SolidWorks World 2010 (Day 2) – A Discussion with Jeff Ray

My one on one interview with SolidWorks CEO Jeff Ray is tomorrow. But today I managed to get myself included in a group interview that Jeff was doing with a few Indian journalists. I tried to get something out of Jeff about the new stuff that was shown to us in the General Session this morning. But he was tight lipped. Here are a few questions I asked Jeff:

Deelip: After the direct modeling demo you mentioned that your development team received help from Dassault Systemes. Does this mean that the new stuff that you have been working on uses the V6 technology from Dassault Systemes? I ask because I am curious to know whether SolidWorks will be moving away from the Parasolid modeling kernel.
Jeff: What happens under the hood does not really matter to the customer. A SolidWorks user is really not bothered about which modeling kernel we use. We let the user worry about solving his problems and we worry about how we can help him do it.

Deelip: I found the Direct Modeling particularly interesting because all along you have maintained that SolidWorks would not have it and now suddenly we see this.
Jeff: I still say that Direct Modeling is not the right approach. Our competition is forcing their customers to choose between one method or the other. Furthermore, they say that if you select one method, you loose the history and features. If you choose the other, then you cannot push and puss stuff around. That is not the right way to go about doing it. I don’t know what you want to call this and frankly, it does not matter. As far as I am concerned users simply want to use different methods to model depending on what they are doing. We are simply giving him the tools to do that.

Deelip: I guess Autodesk is doing it the right way then with Inventor Fusion.
Jeff: Well, we will have to see.

Deelip: Regarding the SolidWorks that we saw running on the Mac today, was that a native Mac application?
Jeff: Nothing is running on the Mac. Everything is on the cloud. And speaking of which, we are not going to force our customers to move to SolidWorks on the cloud. We will offer them both options and let them decide which works best for them. We will continue to develop and enhance the desktop version of SolidWorks.

Deelip: Any broad time frame by which these technologies will become available?
Jeff: They will be available when they are ready. I don’t know when that will be. I do not want to push my team and then have them deliver something half baked. I have pushed them enough already. Another thing. All the new stuff you saw this morning has been working for years. This is not something that we got working last month or last week. If this stuff was not good enough, we wouldn’t have shown it to you.

Deelip: Is SolidWorks interested in offering a solution to the low end MCAD market? Maybe something along the lines of Inventor LT in the $1000 range.
Jeff: No. But here is the thing. When SolidWorks runs in the cloud, it will really not matter whether you are running a $1000 software or a $5000 software. When you want to light up your house you dont go ahead and buy a power plant.
You simply plug-in and pay as you go for exactly what you need. SolidWorks users will be able to do exactly that.

Deelip: In your opinion are the lines blurring between the mid range and high end MCAD systems.
Jeff: Actually, it depends upon the customer. For example, in the case of Terrafugia which I mentioned in the general session today, SolidWorks was good enough to do everything except the stuff that involved composites. That part was achieved by using CATIA. So for them maybe the line between mid range and high end is quite visible. But for others that may not be the case.

Jeff mentioned that on Wednesday we will be shown a demo of SolidWorks communicating with Enovia V6 in the cloud. We will also be shown the new stuff that will be part of SolidWorks 2011.