Some Thoughts on Solid Edge and Manufacturing Software

Before we venture into the primary topic of this post I want to reveal some of the thinking behind what I do and say here. Some of you have told me I speak of the same basic things to many times or the same theme to often. Or I am not polite and prim and proper with my comments at times. On the face of it all it may appear to be that way but there is a method to this. You might be surprised how many in the software industry read me. So keep in mind when I choose what to talk about I address two target audiences. One is the users. It is my intent to afford them the customer/user real unvarnished experiences I have and the opinions I form and why I form them. I have some news for you software guys and VARS to. You think I am the only user who has these at times rude things to say you are wrong. I just happen to say them out loud and make sure you hear me. It gripes my rear end to get bad information and then make financial decisions based on sources that did not prove accurate. Sometimes with the best information I can find after digging it is still not enough and over time reality proves the initial conclusions wrong. I will also tell you that.

The second group is those who produce software. It amazes me how willfully tone-deaf many are and how many times you have to bring up the same things again and again before they even begin to think about what you are saying. Sadly the only way to reach many of these guys is repetition and letting them know the problem exists and that we/I know about it. And that one month or a half-year of stonewalling or ignoring this is not going to make the comments go away. I warn the first group whose money and profits are on the line about how they will be treated. I write to the second and often most resistant to reason group in the industry because in many ways getting things fixed is the very best way to protect users. The second group is in general people who have to be dragged into doing what is right far to often and seem to want to communicate with you about once a year if you know what I mean. We live in a strange world as makers where what we sell we have to stand behind and make right or not get paid. Somehow too many software people seem to think right and working and guaranteed are not applicable to them and they should get paid no matter how junky what they make is. Not having even halfway competently working CAMWorks for SE ST7 for seven months is a perfect example of this double standard. It is also a perfect example of a software company that ignored it’s users until it’s feet were publicly put to the fire for many months in a row. So you see there is a reason and even if it bores you to tears remember that it is my desire to see things work right and a little hammer has to hit a big nail many times to drive it home.

I remember getting a call from Karsten Newbury on a Sunday morning two years ago last January. I had posted three ugly posts about those idiots in marketing. They called up and whined to Karsten about can’t you make him shut up!! I was pretty mad and he asked me don’t you want to have these people as friends and to like you? My reply was NO. They are stabbing you in the back. That meant we users to were also getting the knife. I think we all still are but like Karsten I have moved on to greener pastures. I still entertain some sort of hope someone somewhere in a position of authority with Siemens will think about what the UGS SE killers have done and how foolish it is to a company that is starving for better profits to aid in killing a golden egg laying goose because paranoic turf protecting UGS personalities have triumphed over profit oriented rational management. In the mean time I have moved over to Autodesk where I miss SE but live in a much more economically friendly world in a much more useful manufacturing ecosphere.

When I talk bad about SE remember this it is not the technical aspects of the program. With the exception of Second Floor cubical training Guy and some marketing people who suffer from being such and thus detached from any valid life model every one I have ever met and worked with in Huntsville has been top notch. It is my belief that the slowdown in SE improvements are because Siemens is taking to much of the profits from them because they are not interested in the R&D needed to continue SE’s rapid advancements. SE suffers from myopic overlords still and again and maybe forever who knows.

On to Some Thoughts

What prompted this post today was an interesting conversation I had with someone whose name will remain anonymous. Rather than talk about what the subject material of the call was about I am going to talk about what it in part revolved around which is Solid Edge.

I hope my readers know I think of SE as the premier mid range MCAD program for what I do. If you don’t you need to re-read what I have said over the years. From the magic I saw with the very first part edited with Synchronous and through the rough edges of ST1 and 2 and then with the way it should have been from ST3 and on I have always loved the power here. I have recommended and believe sincerely that even the full Inventor or SW shops with gobs of seats should have one seat of SE as a secret productivity weapon using the power of direct editing that they can’t begin to touch.

It is true I am letting my SE subscription lapse on 8-30-15. This has nothing to do though with the power of SE that exists at my fingertips. The power that I still use and then import into Inventor for use with HSM. It primarily is an economic decision based on what I see as the slowdown of new features of use TO ME. It is also because CAM is far more important now and capable CAM like HSM dictates where I need to be. Your needs may be different and you might be thrilled with getting access to SE on a Surface Pro. I still recommend that a shop that is a closed loop manufacturing concern that produces objects from their own CAD designs seriously consider SE. You may decide as I have that the only real value in the future with your subscriptions is updated translators but you can certainly benefit from getting SE into your processes. New to you the power is undeniable and you will benefit.

Throughout the years though SE has been the software that remains anonymous to many because of the people who have dictated this sad result who controlled SE from outside of SE itself. One way or another whether from venture capitalists who bought a vehicle to manipulate quick money out of and had no idea of the jewel hidden within or UGS which desired some technology but could care less about its parent. SE has suffered from what can only be described as benign neglect to outright stifling by those who do not like it. It should not be this way and the primary reason I am leaving SE is because it IS this way.

I am quite certain that many within Siemens and elsewhere think oh good, the idiot is leaving SE and I hope he just finally shuts up. They fail to remember that I did work in the belly of the beast to try to change things I thought were needed through the ground rules they worked by. We see things quite differently I guess. Whole years go by and the marketing people see meetings and busy schedules and think things are being done. I see from the outside no change no progress and no indication they even care about whether the product they want us to buy is made as profitable as possible for us and them. Another year where my income is affected and I can’t get back what I have lost. Remember, corporate marketing and software guys get paid no matter how worthwhile their work or results so they never suffer financially like we business owners do when things are screwed up. They live in a world insulated from the results they produce whereas our bottom lines get directly effected immediately. Is it any wonder why they can’t relate to us?

I hear comments about this John Miller who is supposed to be doing things behind the scenes but you could not prove it by me. His desire to communicate with his customers is zero. Even the comments “he” made on the Siemens BBS were written for him. We as customers make plans that span years and part of what we need is to see that our important components are in place and can be relied upon to stay so and be so in competent and qualified ways. Even worse is that the company that he works for thinks this silence of his is acceptable and they make no effort to change what we see or hear.

What we actually see is only longevity. Mr Big never talks to us and we deserve the respect of being informed of plans for the future. Hearing nothing and knowing nothing is not sufficient and
customers will fill that information void with conclusions over time right or wrong. This is the guaranteed result that is justly earned by a company that evidently does not care enough for us and our future proof plans. No future proof data has been forthcoming. Is there a future besides the one the SW users have been subjected to? Who knows and those who do are not saying.

So we see the ecosystem our important tool is relegated to in the eyes of those who control it. And many of us wonder when the shoe will drop and we are going to be told here is your incentive to buy Catia or NX and your favorite program is now history. And this perpetuates because those who can put a stop to this are not talking. The longer they do not talk the worse our suspicions become.

This is manifest in other ways to. Is the pace of improvements slowing down but you still have to pay each year like those great things are still going on? Of course you do but each ensuing year of this the question of do I need to do this again becomes harder and harder to say yes. There are tons of SW users who are doing just fine with older versions. It is happening with SE is my guess I suspect for the same reason. Note to software companies. If you want to get paid the same each year when you know after a while we don’t call you for support you need to provide worthwhile new capabilities. Worthwhile to users and not the marketing people who have never designed a part and have no clue about what we need and expect.

Attention VARS. If the software you are banking on to earn a living with is subject to a company that has no desire or commitment to aggressive market share acquisition you are in fundamental trouble just waiting to happen. Your success is on the line unless they are fully on board with this concept.

This is one of the topics that fascinates me with Autodesk. They have plans and they are implementing them and the VARS know it. The developers know it and the users I talk to feel it. It is like it was around SE during ST4-5 where people involved with SE at all levels felt things were all going right. The big difference though is that the guy who is in charge of Autodesk is also committed to it. A general rule of thumb in the restaurant industry is that restauranteurs can create and build success stories which are then ruined by the CPA and Banker heirs to the throne who have no idea what brings in customers AND KEEPS THEM. They can’t perceive what drives customers. A smart barbecue restaurant dude makes sure you smell the mouth-watering smoke when you walk or drive by. He just might even get a lot where the prevailing winds mean that irresistible aroma is going to be drifting over the nearby busy street most often. They want you to be enticed and once in the door they have this big-ol reasonably priced menu with great food.

Siemens and UGS controlled SE have no concept of this. They have mediocre people in charge of publicity. Or worse they have people from UGS who try to stifle any attempt. Dassault is not much better and SW thrives as it does from legacy data and people who don’t want to move away from this. And from remnants of the once inspired team that made SW great and who still fight the fight.

What we want and need besides capable modeling is this. Aggressive incorporation of the design software into education and industry. And followup to make sure teaching is current and correct. This is our future work force and we don’t want to have to pay them and train them. We want to acquire trained people. No education system will be interested in what we use and desire to teach it if there is no future for the taught in it. Especially in levels past High School where people are focused on being able to find jobs with what they were taught in. So SW and Autodesk is taught around here because these guys made sure they had industry market share which drive jobs which drives the pre-trained work force which drives use in industry as a percentage which drives more work for those who use common software and on and on this self feeding thing goes. Sad to say SE has been around as long as SW but look at the difference.

In other words a plan and the resolve to execute it to our mutual benefit. Mutual being the key word here. I could care less if you, Mr Big software guy, are profitable if you are not seeking to make me so to and that means more than just the program itself.

We need an ecosystem of integrated apps. These can be a part of the program you author or it can be a partner. SE has never and still does not offer much here. Why this decision has been made for many years and today I don’t know. I just have the reality of few integrated apps. SW and Autodesk have a far different scenario.

We need market share. For the first time in eight years I now have customers that use the same design software I have. Yes SE imports and works with imports superbly. That does not stop customers from demanding you have the same design program though does it? For the first time I have available trained users to hire. For the first time I no longer hear comments like I have never met anyone who used SE before sixty some miles north of SE’s headquarters. Directly and solely the failure of the dictators over SE to care about what we need in the whole to thrive.

What users need is the model Autodesk is operating by. With the exception of the loss of permanent seats which I abhor. Warning to the wise. Make your move before February next year and this will not be a concern of yours.

10 responses to “Some Thoughts on Solid Edge and Manufacturing Software

  1. I kind of know how you feel. One aspect of my old engineering manager made me feel like it was hopeless fighting the system. Once upon a time, he did hand drawn prints back in the day, but happily made the switch to 2D CAD. All it took was seeing how much more effective it was. Same thing happened when he went to 3D CAD. But I couldn’t even get him to watch a 5 minute video on what Synchronous Technology could do. I guess he just got too old to embrace the next big step, or was worried about all the legacy SW data we have.

    Maybe my new engineering manager will be willing to watch that 5 minute video and allow us to get a seat of Solid Edge.

    But then again, my push for Solid Edge has cooled a bit since I saw what HSMXpress offered. I could design and edit faster in Solid Edge, but I couldn’t make it. Maybe I’ll push for HSMWorks first.

    • Watching people with SE who had in some cases been with the program since V1 resist ST was kind of funny. Over time they were all assimilated but they had to be dragged kicking and screaming. Today the same would happen if you tried to take ST away.
      Making parts has become more important than anything else here so HSM determined where I ended up. I still intend to use SE for some time but I am not sending in more money.

      • Scott Rodgers

        I remember getting frustrated when I selected some faces and the steering wheel wouldn’t pop up. Sadly it was because I was using SolidWorks. I realized how effective ST was, and I’ve been kicking and screaming at SW ever since.

        Same thing happened when I was helping one of our machinists and I was looking for 2D adaptive, only to realize he was using DelCAM Xpress. HSM is awesome.

      • I can really relate. Had a simple part for turning this week. I wanted to do a sketch and then a revolve remove to alter an existing part. Started in inventor and after a half hour of trying to figure out how to even get a sketch started I just quit. Went back to SE and picked a plane and sketched off of points driven by the 3D geometry and had my new part in a jiffy. But Inventor comes with HSM which can’t be beat. Now if I could only talk Autodesk into buying SE I could have the best of both worlds.
        I want to get started learning Inventor but every time I make an effort it is so convoluted and weird to do anything I just go back to SE. I am in the middle of a job usually so the time I am willing to spend doing something that should be simple to both learn and use is limited. I would really like to sit down with some programmer from Autodesk and show them how easy it could be. I wonder about the logic behind the command structure with Inventor and how they came up with what they have.

  2. “I want to get started learning Inventor but every time I make an effort it is so convoluted and weird to do anything I just go back to SE.” That’s how I felt when I sat down to use SE for the first time… it’s different, not rubbish or convoluted. It just wasn’t what I was used to. I’ve had similar feeling with Solidworks, but SW & Inventor are closer together than SE & Inventor. It really is a case of just spending some time with the product and doing some training (either paid or self taught).

    What you will find, is that the Direct Edit tool in Inventor is pretty damn capable…. it’s no ST, but in a lot of scenarios it would stop you from having to break associativity between your toolpaths and model, but going back to SE to make the edit. Have you voted on this Ideastation post yet? https://forums.autodesk.com/t5/inventor-ideastation/anycad-support-for-solid-edge/idi-p/5732605

    • Hi Scott,
      Spending time. The answer I know but not always a good answer for one who hates to let SE go. I have used Inventor direct editing and it is far better than none for sure. I guess my main complaint is the logic behind choices and how you make them. With SE I am so used to right click menus that have all I need right there. Or I can go to the “tree” and right click on the relevant feature or part and it is all there. I made the mistake of making a part invisible in an assembly in Inventor and thought well I can just right click again and it will show up to be reversed. It took me some time to stumble across the secret recipe and going to the help section was not all that helpful either. Why can’t I just go to the same place that began the change to reverse the change? This kind of stuff throws me because to my mind there is well thought logic behind the sequence of choices and the location/enacting of choices in SE compared to Inventor which kind of reminds me of Mastercam. I have watched Mastercam whizbangs use it and the page page select select stuff they accept as efficiency I think is laden with hidden steps you have to hunt for and steps that have to be memorized by rote and not steps you can in short time anticipate how to do because there is order and logic throughout.

      I know I can learn but quite frankly it is quicker to create assemblies and parts in SE and bring them over right now. I am resisting learning something that does not appear to be as efficient. (I know, insert newbie rebellion here.) I did run across something interesting though and I have had Parasolid files update CAM plans just as though it were done in Inventor.

      Posted on your SE thread today.

  3. Hi Dave,

    I saw your comment come through, would you mind giving it kudos though please? Since that will add to it’s vote count.

    I don’t understand your issue with the visibility of components in Inventor (which secret recipe are you referring to?). So I created a video showing you the command site where visibility is controlled, is in the same place for On & Off. https://youtu.be/UEkQbR3YMWI

    Did you do something other than that?

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