August 11, 2010
If you’re a devout SolidWorks user, you’ll probably take issues with the outcome of a study TechniCom published this week. In “Comparing the Capabilities of Autodesk Inventor Professional 2011 and SolidWorks Premium 2010,” TechniCom analysts found that “Inventor rated higher than SolidWorks in every one of the 15 categories.”
Introducing the paper, TechniCom president Ray Kurland wrote, “TechniCom compared 15 functional areas of Autodesk Inventor Professional 2011 vs. SolidWorks Premium 2010 using a technique called Delphi Expert Analysis. We compared 15 major functional areas using a questionnaire with 161 functional questions. Both products were rated on each question by a team of four experts for each software product who rated how well each product performed for that functional question. TechniCom’s analysts independently selected the questions. In my estimation, the functional questions do not favor any specific vendor or product.”
Kurland acknowledges that one evaluation category, the integration of BIM (building information modeling), tips the scale in Autodesk’s favor, a sponsor of the published paper. He clarified, “The study was not asking whether each system could perform BIM—rather, the seven questions we asked the experts were focused on the interaction between a mechanical system and BIM. In essence, could mechanical parts be designed for use within a BIM system? Areas of focus included: managing the space requirements for the mechanical design within the building model, bi-directional data transfer, associative data management, and UI (user interface) issues.”
Neither of the packages compared in the study is meant for architectural modeling or BIM. However, Autodesk Inventor offers BIM exchange tools that allow users to export mechanical models into Autodesk Revit, an architectural modeling program from Autodesk. Both programs facilitate import/export of common file formats such as IGES, STEP, or DWG, allowing their users to work with architectural modelers.
Sustainability, a category omitted from the evaluation, could have conceivably favored SolidWorks, as SolidWorks ships with Sustainability Xpress, a tool for measuring environmental impact of designs.
“Readers might ask how unbiased this analysis is, since it was sponsored by [Autodesk] the author of one of the products being compared,” Kurland noted. “While we admit to some bias in selecting the functions to be compared, particularly as it relates to the mechanical interest in BIM, all the functional areas selected for comparison are important.”
Its controversial nature notwithstanding, Kurland stands by the study. He concluded, “Readers need to understand that this report provides a glimpse of certain expert opinions. While this was a small group considering that both products have hundreds of thousands of installations, we believe that the results are valid in assessing overall capabilities.”
For more, listen to my conversation with Kurland.