10 Aug 2010: Yesterday I published a TechniCom Group whitepaper comparing Autodesk Inventor 2011 versus SolidWorks Premium 2010 to www.cad-portal.com. I suggest you read it carefully. The methodology used was a new research technology we have been exploring that uses our variation of the Delphi Expert Analysis. This technique has primarily been used in the past to survey experts, the aim being to predict the future. TechniCom adopted it to provide clarity in comparing complex systems such as CAD and PLM. We have also used a similar method to successfully analyze gaps in program plans that might reveal competitive opportunities.
More about this paper
This paper was not our original goal for this study. Rather, we were investigating the competitive positioning of Inventor’s upcoming (at that time) 2011 release as an internal project for Autodesk. Autodesk was particularly interested in exploring the fifteen functional areas shown in the paper, since they felt these were their strong points. Originally we proposed 24 Functional areas. I will share some of these additional areas with you below. Some of these, no doubt, would have shown SolidWorks scoring ahead of Inventor.
In any case, after the results of the expert scores were “normalized” and tallied we were surprised at the results; Autodesk also seemed surprised, but elated. Autodesk asked us to summarize and publish the results. We hesitated, but willing to stand by the results, agreed to write the whitepaper.
Other functional areas – not studied in this analysis
- Ease of use
- Third party offerings
- No charge add-ons (not shipped with the product)
- External user community
- Sustainability design
- Built in Content
- Overall vendor support
- Cost (initial and TCO)
Some independent comments on the web have called the report worthless. We could not disagree more. Take it for what it is – the subjective opinions of a limited number of experts familiar with the software. Several of the categories were so close that the voting could have easily gone either way.
Even more important, are that most scores of both vendors are well below the top score of 5. Reviewing these gaps shows that both of these leading vendors still have far to go before they are perfect.
11 Aug 2010: Clarification about the BIM functional area:
The study was not asking whether each system could perform BIM — rather the seven questions we asked the experts were focused on the interaction between a mechanical system and BIM. In essence, could mechanical parts be designed for use within a BIM system? Areas of focus included: managing the space requirements for the mechanical design within the building model, bi-directional data transfer, associative data management, and UI issues.
Another significant omission was surfacing. How can something like this be overlooked?
Actually we did cover surfacing. We considered this as a portion of part modeling. It accounted for one question in the Part Modeling function.
It would certainly help to know what the questions asked were.
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Call it what you will, but Deelip seems to think that the 15 categories were not core capabilities of solid modelers. Actually the 15 categories WERE focused on core solid modeling. Deelip did not choose to post the categories, but here they are:
Mixed Modeling (using both parametric and direct)
Plastic Part Design (Molded part design and analysis)
Sheet Metal Design
Documentation/ Drawings (Creation of documentation and technical publications)
Mechatronics/Multi-Disciplinary Collaboration (between Electrical and mechanical designs)
Mold Design and Tooling
BIM Data Transfer
Data management and Collaboration
Where is this twisted? Perhaps because the results were surprising? You be the judge.
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The reason why people are surprised at the results is because they can’t believe that Autodesk have not only caught up but surpassed Solidworks.
The sad fact that some people can’t accept that since Dassault Systemes took over Solidworks, the lack of development in Parasolid and the focus to moving to V6 and the incompatibility issues between the two kernels has led to Solidworks and their users being left behind, while other CAD vendors forge ahead with new technologies not just enhancements.
The results of this comparison are close to ridiculous. Maybe users that only used Inventor will believe you. I have used SolidWorks and Inventor for many years. In the last 4 years I’ve used only Inventor. I can tell you that there are areas where Inventor is still far behind SolidWorks even after 4 years.
I am wondering seriously if there is one area where Inventor is doing better than Solidworks…
Well, you have to realize that is almost 4 years ago that this article was written. In the CAD and software world, four years is a very, very long time. I suggest you carefully read the description of the tests. In many areas where Inventor came out ahead they had integrated apps that could improve the work flow over SolidWorks. Since the test were run both software companies have made substantial changes. The tests should be rerun and expanded but no funding is currently available.