The Dassault Systemes And PTC Modeling Kernel Problem

I am given to understand that for many years Dassault Systems had been trying to get SolidWorks to stop licensing Parasolid as its modeling kernel from rival Siemens PLM (then UGS). When they didn’t see any meaningful progress on that front the top brass at Dassault Systemes finally lost patience and made some “changes” on the SolidWorks side of things. This was when the “Dassaultification” of SolidWorks started and is going on. The result is that new SolidWorks V6 is going to use CGM, the modeling kernel used by CATIA.

There is another company that is trying to consolidate the modeling kernels used in its products. And that is PTC. In its early days CoCreate used ACIS as its modeling kernel. Somewhere along the way the developers decided that they weren’t happy with the progress that Spatial was making with ACIS, decided to fork out the code and created their own version.

It looks like CoCreate (or as its now known, Creo/Elements Direct) will be euthanized sometime in the next few years. This is quite evident from what PTC’s DVP of Creo Product Development Mike Campbell stated in 2010 (see “The Future Of CoCreate“). The idea is to get customers to move to the newer Creo Direct, which is nothing but Pro/ENGINEER in a new suit (see “Creo Explained – Part 2“). Since Creo Parametric and Creo Direct are internally essentially the same, Creo Direct will use PTC’s Granite modeling kernel.

I have been in the data exchange business long enough to know the kind of problems that can crop up while converting geometry from one format to another. The problems turn worse when the two files come from CAD systems that use different modeling kernels that define geometry in different ways. Mapping the geometry accurately so that it comes up good on the other side is not a trivial problem.

Ideally customers should not be bothered by these internal workings of CAD system. In fact, that precisely is the line CAD vendors take when I ask them questions about their modeling kernels. A SolidWorks executive recently told me, “The only people who seem to have a problem with the modeling kernel change in SolidWorks are the CAD media“. I smiled and replied, “Actually no. People in the CAD media use word processors or type text into a browser. This doesn’t affect us at all. But it most definitely affects the people who read the stuff we write.

  • Ingenierocad

    Love the last paragraph
    I´m also very concerned. I have a lot of fear of the day I have to migrate from actual solidworks to V6, as I´m pretty sure we’ll have a lot of problems with our very big models and lots of configurations…

    • Carlos Melo

      There’s another option: Solid Edge! It’s Parasolid based and it has the Synch Tech that can handle the SW models with no problems. Just try it.

      • Rdenoon

        I think you would be pretty hard pressed to find someone who would willingly switch from Solid Works to Solid Edge. SE is a capable, stable package, but as someone who switches back and forth between the two, SE has a horrendous user interface. Having to follow SE rules and procedures after being used to SW flexibility is an exercise in frustration. 

        • Carlos Melo

          Believe me, I’ve been finding many on recent times that made the switch! Have you tested Synchronous Technology? You can’t get more freedom on your modeling that that! Regarding the UI, what version do you refer to? SE’s UI uses the same MS Office look & feel than SW, so I don’t understand what you mean by “horrendous UI”! If you want to try out SE, I can give you all the help I can during the trial, and I’m sure you will be amazed by the latest version of SE.

  • Michael J. Cole

    I don’t know how much the UI will change Kernal-Wise Catia’s Kernal is OK but I’ve seen it crash way more than Solidworks and there assembly interface is horribly complex and annoying. Haven’t seen Catia V6 yet but the 20##x rebranding was put onto the 3dVia Software which is truly remarkable and has been integrated into some of the new SolidWorks technologies like the Magnetic Line Capabillity and Double Click MMB, MB2 For Zoom to Fit [f].

    • Snowendless

      Kernel change shouldn’t and needn’t change the UI, it’s obviously basic rule. 

  • Looks like a witch-hunting remains the only reason to change kernels for even mature CAD-systems. So who cares about those customers when all the CAD-vendors are under attack of witches? Just burn ’em all! 🙂

    • Snowendless

      Yeah, they need to focus on customer. I wish there’s a day that CAD industry would have its own standards like JPEG or MPEG.

  • Neil

    I would be very surprised if the situation you depict in your first paragraph is an accurate description of how they arrived at killing SW.
    BTW if you see that SW executive again give him a vigorous clip around the ear from me and tell him the mostly tame media are the least of his problems.
    Its probably something in the water there that produces delusions of grandeur like these…

  • Bob Mileti

    Solid Edge is doing just fine!  I suggest you all take Siemens up on their FREE 45 day trial.

    ST5 is being introduced in 1 month and should be released later this summer. Trust me you’ll love it.

  • Jim Martin

    Yes, we trust that Dassault will do a fine job of getting customers from Solidworks Parasolid to the V6 Based Kernal.  Same as we trusted them to get from V4 to V5 and from V5 to V6

  • Johannes Anacker

    All big players incl. Solid Edge has changed their kernels in the past or spending lot´s of money to develope an own one instead of licensing a kernel like SWX did and invest the customer´s subscription $ into software issues besides kernel stuff.
    Why making a kernel hype with SWX now?
    IMHO, V6 was announced to early. So competitors have lot´s of time to blame on and – contemporary – more important for them, to distract from own shortcomings.
    I hope and I´m sure that DS SWX is worth to trust his own words (“You can switch to V6 when YOU want/need it!”)
    DS SWX can´t risk the trust of >1,5 million users, where >90% of them are paying subscriptions every year.

    (BTW, Deelip, thanks for your great blog … I read it regularly!)

  • Patrick Burgun

    Like Johannes says, all big vendors have gone through such a process in the past, so there is a way. And I’ve been working for companies that help doing it.
    – What people have to consider is the need for having the data in the new environment: not all the data is going to be used in next future. This cuts the amount down to a lot less big number.
    Minimum risk is if you do it on demand, translating parts when needed and fix them in the new environment if needed.
    – The problem is less the Kernel, more the implementation of it in a CAD System: which parameters do you use to define/control the shape of  geometries like curves, surfaces, or solids? It varies from CAD to CAD and generates different shapes from one CAD to the next. I’m sure that staying at the same Vendor in the same product it will be less of a problem… But as the german say: “Your word in God’s ear”. Let’s hope the best…

  • Simplyd8

    Let’s be honest, at least; this has nothing to do with technology and everything to do with politics and maybe revenue. So, just own up to it as the vendor; I, for one, would be refreshed by some honesty from my vendors. It could be the next “big trend” in CAD!

  • Rick McWilliams

    It is  just about impossible to reproduce the poor surface geometry of Solidworks. The ripples, wrinkles, rolls, tits, butt cracks, hogbacks and brocolli shapes will be hard to reproduce. The flipping trims, tangent arcs and lost relations will be sorely missed. Lofts that do not fit the profiles are another favorite.

    Solidworks does not care about users. If they did, conspicuous geometry bugs would not last 5 years. DS management seems to operate in a serious reality distortion field.

  • GuyT

    In my opinion, the dual kernel IronCAD approach is a valuable one, not to mention the other advantages like the 2D CAXA draft environnement. Take a deeper look because they are listening to their customers.