DETROIT (SAE Conference), April 18, 2007 - High-end MCAD programs (such as CATIA, Pro/ENGINEER and Unigraphics) were never known for being easy to use. These heavyweights were about power. They could do anything: no shape was was impossible, they could handle thousand-part assemblies, even do manufacturing, document management and more. Vendors seemed to say the program was easy to use -- once you know how to use it. Or maybe you just weren't man enough?
That attitude is under revision.
UGS has made a significant effort to make NX 5 easier to learn. They had contracted with an external firm to study how the program was used and specify how it could be made easier to use. Though given a set of overarching goals, the firm was given quite a bit of liberty in what changes would be made to the existing (NX 4) interface.
With the right click of the mouse, UGS users will have access to common tools. The choice of tools that pop up depends on what the user is doing or where he clicks. It might save a second or two each time but it will be used hundreds of times a day. It is indicative of the emphasis NX 5 is placing on ease of use.
According to a study commissioned by UGS, the team has been quite successful: not only is NX 5 easier to use than NX 4, it now leads CATIA, Pro/ENGINEER -- even SolidWorks -- in that department*.
In other words, NX 5 is not your father's NX. You don't have to sweat all the training, poring through the manuals, getting on the phone with tech support, etc.
How will the new interface play with veteran NX users who no doubt feel as if NX was already easy to use? Stay tuned. I'll ask them at the UGS national user meeting next week (see PLM World)
*Data to support the usability increases has been requested from UGS.