Saturday, November 17, 2012

Is it the next thing?

Jon layout from 94, later to become SolidWorks Feature Tree

We love innovations, especially when an intriguing story is behind the development. Apple sells a story like this once year, and the Facebook story became a successful movie. However, in the technological world of CAD software we are lacking new drama, while Cinderella's story in the field of computer vector design occurs rarely. At the last thirty years we saw only three such stories that grew to become huge success and are still with us. The first was Autodesk that retired out drawing board in favour the PC; the other is PTC, who taught the world that a three-dimensional CAD is realistic and efficient. The third and last was SolidWorks who delivered rebuts 3D CAD for every one.
Two weeks ago we learned from some  blogs that Jon Hirschtick, founder of SolidWorks, along with some of the senior staff who accompanied him for many years at SW, formed a new company and announced he is recruiting talented programmers. What they are developing or the direction is kept under strict media blackout.
The people behind the new organization, all with an impressive proven record at the CAD industry, produced a high level of expectation and curiosity to find out what is being cooked at the garage. The limited information given, suggests that they have not decided yet what they are developing. But, Jon Hirschtick always disliked the release of information to the public before having a product ready in hand. When he was SolidWorks CEO, the company gave zero information regarding new version or product before they are ready to release to the market.  Not quite the policy today when the CEO shows V6 snapshots 2.5 years ago and no product yet.
Perhaps the people and their history can possibly teach a little bit about what is expected of the new company, named Belmont Technology, Inc.

Jon Hirschtick, a man with vision and charisma, recognized worldwide as the creator of SolidWorks served as the first CEO.  Jon use to say that his mission is to design a CAD software that is easy to use and as fast as the simple light switch in the room. I met Jon recently at Orlando in 2010, shortly after Jeff Ray made his unnecessary and very early announcement of the next generation of SolidWorks.  Jon sounded reluctant about the early exposure and told me that it was contrary to his opinion. We talked about his interest in new projects combining innovative hardware with CAD software. Few steps from there, I met Scott Harris, who also is a member of the new company from Belmont. Scott's stand at the InfiniteZ booth, demoing a device for a virtual CAD models 3D manipulating. Scott is one of SolidWorks founders and dealt in a number of unique technological projects at DS/SW.  The 3D Teamworks, was released in 2002, and was a project that allowed for remote teams with different CAD systems to share information.  Later, Scott was responsible for the Cosmic Blobs, free-hand 3D modeler software for kids.
Cosmic Blobs    
Other members at Belmont Technology are Tommy Li, who in 2002 met with SolidWorks users in Israel and lectured on the direction of the software and Dave Corcoran that along with Tommy Li, left SolidWorks in 2007 to establish a CAD technology company, later sold to Autodesk. Dave led the development momentum at SolidWorks best years memorable mainly because of customer complaints that the software progresses too quickly...
Scott Harris may argue that they still didn't wrote a single line of code, but with John McEleney as a CEO, I believe that the direction is already known and the product is on the way. McEleney, the second CEO at SolidWorks, is one of the nicest people you can meet in CAD industry. As CEO, John led SolidWorks from a small start – up company to a serious player in the MCAD market. His openness and honesty made him extremely popular among the vendors and the users. I can't forget that during the difficult period we had with suicide bombing in Tel Aviv, when foreign executives refused to fly to Tel Aviv, John showed commitment and solidarity, and came to Israel without hesitations.

So what they are developing there? Is this another cloud software technology with direct editing? Or, perhaps it is a new way to revolutionary design that combines a new hardware with unique software that will enables us to design in 3D quickly and easily as ... switch on/off electric bulb.

Good luck!

Gal Raz

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