I’ve first attended SolidWorks World in 2008 in San Diego, CA as a customer. At SolidWorks World 2009 and 2010, I attended as a member of the Press. In 2010, I participated on the panel in the Stump the Chumps II breakout session. My short debut as a co-presenter was less than glorious but not terribly horrible.
At SolidWorks World 2011 in San Antonio, TX, I will be presenting my first breakout session, Establishing CAD standards within SolidWorks environment. The session will be on Monday 24 at 2:45PM (local time), scheduled in room 202 of the convention center. (All sessions may be viewed at the SolidWorks World 2011 website.) My breakout session is one hour long and will discuss the general areas that require documentation which are essential for establishing company CAD standards within an engineering environment that utilizes SolidWorks.
This session will cover as much as I can in one hour. There will be a discussion on procedure writing techniques, important considerations when establishing standards, and the types of documents that should be written. I will offer some specific advice, but the breakout session will focus on the big picture by providing a general road map for creating and maintaining your own CAD standards.
Monday is a busy day for many attendees. Even still, I’m hopefully that many will join me for my breakout session.
Dassault Systemes recently announced in a press release that Scania chose to invest in ENOVIA as their PLM for integrated production design, product development, processes and manufacturing. Scania is a company of over 32,000 people and is reported to be one of the world’s leading manufacturers of trucks and buses for heavy transport applications, and of industrial and marine engines.
Anders G. Lindberg, technology manager, R&D, Scania states, “the biggest difference [as a result of this investment in ENOVIA] for the user today is that we have a platform where we can construct in 3D from the start and make cross functional use in a whole new way. We also have other possibilities for parametric design, optimization tools and kinematics compared to our previous solution.” Lindberg also talks about CATIA by stating, “we realized that CATIA was still the best authoring solution for us.”
Dassault Systemes seems well positioned to suit the needs of large corporations. However, when one sees press releases that talk about being selected by such organizations, one may be left wondering about Dassault Systemes’ ability to adjust their business model to suit small to mid-size companies. What are the CATIA and ENOVIA adoption rates for smaller organizations? Among those small adopters, how many have positive and beneficial experiences?
The power of SolidWorks Enterprise PDM has given many users streamlined solutions for CAD file management from within the CAD applications. Enterprise PDM is also capable of managing documents which are not CAD. Unlike its support for CAD applications, Enterprise PDM interface is not available within other types of applications, such as Microsoft Office. Office2PDM by Extensible CAD Technologies has changed this. Office2PDM is an add-in for Microsoft Office that offers access to Enterprise PDM functions within Word, Excel, PowerPoint and even Outlook. I recently got a chance to see a demonstration of Office2PDM.
With Enterprise PDM, beginning a change to a MS Office document usually involves closing the Office application (or at least closing the document to be changed), opening the standalone Enterprise PDM application, navigating the vault to the location of the document and then reopening the document from the vault. Office2PDM allows this to occur within the MS Office application. A side pane includes information about the MS Office document’s local version, revision, status and workflow. Many Enterprise PDM functions are also available, including access to any version of the document.
Enterprise PDM vault functions are also accessible from the menu ribbon within each MS Office application.
Additionally, each document’s data card is also accessible from within the MS Office application.
Within MS Outlook, Office2PDM includes a lite version of the Enterprise PDM Dashboard. This add-in is not limited to documents handled via Office2PDM. It shows information about all documents in the vault. One example for its use may be a manager who wishes to see what documents are currently in a workflow. Also, reports about document status may be generated and emailed without the use of an Enterprise PDM license.
Speaking of licenses, for each user of Office2PDM, one Enterprise PDM Contributor level (or above) license is also required. However, this license is only used temporarily when specific tasks are underway. This helps keep Enterprise PDM licenses free and readily shared among more users.
For all this functionality, the price per Office2PDM license seems like a good value. For 15 concurrent licenses, its at about $200 per user for the first year; maintenance each year after would be under $50 per license.
If a company wants to leverage their Enterprise PDM install to cover non-CAD documents, Office2PDM appears to be a safe bet to save money. It will streamline use of the Enterprise PDM vault for MS Office documents. It may also allow small companies to put off investment into bloated PLM applications until a later time. Use of Office2PDM in a larger company may allow its Engineering Department to control their internal documents, such as test protocols, procedures, and reports without getting tangled up in the corporate PLM. Though Office2PDM isn’t for all situations or customers, companies that can use it will benefit.
The buzzword at SolidWorks World 2010 was “cloud”. There was a running gag at the convention, take a shoot of “espresso” (or whatever else your mind can imagine) every time someone uttered the word “cloud” in a presentation or speech. If this game was real, we’d all be dead from alcohol poisoning, er I mean caffeine overdose. All this talk about cloud computing involves creating a new SolidWorks branded interface that uses Enovia technology as its backbone.
According to Bernard Charles, CEO of Dassault Systemes, and Jeff Ray, CEO of Dassault Systemes SolidWorks Corporation, this marriage of SolidWorks with Enovia will bring new functionality, capabilities, and advantages to SolidWorks customers. The first product of this new approach is the brand SolidWorks PLM. The first release of a SolidWorks PLM product will be later this year, according Ray. I’m not sure of the exact name for that first product, but they did use SolidWorks Product Data Sharing at one point.
SolidWorks Product Data Sharing
It’s my impression (at this point in time) that the initial release of SolidWorks Product Data Sharing will not have the full functionality that many users need. A demonstration showed some of its capabilities, which are very rudimentary when compared to Enterprise PDM or SmarTeam. The main focus for the new application appears to be an advanced communication tool, and not an actual functioning PDM or PLM.
The user interface will take on two forms: web client and SolidWorks add-in. In the add-in, users may upload files from a window pane within SolidWorks. They may add comments. If more than one person is logged-in, the comments can function as a real-time chat. Functionality will allow users to invite other non-SolidWorks users via the web client version. Files will have previews, including assembly trees that graphically layout relationships between files. In the web client, 3D viewing of files will include on-screen commenting (redlining) within the view.
Security of the Cloud
Jeff Ray claims the workspace of the new cloud applications will be secure. In fact, Jon Hirshtick is adamant in his belief that cloud computing is far more secure than having data on local hard drives. This doesn’t come from opinionation. It actually comes from experience. SolidWorks is currently fighting a person who stole the source code for a SolidWorks application and is trying to sell it. The person was a former employee in India who stole the code by simply copying from his hard drive and walking out with it one day. Having this data on a cloud network with encrypted access may’ve prevented this theft.
Going the course
Charles and Ray pounded the pavement at SolidWorks World 2010 to get their message across. Despite any flak that Dassault Systemes gets for their new direction, they are going to stay the course. Enovia V6 is the future of Dassault Systemes. Bringing SolidWorks in line with that future is a priority. Charles stated that Dassault Systemes is not divided into SolidWorks and Enovia V5, it is united as V6.
I asked Ray a question about which form the new products will take. The answer, for now, was only that they will offer their customers the choice to remain with their current system or use the new system. In my view, this is corporate speak for “its going to replace what is currently on the market and although they will not leave customers high and dry, they will likely begin to reduce focus to the current system.” But I could be wrong.
Now, in this article, I’m simply reporting on the new direction of SolidWorks as presented to everyone at SolidWorks World 2010. I do have very real concerns about this new approach, which I will cover in a separate editorial (hopefully within a few days).
Another theme of today’s General Session where potential improvements to 3D CAD, much of which is cloud computing based. These include collaboration to allow more than one person to edit the same model at the same time. Searches to use data from the database instead of making models from scratch. Bring a “lifelike experience” (soon to be trademarked term, I’m guessing) to SolidWorks and other applications. Predictive Engineering that can do things like calculate interferences or handle material properties before the user even requests such data. With all these improvements associated with cloud computing, I am willing to predict that there will eventually be no distinction between SolidWorks and Catia.
A new game has taken SolidWorks World 2010 by storm. Count how many times the word “cloud” (as in cloud computing) is spoken. At one point, it might seem that entire speeches consist entirely of the word “cloud cloud cloud cloud cloud cloud cloud cloud cloud.” There’s a message somewhere. Oh, that’s right. Cloud computing is the future of SolidWorks and the rest of the Dassault Systemes applications (maybe even for high security customers).
Cloud computing has many advantages over traditional installed software, according to Jeff Ray, CEO of SolidWorks. No matter how good SolidWorks is, it is still limited by the computer upon which it is installed. A significant investment is required to purchase computers that are powerful enough to get the most out of 3D CAD software. Also, installed software tends to be limited by computer operating systems. SolidWorks, in its current form, will not likely to be ported over to run natively on a MAC OS. Instead, SolidWorks will bypass these limitations with cloud computing. With cloud computing, “SolidWorks” (in whatever form it takes) may run on any platform. In fact, the user’s computer power will play very little roll. CAD files (even hugh assemblies) can be accessed instantly and edited on practically any platform, such as Microsoft, MAC OS, Google OS, Firefox, and iPhone. This is all accomplished without installing any software. They even discussed SolidWorks running seamlessly with ENOVIA V6, maybe even sometime this year.
According to Ray, the new cloud technologies will be rolled out as they are ready. The customer will choose when (if ever) to implement. These improvements represent a “completely new design environment”. Ray also stated that these new techologies where developed in secret and “run like a start up”. Technically, all this cloud talk represents nothing more than vaporware right now. However, if Dassault Systemes delivers, they may have a massive game changer on their hands.