;-)) is that there is a big, big market for CATIA/SolidWorks translations. Visting the SolidWorks “Partner Products” page on their website and searching for “Data Translation Software” will throw up several names. So, between CCE and these several other partner products, the so-called “fed up” customers have known where to go for a while now. The thing is, since these are all third-party solutions, there is a cost involved. If it gets shipped with each license, the expectation might be that it will be at zero additional cost to the end user. Whether that will (ever) happen, is for us to wait, watch and speculate! As for Jeff, I think he should drop this discussion topic till such time there is sometime more concrete to offer than “At some point, a translator will be delivered”. We’re all waiting Jeff.

  • Debankan,

    I believe Jeff has a particularly difficult job at hand. On the one hand, he needs to follow orders from high command and on the other hand explain to his paying customers why they have been denied something so important for all these years. I am pretty sure that he does not want to talk about this issue. The problem is that no interview with Jeff seems complete without the interviewer raking up the issue.

  • Debankan,

    I believe Jeff has a particularly difficult job at hand. On the one hand, he needs to follow orders from high command and on the other hand explain to his paying customers why they have been denied something so important for all these years. I am pretty sure that he does not want to talk about this issue. The problem is that no interview with Jeff seems complete without the interviewer raking up the issue.

  • C!

    Tspline is a good idea, but even at 5k to 9K$ with catia IMA it should be a nice investment !

    A+

    C!

  • C!

    Tspline is a good idea, but even at 5k to 9K$ with catia IMA it should be a nice investment !

    A+

    C!

  • John

    Deelip,

    Is Catia interoperability important to most users?

    I’ve only run into a couple situations where it would have been helpful.

    I’m curious how many users would use this capability.

  • John

    Deelip,

    Is Catia interoperability important to most users?

    I’ve only run into a couple situations where it would have been helpful.

    I’m curious how many users would use this capability.

  • John,

    I am pretty sure CATIA interoperability is important. Here are a few reasons:
    (1) Almost every other CAD vendor can read and/or write CATIA files.
    (2) SolidWorks customers have been bitching about it for years.
    (3) And now the SolidWorks CEO has admitted on record that his users are “fed up”

    I don’t think I need to add any more.

  • John,

    I am pretty sure CATIA interoperability is important. Here are a few reasons:
    (1) Almost every other CAD vendor can read and/or write CATIA files.
    (2) SolidWorks customers have been bitching about it for years.
    (3) And now the SolidWorks CEO has admitted on record that his users are “fed up”

    I don’t think I need to add any more.

  • Mike

    Actually Catia isn’t the only one not providing a free viewer. We pay CoCreate $730 a seat for their viewer plus $150 a year maintainance on all of the seats of the viewer we have.

  • Mike

    Actually Catia isn’t the only one not providing a free viewer. We pay CoCreate $730 a seat for their viewer plus $150 a year maintainance on all of the seats of the viewer we have.

  • John

    Deelip,

    Let me preface this by saying I also want Catia interoperability to improve.

    If SolidWorks was losing significant sales to competitors due to their inclusion of Catia interoperability, would Dassault/SolidWorks just sit back and watch? It doesn’t seem to make economic sense.

    I suspect is is not a big factor which is why it hasn’t happened yet.

    At any rate, thank you for bringing more attention to this subject.

  • John

    Deelip,

    Let me preface this by saying I also want Catia interoperability to improve.

    If SolidWorks was losing significant sales to competitors due to their inclusion of Catia interoperability, would Dassault/SolidWorks just sit back and watch? It doesn’t seem to make economic sense.

    I suspect is is not a big factor which is why it hasn’t happened yet.

    At any rate, thank you for bringing more attention to this subject.

  • Mark

    Yep….translators. SolidWorks customers have had access to them for years. They work VERY well. FormatWorks is the one I am familiar with.

    Careful when you say other vendors “include” Catia translators. Many simply “offer” translators. Solid Edge for instance provides a Catia translator plug-in for a $$ fee. Other CAD maybe at fee as well?

    However, many do provide Catia open capability at no cost as it is included with the CAD software.

  • Mark

    Yep….translators. SolidWorks customers have had access to them for years. They work VERY well. FormatWorks is the one I am familiar with.

    Careful when you say other vendors “include” Catia translators. Many simply “offer” translators. Solid Edge for instance provides a Catia translator plug-in for a $$ fee. Other CAD maybe at fee as well?

    However, many do provide Catia open capability at no cost as it is included with the CAD software.

  • Bill F

    One could perhaps argue that Dassault are actually very nice people who don’t want to hurt the 3rd-party translator vendors…

  • Bill F

    One could perhaps argue that Dassault are actually very nice people who don’t want to hurt the 3rd-party translator vendors…

  • Well the plot thickens with this news. It was suggested to me awhile back not to mention the name SolidWorks in my writings so much. Pressure to bear and now I am starting to see or get a slight understanding about why that was asked of me. I won’t say anything more about that.

    I don’t like this situation one bit and if I had a parent like that I would leave home. I don’t think that is allowed here but I was beginning to get an idea that something wasn’t all okay between the two companies. There will never be a unified company when things like this happen. Too bad, it really is a shame. I was very sorry to read this blog report. Thanks for letting us know.

  • Well the plot thickens with this news. It was suggested to me awhile back not to mention the name SolidWorks in my writings so much. Pressure to bear and now I am starting to see or get a slight understanding about why that was asked of me. I won’t say anything more about that.

    I don’t like this situation one bit and if I had a parent like that I would leave home. I don’t think that is allowed here but I was beginning to get an idea that something wasn’t all okay between the two companies. There will never be a unified company when things like this happen. Too bad, it really is a shame. I was very sorry to read this blog report. Thanks for letting us know.

  • I’m one of the one’s that are fed up. Has been a pain in the aircraft industry not being able to go either way. ended up bringing catia models into acrobat 3d and spaceclaim, to get into solidworks. I’m going to re-post on this Deelip. Thanks.

  • I’m one of the one’s that are fed up. Has been a pain in the aircraft industry not being able to go either way. ended up bringing catia models into acrobat 3d and spaceclaim, to get into solidworks. I’m going to re-post on this Deelip. Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    Just a point of help for all those that are fed up.
    Kubotek (www.kubotekusa.com) has 2 Multi-CAD products that will read and write Catia V4 and V5. KeyCreator CAD will not only read the models, but will recognize and allow you to edit or defeature models for manufacturing preparation. Kubotek Spectrum viewers allow you to view, measure, get mass properties and print. Our Kubotek Spectrum viewer was put on sale in September for $99 (Retail is $695). The previous version reads and writes many formats including Catia V4. Our Kubotek Spectrum version with Catia V5 is also on sale for $599 (from $2,500) Here is a link for more information:

    http://www.kubotekusa.com/products/kubotek_spectrum.html

    Kubotek Spectrum can be ordered and downloaded over the web.
    Free trials are also available.

    Scott

  • Just a point of help for all those that are fed up.
    Kubotek (www.kubotekusa.com) has 2 Multi-CAD products that will read and write Catia V4 and V5. KeyCreator CAD will not only read the models, but will recognize and allow you to edit or defeature models for manufacturing preparation. Kubotek Spectrum viewers allow you to view, measure, get mass properties and print. Our Kubotek Spectrum viewer was put on sale in September for $99 (Retail is $695). The previous version reads and writes many formats including Catia V4. Our Kubotek Spectrum version with Catia V5 is also on sale for $599 (from $2,500) Here is a link for more information:

    http://www.kubotekusa.com/products/kubotek_spectrum.html

    Kubotek Spectrum can be ordered and downloaded over the web.
    Free trials are also available.

    Scott

  • chrisg

    I know that if I had a direct Solidworks to/from translator to CATIA V5, I would not need Transmagic, and ENOVIA to look / use CATIA product data. I explained this myself to a Solidworks product manager about a year ago.

    Many, MANY aerospace component suppliers have had to purchase at least copies of ENOVIA just to be able to read the .CATpart and CATproduct files, as our customers no longer supply paper documents. These could have all been solidworks seats…

  • chrisg

    I know that if I had a direct Solidworks to/from translator to CATIA V5, I would not need Transmagic, and ENOVIA to look / use CATIA product data. I explained this myself to a Solidworks product manager about a year ago.

    Many, MANY aerospace component suppliers have had to purchase at least copies of ENOVIA just to be able to read the .CATpart and CATproduct files, as our customers no longer supply paper documents. These could have all been solidworks seats…

  • Bill F

    Hmmm, I wonder what would happen if SolidWorks licensed one of the third-party translators…

  • Bill F

    Hmmm, I wonder what would happen if SolidWorks licensed one of the third-party translators…

  • That is a great question for the inner circle of employees to guess at. But I am finishing up on a TransMagic R8 review and it seems to be able to handle everything I have thrown at it. Undoubtedly there are other programs that will do the same thing too so apparently there are indeed viable work arounds.

  • That is a great question for the inner circle of employees to guess at. But I am finishing up on a TransMagic R8 review and it seems to be able to handle everything I have thrown at it. Undoubtedly there are other programs that will do the same thing too so apparently there are indeed viable work arounds.

  • Bill F: “I wonder what would happen if SolidWorks licensed one of the third-party translators…”

    If they were allowed to do so, I guess they would have already done so. But that would be another joke – using a third party reverse engineered library when your own parent has the authentic stuff.

  • Bill F: “I wonder what would happen if SolidWorks licensed one of the third-party translators…”

    If they were allowed to do so, I guess they would have already done so. But that would be another joke – using a third party reverse engineered library when your own parent has the authentic stuff.

  • Binsar

    It is not the question whether thrid partie provide translator or not, but the unscupulous way the DS treats its customers. Rather than rewarding customers and partners for using their products, they deprive them buy not letting the products interoperable. there would be a moment when they disown theis stepson SW……… and the customers they cant afford to migrate to CATIA would left high and dry…

  • Binsar

    It is not the question whether thrid partie provide translator or not, but the unscupulous way the DS treats its customers. Rather than rewarding customers and partners for using their products, they deprive them buy not letting the products interoperable. there would be a moment when they disown theis stepson SW……… and the customers they cant afford to migrate to CATIA would left high and dry…

  • Kevin Quigley

    To get CATIA geometry into SolidWorks I use Acrobat Extended and it works fine. Not only that it also handles pretty much every 3D CAD format out there. Would I use a CATIA v5 or v6 translator for SolidWorks? Yes. What I used to do before I used Acrobat was ask the CATIA user to backsave as a v4 format file, which I could import into Ashlar-Vellum Cobalt, then export from there as a Parasolid, ACIS or IGES or STEP (depending on where it was going). That worked fine to. Cobalt has had a CATIA v4 translator for 6 or 7 years now and it is included in all the product range (including the $800 entry level one).

    I think SW have a dilema with how to handle CATIA. On one hand if you license the Spatial stuff you wipe out the business of the CATIA translation 3rd party tools. On the other hand unlike say Pro E there is no common file format between SolidWorks and CATIA and back again. Most CATIA users (the primary source users I mean like Airbus or a major auto company) need to maintain the format through the whole process – which is why tier 1 suppliers tend to use CATIA and subscribe to the CAD standards of the customer. For this reason it would be hard to have a CATIA export from SolidWorks to CATIA as this would negate the reason why a supplier has to have CATIA.

    When I handle CATIA files I am at the end of the supply process – there is nothing to be returned to the CATIA user. In this case all I am after is the dumb geometry. I think for these cases a CATIA import option in SoldiWorks would be easy to implement – and it should be.

    I think the question for SW then becomes, who gets access to the translator? All SW users or just the premium users? I have a feeling I know the answer to that one!

    Of course the other factor (and one that has been debated here and there and everywhere) is when will SolidWorks switch to the CATIA kernel?

  • Kevin Quigley

    To get CATIA geometry into SolidWorks I use Acrobat Extended and it works fine. Not only that it also handles pretty much every 3D CAD format out there. Would I use a CATIA v5 or v6 translator for SolidWorks? Yes. What I used to do before I used Acrobat was ask the CATIA user to backsave as a v4 format file, which I could import into Ashlar-Vellum Cobalt, then export from there as a Parasolid, ACIS or IGES or STEP (depending on where it was going). That worked fine to. Cobalt has had a CATIA v4 translator for 6 or 7 years now and it is included in all the product range (including the $800 entry level one).

    I think SW have a dilema with how to handle CATIA. On one hand if you license the Spatial stuff you wipe out the business of the CATIA translation 3rd party tools. On the other hand unlike say Pro E there is no common file format between SolidWorks and CATIA and back again. Most CATIA users (the primary source users I mean like Airbus or a major auto company) need to maintain the format through the whole process – which is why tier 1 suppliers tend to use CATIA and subscribe to the CAD standards of the customer. For this reason it would be hard to have a CATIA export from SolidWorks to CATIA as this would negate the reason why a supplier has to have CATIA.

    When I handle CATIA files I am at the end of the supply process – there is nothing to be returned to the CATIA user. In this case all I am after is the dumb geometry. I think for these cases a CATIA import option in SoldiWorks would be easy to implement – and it should be.

    I think the question for SW then becomes, who gets access to the translator? All SW users or just the premium users? I have a feeling I know the answer to that one!

    Of course the other factor (and one that has been debated here and there and everywhere) is when will SolidWorks switch to the CATIA kernel?

  • Kevin Quigley says:

    “Of course the other factor (and one that has been debated here and there and everywhere) is when will SolidWorks switch to the CATIA kernel?”

    Switching kernels for a history based modeler has its challenges especially with regards to maintaining legacy files. The part needs to rebuild exactly the same which is not guaranteed due to differences in the kernels.

    It is interesting that SW has been adding ACIS Dlls starting with the Advanced Deformable Modeling and according to Deelip Local Operations. So far it seems they are selectively augmenting their primary kernel. The question I have is whether they may be slowly pursuing a dual (Parasolid/ACIS) kernel as part of a transition strategy.

  • Kevin Quigley says:

    “Of course the other factor (and one that has been debated here and there and everywhere) is when will SolidWorks switch to the CATIA kernel?”

    Switching kernels for a history based modeler has its challenges especially with regards to maintaining legacy files. The part needs to rebuild exactly the same which is not guaranteed due to differences in the kernels.

    It is interesting that SW has been adding ACIS Dlls starting with the Advanced Deformable Modeling and according to Deelip Local Operations. So far it seems they are selectively augmenting their primary kernel. The question I have is whether they may be slowly pursuing a dual (Parasolid/ACIS) kernel as part of a transition strategy.

  • Tom

    This SWX and DS interoperability may be an issue based on that SWX wants to spin off DS as its own company. Don;t quote me on that, but I seem to remeber hearing about a possible spin-off years ago.

  • Tom

    This SWX and DS interoperability may be an issue based on that SWX wants to spin off DS as its own company. Don;t quote me on that, but I seem to remeber hearing about a possible spin-off years ago.

  • Tom,

    SolidWorks is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dassault Systemes SA, not the other way around. DS acquired SolidWorks back in 1997.

    Matt / SolidWorks

  • Tom,

    SolidWorks is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dassault Systemes SA, not the other way around. DS acquired SolidWorks back in 1997.

    Matt / SolidWorks

  • Nurk

    Hi Guys…..

    I am working on automotive industry with many solid + surface data.
    Seriously, today I need your feedback for :

    1. The best plug-in translator from CATIA ( part, product ) to SolidWorks?
    2. The best standalone translator from CATIA ( part, product ) to SolidWorks?

    The best means :
    – the structure, filename does not change after imported

    to SolidWorks means :
    Can be to native solidworks or parasolid

    Thanks for any feedback !

  • Nurk

    Hi Guys…..

    I am working on automotive industry with many solid + surface data.
    Seriously, today I need your feedback for :

    1. The best plug-in translator from CATIA ( part, product ) to SolidWorks?
    2. The best standalone translator from CATIA ( part, product ) to SolidWorks?

    The best means :
    – the structure, filename does not change after imported

    to SolidWorks means :
    Can be to native solidworks or parasolid

    Thanks for any feedback !

  • Mako

    It is especialil important when your corporate parent (Catia) is trying to force a smaller divsion (SW) to switch.

  • Elvisjonesus

    I work for a tier 1 automotive company. We considered Solidworks for tool design vs Catia. Solidworks just did not have the required surfacing ability. Our customers also like the fact that we work with native Catia data from design to shop floor.
    So a native translator in Solidworks, would not have cost Catia any sales in this case.