SolidWorks World 2011 (Day 4) – General Session

According to custom the final day of SolidWorks World is the day new features of the next version of SolidWorks are shown to the audience. The fourth and final day started with Mike Puckett of SolidWorks calling Matt Perez of www.solidworkslessons.info on stage and commending him on his free SolidWorks tutorials web site. The audience was given a nice surprise when Hollywood actor Kevin Bacon walked up on stage and shared stories about the making of the movie “Apollo 13” and his web site www.sixdegrees.org.

Next SolidWorks Field Marketing Manager Mark Schneider announced the winners of Model Mania 2011, a modeling contest for SolidWorks users and resellers, and gave a brief rundown of the contest. The contestants had to model a part and then make a change to it.

Then Neil Cooke, Product Marketing Manager, gave a demo of Live Buildings, SolidWorks’ first offering for the AEC industry which is due to be made available later this year. I intend to write about Live Buildings in a separate post.

Thereafter some of the new features of SolidWorks 2012 were shown. SolidWorks blogger Brian McElyea has a nice summary on his blog. I couldn’t help but notice that most of the new stuff was in drawings and sheet metal. There will be better support for large assemblies in SolidWorks 2012. But nothing related to part modeling was shown.

Later in the press conference that followed the general session, I brought this up. I asked the panel of SolidWorks executives whether the absence of new part modeling features was due to the impending modeling kernel change. If I remember correctly no new parametric feature was added to SolidWorks 2011 either. I got a reply that there were not many requests for modeling from the users. SolidWorks CAD product manager Shaun Murphy said, “We have other areas and gaps that we needed to fill. Modeling was not a priority“. I followed up by asking if any new parametric feature was added to SolidWorks 2012. Austin O’Malley, Executive Vice President of R&D replied, “Please remember that what we have shown today is what we are ready to show the audience. We still have some development to do and that may include stuff linked to modeling“.

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  • Kevin Quigley

    Modelling was not a priority! really? modelling is the fundamental building block that everything else is generated from! Is he serious? Having just spent the last 3 days wrestling with a complex design/modelling task I can assure you modelling SHOULD be a priority – along with the user interface to modelling.

    If they don’t realise that they have not been talking to anybody I know.

  • Kevin Quigley

    I’ve had a further thought about this. I have looked at the whats new in 2012 and 2011 lists and the only new modelling related feature was the surface extrude last year. Even 2010 there wasn’t anything major.

    I accept that SolidWorks is a big app with lots of diverse users, but there should be an ongoing development focus on geometry – not just a reliance on Parasolid updates and testing. To put this into perspective if you take 2010/11/12 that would mean £3750 have gone from my account into the SolidWorks coffers and for the first time ever I am having to ask the question is this offering me value for money as I am not seeing that value in the enhancements to the software.

    The thing is though, that I know damn well SolidWorks know what I want. Why? Read the SolidWorks forums, read Matt’s blog, speak to some SolidWorks developers, speak to SolidWorks managers. I am not alone.

    I looked at that list of new features and I can see at least 3 that some of us mentioned during 2011 beta. Some of them come into the “5 minute job” category (like adding a button on the view manager to explode the view – this was one that was mentioned during 2011 and 2010 beta). Not that easy? Well I’m not a programmer, that is true, but I used to work with one and he could make call level interface changes in minutes – you tell me Deelip.

    During beta 2011 we were looking at PDF export, and one request that came up was opening the default PDF viewer when you save a pdf file from SolidWorks. The next beta it was added. Minor change but there were people saying this would revolutionise how they used the app!

    My point is, a lot of that list comes into the “relatively easy to do and has been requested for many years but we’ve sat on it” category. The geometry stuff is not easy to do, so it gets shelved.

    But the thing is, it is the geometry stuff, the interface advancements that set the internet alight, that make users think, wow, I’ll be getting that, and it lets me do things I could not do before.

    I look at that list (and to be honest last year’s as well – aside from the PhotoView integration – which in reality I rarely use because Keyshot is so much better) and think, nothing really there for me that I could not do before almost as easily.

    You can’t please all the people all of the time, but you can please a lot more people when you do something that saves hours and days of design and modelling time. Then when it comes to subs time you can justify the ROI.