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3D EXPERIENCE  - what is going on?

Question asked by Kevin Quigley on Apr 26, 2019
Latest reply on Nov 29, 2019 by Niklas Jalvemyr

I'm hoping someone at SolidWorks can chime into this thread as I am trying to establish where the business is going, as we have maintenance renewals due on our 2 seats of SolidWorks next month and having just attended Develop3D Live in the UK last week, and talking to the SolidWorks / Dassault folks on the  3D EXPERIENCE stand I am none the wiser (and in the UK resellers - based on my discussions last week with several -  don't know WTF is going on either).


Ignoring the branding changes, the whole "3D EXPERIENCE" thing is confusing, badly communicated and frankly a poor "EXPERIENCE". I honestly don;t care what they call the systems - SOLIDWORKS, SolidWorks, 3D Experience, etc etc. What matters to the end user and specifier is the quality of the software and the accessibility of the overall solution.


Firstly, SolidWorks users here in the UK (and most places) are generally SME businesses. I am not including the one man band operations here (of which there are many) as those organisations (of which I used to be one) tend to be more invested in the systems they choose. I am talking about companies like mine and larger, who may have a few employees and up, who have multiple licenses of SolidWorks and other systems. In these companies, employees come and go, but staffing is the highest cost. But the users are not as invested in the software - all they want is to be able to work efficiently. Those running these companies do not want a steady stream of moans about how so and so system cannot do what they want, or why is it so hard to log into something.


So on that basis let us consider 3D EXPERIENCE platform. I have had a 3DX account for a long time. It is generally a terrible experience. Confusing, inconsistent, slow, and very unintuitive. it is a system designed for enterprises where users are expected to attend a training course before they are let loose.


Take the SolidWorks website. When you log in you have SolidWorks specific stuff in one interface. You access the forums or help and you can land on this site (the old school interface) or the MySolidWorks forum interface (which is terrible). then you log into the 3D EXPERIENCE compass site and you have yet another interface.

3DX itself has communities that you are supposed to join, but there is next to no activity on them. I have been "lighthouse" tester of xDesign for over 12months now, and after an initial flurry of interest I didn't use it again until February 2019. I left it again and today I logged into see is xShape had been added to my 3D applications to test - only to get a log in error saying my account was no longer valid. But I logged into the same account via the SolidWorks website "compass" and found all the conversations had gone.


And that is just the basic interface.


Now we get onto the actual software. SolidWorks deskop does what it says on the tin. It has not changed much. It continues as a workhorse. The Frame based SolidWorks online thing on the website (once you log in) is quite fast as well - useful for testing.


xDesign itself has come a long way in the last 12 months and has some very nice functionality for topology optimisation. xShape, I have no idea about as I have not seen it, and the first I heard about it was via a blog post on the SolidWorks website. But, it looks VERY similar to SolidWorks Industrial Design / SolidWorks Conceptual Designer (take your pick) but is more like xDesign in that it runs in the browser (like Onshape)  rather than through an installed app (like Fusion). Apart from that, who knows?


And that my friends is the problem. I have been a customer of SolidWorks for 20 odd years. I have participated in pre alphas, alphas, betas, UX tests etc. I know a lot of SolidWorks folks and many VARs. Our use of SolidWorks is more in the shape definition side of things (we are industrial designers), so we do push the envelope in geometry, more so that most SolidWorks users. We bought into Creo+ISDX last year becuase we needed a better solution for certain ID workflows and could not find a SolidWorks solution that worked as well.


Back to 3D EXPERIENCE. I, and many others, need to know what is actually going on here. As I mentioned, I talked to Dassault and SW folks at D3D Live last week and I am none the wiser. According to them, xDesign and xShape will be sold as standalone apps for £1500 each, or thereabouts. or rather, one guy said that, another said something different. I asked resellers at the show and they didn't know as "it was still under discussion" or "nobody wants it anyway".


Here's the reality. Had we been able to buy a good applications like xShape that was file compatible with SolidWorks - as a feature tree item - that had high level surfacing like we get in Creo Freestyle and Style, that handles variable edge creasing, G2 continuity to existing geometry, then we would have gone that route. bear in mind SolidWorks have been touting their sub d modeller for 5/6 years under the 3D EXPERIENCE brand - but nobody uses it outside of obscure case studies. I could not even get a demo of it in the UK. It had to be via a webinar with a guy in Sweden.


How in hell can we benchmark a system if we cannot even try it? This is ludicrous.


So the situation now is that xDesign is still available via the Lighthouse programme, but xShape is nowhere in sight? It may or may not be available now. It may or may not be file compatible with SolidWorks. It may or may not be £1500 a year. It may or may not be part of certain SolidWorks subscriptions (that was mentioned by a VAR as a possibility). It may or may not be compatible between the two systems (xDesign and xShape).


All in all we 20 year customers of SolidWorks / Dassault, who are looking at value propositions and ongoing maintenance (of SolidWorks AND add ins - becuase let's fface it, if we stop SolidWorks we stop the add ins as well) do not have a clue what is going on.


Answers on a postcard please.