Look Who’s Bending

I came across the following at efunda.com forum.

Question: “I am trying to send a Solidworks 2006 SP4.1 model to one of my vendors. He has Solidworks 2005 SP4.0. He cannot open files because of his older version. Is there any way to save my files as an older version?”

Answer: “Directly, no you cannot save a Solidworks file to an earlier version. You CAN save it as a STL, IGES, PARASOLID, ACIS, or some other standard, but the resuting geometry will no longer be parametrically editable. What you can do is save it as an edrawing and have him download the most recent edrawing viewer. This should solve the connectivity issue as long as you don’t need him to edit it.

“This is a major pain in the butt with Solidworks and I have ranted to everyone in the organization including the head honcho of Solidworks about this. The stock answer is that you cannot represent new features in the older version, but that is hogwash, you just make those features, and ONLY those features that are not directly translatable dump to imported geometry. Solidworks knows this, but the intent is to force everyone to maintain a subscription service and to upgrade often. But the problem is that the bugs in new releases usually make the new release virtually unusable until SP 2 or so comes out. But then you have problems where one company or division upgrades but the others don’t and suddenly nobody with the older version can open any file that has been touched by the newer version (just opening an assembly will convert all the subassemblies and parts to the new version upon closing). I have that problem now, one engineer at another location upgraded, forced the entire location to upgrade in order to work on his stuff, and now nobody at my location can open any of their stuff.”

[Clarification: “Just opening” a file in a new version of SolidWorks does not convert it. You have to save it for conversion to take effect.]

Other CAD systems have the decency to break “new features” so that they may be represented by “older features”. For example, AutoCAD 2007 breaks 3D solids into a wireframe of curves while saving to versions that did not support 3D solids. That way an AutoCAD Release 12 user can at least view a 3D solid model from an AutoCAD 2007 user, whereas an AutoCAD 2000 user will be able to perform boolean operations on the solids.

If they wish SolidWorks can at surely save solids containing new features as unintelligent bodies lacking feature information, just like how they import bodies from SAT, IGES, STEP, etc. files. Moreover, if a part does not contain any “new features”, then users with different versions can easily work together without any problems.

It’s ironic that SolidWorks has created DWGgateway, which by their own words is meant to “eliminate the need to upgrade AutoCAD licenses just to be able to share work and collaborate with other AutoCAD users”. They have posted a testimonial from a customer who claims that DWGgateway is “an excellent option for those who do not want to be forced to constantly upgrade their AutoCAD.”

Roopinder Tara mentioned a truly divine statement made by John McEleney, CEO of SolidWorks in his article titled “SolidWorks – Putting More in the Box“. John said, “Software should bend to fit the user, not the other way around“.

I am not quite sure who is doing the bending here.

  • Rob

    There are 2 issues.

    First, why would anyone let one user upgrade and leave everyone else behind? Manage your implementation of engineering tools!

    Second, Breaking design intent is breaking design intent if you same some or all features as solids. Elements of one feature can relate to non-solid data in another feature.

    Normally my understanding was that most .X versions are backwards compatible unless they can’t be. Maybe that has changed.

    Backwards compatibility is hard. You make it sound like you could do better….

  • Rob

    There are 2 issues.First, why would anyone let one user upgrade and leave everyone else behind? Manage your implementation of engineering tools!Second, Breaking design intent is breaking design intent if you same some or all features as solids. Elements of one feature can relate to non-solid data in another feature. Normally my understanding was that most .X versions are backwards compatible unless they can’t be. Maybe that has changed. Backwards compatibility is hard. You make it sound like you could do better….

  • Anonymous

    My impression is that SW does not want to become bogged down by legacy issues (living with past mistakes?). Fine, perhaps they assumed a 3rd party would naturally fill the void with a back-converter. This could be a FeatureWorks on steroids. I’m amazed that no one has stepped in to fill this very real need, while other slick but superfluous “solutions” litter the landscape.

  • Anonymous

    My impression is that SW does not want to become bogged down by legacy issues (living with past mistakes?). Fine, perhaps they assumed a 3rd party would naturally fill the void with a back-converter. This could be a FeatureWorks on steroids. I’m amazed that no one has stepped in to fill this very real need, while other slick but superfluous “solutions” litter the landscape.

  • Anonymous

    Deelip,

    I am not sure why you used SolidWorks as an example. No other parametric tool can do the backwardly compatible trick either that I am aware of. I think UG tried it a few years ago and it was a disaster. I don’t think your example of AutoCAD 2007 solids into wire frame for older versions of AutoCAD is an apples to apples example. I notice you did not use Inventor as the example.

    Since all features are related, why would you want to insert one dumb feature? If you had the ability to modify an imported part parametrically from a future version, with one or two dump features, I can’t see anything but disaster on the horizon. The logical process would be that this modified part would wind up back in the hands of the user using the future version after modification. How would parametric parameters be reapplied to the dumb feature?

    I mean this with all due respect. Since you have been writing CAD software for some time, perhaps you could solve this universal issue for everyone. I am sure it would bring you great notoriety and be financially rewarding. But then again, with all your experience I am not sure why you don’t see the inherent challenges in the current group of 3D software offerings on today’s market.

    Earl

  • Anonymous

    Deelip,I am not sure why you used SolidWorks as an example. No other parametric tool can do the backwardly compatible trick either that I am aware of. I think UG tried it a few years ago and it was a disaster. I don’t think your example of AutoCAD 2007 solids into wire frame for older versions of AutoCAD is an apples to apples example. I notice you did not use Inventor as the example.Since all features are related, why would you want to insert one dumb feature? If you had the ability to modify an imported part parametrically from a future version, with one or two dump features, I can’t see anything but disaster on the horizon. The logical process would be that this modified part would wind up back in the hands of the user using the future version after modification. How would parametric parameters be reapplied to the dumb feature? I mean this with all due respect. Since you have been writing CAD software for some time, perhaps you could solve this universal issue for everyone. I am sure it would bring you great notoriety and be financially rewarding. But then again, with all your experience I am not sure why you don’t see the inherent challenges in the current group of 3D software offerings on today’s market.Earl

  • Anonymous

    I’m surprised you suggest to use STEP and IGES as solutions to open legacy data in older system.

    Everyone should be aware that SW is based on Parasolid (owned and developped by UGS) and the best option when you send data to another system is to use the native kernel format. So use x_t ot x_b as the preferred option for translation. You will not loose parts color and filename by the way.

    Also, Solid Edge and NX (UG) have very powerful tools to edit a body featyre…

  • Anonymous

    I’m surprised you suggest to use STEP and IGES as solutions to open legacy data in older system.Everyone should be aware that SW is based on Parasolid (owned and developped by UGS) and the best option when you send data to another system is to use the native kernel format. So use x_t ot x_b as the preferred option for translation. You will not loose parts color and filename by the way.Also, Solid Edge and NX (UG) have very powerful tools to edit a body featyre…

  • Deelip Menezes

    Thanks for your comments. I have replied to them as a new post titled “Look Who’s Bending – Part 2”

  • Deelip Menezes

    Thanks for your comments. I have replied to them as a new post titled “Look Who’s Bending – Part 2”

  • Roopinder Tara

    Correction on the quote about software bending to the individual. John McEleney was quoting Steve Wozniak, founder of Apple Computers.

  • Roopinder Tara

    Correction on the quote about software bending to the individual. John McEleney was quoting Steve Wozniak, founder of Apple Computers.

  • Anonymous

    The reason he’s pointing our SolidWorks when other solid modelers can’t do this either is because SolidWorks makes a specific ponit of Marketing arounf their “DWG Gateway” suggesting Autodesk, but not allowing people to save back to v9 DWG doesn’t respect their customers.

    We had a Solid Works sales guy here all proud and showing the DWG Gateway stressing how you could save back to DWG version 2.something. When I commaned “so what, why would I want to do that?” he got all defensive telling me how important it was to work with customers who still use old versions. Why is it that SolidsWorks thing’s it’s important for people to work with older versions of AutoCAD but not their own product? Because AutoCAD users are their major sourse of new installs so their marketing has always tried to exploit that fact.

    Finally, someone’s got the seeds to call them on it. SW is a good product, but the marketing folks at SW and Autodesk’s Mech division should all be fired as their meaningless games have really done a disservice to the users.

  • Anonymous

    I HAVE SOLIDWORKS 2005 & CAN’T AFFORD TO CONSTANTLY UPGRADE HARDWARE, VIDEO CARDS & SOFTWARE,TRAINING, UPDATES ( BUG FIXES ) ETC. SOLIDWORKS IS A GREAT PRODUCT BUT UPDATES SHOULD BE FREE TO USERS WHO PAID FOR A PRODUCT TO PERFORM, SO THAT UDATES CAN BE JUSTIFIED THROUGH PRODUCTIVITY

  • Anonymous

    I HAVE SOLIDWORKS 2005 & CAN’T AFFORD TO CONSTANTLY UPGRADE HARDWARE, VIDEO CARDS & SOFTWARE,TRAINING, UPDATES ( BUG FIXES ) ETC. SOLIDWORKS IS A GREAT PRODUCT BUT UPDATES SHOULD BE FREE TO USERS WHO PAID FOR A PRODUCT TO PERFORM, SO THAT UDATES CAN BE JUSTIFIED THROUGH PRODUCTIVITY

  • Anonymous

    The reason he's pointing our SolidWorks when other solid modelers can't do this either is because SolidWorks makes a specific ponit of Marketing arounf their “DWG Gateway” suggesting Autodesk, but not allowing people to save back to v9 DWG doesn't respect their customers.

    We had a Solid Works sales guy here all proud and showing the DWG Gateway stressing how you could save back to DWG version 2.something. When I commaned “so what, why would I want to do that?” he got all defensive telling me how important it was to work with customers who still use old versions. Why is it that SolidsWorks thing's it's important for people to work with older versions of AutoCAD but not their own product? Because AutoCAD users are their major sourse of new installs so their marketing has always tried to exploit that fact.

    Finally, someone's got the seeds to call them on it. SW is a good product, but the marketing folks at SW and Autodesk's Mech division should all be fired as their meaningless games have really done a disservice to the users.