Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Rumors and Ruminations: Solid Edge v21

"The biggest release since v1"
"The next big breakthrough"

Both of these quotes are part of the marketing effort flying around by the new Solid Edge owner, Siemens. I haven't heard such grandeur since the inventor of sliced bread marketed his idea.

So what could this possibly entail? Strap on your tin foil hats and shine up that crystal ball, here we go.

From the Solid Edge newsgroup, we have heard that the acquisition by Siemens has been a good thing for UGS' product line. Plenty of resources have been added to development and marketing. That lends me to believe the hype, but what is the hype about?

* My guess, GUI overhaul. First and foremost we're looking at a Vista, i.e. MS Office 2007, interface. A brand new GUI is the only thing as unique as an original launch of the software. But there has to be more because a simple GUI change will not "change the world of digital product development."
* More interaction among the Velocity Series of programs: CAD (SOLID EDGE), CAM (NX CAM EXPRESS), CAE (FEMAP EXPRESS), as well as document management and workflow (TEAM CENTER EXPRESS) has to be a part of it. The world is no longer just CAD based. The entire value stream must be optimized in order to have a huge breakthrough that will change digital design.
* A change to DirectX from OpenGL. I have to list it as a separate item, but really it is a part of the GUI change and utilization of the Windows graphic libraries. Remarkably, I'm not totally against this change. Alibre has been using DirectX and I have not come across any issues with it vs. OpenGL. I kind of like the ability to use less expensive graphics cards and maintain the same level of performance.

To be a bit more facetious, what if bigger just means it ships on two DVDs instead of one?
What if bigger just means they added more features? C'mon, in v1 all the features are new. From that point on, it's just an incremental addition of features. Perhaps they've doubled the number of features, or commands needed to create a feature, or something just as ridiculous.

OK, so maybe not so ridiculous is that they are all new features. Why isn't it ridiculous? Look at CoCreate or SpaceClaim. It's a whole new way of performing an old method of CAD. SE has been developing their Direct Modeling approach for a few years. Is v21 the epitome of that effort and therefore SE is no longer parametric in the way we are used to parametric being defined? Personally, I hate the sketch-and-extrude method of modeling. I think it is slow and resists creativity, not to mention functionality for future, unplanned changes that differ from the originator's design intent.

Here's my hope: Solid Edge v21 is a completely new architecture with a brand new concept of parametric solid modeling tied to a more efficient value stream throughout the entire workflow of engineering, design, and manufacturing.
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