Onshape vs Solidworks – a CAD version of “Fathers and Sons” novel?

Onshape vs Solidworks – a CAD version of “Fathers and Sons” novel?

A novel by Ivan Turgenev “Fathers and Sons” was a real landmark for his time. According to some sources it was the first Russian novel to gain prominence in the Western world. The image of the protagonist Eugene Bazarov was perceived by the youth as an example for imitation. Such ideals as uncompromising, lack of admiration for authorities and old truths, priority of useful over the beautiful, were perceived by people of that time and were reflected in Bazarov’s world view.

You can ask me, how is that related to CAD? Or even PLM? There is a topic in CAD world that drives my strong association with Trugenev’s novel. It is a story about Solidworks and Onshape. The story about Solidworks is written in many books about entrepreneurship. Here is the piece published by Babson college and you can find in few published books like this one – Technological Ventures.

Engineering.com article Is 3DEXPERIENCE the Right Path for SOLIDWORKS? Face to Face with CEO Gian Paolo Bassi – TV Report caught my attention by raising an issue of a potential difference between 2 generations of engineers.

According to the article, things are going very well for Solidworks. The company can look back on a sensational 2016. In what most analysts regard as a mature market, SOLIDWORKS’ CEO Gian Paolo Bassi has delivered great results over the past three years. However, one of the things according to Engineering.com article. Here is the passage:

There is still one big issue casting a shadow on Bassi’s leadership: the challenge of getting the SOLIDWORKS user community to adopt the tools and platforms that modern forms of product development require.

Articles brings lot of interesting points about Solidworks development trajectories, market, users and future Solidworks plans to bring new tools and platforms. Read the article and draw your opinion. Solidworks is a great example of mainstream success, customer loyalty and conservative engineering. My favorite passage is about Solidworks customers loyalty and conservative market.

Some 20-plus years after its debut, SOLIDWORKS may have the most loyal customers in the world. However, those who worked with it have done so for more than two decades. Changing tools and the way you work is hard, and breaking these learned patterns is a tough task.

“The manufacturing world is very conservative and what we provide right now with SOLIDWORKS is mission critical. This means that you don’t throw brand new platform technology at them and expect things to happen immediately. This is also related to the idea that ‘going platform’ implies business transformation. If you give a platform to a business that uses old workflows, a new technology doesn’t make any sense,” the SOLIDWORKS leader commented.

Solidworks user group lead Denny Bahl believes the future is cloud and tablets, but at the same time claims that if Solidworks won’t break, it will have customers for life:

Does 3DX have a future? “I think so,” said Bahl. “Especially in light of the popularity of tablets, on-the-go computing and mobile phones. Wherever you’re at, if you have access to internet and the Cloud, with Xdesign you can start collaborating and work on your design anywhere you want, on any tool you want. I think that has potential.”

For the moment, however, the number one priority is for SOLIDWORKS to remain a robust mechanical 3D CAD solution with ever-better performance. “Yes, the main two concerns of the community are still better performance and stability; a good quality software that doesn’t crash. As long as they keep concentrating on that, they will have customers for life,” Bahl said.

Can you see a nihilistic threat to remove lifetime dominance Solidworks? Onshape is a new brainchild of Jon Hirschtick and few ex-members of Solidworks team introduced the concept of full-cloud CAD and agile product design platform. Onshape has a goal to change the status quo in CAD business. Read more here – Why we started from scratch again in the CAD business.

Few days ago, I found a very interesting presentation published by Connor Shannon – Onshape vs Solidworks. Here is how Connor defines the reason to use Onshape:

I made this presentation for a student prototyping robotics course I am TAing. Solidworks was my first real CAD program, and I have all the respect for their software, but full cloud CAD is the future, and Onshape will lead the way.

The following 2 slides in Connor’s presentation are reflecting both sides – conservative behavior of SW users and future of full-cloud platform.

What is my conclusion? Solidworks vs Onshape. A grown up adult vs young startup. For me, it was a point I thought Turgenev’s novel is such a great analogy.  Eugene Bazarov was a symbol and an ideal for imitation. He was followed by new generation of people going against admiration of authorities and established norms. Onshape is very much a symbol of new development. However, technology is different from literature. Zero files strategy, Solidworks re-sellers, new full-cloud technology, existing Solidworks tools, bridge 3DX products and new teams interested to learn new products. CAD industry ecosystem has lots of moving parts. And the jury is still out. Just my thoughts…

Best, Oleg

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Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of OpenBOM developing cloud-based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups, and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased.


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