Friday, December 28, 2012

From V6 to 360 - 2012 MCAD

Year 2012 started with a hope to see the raise of a a new cad - SolidWorks V6, the replacement of SolidWorks V1 . SolidWorks are playing the  "yes or no" version of V6 for several years now  postponed the launch at 2013 and reduced expectations about the capabilities of the new CAD software. The V6 Scheduled to SolidWorks World next January, is now aimed for concept design. Do you have any idea what that means? And, If V6 is for concept design what is V1 good for?

Siemens new 3D Sync look old  
My unwritten rule for CAD says that from year 2013, CAD programs can not be considered modern if they don't Include the next two technologies: cloud computing and direct editing capabilities. Cloud computing does not require a "ghost program" like Google Docs.  Cloud computing can refer to software that transfers some processing work and document managing to the cloud  such as Google Earth.
Direct editing is the ability to edit three-dimensional Solid files regardless feature history or the software that created them.

All indications shows that SolidWorks V6 will meet my "Modern software" rolls. With the V6, SolidWorks  finally can offer direct editing and, at least according to preliminary reports, it will have cloud capabilities. For those wondering about the name V6, the new software is based on a browse technology from the parent company Dassault Systemes. Dassault's flagship software, Catia is now at version 6 or V6.

Cloud Computing
Autodesk WS
While Siemens and PTC completely ignored my predictions for 2012 (Probably because I wrote them only in Hebrew), Autodesk has demonstrated attentiveness, and all its software that are not tied are flying to the cloud.  For 2012 Autodesk released a new  PLM solution that  is entirely in the cloud . The PLM 360 is the first in a series of applications that have the surname 360 which, by Autodesk terms, is Cloud.  Autodesk began to offer cloud capabilities  for all of it's product line being the first major CAD player to do so. Customers who bought Autocad or Inventor for example, got a huge cloud storage space of 25 GB and more (Bye bye DropBox) with cloud units (CU), a new concept allowing to acquire cloud processing services such as render, simulation and so.

Autodesk released last year a huge number of applications and new technologies to cloud and mobile computing, Android and iOS. Two years ago, from the entertainment area at the old port of Tel Aviv,    Autocad WS rise from an Israeli company which was acquired by Autodesk, The WS is a DWG drafting software that is cloud, mobile and free. Also there is the 123D family of software. The free cloud, Mobile / PC / Mac  tools aimed to hobbies and  children got a  boost in 2012 and, added three-dimensional CAD capabilities to the browser. Now, you can plan in 3D from your internet  Browser and not only plan, additional software help to manufacture or 3D print the results.
Autodesk also  released the first cloud technology Finite Element simulation software  with an innovative business model of "pay per use" and, 3D scanning software that uses the smart phone camera and performs the calculation and construction of surface at the cloud to stitch a 3D model.

2012 was the year that the industries start to noticed the potential of the mobile devises and smart phones . The popular eDrawing viewer software found its way to Apple devices and, like PTC Creo viewing software, ignores users with Android devises.  Even Siemens's forgotten software, Solid Edge, revived a Viewer app  for Android and iOS.
Autodesk, that continues to lead the pack with a variety of drawing, sketching, viewers,  and Simulation apps for mobile (17 different applications !) Added recently the FormIt,  a modelling software for the Ipad,  similar the popular SketchUp software.

Vertical Solutions
Smart software solutions that focuses on specific areas such as molding, construction or production lines design were previously reserved mainly to the expensive high end software . with 2012 we see the mainstream software provider putting more focus at different vertical markets. Autodesk with the  Suites, bundle the cure software like Autocad, Inventor and Revit with new items like Autocad electrical to  cover rage of capabilities for various design segments  such as  the Factory design suite  for factory and assembly line planing and design.
SolidWorks too entered this year into the vertical solutions market with Solidworks Electrical  and SolidWorks plastic, both from a third party partner.

The 3 trends reviewed here will likely continue to lead the CAD world in 2013.
At least two completely new CAD software will be announced in 2013 from SolidWorks and Autodesk.  See also earlier post on "The Battle to the cloud"

Finally, I would like to thank the thousands of readers who bothered to read my thoughts this year. Thanks to dozens of responders here, LinkedIn and directly to me.Very special thanks to few who bothered to click on the ads on the page !
The most popular post I published in 2012 is:

Have a Successful Year!

Gal Raz

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Battle to the cloud

Fusion 360 - a new CAD era ? 

Almost everyone who follows the CAD field in the last 20 years can tell you the biggest mistake of Autodesk which, in the mid-nineties, allowed a small start-up company from Concord Massachusetts to precede it with a new software who took the lead at the SMB MCAD market. Those involved in the industry, also heard the story of how and why Autodesk missed the purchase of SolidWorks. The version I heard, suggest the  two sides set to close this acquisition when a director at Autodesk told SolidWorks  they will have to delay the  plans to launch the new software until they change it to Autodesk own DWG format. SolidWorks blew up the meeting and set out an independent (and later acquired by Dassault Systemes). Autodesk then develop the Autodesk Inventor, a new Windows native solid modeler but lost 3 important years battling SolidWorks with an old looking solution based on AutoCAD. 
A few years later, when Revit for architecture released and proposed a smart 3D architectural design, Autodesk was quick to acquire the company and make the software a market leader next to the common AutoCAD.
Since then, it seems Autodesk look closely at the market and checks carefully any trend or new beginning.
It turns out that SolidWorks announcement two years ago, that they are moving to a next-generation cloud based solution as a replacement to the current successful CAD software, did not leave Autodesk indifferent.  While SolidWorks delay the launch of the new product to 2013 and changed its position, Autodesk, determined not to be left behind this time, released this week the opening shot in what is going to be the race to the cloud. The Autodesk Fusion 360 is a brand new 3D solid modeler. The software uses cloud technology to perform some tasks. Similar to the Fusion software and the 123D free modeler the software performs operations and geometry changes directly on the three-dimensional topology regardless of the model's history. Approach called "direct edit".
SolidWorks V6 

Soon we will see SolidWorks giving more details about the mysterious V6 version. The software should be exposed at the SolidWorks world in late January 2013. Autodesk not yet released the beta version of the new software, Autodesk Fusion 360 but, opened the registration to download the beta. The two new programs will be available in 2013 and both will be sold aside the flagship programs of each company, Autodesk Inventor and SolidWorks. It looks like Autodesk's new infant has a better starting point.  Autodesk has gained extensive practical experience in the last two years with direct editing software. Inventor Fusion beta has long been available for free download and more than a million users took advantage of this opportunity. Fusion 360 will use the same geometry kernel as Inventor (and AutoCAD) and therefore will allow a seamless file transition with the flagship software. SolidWorks on the other side, will use at new software for the first time the Catia GSM geometric engine (kernel). Major differences between the CGM and SolidWorks V1 Parasolid, are expected to create significant problems when sharing files between programs.
After 17 years of evolving technology in the CAD software. 2013 is expected to introduce a new generation of modern software.

Gal Raz