You know I really thought we had all made it past the "my CAD software is
better than your CAD software". I avoided this NG and lurked for so long
because this type of attitude ran rampant. I'll admit it was similar in the
IV newsgroups but I can confess that I tried not to participate in those
threads. It was refreshing to run into users like Ed Eaton and Richard
Doyle at COFES who gave Inventor the respect it deserves. Sure they like
SWX better an sure a few lighthearted jabs were thrown back and forth, but
there was a mutual respect.
Both packages have pros and cons. I have both. I use IV a whole lot more
than SWX but I find that SWX can do some things better than IV and vice
versa. I think that anyone who chooses a package based on the few "Inventor
sucks" or "SWX is garbage" posts they get in these NGs is a fool. They need
to test them out in their setting to see what works best for them.
As for our attitudes, I has thought we had all finally gotten to the point
where we could acknowledge each other as peers and realize that people will
choose different software packages (AutoCAD/IntelliCAD, Windows/Linux,
PC/Mac) and not sum up the other guy's choice as a "dog pile". Guess I was
roll of eyes.
Mr Dotson will survive I am sure, Cam.
CAD is indeed a very serious business deserving of our continuing
reverence.There must be a continual focus on professionalism to the
exclusion of all else- especially good natured fun.Fun is of course
inappropriate and unnecessary for the industrial age.
The multinational company where I get most of my work have just told me
the're planning a rollout of Inventor. I've been using SW there for the last
four years and being told I might have to get my head around a "dog pile" in
none too encouraging.... even if it's said with a smile.
Maybe I'm looking in the wrong place for some positives on Inventor.
..thinks to himself
where will I get my zillion standard parts setup with configurations?
single key short cuts?
what's the swoopy surfacing stuff like?
can I run my spacemouse?
does it have a SW explorer thingy?
who the hell uses it around here?
is it time to look for new clients?
Enjoy your weekend..
Been using Both packages for a couple of years.
From your above list Inventor only lacks eDrawings. 8( too bad.
Personally, I feel the Inventor people created a product that is very
intuitive to use. (user friendly) The terminology is much better alligned
with commonly published drafting standards and practices. In other words
they did not re-invent the drafting wheel. It just seems that SW and SE and
et-al have their own language for common commands.
Inventor gets the job done with fewer keystrokes. Especially on repetative
tasks where the dialog boxes remain active for the next task. SW you have
to re-activate the tool.
Inventor has had a superior spin and rotate twirly thing (called orbit)
Very slick. It always orbits about the centroid of the first object (part
or face or particle on a face of a part. Regardless of zoom distance.
Where, with SW you first have to right click on an edge or point.
I like SW load large assemblies light option. Inventor handles large
assemblies a bit differently but very well.
Inventors Project folders concept is a bit quirky to wrap your head around
but I tend to preffer it.
Had a bitch of time with Inventor document template files. I created some
and placed copies on our server. Inventor crashed a sudden death when
anyone tried to use them. The problem was the video card driver. Figure
that one out.
SW crashes often amongst my group (a few times per week, sometimes per
day). There's 4 of us and three are 10 year veterans, so it's not the user.
Inventor crashes too. Hell, all software (PC based) crashes.
SW is vastly better integrated with MasterCam (a very widely used CAM
Not sure on this, but I believe Inventor has a better surface capability.
(for those igs files)
I preffer the way Inventor facillitates in context design.
I see that SW has adopted Inventor's method of showing relations in
SW is to 3D modeling as AutoCad was to 2D before 3D. It was the first PC
based solid modeler and has a huge following.
Inventor is much less in demand but gaining approval from the existing Acad
group, but only because it comes with AutoCad (Mechancal Desktop).
If your shop is dependent on outside suppliers, machine shops and provides
drawings to customers then perhaps SW is the better way.
If your shop is independant then Inventor is a great choice.
Each does a few specialized things better than the other.
I like the way Inventor does formulas. Very slick, very accessable and far
fewer keystrokes. It is a spreadsheet interface and can link to an external
Your decision must be driven by your needs and not opinions. (that's a
given) Go see it in action and give it a test drive, kick the tires on both
Actually Inventor does have eDrawings now
It also has 3D DWF (which I will admit is not as nice as eDwgs but it is
useful in certain circumstances)
Nice analysis SW, I'd agree with most of what you say.
I know that the IV group has been screeming for that for some time now.
I've been hammering the keyboard long enough that most all software all
looks and feels the same to me.
Only difference is the location and the terms for the controls.
Kinda like driving a different car.
I love Inventor's "Pack 'n Go"
You just sparked a thought of mine by your statement of "I love Inventor's
'Pack 'n Go'" in that SW offers a method to do it also. I'm not familiar
with IV, but in SW, say you have an assy open, then go to File/Find
References and tell it to Copy files. You can either maintain the folder
structure or not. It then makes a copy of everything needed to open that
Inventor is not even close to SWX in terms of handeling surfaces.
I would question anyones credentials who made a statement that they
thought Inventor was better that SWX with handeling surfaces (even if
they qualify the statement with, "not sure on this".
I hold Autodesk Inventor Certified Expert status and am currently
studying for the SWX certification. I teach both Inventor and SWX
side-by-side. Every problem we do in one we also do in the other.
For most designs I have found the programs to be remarkably similar.
Essentially identical. We even go so far as to set up the GUI for
each so the tools are in more or less the same location and move
seamlessly from one to the other.
The students seem to prefer the Inventor interface when it comes time
to do their major projects. (In two years I have had only two
students choose SWX for their projects - one of the students took
second place in a national contest using SWX.)
In my area, central Pennsylvania, the systems in use (between just
Inventor and SWX - not including others) are about 50/50. (Employers -
not seats). I have found that students who do not express strong
favoratism for one or the other seem to do the best quality work.
They approach problems as geometry problems and not software problems.
I rarely use surfaces in either package. That's why "... not sure on
this." is in the statement.
Perhaps nothing said would have been better.
In answer to the credentials question:
20 years computer usage, including setup and maintenance (hardware -
Teaching full time course loads at college
Applicon (aka Bravo)
Acad 2.6 and up
Inventor 4 and up
Solidworks 2000 and up
Dos 2 and up 9 (including all the windoz)
Unix, VMS, Qnx, Linux
MicroSoft - Access, Excel, Word Power Point, Visual Interdev, Visio,
WordPerfect, SQL Server, Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw
Wordperfect 4 and up
Lotus 123 ver 2 and up
Visicalc (the grandfather of all pc spreadsheets)
C, Fortran, Visual Basic, VBScript, ASP, HTML, CSS, AutoLisp and script for
PLC's - Allen Bradley, Seimens, Omron, CNC (G-code), Fanuc and Motoman
(I know I missed a few, but I don't want to brag)
Engineering and Design:
Machine Controls, Pneumatics, Hydraulics
I have integrated MS Access with AutoCad and Inventor with bidirectional
Currently on contract with GE working on mechanical dedign for CT Scanners.
I like what you said in the last two sentences. It is the way design
problems are best solved. In any medium.
There is usually an alternative method in one package where the other might
be better suited and vice-versa. So the job gets done by creativ thinking
and not the tool.
I haven't run across too many people who really know how(or need to
know how)to use surfaces in either software package. The ID people
tend to use other software like Alias.
If you are interested in learning to use surfaces I have a series of
We do the problems in both Inventor and SolidWorks with essentially
identical technique. Most of the stuff that can't be done with
identical steps can be done with workarounds that are software
specific. But SWX has some surfacing features that Inventor users can
only dream about.
1. CNC dosen't need to know about mass of a part, only where the surfaces
2. The mechanical camp makes great use of mass properties.
I have heard, from some mold designers, that surfaces is the design choice.
CadKey et-al. Probably because surface technology was better developed and
took a strong foothols in the late 89's and early 90's. And because, until
of late, the solid modelers didn't have the tools. It seems that the lines
between surfacing tools and solid tools is fading.
I tend to disagree, to a degree. I have been doing mold design strictly in
solids since I started using SW in '96. However, that is when I started
doing actual mold designs period (rather than building them), so I have
never used surfaces at all. It can be difficult at times doing it in solids
only. I can't be sure, but I bet that there are just as many difficulties
using surfaces also. It all boils down to the techniques and methods that
you use and get accustomed to.
I sounds like you know this stuff.
I have more of an intuitive gut feel than hard facts. (I sure as heck don't
have the brochures in front of me.)
I've seen a many software tool for both solid and surface modeling. Used
mostly a few solid modelers.
All of the mid range solid modelers ( SolidWorks and the like) have
decidedly fewer tools and gadgets for the creation of surfaces. The mid
range surface modelers have more. That much I can say.
I remember APT. Studied it in school (back in 87)
I thought it was the hottest thing. We also did Compact 2. Remember that
Wow, glad to hear it's still being used today. (from a nostalgia point of
view.) I haven't used it outside of the academic, so it's nice to see that
something one has studied is actually still being used.
Am I right in thinking that most of the cad/cam tools post process directly
to G-code? (and for the most part quite bloated output)?
Most actual full CAD/CAM systems use the ISO-4343 CLDATA
format for output files and then postprocess those, same as APT.
It's often hidden from the novice user though.
The full CAD?CAM systems are also fully 5 axes capable for the
most part AFAIK.
Remember ... these things grew out of APT and plotting toolpaths.
That allowed things to be made with NC (and later CNC) machines
while about anyone could use a drafting board.
Define "bloated output" <G>. That's confusing indeed.
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