HUNTSVILLE, AL (Solid Edge ST4 Launch) – The enhancements are coming fast and furious at the Solid Edge ST 4 Launch event. I cannot keep up.* I’m catching a few highlights, especially the ones that are applauded by the attendees. Like Range Offset Value, no more picking on empty space, prevention of assembly relationship loops, shadows that appear correctly even on photo backgrounds (done with an invisible plane)… The cynical and those with the competition might say some enhancements are fixes for problems Solid Edge itself has created. Yeah, that happens. But many are bona fide and welcome improvements. If I was a Solid Edge customer I’d be doing cartwheels.
As Dan Staples, Director of Solid Edge development (aka Papa Edge) lists even more improvements, I realize I am witnessing a genuine and concerted effort to improve the product – an effort contrary to the growing belief in the industry that design software is as good as it can be, that all CAD software can basically do everything, all the features needed have already been added, that CAD software has have achieved parity, that it is more or less a commodity.
Thank you, Solid Edge, for not giving up, for recognizing that, yes, even with one of the most robust and easy to use MCAD software applications in existence, there is still room for improvement, that users’ lives can still be made easier — and there are still customers to be won.
At 250, the attendance at the ST4 Launch may seem small compared to the big annual CAD conferences. Autodesk and SolidWorks measure attendance at their annual events by the thousands. Still, this “launch” is significant in other ways. A gathering of Solid Edge users is a somewhat of a break from the mother ship. Siemens PLM has for several years attempted to lump Solid Edge users with UG users under the PLMWorld umbrella. There was only one problem: Solid Edge users stayed away in droves. The few that did attend PLM Worlds regretted it, telling tales of snooty UG users, being unable to find others like themselves (often cited as the single most valuable benefit of user conferences) and a conference program almost completely filled with UG classes. “We were the red-headed step child,” says one Solid Edge user.
Insiders I spoke with credit Karsten Newberry, Sr VP of Solid Edge for Siemens PLM, as the main reason for Solid Edge coming out from the shadows. Karsten gave the job of creating the ST4 Launch in only a few months to John Fox, formerly from PTC, who with a small but hardworking staff, engineered the entire show, complete with keynotes, a dual track of classes, meals, social events, even 3rd party vendors (my favorite: a cappuccino machine that dispensed coffee –for free!). Though small in scale, Solid Edge now has a scalable template for future events – something that Edgers (as Solid Edge users are often referred to) will no doubt welcome.
*Get all that I missed at What’s New in Solid Edge ST4, by Siemens PLM (PDF)