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.