Direct Vs History Debate

3d cad softwareThis is a follow up report from the web event led by Design World which I announced in an earlier blog post.

There must have been some last minute changes in the Design World Direct Vs History debate, because Autodesk didn’t have a representative participate. Chad Jackson instead rounded out the panel in the role of industry wonk.  So we had Chad, Dan Staples, and Brian Thompson from PTC.

It was really good to see people from rival CAD companies agreeing, and even building on each other’s answers. A further surprise to me came when it was announced that the event was sponsored by PTC. This was truly an even where everybody wins. Design World got a good bit of traffic through their site, Siemens PLM and PTC got to tout products, Chad Jackson got some airtime, and skeptical end users got to ask real experts about their nagging questions.

The questions posed by the audience started out pretty easy, and I thought got progressively more thought provoking. People who were obviously consumed with history-based modeling asked questions about what associativity meant in direct editing, what dimension-driven editing meant, and several other questions that people really should have been asking 7 years ago when this was all starting to develop.

Design World said that they would have a recording of the session and a PDF of the powerpoints used. They didn’t have links available, but if you are interested, I would start looking at this link. They also said that they would open up the discussion on the Engineering Exchange part of Design World.  If you’re interested in this conversation, please check that link every other day or so. I’ll also post the official links here once they come available.

The good stuff that will come from this session (which was more of a panel discussion than a debate) will be a better educated CAD public about the reality of working with non-history CAD. The terminology for all this was a little sticky at the event, and I think continues to be not as descriptive as it should be. I hate to say we need another marketing buzz word, but we do need a phrase to describe the combination of history and non-history into a single part document. Synchronous Technology really means the Siemens PLM specific implementation of direct editing and all the goodies around it that makes it so powerful, but we usually use the Synchronous term to refer to the whole ball of wax, meaning history and non-history hybrid. But PTC will not/cannot use the Synchronous Technology phraseology, and is probably also looking for some word other than “direct edit” to describe their system. We need a generic phrase that hopefully does not use the word “hybrid”, as hybrid has come to mean too many things in CAD: wireframe/solid/surface, 2D/3D, nurbs/mesh, etc.

Updated: February 20, 2014 — 10:22 pm


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  1. Matt

    I use the terms linear modeling and none-linear modeling to talk about each system.

    traditional modeling has this linear dependency between feature (parent/child)

    Direct editing does not have this linear dependency.

    Both can be parametric.

    So we can have a linear parametric model or a none-linear parametric model.

    how that sound?

    1. That sounds like a sensible approach. Has this been catching on with people you talk with?

      1. Hi Matt

        To some extend yes, people better perceive the difference between the two.

        At some point I was so into that lexis thing that I even try to create one

        I should revisit this one

        Take a look and let me know

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