On February 20th, there will be a debate hosted by Design World and led by Chad Jackson between Dan Staples of Siemens PLM, and personnel from PTC and Autodesk. The topic of the debate will be “The Pros and Cons of 3D Modeling Paradigms: Direct Modeling and Parametric Modeling”.
Sometimes debates are as interesting for who is involved as for who is not involved. I think that’s partially the case for this event. Notice that Dassault is not participating. I doubt it is because they were not invited, maybe it’s just that they aren’t ready to come out of the closet with their new non-history Catia-based modeler to the general non-conference attending public.
SolidWorks has a lot of momentum they can live off of for the time being, with a lot of what looks like mild dissatisfaction from their connected customers and denial from those folks who have not yet figured that they are being Mechanical Desktopped.
The one thing about this debate that I’m curious about is that direct modeling and parametric modeling aren’t really opposed to one another. If this is about direct and parametric, we could just see 3 executives generally agreeing with one another, but posturing to say “mines better than yours”. Siemens PLM has an advantage because Synchronous Technology has a lot of practical experience behind it, coming up on its 7th release. Autodesk has the advantage of having TSplines functionality baked into their mechanical modeler. I would not underestimate the value of this, even in a space where machine design is king, the need for non-prismatic shapes is immense. (Ever step into Target or Walmart?) Consumer products are all designed in CAD. And finally, PTC is a formidable force because… because they have such a nice interface and focus on CAD users.
The real debate I would expect would be between direct and history. Between these three players, Siemens PLM, PTC and Autodesk, there isn’t really a proponent of straight history-based modeling. Part of me wonders if the debate title was poorly chosen, or if the history part of the debate became moot by SolidWorks declining to participate.
Anyway, I’m looking forward to this event, and if you’re interested in which company/product really understands what users need in developing the future of CAD, you should attend too.
Sign up for the Design World webinar here.
 Design World indicated that they may change the title of the debate to reflect history-based systems instead of parametric systems. I’m not sure what affect this will have on the debate/discussion, however, since the dynamics between the involved parties and their products are the same.