New V6 Based SolidWorks Conceptual Design Product

SolidWorks 2013 was launched at a media event today. Following the tweets coming out from the event I noticed a mention of a new conceptual design product, a yet-to-be-named V6 based product, a release date of May 2013 and some talk about one product not being a replacement for another. I asked for a clarification and ended up with this conversation with Matt West, SolidWorks’ social media manager.

Apparently this new product will debut at the next SolidWorks World. If that happens I think it will be a good thing for the company. There has been way too much confusion surrounding the new SolidWorks V6 meant to eventually replace the current Parasolid based SolidWorks. Most of it has been caused by SolidWorks themselves by announcing something too early, failing to deliver, keeping quiet on the subject for way too long and letting people come to their own conclusions on the future of the product. In my six years of commenting on the CAD software industry I have yet to see a worse public relations train wreck than SolidWorks V6.

A lot of water has flown under the bridge since I published my interview with Jeff Ray where he spoke about killing SolidWorks. People construed Jeff’s statements in different ways and a lot was written about it (see “Killing SolidWorks For Dummies“). Since then Jeff was promoted out of SolidWorks, moved to Dassault Systemes headquarters in Paris and has now left to head another company. The VP of R&D and co-founder left within the span of a week with the company stating that the high-level departures were unrelated. From the people I know working at SolidWorks and those who have left I’m getting a pretty good idea of the situation in the company. Let’s just say it would help if SolidWorks actually delivered a CAD product that was based on V6. The company today claimed to be six months away from doing that.

The way I look at it, the initial development plan of SolidWorks V6 along with the product definition itself seems to have gone belly up. Which is why this new V6 based conceptual design product is a good idea because firstly, it should be quicker to get out of the door than a full blown replacement for the Parasolid based SolidWorks. This will buy SolidWorks some more time to get SolidWorks V6 out. And secondly, it will help to reinforce the assertion being made by the company that the current Parasolid based SolidWorks will coexist with a V6 based product. Customers will see “SolidWorks 2014, 2015, 2016 and so on…”, as Matt put it, being released along with SolidWhateverWorks V6 R2014, R2015, 2016 and so on eventually making way for the full blown SolidWorks V6.

Either that or SolidWorks has reduced SolidWorks V6 to be a conceptual design product and is going to continue with the Parasolid based product till someone gets another brainwave. Time will tell.

  • Folllowing on from twitter comments the big issue for many will be how useful this new version is and how integrated it is with the existing platform, not to mention how it is actually sold.

    What I think needs to happen is that the new product should be available free of charge to existing customers on subscription, and to all new customers buying SolidWorks – in the same way that Autodesk bundles Fusion with Autocad etc.

    If they take the view that it is a new different product and sell it at £4000 it either has to be very very good, offer most of the functionality of SolidWorks and it has to offer something the existing platform doesn’t.

    The hardest sell here will be to existing customers. Why would you change if you have to:

    1. Buy it
    2. Tolerate less functionality
    3. Relearn a whole new system

    The answer to this (I think) are:

    1. Include it in subscription customers packages only
    2. Ensure there is a bi-directional path to and from the old and new and be able to run them both at the same time.
    3. Take the best of the interface of the existing system and make it simpler to use.

    If they go down the path of making it a separate product with a separate sales channel it will be a mistake. Expecting existing users on subscription to pay for it as a new license cost opens them up to all the competitors – why buy a totally new system when you have alternatives that are established? A worse strategy though, would be to ask existing users on subscription to pay for an upgrade to the new platform, then cut off access to upgrades on the old platform.

    SolidWorks need to learn from Autodesk here, migrating from Autocad to Inventor, you buy Inventor and get Autocad in the package. SolidWorks must offer the new system and supply SolidWorks as a legacy product until such time that the new platform exceeds all the functionality of the old platform. Anything less than this will be a marketing error in my view.

    • A conceptual design tool for $5,000 as a whole new license separate from SolidWorks V1 is absurd.

      • ralphg

        Autodesk is doing it with AutoCAD for Mac: a conceptual design tool for $4,000 as a whole new license separate from AutoCAD for Windows.

        • Ralph Autodesk are one of the very few companies that do this. Most CAD developers offering cross platform products offer cross platform licensing. Examples include VectorWorks, Ashlar, Punch, Autodes-sys, Luxology, Luxion, Next Limit etc. Even the mighty Adobe now offer cross platform licensing of all products.

          I think the issue for Autodesk is that they are trying to recoup the investment in developing Autocad for Mac. It may well be that older apps like this were developed in older languages so to do a Mac version required a ground up rewrite. So in that respect it is a completely new app. Compare to a lot of cross platform systems written in a newer language where the write once, compile many options apply. This methodology allowed tiny development teams to offer dual platform offerings.

      • When does something absurd not make it to market though 🙂

  • Carlos Melo

    Million dollar question would be: how long will Dassault support two Solidworks products? Will the Parasolid version be around in 2016, as stated? The only way I would believe that is if 2016 is the same as the 2015 version and 2014 version and so on, i.e., DS are not supporting the development of two products but are only investing in one (V6) while keeping the other in a “coma” state until it can be fully replaced. Just my 2 cents…

    • We will continue to actively develop the existing tools. Our development team currently has a roadmap that goes several years out for enhancements and upgrades.

      Matt / SolidWorks

      • djovica

        How long is the roadmap Matt?
        2018? By then you’re running on a 10 year old kernel while the rest of the CAD world evolves.
        My prediction is you want swx parasolid clients to adopt mech concept and hopefully make the transition to swx v6 easier.
        Also, why wouldn’t a Catia user buy the cheaper swx v6? What will be the major ddifferenes?

  • carl

    All I can say is if you look at Dassault’s history… they like to buy companies for the customers then completely disrupt their world… Wasn’t it just a few years ago “Smarteam” was their flagship PLM for small to medium sized companies… Wait now it is MatrixONe.. which is being moved to Enovia.. Bottom line if you invested in these products and spent countless dollars you invested in spending more money and time. I have had enough experience with Dassault to see that they will abandon any benefits you have had in the past to keep up with the competition. Anyone remember V4 to V5 Catia???? What about the inablity to share licenses from your US based license server to any other country. And no it is not normal to charge $5000.00 per CAD user to use the STEP translator… Most CAD companies give this option away with every seat of their software….