Thoughts On Migration To V6

More than often a press release from Dassault Systems is an occasion for me to post a WTF tweet. The company is notoriously famous for its twisted and abstract press releases which leave people more confused than they were before they started reading them. But not the press release that was issued yesterday announcing the a new release the V5 platform. According to the press release:

CATIA V5 users will be able to edit key features of V6 models from within V5.  No other company in the CAD / PLM industry offers this level of downward compatibility between versions.

I first learned about this V5 – V6 feature level round tripping at the DSCC 2011. You can read an explanation of how this works here and see a couple of videos here and here.

To stress on the compatibility feature this new V5 release has been renamed V5-6R2012. This new naming also draws attention to the fact that the V5 platform contains new features that have been added to the V6 platform. The whole point of doing this is to let users migrate from V5 to V6 at their own pace and be able to effectively work in environments that have a combination of CATIA V5 and V6.

Some SolidWorks users reading this may wonder if Dassault Systemes is planning something similar for the move from SolidWorks V1 (the current Parasolid based version) to SolidWorks V6 (the new CGM based version). Well, the answer is no. At least that’s what I think so. And the reason is quite simple. V5 and V6 can go hand in hand because both use the same CGM modeling kernel. That is clearly not the case with SolidWorks V1 and V6. Moreover, SolidWorks cannot enhance V1 to match the changes in V6 because they merely license Parasolid from competitor Siemens PLM. The way things stand now, it appears to me that the switch from SolidWorks V1 to V6 isn’t going to be as smooth as the switch from CATIA V5 to V6.

At the recently concluded COFES 2012 I learned a few interesting things about Dassault Systemes and SolidWorks. Stuff like what exactly went down between the companies after SolidWorks showed their their cloud based CAD system at SolidWorks World 2010. I learned what that initial cloud based system was built using and how similar or different it is compared to the SolidWorks V6 that is currently being developed. These pieces of information and my ongoing conversations with people involved (past and present) are helping me understand the reason for the delay in SolidWorks V6. And when it does come out, what it will look and feel like.

I’m not sure anything good will come out of me disclosing this information here. So I won’t. All I will say is that there is a pretty good reason why SolidWorks has been keeping silent on SolidWorks V6. I wish them the very best and I’m pretty sure they will come out with something really fantastic, whenever that may be. Now whether the customers decide to adopt it sooner or later or not at all is really up to the customers. It has always been that way. CAD vendors already have enough problems trying to get their customers upgrade to the latest versions of their products. Getting them to upgrade to an totally different platform is a completely different ball game. For the sake of SolidWorks users I wish it will be as easy as the move from CATIA V5 to V6. But I don’t see the SolidWorks V1 to V6 migration going down the same smooth road as the CATIA V5 to V6 one.

Of course, I would absolutely love it if I was proved to be wrong.


  • Davej

    Your part of this past as usual is very well written.  I’m concerned about the gray hilited text and the words “edit key features”. Are those Dassault words or deelip words.  Edit key features could mean almost anything.  ???

    • That’s a quote from the DS press release.

    • Aurelien Blaha

      Hi Davej,
      “Edit key features” means that features created in V6 models will remain editable when sent back in V5. This applies in particular to features created in V6 Part Design, Sketcher, Generative Surface Design, as well as knowledgeware features. For more details about the feature level collaboration play between V5 and V6, check out
      Aurélien Blaha, Dassault Systèmes

  • Davej

    sorry it’s past my bedtime and the word past of course was meant to be post.  keep up the good work deelip.  

  • Arash

    Perhaps Dassault adds some of V6 direct editing capabilities to CATIA lite AKA solidowkrs V6, then people can pull,push on model faces,remove rounds, add dimension between faces, etc. it’ll be even easier to migrate from solidworks 200x to V6 than from 200y to 200x. but for heavy surfacing models, it wont be as easy for sure.

  • Neil

    So there was a simmering disagreement between camps followed by a blow up and people walked or were shown the door. Then Dassault reluctantly dumped what they had because it couldnt work on the desktop and started again, is that it?
    Which means what ever arrives after, is it 7 years development?, may not be very mature or complete at all.
    So those who are staying with Dassault products are waiting on SWv6B now in a complete vacuum of information, while they are expected to keep buying SW updates with very little real content…
    The whole thing is a shambles. I don’t understand why Bernard Charles hasn’t been sacked yet.

  • Cadflow

    Let’s be clear: DS is dumping Parasolid for SW because they have their own kernel and don’t want to pay their competitor Siemens PLM a fee to use it in their product. Simple as that! It’s not a case of a kernel being better thant the other: basically it comes down to pride and money. Pride because DS doesn’t want to use the technology of their main competitor and money because they have to pay thar use of technology. 
    This means that SW users are lost about the future of the product. They’re in a misty cloud (the cloud, the cloud…) where they can’t see where they are heading, and all the signs being sent to them are confusing and unclear. And there’s a ship right next to them, eager to save them from an uncertain future. That ship is named “Siemens PLM” and the captain is named “Solid Edge”. To those SW users, I would suggest you look under your ship’s name and check if it’s not “Titanic” 😉

    • Sorry, but that is incorrect. We are not “dumping Parasolid.” The current SolidWorks products will continue to be developed, sold, and supported alongside the new SolidWorks V6 products, and will continue to be based on the Parasolid kernel.

      Matt / SolidWorks

      • Cadflow

        Yes, but for how long? I can’t see DS (and neither do you, I believe) to support two versions in parallel of the same product, so I believe SW (Parasolid flavour) will be dumped in 3 or 4 years. And in the meantime, I believe that all the updates on those versions will be focused on the easy transition for the CGM flavour SW, as DS will want everybody to move to their kernel.


        • In a press conference at SolidWorks World 2012, our VP of Product Management estimated that the current products would be around for at least another 10-15 years; however, we will continue to develop and support them until our customers tell us that they no longer need them. There is no end of life timeline. Anyone who claims otherwise is simply speculating, or trying to use scare tactics to sell their own products.

          • FYI, Dassault Systemes has said that they will will support CATIA V5 till 2020. That’s 8 years from now. 15 years is almost double that.

          • Like I said, 10-15 years was just an estimate on Fielder’s part. It was not a firm commitment. We’ll see what the future holds.

          • Neil

            The updates SW are putting out don’t look like any commitment at all beyond 2 more releases. Being around and being actively and purposefully developed is another. I keep telling you guys if you are serious about keeping customers you have to deliver real content today rather than busk along on goodwill derived from times gone by.

          •  As someone pointed out to me yesterday, 2020 will mark 22 years of support for CATIA V5. Given that, it’s not too hard to imagine another 10 years for SolidWorks, which would make a total of 26 years.

          • Neil

            LOL (OK I know its just your job…)

  • I guess the key reason apart from many other was choice of programming language. Solidworks team developed V1 in .net. I think DS management did not like that, they wanted in C++. So now I think SW V6 would be in core C++.  All DS key technologies are always  in C++. Apart from that my hunch is the SW V6’s key differentiation would have inbuilt mulicore processors support.  They have understood it very well that next generation product has to be on parallel framework to give mind boggling performance. It should be able to have design intelligence which people only dreamed but now becomes reality.  I hope SolidWorks will be able to deliver that in V6.  (This is my pure guess, you can correct me if I am wrong)

    I hope they will also take care of existing small customers and Add-in developers  like us while doing the transition 🙂

  • Kurt

    At our site we have V6 R2012X PLM Express running in pilot phase. The V6 to V5 works like a dream. The other way around however does not. We want to have both the V5 and V6 models in the database.  For some odd reason, this scenario doesn’t work. I guess development will fix it, so no worries. But, the standard V6 import is very, very strict.  Even the slightest error is detected, Catia users will know what I’m talking about, the CATDUA V5 errors. V6 adds to this test. In my experience only the simplest files can be imported unaltered. So the transition to V6 will be a lot of work, cleaning up every single file if you want to have them correctly in the database. Of course, you can choose to ignore the errors during the import but I have no idea what the effect will be.  Moreover, suppose you want to keep the V5 files as master files (you can choose this during import) one would expect that the V6 file is read-only or get some sort of warning. This is not the case, you can alter them, reimport V5 and loose the work in V6. And vice-versa. Dassault still has some work to do. Further development is V5? Forget it. The list of new features of a V5 relaese used to be 20 odd pages. Now it’s less than one, stating only the compatibility. Which in my opinion has always been there, it’s the same kernel, they just activated the save as V5 feature.

    • Andy Reilly

      Hi Kurt, it is good to hear from someone that is actually using the products.  The level of notification when moving between versions is quite detailed but there are some flags you can set to simplify the reports but some customers would not be happy about defaulting to the simplified report.
      In terms of managing the V5 data being a master or avoiding losing new added features after a reimport, there are some approaches that can be used to allow this as well.  As is often the case, there is a default behaviour that is to represent a simple level of lifecycle that a customer moving from a file based solution would understand.  The reality is that a user that is managing multiple levels of software or multiple users is a step above the default behaviour and you will need to be accessing some of the additional lifecycle capabilities that you have in V6 PLM Express.

      • Kurt

         Hi Andy, to clarify it a bit. About the V5 to V6 file-based import, I’m actually a big fan. All the checks done before the import in combination with the use of the designtables is brilliant. It’s only logical that all’s cleaned up before importing it into the database. I’m only saying that it’s a lot of work if you want to transfer all of your design data flawlessly. We will be in a mixed V5-V6 scenario for some time and it seems that PLM express is limited to what you describe. (comparing the enterprise docs with express reveals that). We are still searching for a workable solution since the V5-V6 coexistence doesn’t work yet (in fact in the PLM Express doc”s it’s completely absent!) Maybe R2013 will solve it. On the other hand we’re planning on migrating a small company with 4 designers that don’t need to stay on V5 and i expect to do that in less than a week (training included)… Summarised, the V5V6 coexistance in PLM express still needs a bit of work, we want to have V5 and V6 in the V6 Enovia database  and strangely enough, that is not default, as said, it’s not even documented. But I’m sure it will improve, I’v had the previous versions in test before I decided on the upgrade and I see improvements all the time.

        • Andy Reilly

          Hi Kurt, what you say is correct.  The original idea for V6 PLM Express was to focus on the managment of the V6 world and be linked to the V5 and Smarteam world via the V5 connector product.  This decision was taken because more people wanted to either just be in V6 becasue they were either had file based V5 or another system.  Also the functionality that was delieverd in the V6 Express world was very focused on design office product managment rather than a wider PLM implementation. 
          That positioned changed in the recent releases becasue customers and sales were saying “why am I going to implment a server environment just to run PDM!”.  Therefore more PLM capabililities were put into V6 Express, the V6 Online solution was announced for people focused on design managment and collaboration but more importantly for your scenario the CATIA V5 support with the V6 server was announced.  The R2012x release contained this highlight and you will see that that is a 1st step that will imporve you DS based workflow plus other authoring tools.
          The funny part, my perspective, is how the real differnce in concurrent access, collaboration and performance of V6 is not more widely known.

          • Kurt

             Hi Andy, yeah, it’s amazing that Dassault is trying so terribly hard to keep this a secret. They’re even worse than good old Digital Equipment  in that respect. An engineering firm so convinced of their own products that they actually believe everybody knows this and don’t really feel the need to explain it. I mean, an engineer sees that V6 is a quantum leap ahead of it’s competitors. Sure, but engineers don’t necessarily make decisions. Just like, DEC, they had the best processor (Alpha), the best operating system (VMS), the best database (RDB), clustering capabilities that are still not parallelled to this day, etc…We all know what happened. Dassault adds to this attitude incomprehensible press releases. Statements that can’t even be understood by people actually using the software. Add to this the general belief that Catia is outragously expensive and is only meant to be used by the Fortune 500. Which is wrong, the TCO of Catia is lower than the competition (Autodesk included), at least in our case.  A challenge, post one link with a white paper that clearly explains the benefits of V6 archtecture (other than the one Deelip wrote for Microsoft) to engineers. Or a link to a Dassault pricelist, or a link to an independent review. Still, the press releases are funny to analyse, what on earth can they possibly mean?

          • Andy Reilly

            Hi Kurt, I
            understand most of your comments and we are trying to change the message by discussion
            and example more than PR or even White Paper. The reason is that P.Rs try to
            talk about what is new in a specific release and for every type of customer
            instead of being a CATIA V6 101 that tells you why V6 is different. The
            challenge I have had with white papers is that you are generally writing them
            without being on the physical screen and saying why certain things matter the
            most. Also I am sorry to say that many of the authors of these papers are good writers
            but they are not always great users!

            Our current
            thinking is that we do need to connect with more users and give a voice to user
            challenges and solutions because, as you prove with you description of DEC,
            users are often the best sales people in the world.

            Your comment
            about links to a price list is interesting because we have had this request for
            a long time but, until we worked on the V5 Express portfolio, the price list
            and prerequisite products made it complex for the non-trained to really get a
            feeling for a realistic price. We also used to have issues of sharing prices
            between countries because the market practices were so different. Now that the
            portfolio is simpler and the market practices are aligned it would be much
            easier but I still think that it needs a sales person to take you through it because
            the scope of CATIA capability is so deep that you need to know when to stop
            ticking the options boxes!  A tool that
            was available in CATIA V5 Express and was demonstrated at the recent COE is
            called the Experience Wall.  What this
            does is provide a view on what are the key differences of CATIA V6 for specific
            industries, processes and roles.  I have
            used the prototype on Ipad and on a Windows PC and it really is a nice way to
            see what CATIA can do!

  • Ta

    Will Solidworks be available as a free upgrage for those with maintenance? Or will it be a seperate purchase?

    •  We haven’t released any details about pricing and availability. I expect that this information will become available next year when the products are rolled out.

      Matt / SolidWorks

  • Ta

    Sorry, I meant to ask if solidworks V6 will be a free upgrade?

    • Kevin Quigley

      I imagine SW v6 will be free to active subscription users. If not I cannot see many people “upgrading” to it.

      On the subject of DS Catiav6 if a potential buyer does not understand what they are buying they will not buy it. Most Catia installations I know were brought as part of a supply chain agreement (like Airbus) where there are specific packages used. Even then companies spend considerable amounts of money on IT consultants and specialists to get the systems up and running.

      All of which is fine in the enterprise market but not acceptable in the SME sector. No matter how capable a system is if it cannot be implemented easily by the end user ( in this sector) and maintained by the end user it will not be used effectively.

  • Martyn Day

    Hi Andy,

    The bad news is that your press releases are still bordering on the unintelligible. We are the CAD press and pass them around internally asking each other what they mean. DS has its own language and if you don’r parlez DS PR then they are bloody hard to interpret. 

    The best comms are the DS vids of Catia doing its thing, which can be very impressive. When it comes to the written format you do yourselves little favours. 

    To date SolidWorks press releases have not suffered from the pompous verbiage that has befallen the Catia-related comms.


  • Keep up the good work deelip 😉

  • Martyn Day

    While I am at, it some additional thoughts…..

    1) Marketing and PR should not be told exactly what to write. They should explain the technology or news correctly for their target audience. When  too many people stick their oar into the vocabulary of the message, you end up with internal crap and you only impress yourselves. 

    2) There was a lovely lady that did external PR for one of DS’s brands. She used to ring me up and say “You are about to get a press release from DS in Paris, ignore it. I will send you the original before it went through a TLA machine to make it unintelligible.” 

    3) Fact – NOBODY does PR and marketing as well as good Americans. Been doing this 20+ years, no non-american CAD company comes close. DS has SW marketing. This is/ was a killer machine at messaging. They should do all of DS brand’s PR and not be scared of kicking back the VPs and holding the tsunami of verbiage away from the core points. 

    4) Hieroglyphs and cartoons have no place in PR and Marketing. I’m not a child and I’m not an ancient Egyptian.

    right, I’m off for a big cycle while it’s stopped raining!  

  • Hi
    Martyn, you guys are the customers of the Dassault Systemes P.Rs so of course
    your feedback is exactly what we need and I know it will have been seen by the
    right people to improve what we do.  As
    an English speaker and someone that does appreciate simplicity and clarity I do
    see where the issue may lie.


     One of the points about the P.R for a V6
    release though is that it is multibrand. 
    The reason that this was done was because most of the V6 authoring
    applications take advantage of the same enhancements in the underlying code or
    the ENOVIA capability.  Therefore to
    avoid creating 5 press releases where 80% of the key highlights were exactly
    the same it was decided to just have one P.R for the global V6 release. To come
    back to a point I made in an earlier part of the discussion, CATIA certainly
    feel that there is a gap to provide more proof points and discussion to explain
    what is in the product or a new release. 
    That is why we are working to deliver the industry and role based
    navigation of the AVIs and capabilities that everyone appreciates and also
    provide a more open discussion platform where DS CATIA people can share and
    discuss with users.  I will endeavor to
    provide an AVI of what we are doing that is similar to what was shown at COE 2
    weeks ago so that you can give your comments.





  • Martyn Day

    Hi Andy,

    The PR folks at DS are lovely people and I am sure are very good at what they do. The issue comes when their bosses and their bosses bosses drive content, format and the language used. I think it’s out of the PR folks hands. It’s not a french to english translation issue. It’s DS striving to differentiate too hard and in the process coming up with a language of its own requiring press releases be translated from DS speak into something an engineer would understand.

    I think complexity of product and customer are certainly issues – and all CAD firms now face that in a mature market. All the more reason to cut down the fluff and get to the message.

    And sometimes only a video will do it.. but the press release should capture the journalist’s imagination to want to go find out more. 

    Looking fwd to more videos of Catia doing its thing and SW V6.


  • CoCreate has offered this level of backwards compatibility for years!

  • Derek Lane / DS PR guy

    Martyn:  Your comments have been heard.  ‘Nuff said.

  • Kurt

    In reply to Andy above, Yeah, distributing the pricelist might not be such a good idea.  Who would understand it? It”s complicated, to say the least. And sometimes completely illogical. There’ a small upgrade fee from V5 to V6. (from CAT to MEK in Dassault-speak)  We”re in a transition phase and have parallel use rights V5 and V6. Great! However the License to use V5 with V6 backend (DC5) costs almost 5 times the upgrade fee. Try to explain that to a CEO…After having to explain the change in concurrent to named.  I mean, really, in V6, there’s no significant difference between MEK and MCE. Simplify!!

  • Andy Reilly

    Hi Kurt, I guess you are speaking about a sales person trying to sell you a new DC5 license for you to use during the transition period from V5 to V6 – sounds a bit rich that they are asking you to pay for that unless you are intending to keep your CATIA V5 world and your V6 world for a much longer period of time.  If it is the later case then I guess there is a value to buying DC5 so that you can leverage the multi-version environment for longer.  If there is something I can help you with then please let me know.

    In answer to your 2nd point about the differnce between the V5 base configuration (lovingly called CAT) and the V6 base configuration (MEK), then I can give some pretty clear examples of how you get alot more for your money.  In MEK you get more compared to CATIA with powerfull surfacing tools (GS1 instead of WFS), you get functional modelling, brep modelling with Liveshape, basic sheetmetal design and you get much more powerfull assembly features, you get volume search etc and you get full concurrent access to your parts, assemblies and downstream documents so that more people can work at the sametime without having to rework data.  So if you were to compare what you have in CATIA PLM Express in V5 and in V6 PLM Express then the capability is significantly enhanced.

    • kurt

      Hi Andy,
      The salesrep is ok; we just have one very important design that needs to stay in V5 because it is edited by a supplier. Internally we would switch to V6 and keep this one design in V5 managed by Enovia.This design would stay as a V5 master with a V6 equivalent for CAM. Hence the DC5 licenses. But after testing and contacts with development we found that V5-V6 coexistence is absent in PLM express.. Next week I’ll try to convince the supplier to move to V6 or we will have to stay on V5. Since the downgrade V6 to V5 R22 only works well for parts, not for assemblies. In other words, this is not going well. In PLM express DC5 is useless, it would make the later transition to V6 a nightmare unless I wait until the functionality comes available in 2014…