It is a known fact that the massive install base of AutoCAD users is the number one target for CAD vendors. The question is not whether the bulk of AutoCAD users are going to switch to 3D. Rather it is when will they do it.
In order to help AutoCAD users make the leap of faith, SolidWorks has been bundling free licenses of DWGeditor, their flavor of IntelliCAD, to their customers. Siemens, on the other hand, has taken a different approach. They are offering their 2D drawing program for free, not only to their customers, but to everyone.
To me these look like two solutions to solve the same problem and I like only one of them. First off, the switch to 3D is going to be gradual, if not painful, with ample scope of the user getting stuck in limbo between the 2D and 3D. He would need to work with his old data and his old suppliers while going through the process of rewiring his brain to think in 3D. I know that Solid Edge’s 2D program can do many things that AutoCAD can. But all said and done, it is a completely different software which looks and acts in ways that AutoCAD users are quite unfamiliar. Somewhere in the transition process, the user would invariably need to edit a DWG file before using it in his workflow. Using DWGeditor, he will barely feel the difference. However, editing a DWG file in Solid Edge’s 2D program is going to be a far more difficult, time consuming and probably frustrating. Remember that Solid Edge, like other 3D solid modeling systems, considers a 2D drawing to be an end result of modeling and not the start point, as does AutoCAD. So by intent Solid Edge’s 2D program is quite simply not designed to work like AutoCAD.
So now the user has to learn two things: how to think like Solid Edge wants him to think and how to make Solid Edge’s 2D program do things that it was probably not designed for. While it may be technically possible for users to do just about everything in Solid Edge’s 2D program that can be done in AutoCAD, I see no point in wasting time figuring it out or get trained to do it.
If given the choice, I would choose DWGeditor over Solid Edge’s 2D program. After all, as a 2D user making the switch, I would prefer spending my time learning 3D rather than figuring out another way of doing 2D.