SWW13: So What Does it All Mean?
There’s a lot of stuff flying around. I think some people are starting to get wind of some of the stuff we’ve been talking about here for a couple of years. Here’s a link to the SW forum. That conversation is a few days old, and doesn’t have anything new in it, aside from different sources. Scott Baugh was a SW reseller employee for a while, and has always been a SW fanboy. He’s excitable. Seeing him say something that isn’t entirely positive about SW is a shock. Not sure who his source is, but there are a lot of disgruntled former SW employees running amok these days. I don’t believe the “Siemens asking for their Parasolid back” thing is true, I suspect Scott misunderstood something. I have nothing to go on except my own hunch and the word of people I don’t trust, but I don’t believe it’s true.
Anyway, that story really doesn’t have anything to do with SWWorld. The first part of the SWW story has to start with the fact that they “only” had 4500 people in attendance this year. Last year 5600. This year, economically speaking, was supposedly better than last year, so the drop in attendance must have had some other cause. Someone said that Matt West, the hapless social media manager, attributed the drop in attendance to “location”. Disney World. Really. Location? If you had said Trenton, NJ or Stockton, CA, or Scottsbluff, NE, I might agree. But Disney World is a location that doesn’t attract convention goers? Matt West is gonna get his “pass” card revoked. Since he started at SW in about 2008 or so, I’ve given him a pass on most of what he says because he’s just the guy in the middle. But when you come out with something like “Disney is not an attractive convention location”, it’s just a hot, steaming pile of bs.
So attendance is down.I’m not sure how to read that. It’s not the economy. It’s not the location. It must have something to do with customer’s relationship with SW. If people come to SWW because they love SW, they why do they not come? Whenever people don’t believe what I have to say about SolidWorks peaking out (reaching the top of their arc, as we saw with Apple last year), what they don’t realize is that the beginning of the fall-off always starts at the very top- when the company or product is as high as it is going to go, the next thing it does is start coming down. I’m guessing that SolidWorks has peaked. None of the things that made them great are in place any longer. And lets try to remember what made them great:
- “3D on every engineer’s DESKTOP” (emphasis mine – remember, the in the 1980s engineering applications belonged on mainframes)
- by engineers for engineers (no accountants, no spark jockeys, no girly artists)
- focused on mechanical engineering CAD (we slew PTC with this, because they were so distracted by other non-CAD related junk)
Is it ok to grow or stray from your original mission? Growth is inevitable if they do things right. But what has happened is that Dassault started messing with the success of the SolidWorks machine. SolidWorks by itself worked. The change I guess I’m opposed to here is Dassault. There’s NOTHING about Dassault that I find appealing as a company. I would not/will not buy software from Dassault. Is this a nationalistic thing? Not consciously, but I know for a fact I don’t relate to the Dassault vision, and I do resent taking the Americans out of leadership roles. Bernard Charles seemed to gloat at one point from the SWW13 stage “SolidWorks looks like an international company, with a Frenchman and an Italian”, or something to that effect, without sorting through the Tuesday speeches again. Mr Charles seemed to question if Bertrand Sicot was indeed French or American. The Italian of course is Gian Paolo Bassi, VP of R&D.
The next thing was the expected announcement of Catia Lite V6. It came in the form of announcing Mechanical Conceptual. It will beta in May, and release 4th quarter. Again, with Dassault, a fair question would be “what year”. Mechanical Conceptual is a mechanism concept development software. At the press conference, SW officials would not confirm that it was based on the (Catia) CGM kernel. When a company refuses to answer direct questions with direct answers, they give up the right to accuse others of throwing “FUD”. The truth is that
SolidWorks Dassault is purposefully sewing confusion. They could clear it up with a single word, but instead, chose not to. I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that it is indeed based on CGM and V6. It is thinly veiled and severely stripped down Catia assembly modeler. They say it can trade info with SolidWorks, but talk is cheap, especially when no one can use the software to verify for another 10 months.
Funny story, Monica Schnitger was looking for a less clumsy name than the adjective soup SolidWorks Mechanical Conceptual. So she shortened it to SoMeCon. Dave Ault pointed out that it could also be recombined as “Some Con”. I laughed.
In a way, a concept tool is brilliant as a way to introduce V6 because it isn’t expected to have a full palette of tools. Even better is a concept tool that won’t exist for 10 months, because no one can challenge anything you say about it. In another way, it may turn out to be disingenuous. If you start a concept in the new tool, then transfer it through some combination of magic and pain to an old tool, well, that’s the wrong direction.
Participation in the SolidWorks forum Top 10 event leading up to SWW13 was also low, according to Matt Lorono. The Top 10 as listed by SolidWorks was reported in yesterday’s post, but one item that SolidWorks claimed to have already put into the software was again at the top of this year’s list. Apparently, SolidWorks users do not agree that what was added to the 2013 software was indeed “reverse compatibility”. It was a weak attempt in any case. Just allowed them to check a box on a form without fulfilling the spirit of the wish. Users want real compatibility between versions, SolidWorks offers something that only works when it doesn’t matter.
The Top 10… maybe I’m getting a little jaded, but this has almost no affect on me any more. It used to be the main thing I was interested in, aside from what’s new in 2014. This year, none of it excited me at all. You hear the same things over and over in the Top 10, and you get a hyperinflated view of future features. Honestly, eDrawings for Android is the only thing that even gets a rise out of me. Fixed length spline maybe.
My.SolidWorks.com is (from an anonymous tip) led by the same person who led n!Fuze, the failed web-based markup platform. Based on that “experience”, expectations are low. It’s powered by Netvibes and Exalead. Not sure what Exalead does, but I use Netvibes as a web homepage for aggregating blog and news info in a single place. Not sure what the difference between My.SolidWorks.Com and Netvibes will be, it sounds like it does the same thing. Maybe My.SolidWorks.Com will automatically exclude Dezignstuff ;o) Not much to look forward to, but in a year of not much news, it makes the headlines.
eDrawings for Android to me seems more significant than anything else. Matt West at one point said:
That, along with an unfathomable Apple fanboy attitude coming from several DS employees, really rubbed me the wrong way. What it said louder than anything else was that DS had their head firmly planted in their…. uh… sand. Apple was cool, and DS wanted to be cool, so they were ignoring the facts. First of all, people don’t just carry around 10″ tablets everywhere they go, but they do carry around phones, and Android phones are big enough to see things on, even if iPhones aren’t. Secondly, there were more Android devices out there than iOS. The fact that DS reversed on this issue means that they aren’t as irretrievably stupid as they first portrayed themselves. That’s as positive as I can take that one. Vajrang Parvate and Matt West were going out of their way to support the iOS only policy. They were clearly wrong then, and fortunately someone with an open mind realized this more recently and reversed course.
Again, though, not due out until summer (which year). eDrawings on Android is something I will use frequently.
And then, did you notice the Catia sessions in the breakouts? The writing is on the wall. Wake up people. For Catia sessions to get into SWW, well, it doesn’t happen by accident.
When put together, what does all this mean? I think it means that DS is taking a step backwards. They heard, understood, and are acting on the criticism that they don’t understand the primary SolidWorks constituency. They are slowing down the V6 development. If SolidWorks V1 has a renewed lease on life, it is primarily because of the backlash against V6, vapor-ware as it is. V6 for the mid-market will be developed in chunks. Simple part and assembly modeling first. Maybe simple drawings next. Maybe a complex shape concepter after that. So in this way, V6 will be phased in over time, and you may buy portions of it to complement SolidWorks, although I frankly doubt there will be much in terms of compatibility. When the development is ready, it will replace SolidWorks.
The scary thing here is the cloud. And this gets scarier the more you see how hard this is being pushed by a lot of people. All of the people pushing cloud have something to sell. Cloud will not be pushed for technical reasons, or performance reasons, we are all getting a hard sell because this benefits the developers. Technical sessions on the cloud during the breakouts, hardware vendors pushing data center hardware. From one guy who’s behind the scenes, the way DS is developing its own cloud is producing something that even he, as a cloud enthusiast, wouldn’t put his own data on. This is why DS is so vague about stuff. They know that the details are not only hard to swallow, but will be difficult to accept or pay for.