Q&A with Dan Staples, Vice-President of Solid Edge Development3 Dec, 2015 By: Nancy Spurling Johnson
In an interview with Cadalyst, the executive discusses the state of Solid Edge ST, its position in the MCAD market, Solid Edge on the cloud, and more.
Can you talk about any of the major improvements coming for Solid Edge ST9?
When it comes to translating 3D files from other software into Solid Edge, there's nothing that can touch [existing Solid Edge functionality], right? Now, with ST9, what we're bringing out is fully associative drawing migration. If you have your parts in SolidWorks and your drawing in SolidWorks and you bring those across to Solid Edge, we'll reassociate it in such a way that you can now in Solid Edge make changes to the part, which you can do through Synchronous Technology. It will update the drawing, including all the dimensions — everything. Before, the [3D model] you would get across for this part was one that you can make all these wonderful changes to. But the drawing would come across as a dumb vector drawing, right? Instead of that, with ST9 it will actually be converted views of the 3D part, and all the dimensions are attached to those views. It's as if you made it natively in Solid Edge. That's huge. We've had so many customers say, "I'd like to come across to Solid Edge, but the drawings are all now dead, and that's a real problem for me."
Editor’s note: See our Solid Edge University 2015 report for the full list of Solid Edge ST9 updates revealed at the event.
OK, just a couple more questions. I’m curious, how long have you been in the CAD-development business?
I have been in CAD for 31 years now, but I wasn't originally in development. I was an application engineer back in the '80s. I moved over to development in 1989.
From the time that you started in development, how have the challenges changed?
Wow, that's a great question. I think a lot of stuff has become easier, more standardized. It used to be you had to write your own special graphics system. You had to write your own printing system, all those kinds of things. All that's become handled by the operating system. When you go to build, you don't have to worry about print drivers and “How am I going to make this plotter work?” Same thing with graphics. Open GL became the graphics standard, and as long as you wrote with that API, you don’t have to worry about getting the graphics on the screen yourself. I think it's allowed us to focus a lot more on the engineering problem [instead of] computer graphics. So, that’s a noticeable thing.
I would say one thing that's definitely changed is related to personnel. Back in the earlier days of CAD, there was a separate function between the guy that did the design work on the parts and the guy that created the drawing. There were draftsmen who did the drawings, and that profession disappeared. That [role has been transferred to] the engineer. Some drafters adapted and ended up becoming designers or they found some other career. That's a usage thing that's different because the drafter no longer exists. That's actually all the more reason we have to be really good at it, because engineers tell us, "I hate the drawing." It's not his thing. He doesn't want to do that; he wants to engineer more stuff. The shorter he can make that drawing creation thing. ...
I see. So, when someone has the job title of CAD technician or CAD operator, are you saying ...
There's less of that, too.
... that's not a drafter?
No, it might be somebody who helps model a little bit more [beyond what an engineer would do], like, "I got this mostly figured out. Can you detail the rounds and draft angles and stuff for me?"
Yeah, they probably do a fair amount, maybe a small amount. Even that notion of, "I'm a CAD operator," ... I bet anyone you asked here at this event wouldn't say that's what they do.