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.