Independent reports: When it all goes wrong, it goes wrong big time.

Published 09 August 2010

Posted by Al Dean

Article tagged with:

My old mucker and scourge of the blogging world, Deelip Menezes, (he’s not really a scourge, I think he’d just get a kick out of that moniker) posted a link to one of the most ridiculous peices of analysis I’ve ever seen a few moments ago and its got my blood boiling somewhat. The link in question lead to a “Whitepaper” by the Technicom Group. It’s rather grandeous title was:

Comparing the Capabilities of Autodesk Inventor Professional 2011 and SolidWorks Premium 2010 Using TechniCom’s Delphi Expert Technique

Of course, for anyone with a passing interest in the world of design technologies, this is going to be of interest. The blurb on the CADPortal web-site (technicom’s own portal) read as follows:

TechniCom compared 15 functional areas of Autodesk Inventor Professional 2011 versus SolidWorks Premium 2010 using a technique called Delphi Expert Analysis. We compared 15 major functional areas using a questionnaire with 161 functional questions. Both products were rated on each question by a team of four experts for each software product who rated how well each product performed for that functional question. TechniCom’s analysts independently selected the questions. In my estimation, the functional questions do not favor any specific vendor or product. Quite frankly, I was astounded by the results. Inventor rated higher than SolidWorks in every one of the fifteen categories. This was completely unexpected! Read the paper for more details.

Of course, written in first person, the quote is directly attributable to the report’s author, Ray Kuurland, a well known “independent analyst” and the chap that heads up Technicom.


Digging into the PDF its quite shocking to find that an attempt has been made to conduct a comparison of SolidWorks against Inventor - specifically, using Inventor Professional 2011 and SolidWorks Premium 2010 - no add-ons, no third parties, just straight vanilla software. In more specifics, “The Autodesk software considered includes: Inventor 2011 Professional Suite with Inventor Fusion, Autodesk Vault for Workgroups, AutoCAD Electrical, Inventor Publisher, and Showcase.” while “The SolidWorks Software considered includes: SolidWorks 2010 Premium, SolidWorks Workgroup PDM, SolidWorks PhotoView 360, and 3DVIA.

All the way through the report, the point that the results weren’t skewed in favour of Autodesk. Facts are that Autodesk sponsored the report so it was always going to go one way. Would Autodesk sponsor a report of this nature, involving “experts” in each system and a decent amount of funding, have come out with any other conclusion? no. Of course it wouldn’t.

The questions involved and the areas they target are clearly leading to the require conclusion. The giveaway is the inclusion of BIM interoperability. SolidWorks doesn’t have a formalised offering in the BIM space) while Autodesk is perhaps the dominant player with AutoCAD and Revit. But elsewhere, there are other dodgy questions. Inventor Fusion is included, but this isn’t a shipping product. There’s also some inaccuracies from what I can see. The report also looks into Design Automation, stating that “Autodesk’s use of iLogic allows a leading position over SolidWorks in this functional area. One SolidWorks expert noted, “SolidWorks requires Excel and/or the use of a hard-to-use design table.” Inventor has a much better, built-in solution for rules based modelling.” Frankly, the “expert” in question needs to look into the DriveWorksXpress add-in that’s now a standard part of core SolidWorks and has been for two or three years and it’s a much better competitor to iLogic - it may not have fully met the criteria, but it should have been part of the investigation.

At the end of the white paper, there’s the inevitable cop out:

Given the complexity of the analysis and its broad scope, what can a reader conclude? Importantly, readers need to understand that this report provides a glimpse of certain expert opinions. While this was a small group considering that both products have hundreds of thousands of installations, we believe that the results are valid in assessing overall capabilities. Given that the results are valid, we conclude that Inventor Professional has reached and exceeded SolidWorks Premium functionality in most of the areas we studied. We believe that this is the case both because Inventor has neatly consolidated many of its acquired technologies into the Inventor product line and that Autodesk continues to aggressively pursue and incorporate new technologies. Yet, neither product is perfect; there are opportunities for both products to improve in many areas.

So with that in mind, what’s the point of conducting this type of “independent evaluation”? Is it to show that Inventor is exceeding SolidWorks in 15 areas? is it to show that people evaluating 3D CAD should consider, as the report suggests, both systems? Anyone going through that process will do due dilligence as well as adding in Ease of Use and Cost, both of which have purposefully been left out of the process - which in itself is completely baffling.

Both systems excel at what they do. Each has faults and each has advantages. How granular should you make these things? Inventor sucks at creating extruded to offset surface geometry. Does it lose points for that? SolidWorks does it more efficiently and more effectively. SolidWorks on the other hand, has a slightly more confusing user interface unless you’re experienced with it. Does it in turn loose points for that? No.

All in all, this type of report is funded to stir things up, but those that are intelligent will read the “report” and dismiss it for what its worth. Which is, I’ll be frank, very little indeed.

Update: Ray Kuurland posted a blog entry talking about the background to the project on his blog at http://raykurland.com/ - and I think Ray’s made a good few points and some of the background is interesting particularly, for me at least, those categories that weren’t included in the survey and comparison work.

Comments:

"...and dismiss it for what its worth. Which is, I’ll be frank, very little indeed." I don't think you can really say that. We don't have any information as to how much Technicom Group got paid for the report. It may have been worth VERY MUCH indeed.

Posted by Scott Wertel on 09 August 2010 at 09:28 PM

Another white paper that belongs with the white paper I have on a cylindrical free spinning roll pivotted on a bearing in my bathroom. Maybe I should apply the Delphi Expert Technique to how best to use it to facilitate the cleansing of that double boundary surface with edge gaps I am currently sitting on. Or as they say in some parts - what a load of bollocks.

Posted by Kevin Quigley on 10 August 2010 at 12:10 AM

This report is an embarrassment to Autodesk. Not only is it obvious from the outset that this is not a 1-for-1 evaluation (with its comparison of off-years), it’s obvious this is not even an evaluation nor a study. It is nothing more than a choice extrapolation of a series of opinion polls by anonymous “experts”. How it is possible to have an expect in product that is not yet released (Fusion, for example), I don’t know. Well, actually, I do know. Their Inventor “experts” are either Autodesk employees or individuals on the payroll of some organization that is affiliated with Autodesk. Another glaring issue is that several SolidWorks Premium features, which are near analogs to listed Inventor features, are not included within this pseudo-study. Did they discuss CircuitWorks, TolAnalyst, DriveWorksXpress? Nope. Did they discuss Simulation or SustainabilityXpress? Nope. Did they also note how AutoCAD Electrical does not run inside of Inventor? Of course, it is not an add-in, it’s just a completely separate program! Even now, Autodesk has surprized me by how little regard they have for the intelligence of the average person associated with the engineering field. This kind of pseudo-study does not generate excitement among users. It causes distain because it insults their customer’s intelligence.

Posted by fcsuper on 10 August 2010 at 04:49 PM

I'm sure I'll be jumped on as "the Inventor guy" here but hear me out. I'm not going to put credence into the "which is better" argument here based on a sample size of 4 on each side. However allow me to play devil's advocate. The study was preformed by asking 4 Inventor experts and 4 SW experts the same questions about their software and asking them to rate their software's ability to preform those actions on a scale. The Inventor people judge Inventor and the SW people judge SW. So if the SW people rate their software lower than the Inventor people rate their software that says *something* does it not? Not that Inventor is better (better is such a meaningless word in this context) but perhaps that Inventor users are happier overall with their software than Solidworks users? I dun'no. Maybe not? As for Fusion not being released that's really not true. It has been available as a free download for quite some time now. IT is not a shipping product but is free for download. >>Their Inventor “experts” are either Autodesk employees or individuals on the >>payroll of some organization that is affiliated with Autodesk I can tell you this is not the case. I am asking a question here: Are DriveWorks, TolAnalyst, Simulation etc for SW an extra cost add-in? I'm not sure what the determining factors were for including or not including a product.

Posted by Sean Dotson on 10 August 2010 at 05:21 PM

Sean Those products are included in the Premium offering. Its all rather complex and as far as I can see, pretty much pointless. Already I've discovered who one of the SolidWorks experts was and I'm sure there are a few more kicking around the subject kind of worried they get outed. DriveWorksXpress or the lack of information on that was one that hit me as glaring - if the expert is unaware of the product, then its not going to flag up - and this also raises another point. DriveWorksXpress isn't shown on the SolidWorks product matrix (http://www.solidworks.com/sw/products/mechanical-design-software-matrix.htm) - if its not flagged up there, then what chance do even the most expert of users of knowing that it even exists? The question you raise about it all being down to personal perspectives is a fully valid one. One survey respondent's perception of the value of one "answer" is going to be completely different to another's and it renders the whole thing scrappy and unorganised. If one person or a small team had worked through these things, taken the time to compare functions side by side, there would be much greater value in its conclusions.

Posted by Al Dean on 10 August 2010 at 05:40 PM

Heres the comment i tried to post on rays site: I personally did not use the word "worthless", but I did call it an insulting to the intelligence of customers. It is cherry picked data, as you even admitted to above in so many words. Without covering technical evaluations such as objective study on ease of use, this "report" seems to consist of extrapolated opinion polls from people who could not possibly be experts (your SolidWorks "experts" made inaccurate statements; and how is it possible to have neutral "experts" on Autodesk app that wasnt apparently available to the public at the time of the study?). This "report" may factually report your results, but the results themselves are not noteworthy without a factual basis. Opinion polls are only as valuable as the opinions themselves, no matter how the results are presented.

Posted by fcsuper on 10 August 2010 at 06:47 PM

Fusion was available to everyone at the time of the survey. All one had to do was go to Autodesk's website and download it.

Posted by Sean Dotson on 10 August 2010 at 09:47 PM

Yes Sean but was it a supported product or a tech demo? Does auto desk recommend fusion is used on real work instead of inventor? Is it covered by standard support systems?

Posted by Martyn day on 10 August 2010 at 09:56 PM

How did BIM get in there? I thought BIM was an Autocad product? I recently used Autodesk Inventor 2010 and the simulation was very Mickey Mouse. Looks like apples and bananas to me.

Posted by Chad on 11 August 2010 at 01:14 AM

Sean, by explaining Fusion was available for download, you revealed the core truth behind my criticism. It is not included with the product! The study specifically said 'we limited software to those normally included "out-of-the-box."' By adding the word "normally" to their statement, they pretty much just said that they were going to review whatever they wanted and just let the reader assume it's apples-for-apples, even when its not. On the flip side, they didn't include functionality within SolidWorks Premium that was "out-of-the-box." Again, not apples for apples.

Posted by fcsuper on 11 August 2010 at 02:02 AM

@fcsuper To be fair to Sean, Fusion is "in the box". Mostly because there's a DVD of it included with the 2011 release. I know, its sat in front of me. Whether its intended to be used commerically is another matter. All very.. sketchy? Al

Posted by Al Dean on 11 August 2010 at 09:18 AM

Bash! Bash! Bash! I can take the heat on this report. It's a groundbreaker in its technique and approach. I wanted to clarify what we studied about BIM, I admit it was confusing just calling it BIM. Here goes: 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. Also, as Al clarified, we posted a log yesterday explaining more about the study, it's genesis, objectives and what was not included at http://raykurland.com .

Posted by Ray Kurland on 11 August 2010 at 01:34 PM

@Martyn: All good questions. I know that I have received support for Fusion. And since it graduated from labs a while ago I would assume it is a "supported" product. But good questions. I downloaded Fusion long before it "released" from labs. Al is right that it is indeed "in the box" with 2011. But let's say it was not. Does SWX have a comparable products that was in their "labs" that was left out. As far as I know they do not. @Chad - What was mickey mouse about 2010 simulation. I've used a lot of simulation packages and Autodesk has a pretty strong offering. What was MM about it?

Posted by Sean Dotson on 11 August 2010 at 03:21 PM

As to BIM, the key systems out there are bentley micro station, graphisoft archicad and Autodesk revit. The ability to import mechanical parts is more of a problem for the BIM system, not the output of the mechanical system. Revit, archicad and micro station can all import geometry for other 3d systems. While the geometry may be dumb it can be used for space / envelope design. As revit was geometrically limited for a long time, the other systems have no real problem importing 3d models. Autodesk had issues importing models from it's own products at one stage. I would not want an architect altering a mechanical model, just as I would not want an engineer moving walls about in my design. If the architect was opting to use the mechanical too to design part of the project then that may be different, but it might happen in 0.001% of practices. I think the BIM part of the paper is erroneous and really is an odd inclusion given that I don't know of one mechanical designer that would choose a different cad system because it worked better with an architects chosen BIM solution.

Posted by Martyn day on 11 August 2010 at 03:50 PM

If I recall correctly I was unable to perform symmetry, assign friction coefficients to contacts, unable to select iterative or sparse solvers, seemed limited compared to SW for geometry restraints, limited use of connectors, limited options for meshing, I'm unsure but I don't think it had remote loads/mass. I still don't understand why the report keeps mentioning Algor. Algor was not included in Inventor 2010 pro. I think it uses the plassotech solvers engine not Algor. I think Algor has to be purchased seperately

Posted by Chad on 11 August 2010 at 03:51 PM

@Martyn re: BIM. For the last couple years I have worked with manufacturers of HVAC, Curtain Wall, Stone Paneling, Window & Door, and other manufacturers of products that go into a building. Every one of them sees BIM as a key strategy. Have a look on Autodesk Seek for starters and see just how many manufacturers are providing BIM data that can be used inside of AutoCAD Architecture, AutoCAD MEP, Revit MEP, Revit Structure, and Revit Architecture. Autodesk Inventor, utilizing its BIM exchange tools can take a fully detailed Digital Prototype and strip away unnecessary details of the model, yet add information to the exchange file that is relevant to architects. That single exchange file contains all of the information it needs to create a native Revit family for use in the BIM project, as well as information needed to create multi-view blocks with the AutoCAD based products. This process significantly reduces the amount of re-work or re-modeling for both the engineer and architect. I have a playlist on my YouTube channel that goes into this process in great detail, and would be glad to answer any questions regarding the process. I was at a customer just two weeks ago who stated he would not have been at the table without their ability to provide BIM content to the architect. Providing tools that allow that process to occur with minimal impact on engineering is a key feature customers are taking advantage of. Cheers, Rob

Posted by Rob Cohee on 11 August 2010 at 04:37 PM

In response to Al's comment about DriveWorksXpress not being listed on the SolidWorks product matrix, it is listed within the "Design Automation of Repetitive Tasks" header. Any "expert" in SolidWorks should also be aware of the tools contained with the product. Perhaps the "experts" didn't look at the SolidWorks 2008 "What's New" guide, or the "Tools" pulldown menu in SolidWorks 2008, 2009 or 2010. This report reminds me of the "CAD Shootout" that the Silicon Valley AutoCAD Power Users group ran in 2002. Technicom's reputation has been premanently tarnished in my opinion.

Posted by John on 11 August 2010 at 04:38 PM

@ Rob Seek is USA only at the moment but ignoring that, Seek is the combination of physical product data and geometry? Can all the product meta data that is in Seek be added into the actual Inventor model before it leaves the product? Or is Seek a place where the geometry and that product data is merged for use in Revit/ DWG-based CAD? Last time I looked at Seek, objects had a geometry component, DWG, a view component DWF and PDF of specs and some product description. It was a mish-mash. Maybe it has changed? Is there any reason why the geometry can't be generated from any other 3D CAD system and merged with the product meta data and offered on Seek? I will go see you youtube vids. But Seek isn't the issue here. Sure, stripping down and conversion to AutoCAD blocks and Revit family is good but how does it work with the other BIM systems out there such as MicroStation, ArchiCAD, Allplan? The report seems to imply that BIM = Revit, when it isn't, it's one of a number of 3D architectural systems. Perhaps the question should have been how good is the mechanical modeller in an Autodesk BIM environment? A question which Inventor should win hands down and it does. I think the white paper was not so specific... On the download Ray writes: "We compared 15 major functional areas using a questionnaire with 161 functional questions. In my estimation, the functional questions do not favor any specific vendor or product. Quite frankly, I was astounded by the results. Inventor rated higher than SolidWorks in every one of the fifteen categories. This was completely unexpected! Read the paper for more details. " On Ray's blog he then states: "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.... Some of these, no doubt, would have shown SolidWorks scoring ahead of Inventor." Really, this is a head scratchingly duplicitous. Feet, both barrels, trigger, blow off.

Posted by martyn day on 11 August 2010 at 06:51 PM

@Martyn Yeah, that disclosure on Ray's blog tells the real story. Last night I joked on Twitter that Ray could take the same report to SolidWorks, let them pick the areas where SolidWorks trumped Inventor and write another white paper for SolidWorks which concludes that SolidWorks is better than Inventor in X number of areas. This report is truly independent. Independent of a CAD vendor. Why? Because it can work both ways. wink

Posted by Deelip Menezes on 11 August 2010 at 07:18 PM

@Chad: I believe that 2010 had a mixture of Plassotech and Algor solvers in different parts of the simulation package. I also believe it has been all moved over to Algor now however. 2011 made a lot of improvements in simulation. You may want to give it another shot. (Oh and the report focused on Inventor 2011, not 2010)

Posted by Sean Dotson on 11 August 2010 at 07:42 PM

With regards to BIM, for a lot of people this means Revit format - and that is the way Autodesk would like it, but it is not that simple. For true BIM the apps need to export IFC format or native formats in a dumbed down - external surfaces only approach. When it comes to AEC BIM apps don't forget AllPlan - widely used in Europe - and Vectorworks. Vectorworks in particular should be noted as it not only imports IFC very well, but also used parasolid as the core modelling kernel. This means it talks flawlessly to the likes of Solidworks, Solidedge, NX etc. All those apps have ways of dumbing down the models prior to export and in my experience for mechanical services type products this works better than IFC.

Posted by Kevin Quigley on 11 August 2010 at 08:00 PM

For years SolidWorks Corp. has refused, and to this day still refuse, to give users the needed direct modeling tools to work with non-native solids. SolidWorks Corp. deserves the world of hurt their going to get for this insane decision. Jon Banquer San Diego, CA

Posted by Jon Banquer on 11 August 2010 at 08:05 PM

@jon I'd ask you to refrain from this type of commentary please. it's off topic and while I understand that there's a need to express an opinion, if you've got a bee in your bonnet, try to keep it on topic, if you would please. The tone of that comment isn't in keeping with the thread or indeed, the tone of DEVELOP3D in general. Cheers and respectfully Al, Editor, DEVELOP3D

Posted by al dean on 11 August 2010 at 09:57 PM

So what's on topic, Al? 1. Jump all over Ray Kurland like you did for making a buck off of Autodesk? 2. Pretend Joe Dunne of SolidWorks never used these tactics against Autodesk many years ago and this is really something new and to be outraged about? How about we find a way to talk about what both products really need in terms of improvement rather than play these silly little games? SolidWorks needs real direct modeling tools. Autodesk Inventor needs to make much better use of the Alias technology they own and control in Inventor. Jon Banquer San Diego, CA

Posted by Jon Banquer on 12 August 2010 at 12:22 AM

How about we find a way to talk about what both products really need in terms of improvement rather than play these silly little games? SolidWorks needs real direct modeling tools. Autodesk Inventor needs to make much better use of the Alias technology they own and control in Inventor.

Posted by kalb on 12 August 2010 at 04:46 AM

I read and listened to Kenneth's interview with Ray and have come to the conclusion that Ray can use those 24 areas, the same questions and the same "experts" to cough up a white paper for SolidWorks. See http://www.deskeng.com/virtual_desktop/?p=2281 I'm done talking about this. Over and out.

Posted by Deelip Menezes on 12 August 2010 at 08:31 AM

@Deelip, So you are saying that the same experts, using the same questions would somehow answer differently the second time around? If not then the results would have been the same for the 15 areas that were in the study (ignoring the additional 9 areas). Or are you accusing Ray of changing the results to fit his wishes. I certainly hope you are not suggesting the latter. And the former is just absurd. So what exactly is your point?

Posted by Sean Dotson on 12 August 2010 at 04:20 PM

I would love to see the actual questions. It would be interesting to see if they were "leading" or not. As they say in the statistics world, There are 3 severities of lies: - Lies - Damn Lies - Statistics

Posted by Ken on 13 August 2010 at 02:58 PM

@Sean, You never really answered Chads question where he highlighted some of the issues he saw with Inventor Simulation 2010 (you did ask him what he thought was "mickey mouse" with 2010 didn't you?). To those of use who don't have access to Inventor 2011 have these areas been improved (eg. symmetry, assign friction coefficients to contacts, unable to select iterative or sparse solvers, limited geometry restraints, limited use of connectors, limited options for meshing, remote loads/mass).

Posted by Matthew on 15 August 2010 at 04:31 PM

@Chad, @Sean, @Matthew Chad is somewhat correct about Inventor – it does not include a few of the advanced features that he mentions (e.g. multiple solver options that the user must choose from, expansive meshing options, etc.) but Inventor is certainly able to handle symmetry and remote forces. Now, whether this makes it “Mickey Mouse” is probably subjective to the user… does the average designer know the difference between an iterative or sparse solver? Should the average designer (or anyone for that matter) have to tweak expansive mesh options? We’ve taken a slightly different approach – our focus has been on creating a product that can solve the most common structural problems (static stress & modal) while still being easy to setup, analyze, and interpret the results. Considering that Inventor also has dynamic simulation, parametric optimization, and frame analysis…it’s a pretty well rounded simulation package if you add it all up. Granted, a more experienced analyst might feel somewhat limited in any CAD-integrated simulation offering… that’s why we also have Algor available to solve more advanced linear static simulations, as well as MES, CFD, nonlinear, etc. Brian Sather, Autodesk

Posted by Brian on 17 August 2010 at 03:30 AM

@Brian Thanks for your response, but I'm not sure whether you, nor the other Inventor advocates, understand the opinions of the SolidWorks users who have written the comments above. Going back to something that Sean wrote earlier which was "perhaps that Inventor users are happier overall with their software than Solidworks users", well maybe they (maybe Ray could use his "groundbreaking" technique in satisfaction surveys rather than capability reports)! The article however had nothing to do with how happy the experts were with using the reviewed software, and taking into account the fact that the title of the article said it was "Comparing the Capabilities" I would have thought it was questioning the functionality of each software rather than how much fun they were having whilst using it. Yes it looks like Inventor has added new functionality to improve its standing as an FEA tool, and yes SolidWorks Premium doesn't come standard with modal analysis or optimization (they're something you get with the Simulation Professional package) but your response leads me to believe that it still lacks the CAPABILITIES that SolidWorks Simulation does in enabling its users the choice from a number of options rather than from the ones you're giving them. As an example: designs comprising of various mechanical elements are common nowadays, they include a mixture of components which are machined, welded and folded, often all in the one structure. I notice that in Inventor 2011 you have added Frame Analysis capabilities, does this mean that Inventor users can run mixed mesh analysis of designs which have machined, folded and welded components in the one part model? Not being an expert in Inventor I decided to ring one of your resellers in my local area and they tell me that you are unable to run an analysis with solid, shell and beam element types. I was led to believe that Inventor doesn't even have shell elements. So does this mean that you expect your customers to analyse a design comprising a welded steel frame, sheet metal cabinet and machined brackets using a solid mesh? I asked this same question to the reseller and they said that for the ability to run a study using a mixture of solid, shell and beam elements I would have to buy the Algor add-on. Wow, that seems a rather expensive path to run basic analyse of mixed element types! Something like this, the ability to mesh elements using solid, shell and/or beam elements in the one study, along with the ones listed by Chad above, are the types of features which are common to SolidWorks Premium users and allow them to grow into the software as they become more confident and competent with the basic features and start to demand more of the software. I get the feeling however that this is not the case with Inventor. As for a battle of functionality, when you consider that the entire SolidWorks Simulation suite allows for Fatigue, Buckling, Thermal, Drop Testing, Optimization, Nonlinear, Dynamics, Forced Vibration, CFD, Motion and even Tolerance Studies all of which run natively inside of SolidWorks then I suppose that again SolidWorks offers the CAPABILITIES to answer most FEA questions asked of Engineers working within a CAD environment. And why is it that Autodesk (you) and the reseller I contacted today keep on suggesting Algor as the solution to my FEA questions? And how is that any different to me being told by Dassault that I can use Abaqus with SolidWorks? Should I also point out that if you want freeform surfacing capabilities in Inventor you need to buy an Alias add-on (something I learnt from your reseller)? This is another feature of SolidWorks includes in even the entry level version of the software along with its Design Automation Tools! Back to my point which is that, to me, it seems like we're looking at two different products here each with its own strengths and weaknesses. But for Ray to state that "Inventor Professional functionality has reached or exceeded SolidWorks Premium functionality in all of the areas we studied." is questionable at the least, especially considering we don't know what those questions were, that even when I point out shortcomings in his analysis it's quickly removed from his blog without response, and more so by the comments written above from SolidWorks users who are disappointed that the report seemed bias towards Autodesk in disregarding the functionality of SolidWorks in areas like Design Automation and Simulation! BTW... Inventor has put a smile on my face... I've just watched a number of Inventor 2011 videos on youtube and can't help but laugh at some of the functionality you're advertising with the new release of Inventor 2011, a lot of which has been around for years in SolidWorks! And to see that on youtube you're promoting the benefits of Design Automation using Excel tables in 2011 seems rather contradictory to what was written in Rays report with one of his SolidWorks Experts (most likely the same one who forgot about DriveWorksXpress) commenting on the frustration of there being Excel tables in SolidWorks! As for the answers I received from your reseller (or my opinions), if you feel as though my facts are wrong feel free to correct me as I'm not 100% confident of those which were given to me. I didn't dare to ask whether running a simulation in Inventor resulted in users being "locked" out of the software until the study had completed as I didn't have the confidence of getting the correct answer. Maybe it was lucky they didn't include sales/support in the report otherwise SolidWorks might actually have won a category!

Posted by Matthew on 18 August 2010 at 05:01 AM

Matthew, I agree with your comments; although I think one thing should be pointed out. Ultimately you get what you pay for. Inventor appears to be Autodesk's solution at the low end of the market (with regards to 3D). If you keep that in mind then you really need to compare two pieces of software with all the various add-ons required to meet your requirements. Once you have two sets of packages that are compatible that meet your requirements then you can compare the cost and how well the packages work. Anything less than that is useless. That's the reason I thing the “out of the box” comparison described in the paper is worthless. All that said, in my opinion Inventor can be very good and dangerous to an organization. The reason I say this if all they need is fairly basic 3D and simulations they are good to go. On the dangerous side, if they realize after the fact (6 months or even worse years later) that they don't have all the capabilities they need then they have to purchase additional software to address their additional requirements. The reason I call this bad is that there may have been a less expensive / better software path if they had adamantly researched things up front. The danger is people (management) see 3D modeling and think everything is equal from a modeling standpoint. With Inventor's cost so low compared to the other major 3D model packages it can suck in the unwary of what the total cost could potentially be. In my career I've used 6 different 3D modeling software packages. On the upper end was Unigraphics and I have to say the worst was by far PDGS (I think I just dated myself there). Out of all the packages I've used each has had their strengths and weakness. I'd have to rank Inventor above PDGS for obvious reasons but other than that it was the lowest on the totem pole as far as it's capabilities go from a purely design / modeling / simulation standpoint. All that said, in my opinion, Inventor can be very good and dangerous to an organization.

Posted by Alan Hughes on 21 August 2010 at 04:51 PM

Frankly the mention of DriveWorksxpress here as a better product than iLogic is a joke. To really stand up to iLogic you need the full DriveWorks which costs about $8K more. The xpress package is really more of a teaser of rules based design than a fully functional rules based system like iLogic. Driveworksxpress works rather horribly with Excel where Inventor can do a LOT more with Excel.

Posted by Mark on 22 August 2010 at 09:10 PM

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