Nov 282011

Last week Dassault Systèmes announced their new CATIA Natural Sketch program.

Looking at the YouTube video they posted, the program looks exceptionally cool.

I sent an email to DS a few days ago, asking about the program, and got an answer back today from Derek Lane, the DS press-relations person.

I’d asked (among other things) if CATIA Natural Sketch will be sold as a stand-alone application, or only as a part of a larger V6 (or V5) installation.

The answer is that it’s not a standalone product, and is not available without a CATIA installation. Specifically, it’s available as part of the CATIA Industrial Design commercial product, CATIA Industrial Design PLM Express, the V6 PLM Discover Pack education product, as well as the CATIA Imagine & Shape add-on product.

This does make sense, since its value-add, according to Derek, is “its ability to generate sketches, and immediately make them part of [or the basis for] a CATIA model.”

This also demonstrates something that’s important to understand about Dassault Systèmes: that it is, first and foremost, an enterprise software company.

While DS does have divisions that serve other constituencies (such as SolidWorks and Spatial), the core of the company (including the CATIA, ENOVIA, SIMULIA and DELMIA organizations) is focused on delivering big enterprise applications to big enterprise customers.

If you become a DS enterprise customer, it’s not because of the specific features of any individual DS products. Rather, it’s because you’ve bought into the big DS PLM vision.

I’m not saying that individual DS enterprise applications aren’t impressive. In many cases, they are. But, they’re parts of a bigger system — a bigger vision — that, at its core, assumes you are going to use applications from DS and it’s authorized partners. Exclusively, when possible.

If you’re not a DS enterprise customer, and you’re not ready to buy-into the big DS PLM vision, then it doesn’t make sense to spend time evaluating the specific features of individual DS enterprise applications. As much as I hate saying it, that even includes ones as potentially cool as CATIA Natural Sketch.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Evan, for the tantalizing vision and the sobering clarity regarding DS business orthodoxy today.

    How do you imagine the designers who are out of DS’s sights today, may end up accessing natural sketch technology in the future?

  • Jon Banquer

    In my opinion it makes sense for those who have no interest in enterprise solutions to evaluate Catia Natural Sketch technology so they can demand it in the applications they now use or from new non enterprise solution CADCAM product developers.

    If Dassault won’t make this kind of advanced technology available others will when enough of their customers start demanding it.

    I think this video gives an even better overview of how Catia Natural Sketch fits into Catia

    The entire approach that Dassault is using is to me much more advanced than say Autodesk Alias and Inventor or what Siemens NX offers.

    Jon Banquer
    San Diego, CA

    • Evan Yares

      I’m not totally discounting the potential that DS will make a similar product available through the SolidWorks channel — eventually.

      I don’t think customers will need to “demand” similar capabilities from other vendors. Those vendors will certainly look at CATIA Natural Sketch, and draw inspiration from it.

      Still, there are other conceptual design tools out there.

      • Jon Banquer

        Yes, there are other conceptual tools out there and much like the argument I make for true, fully integrated CADCAM, conceptual design is also not integrated well enough between, for example, Autodesk Alias and Autodesk Inventor.

        What Dassault is showing appears to be a much higher level of integration with a much better user interface and I think this type of fully integrated approach has been needed for quite sometime when it comes to surfacing.

        Jon Banquer
        San Diego, CA

  • Andy Reilly

    Hi Evan, I must say that I do not completly agree with your view that you buy CATIA as part of a big enterprise story rather than because you want to design a certain product. The way CATIA works is that it is sold as a seat of software that fits the need of a designer,wWe typically call this a role based approach. The fact that designer could be in a one man or 50,000 person does not come into how the user can access the CATIA function.

    The overall V6 suite of brands with CATIA, ENOVIA, SIMULIA, DELMIA and in the future SOLIDWORKS certainly makes alot of sense when they are put together for alot of users but if you want to buy one seat of CATIA V6 for a creative designer. The price, support, implementation is all defined to meet the needs of that guy and we have a very significant number of users that fit that profile.

    In summary, CATIA has some great function that meets general an niche needs. If you want to see how it helps you then please contact us.

    Andy Reilly – CATIA Dassault Systemes

  • Dragan

    I think natural sketch should be separate and free or very cheap software available to every single designer which will use it and eventually get other DS’s products cause of great integration between softwares.
    Point is that it should become GLOBAL. If you wont do so Autodesk or other companies will develop have their own product which maybe wont be so great, but it will be global and you will lose the race – potential users.
    I am using Autodesk’s products but this presentation makes me wish to learn Catia :) BUT it is hard and long process and it needs a lot of time which nobody has…so I doubt I will learn it.
    From the other hand, If you would “push me” to use your software which is natural and easy to learn in everyday work …I’m sure it would later make me think of giving a chance to other intuitive software of yours, but only step by step like Adobe.