Solid Edge and the Night of Sharp Knives

This author catches flack sometimes from various places and one of the ones lately has been from some fans of Solid Edge. Of course I am in that number but I am not blind to what the plans just might be for SE as demonstrated by the actions taken and not the few words spoken by Siemens SE and the Siemens Corp people. I get an email today reminding me of the October SE University and following the bread crumbs tells me why for the first time this premier annual SE event is to be well after the typical SE rollout time frame. It is because the whole thing is to be buried as a footnote into the world of Siemens PLM World and pretty much ignored from there. Why do I say this? Follow me as I use Siemens own pressers and words and I ask you to tell me how I am wrong in my conclusions. Then if you think I am wrong present evidence as compelling as what I bring forth here today regarding the future for SE to support your opinion. Please, it would be nice to be wrong here but where is any evidence to support the bright future idea.

http://blog.industrysoftware.automation.siemens.com/blog/2015/05/18/solid-edge-st8-design-without-boundaries/ will take you to an interesting release where it is announced that SE ST8 will be released at—- PLM World in Dallas this week. I had not seen this before and the only announcement I remember seeing regarding SE ST8 which I had assumed would be rolled out at the premier SE event has been announced instead for this PLM World. So now I begin to understand why SEU 2015 was so delayed. There is history here and I sat there in the middle of it and what I will tell you is from personal experience with witnesses who also saw this.

The year is 2009 and I ran all the SE sessions with the dreaded blue survey forms in hand for the PLM World in Nashville that year. It was what directly got me involved with SE as an active advocate for change when much to my amazement there were only 37 actual SE users there in attendance out of over 50,000 SE users by a Joe Greco estimate. I’ve been told there were over 500 in the annual Summit as it was called back in Cincinnati in 2005. But some wise people somewhere in the corporate UGS food chain decided that they needed to save money and looked for unnecessary things they could afford to cut out. So they killed the Summits and rolled it into PLM World where SE users DID NOT want to be. It was made clear to them they were not important and by 2009 the results were irrefutable. Karsten Newbury and Don Cooper and I along with a few others decided that it was time to restore a specific annual event for SE users and thus was born the Solid Edge Universities. It was decided that yes an SE user community was worth while and the Universities would be the kick start to a hopefully vibrant user community. There was a lot of fighting over all this and the PLM World people were quite upset. Now these PLM World people are really tight with the NX/UGS side of things and they never did really care about SE. Talking with one of the PLM wheels after the 2009 PLM World he interviewed me to get my opinion on what had happened. I told him that SE needed to have its own separate meeting. You see SE guys are polo shirt casual work a day types and the PLM World people are fussy “professionals” with a bit of look down their nose attitudes for any other than their NX etal peers. We did not belong there and the numbers proved it. Tom Both’s response was well hey, if we do something for you then we will have to do it for all the others who whine too. The concern for user opinions was quite touching and the war against the PLM World way was born that day.

SEU 2012 had a surprise visit from PLM World just after the University was over. Karsten and I were walking to the room that the user group wrap up was to be held in after the last sessions were over. I remember Karsten saying to me that a PLM World guy was going to be there and he asked me not to say a word no matter what this guy did. So we get started and the PLM guy, John something or other and no I am not going to bother to research his last name again, says he is there to find out how to get us back under PLM World auspices. Now poor John is such a perfect example of the problem and no clue about it either. He was the only person in the room including the leadership from SE who had a suit and tie on. It is how they dress you know and also how they think. Two separate worlds. I even asked him as I walked with him after the meeting if he had noticed he was the only one in the room with a suit and tie on. He laughed and said yes but was, he was in marketing now I kid you not, oblivious to there being any significance there. I find this attitude bleeds over in other areas too and it is why the UGS NX guys try to smother SE and never understand that these programs appeal and sell to two different markets. They perceive it as a threat to NX.

But anyway back to the meeting. I am listening to poor old John pontificate a bit and sitting there in silence fulminating. Finally Matt Johnston had enough and he spoke up rather bluntly about all of the junk the PLM World guy was saying and Mr. PLM John says they would form a committee to study what the problems are. I kid you not. The true Siemens answer for anything I guess. Form a committee and have lots and lots of meetings and decide nothing in them but bury the problem so you don’t have to deal with it. In any case Karsten knew what I thought and he wanted to see what the other users thought. Karsten you see cared and I will never forget him looking time and time again at the actual users to gauge their reactions to PLM John. It was quite clear that SE users wanted no part of what PLM John had to offer and John was being given enough rope to hang himself by. But you see the good guys that used to run SE are now gone and we are back to the loving hands of PLM World and UGS/Siemens.

SE ST8 to be rolled out at an event that has not one thing for SE I can find in the agenda. http://www.plmworld.org/d/do/5396 is the link to the full agenda and I have looked twice for SE anything. Please help me to find what I may have missed and point out to me the nice little SE things. So exactly what are they rolling out and to whom if it is not on the agenda anyway? Why even bother with this stupidity is my question and do they think SE users appreciate this type of patronizing attitude of out right neglect after some thrilling empty words announcement? No sad to say the thought processes never got that far. Siemens UGS PLM World just simply does not care.

http://www.plm.automation.siemens.com/en_us/products/solid-edge/st8/index.shtml will take you to the ST8 new stuff. Go there and please tell me how exciting you find it. I can only hope they have a lot more held back. I see incremental improvements on things already there which in aggregate can be quite beneficial but nothing new unless the idea of porting to a Surface Pro is exciting to you. Personally speaking I find a real 15″ Workstation Laptop at a minimum to be worthwhile in spite of the larger size since I want to be able to fully work when I get to my destination. But I know little bitty screens and crippled computing capabilities excite some so there you go.

Question for you dear readers. Is there a discernible pattern of behavior here and what does this foretell for the future of SE if this current attitude is to become permanent Siemens policy? I want to hear from any SE user regarding what you see and hear this week at PLM World. If indeed there are any SE attendees to begin with. RIP.

4 responses to “Solid Edge and the Night of Sharp Knives

  1. Actually, I’ve had the pleasure of working and interacting with Jon (or “PLM John” as you call him) on several occasions. I will attest that he is sincere in his desire to help and support the community overall. The fact that he wore a suit and tie and maybe talked above the audience is not his fault, but rather that of Siemens who failed to properly brief him of the environment. From your description, Jon approached his meeting with the SE user group as he would any meeting, one in which he typically presents to directors, VPs, and C-suite individuals. I’m sure if Jon know that he would be presenting to polo-wearing-casual-work-a-day types that he would have approached the meeting differently. He probably still would have worn a suit because dressing up to present to an audience is just good manners and shows respect to the audience.

    Back when I was actively writing, I was invited to PLM World. I requested a Solid Edge heavy agenda due to personal interests. At that time, the new version of SE had already been announced, but the SE folks were “required” to make an appearance at PLM World. Because all of the good announcements were already made, the SE folks regurgitated the same slides, so the presentations were lackluster at best. Also, as you mentioned, there were only a few dozen users attending any of the SE sessions. And, the SE track was only a day and half long (not the full week of PLM World) and stuck in a single room waaayyyyy in the back corner of the convention center, out of the way of the other attendees. It was an insult.

    Final thoughts:
    1) You missed a lot of information regarding why SEU is set for October. Dan Staples has shared many reasons why, including the fact that the SE team has found that users get more out of the learning/training sessions if they’ve had a couple months with the new release beforehand.
    2) ST8 was announced at PLM World because it is the ONLY Siemens user event between now, when SE ST8 will be released, and SEU. In order to get enough press on the subject, it had to be announced at the event. If it wasn’t, would I be wrong in assuming that you would be ranting on how little press SE gets and why it is the red-headed step-child with no marketing budget that is the best CAD system no one has heard about?
    3) While I agree with some of your sentiments, mainly I abhor the idea of SE rejoining PLM World, the way you have come to the conclusion is misguided due to lack of information. If you can’t even be bothered to research Jon’s last name, obviously you failed to fully research the reasons behind the decisions that were made. Here’s hoping the new face of SE isn’t as bad as you play it out to be. But unless some substantial information about ST8 comes out before May 31 (like the full Release Notes), I won’t be renewing my maintenance. Autodesk Fusion360, here I come!

    • Hi Scott,
      Jon may well be a nice guy and that was not what I was really talking about. It is the continued disconnect and the lack of desire to study the target group I refer to. It is the idea that the SE users had grievances with PLM World and how it was run and the proof manifested in the decline in attendance. Those things which PLM World was not interested in addressing. The dismissal of SE users I experienced with the PLM World types was all I needed to see and the attitude has not changed. Ask Ken Grundy about the thankless task of being the SE SIG for more info. I am sure he can tell you more.

      Certainly I have no doubt Dan Staples want’s SE to succeed. I don’t know a lot of people in upper levels anymore and the information I do run across is not much. When I can get no one to talk about what is going on I eventually suspect there are things they would rather not talk about or nothing good to talk about and that leaves me to connect the dots as the empirical evidence indicates. I have offered space here before and will do so again right now to give SE and Siemens air time. Maybe they give those press items to the multitude of SE bloggers out there besides me in the thriving SE blogosphere. They are not much concerned about perception nor their public face and as far as I can tell they do not much worry about SE either which is why I am left with negative things to say about Siemens control of SE. SE is the best based on it’s own merits but Siemens does not care. It does not matter what Dan Staples wants because Siemens controls the purse strings and the UGS guys have prevailed. I do know some things you do not and was there right in the middle of some of this arguing that went back and forth and I am here to tell you that the premise of UGS/Siemens animosity are not my words they are from others who were in a real position to know far better than you.

      OK about this time frame thing here. Don’t you see any neglect towards SE in that there will only be these two events and so they had better get something in there while they can? That the decision was made so late in the game that there is nothing shown for this SE ST8 roll out at PLM World. What is the purpose of announcing something so late in the game that there will be no sessions nor indeed any users there to see it? Where is the complete list of new features and the sessions to talk about it along with the press releases? So we are back to square one and SE will survive on it’s own with no publicity and marketing between SEU 2014 and basically SEU 2015 because PLM World will have SE ST8 in name only. Where is the publicity they were so worried about since it is as of right now during this fabled event non existent? Am I missing something here?

      My take on SEU in October by the way is that this is the replacement for the Summits and not in addition to. I agree about the idea of having software in user hands even though I believe most other CAD companies use the annual event as their roll out with the RTM quickly to follow. SE did have quite a lag there. But the end result is again a reduction in the number of events for SE users. The fact this is the only other event as you say tells me they just don’t care. This year there will only be one event and a joke in Dallas that will have people laughing at the insanity of a roll out with no “roll”. I would have loved to have been in the meeting where this was decided to hear the logic behind it all knowing the decision was to late in the day for anything to be done for SE at PLM World.

      No I do not worry about Johns name. I don’t care though I did look briefly for it. His last name is irrelevant to the story.

      I am with you on ST8. I figure I can work for many years with what I already have and if they want more money give me more in the way of goodies.

      I want to believe your side of the story but I have been told point blank that there are UGS people who have the intent to wreck SE’s chances and as far as I am concerned based upon the actions I see they told me the truth. Please identify anything you can point to which would demonstrate with actions any sort of aggressive desire to market SE and the community which would help sell new seats. Don’t defend their decision to in essence reduce the public foot print of SE once again because in spite of pretty words this is what they have done.

      Scott you know I was deeply involved with SE for some time and was in the middle of events in person so for example like in the story in this post what I say is not a created fable or conjecture. I was there for a lot of these things. People have no idea of how petty the battles Karsten and Don had to fight just to get SE to move forward were. Never ending. I stand by my cynicism and we will probably never see eye to eye on some of my thoughts but I have good reasons for all of them. This latest PLM World thing is just more fuel to the fire of my cynicism because it is just more evidence of how seriously they take SE.

      I hope they are listening to you regarding your comments on ST8. I have nothing but admiration for what you have done with SE and your work there. It ought to be a wakeup call to them when you talk about leaving to. I find it of interest you are also contemplating Autodesk. I think that while they have nothing as good as NX or SE for design they are overall the most interesting and forward looking CAD software company right now.

  2. Invest in the company, not the product.

    Products come and go. Products change with new revisions and updates. Products get discontinued. But, if the company behind those products is good, they will consider their customer base and have a migration plan figured out prior to discontinuing a product – and hopefully not one that just forces customers to pay more for the new product.

    That’s why I’m focusing my personal business dollars on Autodesk. Like you say, they are forward thinking and have a range of products that satisfy the needs of makers/hobbyists to professionals and large organizations. The migration between the different products may not be seamless, but the vision Autodesk has seems to be narrowing the gap at price points realistic for each target customer.

    Obviously neither of us have the full story behind Siemens and Solid Edge. What’s interesting is that even with the limited information each of us has, we both come to the same, or at least similar, conclusion. For years we were led to believe that Solidworks was dead and being replaced with CATIA Light. I’m afraid the message has changed and Solid Edge users don’t even get an “NX Light” in its place. Will Solid Edge die? Not while Dan and a few other long time Solid Edge (not UG/NX, UGS, or Siemens) folks are there. But once a few key personalities retire or, like Karsten, move onto greener grass, I fear for the future of Solid Edge.

    If only a venture company could purchase the Solid Edge brand out from Siemens and run it as its own entity. Then I wouldn’t have to invest in Siemens.

    • I agree completely and while I do not consider Inventor to be the equal of SE at this time I do trust the guy running Autodesk far more and believe they do care. It boggles the mind to know that they will give startups free software to use as a hand up. They also have by far the best deal out there with Inventor Pro HSM for value for your dollar and like you say it is MY money after all. They are doing all the right things and moving in the right direction with long term planning and they want you as a customer and not chattel.

      Getting the complete SE story is an impossible job. I will never know it all but what I do know says it is downhill after Karsten and Don were run off due to Siemens imposed shackles they could not live with. I figure Dan will go to within the next couple of years for the same reason. Will SE die? Who knows and I remember thinking SW would be gone by now.

      I have said periodically that it would be nice if Carl Bass would buy SE too. SE was bought up by UGS/Siemens for the ST tech and I don’t see them ever selling SE with that so it will never be sold. So that means it won’t be watered or fertilized nor sold off to a company that would care about it’s future.

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