Watching the discussion in SOLIDWORKS World Discussion: Positives, negatives, suggestions, etc. I get feeling of dread/despair from the people posting regarding the fate not only of SWW, but also the end-product of SolidWorks itself.
In that SWW thread, Alin posted a link to Roopinder's excellent post on SWW that was very enlightening and I highly recommend the read.
A mantra I've frequently heard among engineer-types, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" Is SolidWorks really broken? Am I a small-minded guy because I've designed literally hundreds of products for inventors and other clients using SolidWorks as my main CAD app? Is there a larger picture out there that---if only Dassault could remove the scales from my eyes---I'd see in enraptured joy? Visions of 3DEXPERIENCE dancing through my head, if only I had the insight to grasp it in all its glory? Become more open-minded at the vast potential I'm failing to take advantage of?
Look, I'm one of the little guys. One-man-band, industrial designer, self-employed for over 20 years now. I'm a guy who brings the wild gesticulations and hand-waving and duct-taped-together garage prototypes into the real world in designed-for-manufacturing market-readiness. Things like human factors, user interfaces, ideal feature ranges, and bang for the buck are the language I speak every day. I even design the plastic parts that make up the whole of the end-product. It's guys like us that SolidWorks was working for in 1997 when I worked through my first SolidWorks tutorial (printed, in color, from a manual). Though the software was "expensive", I immediately saw how the return on investment could help me better deliver well-documented designs in less time with less chance of error. There was a clear path through problem, solution, and success.
Guys like us, I'm guessing, still make up a large and profitable market share for tools like SolidWorks, if not solitary gigs, than certainly small-ish shops. Many of us solve a wide range of problems on a daily basis.
With that background, it seems to me Dassault has made a terrible error---that of overlooking the little guy with market share. SWW wasn't much about SolidWorks this year, and will be even less so (or none-so) next year if the current trajectory holds. 6,000 people attended this year, but they're hoping for 30,000 "other people" next year. Out with the old, in with the new---this is the age of progress!
I've never been to a SWW world. It would be done on my own dime (one-man band), just as paying for software is on my own dime. Each time it appeared as though I'd be able to go, something happened (landed a big gig, lost a big gig, whatever). Bummer.
But is that necessarily the end of the SWW experience? It doesn't have to be. With numbers like 6,000, made up of users from this very community, along with experts who have been more than magnanimous in the past, certainly we could scrape together a Solid-Con. I've seen what this community has pulled together for Dave Bear and others in the past, and there's a lot of strength and camaraderie here. People are willing to share their expertise in a very giving way. Maybe the Solid-Con venue's not as big to start with, but it would have heart and would fill what's looking like an inevitable hole, starting next year. It might not even (necessarily) always be about SolidWorks itself, but about what we're able to cobble together to solve the every-day problems of every-day design/engineering/maintenance/innovation work. A gathering where all these ideas can be put on a screen, new stuff featured, best stuff shared with the community. Where else would this happen?
There might even be beer!
We've got folks who are much better suited for such an organizational undertaking than I am. What do you think? Fantasy? Or could it become a real reason to spend real budget money for real return on investment?