SAN DIEGO, CA (SolidWorks World 2012) - I had to admit I was confused. Everybody was talking about how SolidWorks was changing its kernel – and all sorts of bad things were going to happen. “Everybody” being competitors of SolidWorks – and some CAD insiders. The merde was going to hit the fan, if you will pardon the French. All your SolidWorks models were now going to be worthless. Third-party apps would have to be rewritten. A conversion disaster lay ahead. Dassault, barely able to convert from one version of CATIA to the next, was heading for a disaster converting from Parasolid to the CATIA kernel. Dassault was steamrolling past voices of objection and caution, both external and internal. It was rumored that SolidWorks installed Gian Paulo Bassi as CTO specifically for this, replacing a noncompliant Austin O’Malley. Gian Paulo had already stated how SolidWorks would be using the V6 kernel the previous day. But here stood Fielder Hiss, VP of Product Development, stating quite unequivocally, SolidWorks is NOT changing its kernel. Period. End of story. He wasn’t budging.
I circled back to Gian Paulo to try to clear things up. “Is SolidWorks changing kernels or not?” It turns out they were both right.
SolidWorks plan is to have parallel products, one with the Parasolid kernel and one with the CATIA v6 kernel. “Let’s face it, the Parasolid kernel may have been the right choice 15 years ago. But the CATIA engine is more advanced,” says Gian Paulo. “Besides, why use a competitor’s product?”
Yeah, I never got that either. Parasolid is licensed from Siemens PLM, the company that competes with Dassault’s CATIA and SolidWorks with NX and Solid Edge. It’s like going to war with a country but at the same time selling them bullets.
So it would appear, after listening to Gian Paulo that the SolidWorks user is not in immediate danger of losing data, his beloved 3rd party apps, or other apocalyptic predictions promised by FUD-slinging competitors and cynics. However, the writing is on the wall. There is a definite move underway to wean from the Parasolid engine and bring SolidWorks back into the Dassault family with the CATIA kernel.
Though an obvious herculean task, Gian Paulo downplays its effect on the user. “Why should the users care?” he asks rhetorically. “I have gone through this before. The user sees no effect with a kernel change. He is dealing only with API’s, which will all stay the same."
"There will be a SolidWorks 2013 with Parasolid. And a SolidWorks 2014 with Parasolid. And a SolidWorks 2015. We will keep making it while customers still need it."
But the V6 kernel will be the engine of the future. It will be where the development will be. It is where Dassault’s heart is.