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It seems unbelievable that market upstart SolidWorks Corporation has passed its tenth birthday.
And, despite having spent more than half its life under Dassault ownership, its strong, innovative culture thrives.
As the market has matured the primary focus has shifted from satisfying disenchanted users of legacy 3D systems to migrators from 2D.
A recent SolidWorks survey of data received from manufacturing contractors (machining, sheet metal, moulding, prototyping, design shops) indicated the percentage of 3D data being received having increased from 38% in 2003 to 51% in 04.
It would seem design is increasingly 3D to remain competitive with the predominant remaining use of 2D for machine design.
Software updates can create a stressful time, for users to grasp the new functionality, deal with data format compatibility and contend with any new bugs, and for vendors to be able to innovate without disenchanting existing users.
Even if it is temporarily uncomfortable, SolidWorks have always taken an aggressive stance on the need to innovate to avoid the kind of stagnation experienced by the AutoCAD interface for many releases,.
This approach appears to be endorsed by the eager SolidWorks subscription customers who have wholeheartedly embraced the Beta programme.
This has grown from 300 for the 2003 release to 3,000 in 2004 and a reported 3,000 downloads in first 23 hours for the 2005 beta.
Innovation is immediately apparent, while other less obvious enhancements are no less important.