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June 10, 2008


Sergiy Grynko

Shootouts and comparison reviews may be inadequate to show the depth of the software, but that's not the point. The point is that the CAD companies need to compete and try to make their products better.

If the idea that all CAD is about the same becomes widely accepted, it's an excuse for companies to stop trying to get better. In other words, if we start shopping for CAD solely on the basis of things like customer support, then the companies will invest in that. And we'll be stuck with a product that changes but never gets better.

Bill Fane

I have been involved in the CAD industry for over 25 years as a user (small metal mechanisms), an instructor, and a writer. Here is my $.02 worth on the current topics:

1. Product reviews: A typical next release of a product usually includes 200-300 additions and changes. A typical review runs 1,000-1,200 words. How in-depth can I go at 4 or 5 words each?

2. Shoot-outs: In my opinion they are worse than useless. As a previous poster noted, the results would only be meaningful if you have two companies about the same size with very similar products and culture. Even then, the results will only be valid for those two companies. For example, I designed small metal mechanisms. Any shoot-out or feature comparison that included structural steel machine frames would be irrelevant to me.

3. Analysis time: You can also over-analyze. The CAD manager at the head office of a previous employer made the final decision on brand based on its ability to help design tooling for injection-molded parts, even though we did not design such tooling. On the other hand, he rejected the unopened bid of a major vendor because it arrived 1/2 hour past his closing deadline.

4. Which is system is best? When people ask me that, my usual answer is "What are your clients and customers using?" In spite of all the "interoperability" claims, no translation is perfect simply because the different systems don't always have exactly-equivalent capabilities.

Anon E. Mous

I agree that the well-known CAD tools have little to differentiate them on the mechanical design side. In choosing my company’s next CAD tool, I have to think about my career and which company I want to work with for the next 10-20 years. Which CAD seller is going to make my life easier, and help me solve my company’s problems? I have experience with the big four; I can certify that PTC is not first or second on my preference list.

Because I am currently involved in running a massive CAD choose-off for our next MCAD/DM tool, I must remain anonymous. I understand if you can’t publish my comment.


I agree Roopinder. I've struggled to find comparisons in the past.

We need a room of computers with programs and users that get along with each other to compare contrast findings. I'm game. :)

One sidenote about the different CAD companies. I love the competition. Without that we would still be inputing coordinates to draw shapes.

Robin Capper

Shootouts are pointless market bulls hit. The complexity you mention is real and a shootout tries to reduce complexity, usually in a way that favours the organiser of a shootout ;-)

You have to evaluate CAD software in relation to the environment it will be used in. Find two companies that have the same culture, workflow, geographic spread, IT systems, customers and are at the same stage of "evolution", but using different design apps, and then you can compare between them. Good luck!


Chart looks a little old. Siemens PLM has TeamCenter Express (not mentioned) and TeamCenter 2007 (a unified environment, no separate Engineering or Enterprise products anymore) for Solid Edge and NX use. Solid Works also has PDMworks Enterprise (not mentioned).

PTC's position is not as unique as they would like to think...

Evan Yares

It's a well known result shown in behavioral economics. People spend disproportionate time on unimportant things.

So, who's going to pay for the shootouts and benchmarks? I've been there, done that, and I can tell you that the only way to make it work is if someone is willing to pay the bill to do it. Major vendors will not participate willingly.

John Nolin

I think it is roughly a sign of a maturing market. This one has a little better UI, that one has extra sheet metal tools, while the other one imports more file types. But none of them are so far ahead as to make it much more than a matter of preference. And it is difficult to argue for purchasing justification over a preference for one or the other.
Just like there were Chevy guys and Ford guys (usually over a bad experience with the other brand) there will be users strongly supporting one platform over another, but a larger majority merely accepting the one that is currently available. (interesting side note: at a recent event, all 8 vehicles in the drive were Toyota)
You spend much more time choosing home electronics as you do not consider that time spent to have a value. At the office, even your time spent choosing the proper system has a cost to it. If none has a clearly superior value, again the choice is reduced to expediency or preference.

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