Learn Solidworks in Five Minutes!
 Learn IronCAD in "ONE" Minute!

Solidworks Users are Not Stupid!


The Apology:

I found robust direct edit functionality in Solidworks 2010 while I was doing some comparison marketing for ZW3D. I had access to the program and started playing. I only worked with an imported part and found it quite good. I never noticed that there were history steps added with each face modification. IronCAD does not include the face moves in the history, it consumes the history affected by the modification and you continue your design with the mixture of history and direct editing. I never really did much more than edit that test part, basically removing faces. It was one of my test for direct edit functionality, Solidworks passed with flying colors.

Learning IronCAD! Lesson 5
Integrated History Based/Direct Edit Modeling

I was very excited and decided to make Solidworks users aware that they could use the flexibility of direct edit in design process. I thought this would open the door to a new level of productivity, interoperability and a standardization of the 3D MCAD design process.

As I was debating this article with an expert Solidworks user he informed me how adding a step in history for each face modification was very problematic.

This is what he said:

"Yes, direct editing in SW can be used in the design process. However, it should be done with extreme caution. Sometimes, direct editing is just the obvious way to go. However, used incorrectly (and it's far easier to use incorrectly than the 'normal' tools), it makes the part a royal mess. I'm currently dealing with a few parts that were made using extensive direct editing. It's nearly impossible to track down what parts of the history you need to change to maintain everything else, and make even a simple change."

The solution for the above situation is to "Blow the History". In Solidworks case, export and then import as a dumb part. A few programs actually have steps to do this.

Dumb System needs Smart Parts / Smart System uses both Smart and Dumb Parts

He continues:

"I'll also add that I'm not saying that SW is fantastic in all ways. Far from it. It's sometimes a royal pain in the butt. For example, part of my headache with the multi-layered direct-edit parts I'm working with is the lack of good direct-editing functionality in many cases. Since working with the history is so painful, in this case, I'm often adding direct-editing, either using direct-editing tools, or simply adding sketch-based features, onto the part instead. There's generally a workaround to do what I want, but it's not always easy (plus, it pains me to keep adding layers to layers of features)"

The reason given by the major 3D CAD products for adding direct edit functionality was to reduced the time and pain of changing a part. While I find that history based design is the best for beginning the conceptual design, the time spent with design intent is unnecessary when you have the flexibility of effective integrated direct editing.

Is 3D CAD Productivity an Oxymoron?

It now looks like direct edit functionality was only to be able to modify non-native imported parts. A very limited use for a very powerful function.

So now we have to question the claims of the other 3D CAD products.

Creo Direct is a separate product. I wonder if it works seamlessly with Creo Parametric.

NX has powerful direct edit functionality with Synchronous Technology that it claims to be integrated. I have worked with Solid Edge, which I assume should be similar, and have found it more unusable than just adding the direct edit steps.

A comparison between Solid Edge's Synchronous Technology and IronCAD's Integrated History/Direct Editing Tools.

Autodesk Inventor now has Fusion (What Autodesk first called there direct edit module) integrated into the system. But it also has a history step created for each face modification.

In this article I show the separate direct edit functionality offered by all of the above products.

But from my investigation and the lack of hype from the CAD Vendors and users, this incredibly productive functionality still seems to be out of the reach of the basic Pro/e history based only clones.

Universal 3D CAD Compatibility is Not Here!!

So I really have to apologize to the Solidworks users. They truly do not have effective easy to use direct edit functionality available to use in their design process.

If you read the rest of the article you will see the point I was trying to get across.

In the below article I show the only option for integrated history and direct edit model available from Dassault, "Solidworks Conceptual Designer". But at $2,988.00 per year is a bit out of the range for many companies, and since it is a separate program based on a different solid modeling kernel, would it even be worth the effort? Sadly, they do not offer a trial of the product. You really have to want this product to jump thought the hoops to even get it. IronCAD or ZW3D would probably offer a more interoperable cost effective solution.

Welcome aboard Solidworks Rewrite!

CAD for the Industrial and Product Designer

Are Solidworks Users Stupid?

Of course they aren't stupid, most that I have met are quite intelligent. You can not be stupid and use the complex dated Pro/e paradigm effectively, it is just not easy. But like any other Pro/e paradigm user, they find no use for Direct Editing functionality. I have talked to many SW users and even if they are aware the Direct Editing is available, they view it as a gimmick. If you are a history based only user, can you imagine blowing away all of your history and start using Direct Editing? It is beyond belief! Take a look at this video. Direct editing is available in SW 2012. Have you used it??

Solidworks Direct Edit

Today, all of the popular CAD packages have some sort of
Direct Editing. If there is a place where change is the only constant it is in the Commercial Aircraft industry, and change is where the Pro/e paradigm fails miserably. This is nothing new, we have known this for years. Take a look a the article below and see what the Pro/e paradigm CAD vendors say about the benefits of Direct Editing.

Standardization!!! The Future of CAD!!

The Worst to Best CAD System and Why!

"How many of you are taking advantage of the Direct Editing that is available to you?"

I have asked this question a few times to Pro/e paradigm (clones) users and I have never gotten an answer. If you do use Direct Editing regularly in your design process with any of the Pro/e clones email me and tell me how you are using it?
Contact me at 206-842-0360 or info@tecnetinc.com

I use IronCAD, it is the only product that has integrated parametric history based and Direct Editing. But it is not like the other programs where the
Direct Editing function is part of the history. When you make a face change IronCAD will consume the affected feature and create a brep in the history, you then continue by using a mixture of history and direct edit to modify the part. I work with a completely different mind set, I do not run into the Pro/E paradigm problems and am not limited by the need for design intent. I can not only change a current part but easily modify existing parts, no matter what system they came from.

Let me introduce you to Streamlined Sketching and Feature Based Modeling

3D Modeling Techniques Defined

I cut my teeth on a Boolean program, that is what we used to call
Direct Editing. I was actually introduced to Solidworks and said "who in the world can design this way?" But when I found IronCAD, it quickly became the tool I reached for first to do my conceptual design. With Direct Editing available you never have to concern yourself with design intent. Having this incredible flexibility dramatically increases your design productivity.

Conceptual Design - Which CAD Paradigm is Best?

I have been beating this drum for decades. But the Pro/e paradigm is the de facto standard. I will not go into the reason why, but it has cost the industry millions if not billions in lost productivity with its strict feature history and commonly used constrained sketching.

The Pro/E Paradigm – 25 Years of Incompatibility

The Two CAD Programs that  Set the Path to 3D MCAD Chaos!

I have been involved in a discussion where the fellow was trying to convert parts to full history parts in Solidworks. He was failing with FeatureWorks and the only other option was to recreate the parts. I suppose he is being paid by the hour so I am sure he doesn't really care if there is a better solution. Even though SW offers, not robust, but fully functional Direct Editing capabilities, this company is probably unaware of it. They should look to see if it is capable of handling the parts without any preparation.

Boeing is doing the same thing converting older Catia 4 parts to Catia 5. If you know the capabilities of Direct Editing, this is such a silly exercise and shows an incredible ignorance of the industry.


Here is an article by Evan Yares, he has been in the industry for decades. This subject is not new but Evan clearly describes the problems with history based only design. This problem has mostly been ignored, not by the CAD companies they have provided Direct Editing solutions, but by the users that have an unwillingness to incorporate it's use for the reasons defined above.

The Failed Promise of Parametric CAD

The bottom line is that most of the designers can get their job done with a Pro/e paradigm program and rarely bump into the situation where Direct Editing is needed. But Direct Editing needs to be more than just a module that is available, it needs to be a tool that can be comfortably used at any time and be part of the normal operation.

There needs to be a paradigm shift!!

But there is another option besides History and Direct Editing.

Let me introduce you to a third called “Innovative Design” the lost CAD paradigm.

The Lost CAD Paradigm or How I Found Freedom in an Unfree CAD World!

But there are other problems with the dated Pro/e Paradigm!


Five Functions that Increase CAD Productivity!!


Function Number One:


Single Model Environment - No PDM until the design is done


Function Number Two:


Drag & Drop Design and the Catalog - Standard, Common and custom features, parts and assemblies at your fingertips


Function  Number Three:


Copy/Paste/link Parts/Assemblies from Different Files - Great for Directly Reusing Data


Function  Number Four:


Direct Feature Editing - Legacy data is no problem


Function Number Five:


The Incredible Tri-Ball - The Very Best Feature, Part and Assembly 3D Manipulator.

Download IronCAD here! Your engineering world is all about change! 

TECH-NET Engineering Services!

We sell and support IronCAD and ZW3D Products and
provide engineering services throughout the USA and Canada!

Why TECH-NET Sells IronCAD and ZW3D

If you are interested in adding professional hybrid modeling capabilities or looking for a new solution to increase your productivity, take some time to download a fully functional 30-day evaluation and play with these packages. Feel free to give me a call if you have any questions or would like an on-line presentation.

For more information or to download IronCAD or ZW3D

Joe Brouwer