CAD: Granularity vs. Integrated Suites

Tech4PD: Episode 7

In this episode of Tech4PD it is debated whether integrated suites or more granular apps and tools are more valuable in CAD Software. Is it more important to have one common data model and reduce error caused by translation of data or is it more important to enable as many individual roles as possible with tools that are designed for different users within an organization? Watch Chad Jackson and Jim Brown debate the topic and the future of CAD Software.

PTC’s View

One of the core tenets behind PTC Creo, a family of design software, is to offer the right design apps with just the right capability, no more, no less, so that everyone can be involved in product development.

You’re probably familiar with iPhone apps - specialized applications you can launch for your iPhone platform. We’re bringing a similar idea to CAD software with PTC Creo. We’re using the apps approach to make sure that anyone involved in product development can access the tool that’s exactly right for the work at hand. We offer apps for direct modeling, parametric modeling, conceptual engineering, visualization, 3D technical illustration, 2D design, simulation and more.

Each of the PTC Creo apps has a common data model. With a common data model, you can move, share, and work with your product data from any application. That eliminates the source of many interoperability problems and maintains design intent, no matter who’s been working on the model.

PTC Creo apps also provide a common user experience. Even though each app will serve its own particular role, you won’t have to re-learn each app. For example, once you know how to rotate a model in one app, you know how to rotate the model in all the design apps.

So PTC Creo offers an integrated family of software that leverages a common data model to avoid data loss, errors and re-creation of designs. And each PTC Creo is granular, enabling many roles in the enterprise, and expanding the use of the 3D asset company-wide.

Video Transcript

Chad: Welcome to Tech4PD. I’m Chad Jackson.

Jim: I’m Jim Brown. Today, we’re here to talk to you about design suites, and we’re going to touch base on our favorite topic, granularity versus integration.

Chad, why are we talking about integration again, and this time, why design tools and why not CAD?

Chad: Why not CAD? That’s a really good question. Parametric 3D modeling has been around for a long time, but over the past few decades, it has spread it’s tendrils throughout the company. First, you start out with drawings and associativity, you change the model, it updates on the drawing and back and forth, but next, it proceeds downstream. You start to be able to program CNC machines, CMM machines. You start to design molds, dyes, those types of things, and associativity was very important there.

Jim: We’re also starting to see the use of 3D, whether it’s Parametric or not, seeing it drive into things like technical publications, training, service manuals. The 3D has really gotten some legs to it, in addition to being able to, once you’ve got a solid, you can use that for a simulation in analysis, as well. We’re starting to see a tremendous amount more on that.

Chad: It’s actually not all about creating a deliverable or performing analysis. It’s used in other ways too, just to view stuff. For example, you look at a procurement department, a lot of times, they need just to visually look at the part and see if they might be able to change it out for a functionally equivalent part, to get a better pricing.

Jim: I think that’s why we’re seeing a lot more of these integrated suites, and we’re starting to see the design tool suites really starting to grow. I’ll take Dassault and V6 for example, you’re seeing a lot more working together out of the box on the same data model.

Chad: That’s true.

Jim: That’s really what PTC was thinking about with a lot of Creo, is common data model with different apps for different purposes. We’re starting to see a more integrated approach using the same data.

Chad: Right. There’s some granular offerings out there, as well.

Jim: Absolutely.

Chad: You look at something like SpaceClaim, KuboTek is another really good example, IronCAD. You know what also is really interesting about this? You mentioned a lot of software providers offering integrated suites. A lot of the tools actually can be used in a more granular fashion now. It’s interesting. The whole idea there is that when you talk about granularity, it’s being used for a small application, not necessarily being used in lots of other ones.

Let’s jump into the debate next.

Jim: Sounds good. Chad, why don’t you share your position, however misguided it may be.

Chad: Sure. My position is I’m in favor of granular solutions; granular apps in the CAD space. My rationale is it’s important to enable as many individual roles in the design and product development process as possible. I think if you have a standard integrated suite and that designed for, typically for one role, and push out everybody else, it just falls on its face.

Jim: Obviously, I’m going to take the other opinion on this, and at the risk of taking the integration role after brushing my teeth with wasabi the last time, I still feel strongly about integration. I think there’s . . . so to state my position, I think we’re going to see more commonality of data and we’re going to see vendors creating more integrated suites and bringing them to market, and that those are going to provide more value. There’s just too much translation of data that introduces errors, we lose information every time we translate going from one system to the other. I can tell you agree.

Chad: Actually, I think data translation was a huge issue in the past. I think it was detrimental, for sure, but I think there have been a few advances that have mitigated that problem. Number 1, I think the data translation standards, they have improved a lot in recent years. Secondly, if you think about direct modeling types of approaches, it kind of undermines the need to try and get features over during translation, so you have a mechanism to make changes, now you can just push and pull on geometry. You don’t need parametrics. You don’t need features.

Jim: What you’re saying is you don’t need that information that gets lost along the way. I think the point is you need all of that information along the way. To me, I think it’s important to have that information. Once you put it in, follow the design all of the way through. In terms of IGES and STEP, I think what you’re going to see is the vendors are going to be the ones that are going to invest in an integrated model making everything work together, and to be honest, if we wait for standards bodies to harmonize everything that’s happening out there, not in our lifetime.

Chad: The good thing is that you get to choose who’s right and vote. Next, let’s talk about the future of integrated or granular CAD approaches. Jim, what do you think?

Jim: What I think we’re going to see is the same thing we’ve seen in other suites of applications, is that there’s a core set of applications and tools that use the same data, and then we’re going to see innovation around the edge of that. We’re going to see new tools added in, and then those will be assimilated into the suite. That’ll be either through suite vendors buying things, acquiring companies and bringing it in, or building it themselves, and then there will be another concentric ring of innovation around that, and they’re going to continue to grow and grow, as we go, to get to larger and large suites. We’ve seen that over and over again, I kind of think of it as innovation around the edges getting sucked into the Borg, then all communicating together and working together more cleanly because they’re integrated by the vendor.

Chad: That’s interesting. I think it’s a very valid perspective, and I agree. I think something that will be a little bit different in that dynamic though is a lot of those . . . you talked about different approaches to being integrated into the core set of capabilities. I think a lot of those various capabilities can be part of individual apps, or granular apps, that can be used by a lot of different roles in the enterprise. I think more and more, software providers are realizing that, and they’re designing it for those different users.

Jim: I would absolutely agree. I think we’re starting to see the application that’s supposed to do everything for everybody, starting to really hit the limit and vendors starting to realize that we need to break it down into much smaller pieces, even if it’s working off of something that’s larger and more complex behind the scenes; masking that from the end users. I absolutely think we’re going to see that going forward.

Chad: Makes a ton of sense. All right, good. That ends our crystal ball session. Let’s take a look at the consequences from the last episode.

Jim: We’re going to try 6 saltines in one minute, all at a time.

Chad: Thanks for joining us today on this session of Tech4PD.

Jim: A special thanks to our sponsors. We’ll see you next time.