Solid Edge University 2012 Day 1

There is simply too much going on here to write about it all at once in detail. Solid Edge is putting on a great show. This is definitely an event for CAD users. The main session today had presentations from Karsten Newbury, Tony Afuso, Dan Staples, Local Motors, and Jim Brown of Tech-Clarity.

I’ve written about Local Motors before. I think this is basically a kit car company, and the main “innovation” is how they manipulate CAD companies and press to give them attention. It’s a cool story and all, but come on, $75k for a car you thrash off-road? That’s not a “car”. At 400+ hp and 22 mpg hwy it’s not green either. Kit cars that you customize are not a new idea by a long shot. It’s cool, yes, but “crowd source” has not produced something I want, need, or would buy,  nor does this prove crowd source a worthy process. Is it worthwhile for Siemens to give away software for this experiment? Probably. This is good for both sides, but the hype on the LM side seems fabricated.

One of the keynotes was Jim Brown a CAD industry analyst from Tech-Clarity. Jim did a study of the correlation between companies that are successful and companies that use good data management practices. The study, data and analysis looked good. The only thing I questioned was stuff that was maybe out of his control. I’m not sure this talk was directed at the right audience. Jim did what he could to make the topic of study data about PLM/PDM interesting, but I think he should have been talking to an “opt in” crowd maybe in a break out rather than to the general session. His discussion of data management metrics was intended to be a lead-in to Dan Staples talk about Insight XT, a new intermediate data management option. It just seemed a little awkwardly placed to me.

Anyway, those were my two main complaints about the event so far, which are A) an old complaint and B) a minor complaint.

Karsten’s talk dealt with a lot of topics, but the main thing I was interested in was “community”. My ugly mug made the big screen, and my blog got a main stage shout-out, which was cool. I do think this blog has a role in the broader community. Karsten is also planning more regional summits, and talking about local user groups, both topics I’ve had a fair bit of experience with. Having an active community of users will help speed the growth of the software.

The main points I took from Tony’s talk were that Solid Edge is really settling into life with Siemens. Siemens has deep pockets, and values innovation. Also, because Siemens is actually a manufacturer, they understand the value that Solid Edge brings to the table. Other owners of the UGS company and products didn’t always share that understanding. Everyone involved, including users, seem to agree that Solid Edge is finally thriving under the ownership of Siemens.

When I talk to some Solid Edge employees, I every now and then pick up some sense of resignation or defeat. These guys have been a distant 3rd or 4th in the CAD market for a while now, and the thought that they might someday be on top seems a foggy dream. I don’t get this from everyone, but there have been a few conversations where I sensed maybe some habitual resignation to losing. Winning will be easier when the whole team is wholeheartedly on board. Enthusiasm is infectious. But so is doubt. This battle is just beginning.

Dan Staples and Doug Stainbrook presented the What’s New for ST5. There are an unbelievable number of enhancements. I think I saw a number like 570 in the drawings area alone, with 250 or so in each parts and assemblies. With a list like this, you can only show the highlights. I tweeted most of the big things this morning, but I’ll go through and do a more detailed post on some of the enhancements.

The audience’s reaction to the enhancements was appreciative, I thought. I didn’t hear any grumbling, but before I’m definitive about that, I’ll want to talk to Mr. Mileti and of course Rick Mason. A fair amount of the enhancements seemed to be catch-up stuff, catching up to SW, but in several areas they didn’t just catch up, but went past what SW can do. This would include areas like multibodies, mirrored assemblies, cam mate capabilities, slots modeling, alternate position view drawings, and so on.

And of course one of my favorite announcements was “watch this space” with regard to Solid Edge surfacing. In ST5, Solid Edge added functionality to the N-sided patch, getting Parasolids updated for the task. There is apparently more in the works. I guess I’ll have to wait a year to write about that, though.

I didn’t see anything that Dan announced where I said, “Aw, that was a waste of time”. They did announce a lot of non-CAD stuff, but that’s ok, as long as they have fulfilled the first obligation to CAD users. For example, steady state thermal analysis, new FEA meshing capabilities, wire board harness drawings, and Insight XT data management were all fairly major non-CAD improvements, but they were offset by the dimension editing options, live rules selection options, N-sided patch, multibodies, and some great new assemblies stuff.

Solid Edge gets it. Whatever SW is smoking these days is not affecting the guys in Huntsville. Things change. I get that. And if DS wants to change SW into a visual entertainment software, well, that’s fine with me. I know of another CAD company that’s going to keep delivering stuff that CAD users need.


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  1. Wow, sounds like you guys are having a lot of fun. Too busy at work this year and couldn’t attend, really hate it!   All the new enhancements show Solid Edge is listening to their customers.  Solid Edge’s attention to their customers is why my company is switching from SW to Solid Edge!  Keep us updated on the fun. Can’t wait to hear more.

  2. “I’ve written about Local Motors before. I think this is basically a kit car company, and the main “innovation” is how they manipulate CAD companies and press to give them attention.”

    LOL! so true

    Solid Edge is building momentum, SolidWorks is maintaining the status quo almost dead in the water currently. Let’s see what happens next.

    SolidWorks may bet the farm on SolidWorks V6 :-0


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