Mike Payne on Direct and Parametric Modeling

About three months ago I wrote a post titled “How SpaceClaim Did It Differently” in which I explained how SpaceClaim and Spatial worked together to make push-pull direct modeling happen.

Today, out of the blue, Mike Payne, Founder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of SpaceClaim, left an interesting  comment on that post. So interesting that I am going to repeat it word for word here.

Parametric Feature Based Modeling has celebrated its 25th. birthday, and was the right technology for the computers that existed 25 years ago. Many products have been designed using it, and much has been done to overcome the fundamental limitations that are contained in that approach. AS many people who have deployed this technology have discovered, the total cost of ownership tends to be high, partially due to the skill level (and hence the salaries) of the people who operate it.

Direct modeling is another, and different tool, which, as John Alpine has put so well, was not possible 25 years ago, and can only be effective when a) computers got faster, and b) the underlying geometry engine was expanded to be able to perform the operations that are needed for direct modeling. The understanding and cooperation of Spatial were the two key factors in the decision to select ACIS as the kernel for SpaceClaim.

No, I did not jump ship, but rather recognized that there is no status quo in technology, and that everything must advance. In this case, to involve a wider audience in 3D a different approach was needed, and the declining number of new licenses of all Parametric Feature Based products continue to emphasize.

It is a pity that some people do not seem to have grasped the concept that screwdrivers could be used a chisels, but the results may not be so great. And a combined (synchronous) chisel/screwdriver does not add much value (half the blade would be sharp and the other half blunt). In software parlance, I think it is called “bloatware”. Lets use the right tool for the right job.

There is another dimension to be considered for some organizations which is long term storage and retrieval of their intellectual property. One company that makes very large flying machines has clearly recognized this problem, and stores its data (for certification purposes and others) in STEP. Should a change to that data be needed in 15 years time, that will be very hard using the favorite parametric feature based modeling system. Does anyone really think that a design stored in Pro/ENGINEER rev 1 could be retrieved today, unless they had kept their MicroVax running, and this file is not encrypted like they are today.

Religious wars serve no useful purpose, the last one being the ACIS/Parasolid wars, which I personally ended. Both modelers works for use in a parametric feature based modeler. The press seemed to find a lot less to write about.

Like I said, quite interesting. Also interesting is the fact that Mike was PTC’s third employee. Last year when the Boston Globe interviewed him regarding the report by Financial Times that PTC was on sale and it had hired Goldman Sachs to find a buyer, he said “They (PTC) have not future“.