I don't know what I would do without my VAR. I call them so many times. They always do everything in their power to help me. You also get every service pack, and The latest version. I definitely think it is worth it. I never got any service from Au#@D#$k.
I am considering purchasing Solidworks for our 3d design. I see that
> they offer a subscription service, similar to the other 3d parametric
> packages. However, my thinking has always been that a subscription is
> essentiall "Vaporware" and going down this road will certainly cause
> the software vendor to reduce the true value of its upgrades. Without
> a subscription, every upgrade must be worth the upgrade fees in the > eyes of the users.
> About 18 Months ago, when our company purchased the Inventor
> series, I said "No way" to the subscription, and as a result have
> money in our pockets to change platoforms. Also, when the next
> releases came out for inventor, some of them really looked like bug
> fixes and the choice of making it a new version instead of a service
> pack was just to satisfy the subscription folks. Much of it really
> just feels like you are being manipulated by the marketing department. >
> The main difference with what I see in the Solidworks subscription
> is that it includes technical support. However, all the standard
> marketing manipulation seems to be there as well. I.e. a bunch of
> additional "extras" are added for those on subscription, which
> probably should have been included in the basic software anyway. >
> Still, the technical support makes a difference to me. But, I am
> concerned that it might consist of their tech guy saying "Yes, you are
> correct, that problem is in fact a known problem." and then that is > extent of it.
> Finally, since the tech support comes from the dealer, I can see
> that they can be put in a bind, because they have no control over the
> quality of the software. I am guessing that they get no additional
> compensation if they spend a lot of time on Tech support.
> What is your all's opinion of subscription, and especially the tech
> support (for a new user) that is included.
Ahhh.... You must be one of ADE$K's AIP victims... Read some of those threads..bummer.
SW doesn't do business that way, never has. Granted, there have been instances with certain releases, or SP's, that have gotten people pissed off, but their attitude as a company has always been very forthright, and honest. I believe they genuinley want their customers to succeed with their software, and try very hard to make that possible. They won't try to insult your intellegence, or rip you off. (ala ADE$K)
What comes into question from, time to time, is how the development dollars (our subscription fees) are being utilized (whether for fixing bugs, or adding new features to the next release). The important thing, in my opinion, is that they're getting better with time. Also, each new release has major enhancements, not just bug fixes. Of course the caveat is, this has a tendancy to introduce new problems, but like I said, they've gotten alot better. I've been doing CAD/CAM since the mainframe days. All software, of this complexity, will have some bugs. For my type of work, (tooling, injection mold, and product design) they are an infrequent, and minor annoyance.
So, we've been using SW, on mainenance, since early 96. Over the course of this 7 year period I can honestly say that it's been worth it. What's equally as important, to me at least, is that I can respect the people behind it.
I am considering purchasing Solidworks for our 3d design. I see that they offer a subscription service, similar to the other 3d parametric packages. However, my thinking has always been that a subscription is essentiall "Vaporware" and going down this road will certainly cause the software vendor to reduce the true value of its upgrades. Without a subscription, every upgrade must be worth the upgrade fees in the eyes of the users.
About 18 Months ago, when our company purchased the Inventor series, I said "No way" to the subscription, and as a result have money in our pockets to change platoforms. Also, when the next releases came out for inventor, some of them really looked like bug fixes and the choice of making it a new version instead of a service pack was just to satisfy the subscription folks. Much of it really just feels like you are being manipulated by the marketing department.
The main difference with what I see in the Solidworks subscription is that it includes technical support. However, all the standard marketing manipulation seems to be there as well. I.e. a bunch of additional "extras" are added for those on subscription, which probably should have been included in the basic software anyway.
Still, the technical support makes a difference to me. But, I am concerned that it might consist of their tech guy saying "Yes, you are correct, that problem is in fact a known problem." and then that is extent of it.
Finally, since the tech support comes from the dealer, I can see that they can be put in a bind, because they have no control over the quality of the software. I am guessing that they get no additional compensation if they spend a lot of time on Tech support.
What is your all's opinion of subscription, and especially the tech support (for a new user) that is included.
Having read those threads, it's pretty obvious they were trying to spin an obvious breach of faith into something else. I've found, in my 35 years in industry, that most marketing types, regardless of who they represent, are unbelievably ignorant with regards to people,and how they react to things.
Office and Professional contain extra add ins that are available as separate purchases. It's a bundle deal if you will, very common in this business. The important thing is that the lack of any of these things does not in any way affect the feature, or performance level of SW itself. You can design "anything", in "any way" you want with or without these add ins. Some of them, like Photoworks and animator, are very cool, and useful as presentation tools but, not having them won't keep you frm getting the job done
And they don't. All of their pricing is plainly, and simply stated. There are no surprises, and they give you exactly what you pay for
This isn't entirely true. I think that you get SP's free for the first year, at least you used to. I've heard of some VAR's that told their new customers that you couldn't get any fixes without maintenance. I know this isn't true. I know for a fact that SW will give you SP's if you find a bug that keeps you from doing what you need to, to get the work done. The problem is you don't have access to the subscription portion of their web site, unless your on maintanence, so they're harder to get. In a case like this it's better to contact SW directly. Some VAR's are very self serving, and will try to leverage your needs to make a buck. This isn't SW policy.
"All" parametric, feature based, solid modeling systems are inherently unstable. The ones with very advanced capabilities are, at best, sitting on a razors edge. It's allways been that way from the first release of Pro-E up to today. Most people don't think about the massive hairball of data they're creating as they work. The software has to keep all this mess sorted and in order. Some programs, like Solid Edge, try to minimize the confusion by limiting the way relations, and other parametric values, can be applied. (don't know about IV). SW allows you to do anything, any way you want. This is both a blessing, and a curse. The proper use of parametrics is highly under appreciated in my experience. The fact is, improperly constrained data is one of the biggest contributors to instability. Of course, it's not the only cause. All I know is I have very few problems, and some of my stuff is extremely complex
SW has had "one" release that was very bad, 2001. It had 14 service packs before it was ironed out. 2001+ has had 6, but every one was usable for most things. 2003 has had 4, all usable. Overall they've do a pretty good job as of late.
In my opinion, this isn't a conspiracy to keep people on maintenance. The fact is, this type of software is so complex that hitting it right at release 0, is about as likely as winning the lottery. The Parasolid and Acis kernals are probably two of the most complex softare objects ever written.
Not knowing what you do, that's pretty hard to answer. What I can tell you is what I've done. At work, I've designed injection molds, all types of products consisting of thin walled, swoopy, fully drafted and detailed plastic assemblies, the mechanical internals of same, automatic assembly equipment, progressive dies, all types of CNC fixturing, and production equipment. In my spare time I've done high performance induction/injection systems for Chevy 502 marine engines (including some very complex manifolds), surfboards, paint ball guns, an aircraft engine (full size, not a toy), and lots of other stuff. Is there any cross over here with the stuff you do. There's just not much you can't design with SW.
I can't blame you for being gun shy (or cynical), but my experiences over the last 7 years don't even put the folks at SW on the same planet as ADE$K. I think you may be just talking to a slimy VAR, there are good and bad. Talk to a couple before you decide. One thing that I've allways liked is I can call SW directly and talk to a real person with "knowledge" if needed. I don't make a regular habit of it, but it's nice to know it's there. Also, they're very interested in the activities of their resellers. I'm talking tech support performance, and business practise here, not bottom line. There are also more reasons to stay current than just bug fixes (explained above). I work at a full service design house. Most of our customers also use SW. We couldn't collaborate effectively if we weren't on the same page.
So, their's my $1.50's worth. Don't know if it helps, or just helps confuse the issue, but good luck.
For me, the software upgrades are absolutely worth the money, while the VAR support is not.
I have yet to use my VAR for anything- But in my case, I don't seem to have any trouble I can't resolve on my own, so this all works out fine for me.
As I understand it, software maintenence and VAR support are not seperable. If they were, I personally would only get the code upgrades, but that's me.
My lack of value for the VAR has nothing really to do with them and everything to do with simply not needing anything (and yes I do feel "stolen from" a bit).
If you are going to get solidworks, get the maintenence. All the code updates are "real" and they always have new and improved functionality, not just a new layer dialogue and plot interface like our beloved friends at autodesk.
If and only if you have no intention and need to share data you might conside the slightly cheaper 3 year re-capitalization (buy it all again in 3 years), but this is possibly troublsome.
Generally for the new user, I would suggest having a real person to talk to. If you are a real "cad jock", you probably won't need them too much, so decide accordingly. I would not buy anything additional beyond basic the standard subscription (like the proverbial "24 hour support life-line" [grin] which is sometimes offered by unwary software resellers, not just SW, to assuage your fears as a beginner. . .)
Also consier implementing a floating network liscence if you have more casual users (a couple hours a day or week here and there) and less money to spend. This can be a great way to keep you cost down without taking away subscription.
Now I wouldn't say that being a "cad jock" means you don't need VAR support. How do you think the people at SolidWorks find out that there are problems that need to be fixed. If you have a repeatable problem I would say call your VAR and have them send it in to SolidWorks to get an SPR. If you see water leaking and don't call the plumber it isn't going to correct it self.
I understand that if you upgrade to SW Office it is a one time charge. You get any upgrades to it as long as you keep your subscription up. I thought this was a very nice marketing point.
First, thank you all for the feed back. At this point, I am about convinced that the subscription is worth it, at least for the first year of technical support. In AutoCAD, because of my extensive experience, I've really not found our paid support to be of any value. However, the reason I got the tech support in the first place was Inventor. As a relative novice in that department, I really needed help and ongoing advice about how to do things. I suspect that Solidworks will be the same thing.
But, after speaking with my superior, it seems that the whole deal is unlikely to go through. The jump to Solidworks was a big blow so adding $1,200 subscription to $1,300 training, plus a new computer $1,500, seem unlikely to get approved. In fact, I may be lucky to get one of them. The question is what to drop.
My current computer may be OK as it is, though the ATI video card is something I am uncertain about - I know these programs are very fickle about video cards. So, it is down to pushing for training or subscription.
While subscription really leaves me feeling manipulated by SW marketing dept, It is possible 2004 version will need several releases before it settle, so I am guessing this is the most important place to spend the money.
I am hoping my 3 or 4 months with Inventor will help me with Solidworks. I will also continue to shop for training videos or CD's. (still haven't found any) Our local college only does Pro-Engineer - but a class would only be $600.
By the way, I really can't complain about management holding the purse strings tight. The Inventor series did us no good. Plus the lost manhours far exceeded the actual cost of the program. Solidworks is going to have to prove its worth before much more money is thrown into the parametric modeling pot.
Why don't you get your local VAR to give you a 30-day trial license? That way you can prove its worth before you buy. I think the included tutorials and the help are very well done and will get you started on the basics. I personally would choose subscription over training in this case. Maybe after several months you can get mgmt to pay for an advanced swx class--by that time you will already have mastered what would have been taught in the basic class.
Wow, I must say I am really suprised at this thread. A lot of good things and some not so good things have been stated with no fighting.
My statement is from my experience as a VAR so my views are slightly skewed but I'll give it a shot. Be kind to me people. :)
Everyone at SolidWorks from the CEO down is very straight forward in what they want SolidWorks to be and what they do not want it to be. A very simple, yet powerful, 3D parametric tool. With as much functionality as they can fit into the package without sacraficing the stability of the code.
Maintenance is a very big part of their income (as well as mine). But we all understand that if the product is no good or if the support is bad you (the customer) will take your business somewhere else. Wether it be another tool or another VAR.
Not all VARs are equal and if you have a choice, explore your options. The VAR should be there for you 100%. Anything else is not acceptable to SolidWorks Corp.
In answer to your delema (sp?). Get a good computer (solidworks on a crappy computer will do you no good, it's like buying SNAP-ON tools to fix your PINTO). Get Training (check with your VAR, this is where multible vars comes in handy (WINK WINK)). Skip the maint for now if you have to, SolidWorks WILL update you for bugs that cause you to stop working (again this is where a GOOD VAR comes in handy). There will be a fee when you get the $$ to purchase maint. but that is the nature of the beast.
Questsions can come to me from the forum or via email.
Having worked for a company that switched from Acad to SWX, I have a word of warning about the potential savings SWX could provide.
SWX (or any 3d parametric CAD app) will eventually come out on top of Acad, but how quickly that happens and how much savings you see is VERY dependant on how you do business.
In my experience, our Acad drawings were fairly basic and often not completely accurate (surprise, surprise). This was fine, at the time, as a FULLY detailed and accurate Acad drawing can take LOTS of time and effort and double-checking. Thus, or shop had learned to accept the little nuances that came with our implementation of ACAD. They actually got pretty good at just 'knowing' what had to be fixed on the floor and not always letting engineering design know something was wrong. We also did very little prototypic and just ended up forcing some design errors to work.
Then, when we switched to SWX, our documentation improved drastically, but, BECAUSE OF THE WAY WE USED ACAD IN THE PAST, our design times were not dramatically less. Our result was better documentation, but only slightly better design time. Some felt that SWX was not really worth it... after all, design was taking just as long. Actually, however, the design WAS much more accurate and less time was required on the shop floor. The first machines built fit together much better the first time around and need for prototypes was reduced (even though we did not really use prototypes in the past...).
Just be aware that 3D solid modeling is wonderful and all, but you must take a close look at how you work as a company and not just focus on how design department benefits.
find yourself an experienced local user, and hire him/her to work on an hourly basis as a tutor-- to show up at your place, and work with you, on your computer, on an individual basis--sorting out the things most applicable to your needs, and to the problems (both hardware and software) that you encounter. SW is a complicated program, much of which won't be applicable to your particular projects (I, for instance, do virtually no sheetmetal, and few surfaces...) "Targeted" training can be more immediately valuable than something more generic that you'd get at a group class at your VAR
If you pay somebody (for instance) $50/hour, that'd buy you something like
15 2 hour personal sessions before you get to the cost of your VAR's package---and I'd suggest that some sessions spread out over a month or two will be much more valuable than a few days training in a lump.
IMHO, spreading training out over a couple weeks has a couple advantages--you can fit it better into your normal work, and I believe that you retain it a lot better--if your tutor comes in next week, and you've forgotten some of the stuff from the week before, he/she can steer you back onto the right path--something you're not gonna get from phone support. It's also more time efficient--there's no travel, and none of the "get set up" time that seems to consume a lot of training...
When I first started w/ SW (back in 2000), this is what my company did. In our case, it was a decision prompted by geography (nearest training class was a 2 1/2 hour drive away--add a week's hotel and meals, and the training gets spendy), but in retrospect, it was better than any of the "group" trainings that I've ever attended.
The trick of course is finding somebody with suitable skills to be a tutor, but they're out there..... The guy I had was great--he'd show up on Tuesdays around 5:00 (after his regular job), and we'd work for an hour or two--learned a lot, and pretty painlessly.... worked out great for me, and he was pretty happy with the extra $$-- a real win/win situation...
Fortunately for me, the leak in not even in my house, so I can afford to be casual about it.
Presuming we use the metaphor and the programmers can be compared to plumbers, it's not my worry as a novice to second guess their plumbing capability, particularly when my house in working well (ok- really I do have one small leaky faucet in the basement, but it's nothing to call a plumber about- after all, it's plumbing its not perfect).
But, do I feel bad that someone else is suffering because these same plumbers who's services I almost never need flooded some unfortunate persons living room and ruined their nice new suede couch and ottoman plus aunties quilt that she made as a baby gift in 1966?