What Really Happened in Concord
If you haven’t already heard, SolidWorks graciously hosted some of the bloggers at SolidWorks Headquarters in Concord a couple of weeks ago. The main purpose of the event was to give us, as SolidWorks users in our day jobs, a guided hands-on tour through the new upcoming 2010 release. And after the morass that was the SolidWorks 2009 Hands-On press event in Barcelona last year, they thought it more prudent to do a hands-on event just for the bloggers.
Now there has been a lot of flak thrown around because not much can be said of the upcoming version, since it is still under Beta wraps. We didn’t have to sign NDA’s; but as far as I know, all of the bloggers that attended are signed up for Beta, and as such, bound by the accompanying NDA.
Besides the hands-on, there was also a lunch meeting with CEO Jeff Ray, a meeting with SolidWorks founder Jon Hirschtick, a presentation on SolidWorks Sustainability by Rick Chin and Jeremy Regenerus, and Director of Worldwide Education Markets Marie Planchard. The visit was also a chance to allow us to ask questions of various members of the design team. And SolidWorks also treated us to dinner and a few laps at F1 Boston (those were the fastest track carts I’ve ever drove!).
Since not much of SolidWorks 2010 can be talked about, except what has already been revealed, I though that I would post about the notes I took about some interesting stuff that wasn’t under NDA.
Rick joined us on the phone for a quick run-down of SolidWorks Sustainability. I have already posted an interview with Rick on this, so I’ll just mention again that even if you do not care about sustainable design, this tool can still come in handy if only because of the Find Similar Material tool included.
Bob Miner stood in for William Doll and talked to us about SolidWorks Labs. (I also have an interview with Bill posted, if you haven’t seen it.) This was mostly a Q&A session. The question I had was if Treehouse was ever going to be able to open existing files (alluding to information I received from Bill at SolidWorks World 2009), and the response we got was “No comment…”, albeit with a grin…
Marie Planchard met with us and talked about the education initiatives at SolidWorks. To see someone as passionate as her about reaching out to young people of all ages is invigorating! The goal is to get them involved early on in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).
SolidWorks has lots of resources available to both educators and students. Information on SolidWorks education and curriculum, as well as how to buy software can be found here. There are also several resources available to educators, as well as the SolidWorks Teacher Blog, that can help one in teaching SolidWorks. (If you are a parent, you should definitely check out the Teacher Blog! There are lot’s of neat things to do with your kids and SolidWorks!)
LUNCH WITH JEFF RAY
One topic was what effect the current economic downturn was having on the company. Jeff said that SolidWorks was taking the chance to evaluate their processes and make changes if needed, and that they were continuing to plan and innovate for the future.
When I broached the question of subscription; if SolidWorks was looking at making any changes based on the discussion that has occurred in the recent past in various places online; Jeff replied that they had no plans to change the way subscriptions work and no tiered pricing, but instead were focusing on adding more value for subscription customers. I asked about breaking support out of the subscription, and was told that SolidWorks has implemented a new scoring system for VAR support. He mentioned that several VAR’s were unhappy about this (natch), but that it was something that needed to be done to address customer satisfaction.
TALKING WITH JON HIRSCHTICK
After lunch, we had a short meeting with Jon Hirschtick and he talked about some of the things that had piqued his interest since he spoke at SolidWorks World. His top 5 interests were:
- Hosted Computing (SaaS)
- Hardware Devices
- Video Game Technology
- Open Source Technology
- 3D Printing
He has since been looking into green technology, online backup, and solidstate drives. He has also been researching collaboration and some things to look at in rearchitecting SolidWorks. He spoke of a “middle ground” in collaboration using generic tools that are not incorporated into SolidWorks (such as Vuuch and SolidJott). He also surmised that GoToMeeting will be used much more due to the economy and travel costs.
Jon also mentioned that he has been looking into projector technology and display sizes and suggested a book, The Visual Display of Qualitative Information by Edward R. Tufte. And lastly, he has been looking into digital security and digital rights management (DRM).
Several members of the User Experience Group met with us and explained the purpose of this important group and some of the changes that had recently taken place. This seems to be a growing group, as they have rolled in the documentation and language groups. The User Experience Group handles all user-facing interfaces from R&D. Having one group for oversight on these multiple interfaces will hopefully streamline the development of SolidWorks.
Jim “Wilkie” Wilkinson, User Group Experience Director, talked about their design process consisting of discovery and research, conceptual design, and then final design.
Lastly, we had a quick overview of the new 3D ContentCentral. There are many new features, including working with suppliers to enable publishing to their own site and supplier services enabling self-servicing of the content software.
We were told that through their research, they discovered:
- users want more supplier content
- suppliers want engineers to use their models
- suppliers want to publish their own content
I think that there was some interesting and useful information shared in this meeting, and hopefully I was able to convey some of it to you. It is difficult being able to hear and see things, yet unable to write about them. But if you haven’t been able to participate in the Beta and are just Jones’ing for a SolidWorks 2010 fix, I suspect you haven’t long to wait until information starts flowing in the next week or so… 😉