It’s been a few weeks since I was at the SolidWorks 2013 media event in Waltham, MA. There have since been several articles written about SolidWorks 2013, by Roopinder Tara, Brian McElyea, Anna Wood, Ricky Jordan, Matt Lombard, Randall Newton, and probably many more.
I already gave a preview of my observations about SolidWorks 2013, in the article Gian Paolo Bassi on SolidWorks 2013. Today, I’ll reveal more.
What I saw in SolidWorks 2013 were two distinct things. First was a focus on stability, reliability, and bug fixes. Second was a palette of enhancements that were either technically minor (not requiring tearing apart big chunks of existing code), made at the periphery of the software (not in its core), or added-on (through the API.)
Based not just on what I saw and heard at the media event, but also on comments from confidential sources, I’ve learned what appears to be the deep secret of SolidWorks 2013:
SolidWorks V1 (the current generation of product, which has been developed and sold for about 18 years) is being transitioned from active development to “maintenance mode.”
Now, before you get too excited, I’d like to point out that this doesn’t mean that the program has been abandoned, deprecated, or put on the back burner. It just means that the focus of development for V1 will be likely be bug fixes and improvements that can be made without creating regressions.
Think of the analogy of a building. SolidWorks V1 won’t be getting any new floors, and it’s unlikely that there will be any major demolition. They may move a wall here or there, but most renovation will be non-structural.
For many SolidWorks users who are essentially happy with the program, far from being a bad thing, this is probably a cause for celebration: More reliability, many small functional and performance improvements, and no big disruptive changes to how the program operates. What’s not to love?
DS SolidWorks Corp is exceptionally focused on their user community. While they stumble from time to time (as do all CAD vendors), there’s no way they’re going to abandon a half-million commercial SolidWorks users, and tell them “sorry, we’re not updating your program any more.” If they did that, it would kill their new product sales, but, just as bad, it would kill their revenue from subscription service contracts.
As a purely practical matter, SolidWorks 2013, 2014, 2015, and so on will need to provide enough value to existing users that they want to maintain their subscription service contracts in force. The management of DS SolidWorks recognizes this. There’s no chance they’re going to forget it.
One hint that they understand this can be found on the “jobs” page of the SolidWorks website. There are jobs open for software engineers in sketcher development and CAD assemblies. The descriptions make it pretty clear that these jobs are all about making SolidWorks V1 a better product: “Assist in removing limitations or to extend system capabilities.”
If you’re a SolidWorks user, I’d say it’s well worth looking at the 2013 release. It won’t be flashy, but it’ll help you get your job done better.
P.S. – You may wonder, what about the next generation “V6” SolidWorks products? Yes, the developers at DS SolidWorks are hard at work on the next generation product line. The first product in the line are scheduled to be out next year. But it will be many years and many releases before the V6 generation products become functional and compatible enough to be a practical replacement for the existing V1 generation. My opinion is that you don’t need to worry about DS SolidWorks forcing you to transition from V1 to V6.
Dassault Systemes SolidWorks Corporation www.solidworks.com