PTC declares 3D isn’t important

As readers of this blog may know, PTC recently acquired the 2D technical illustration company ITEDO. You may also know that Seemage is offering ITEDO users a trade-up to full 3D at www.itedotradein.com.

In an apparent response to this campaign, PTC has been emailing its customers a discussion about its acquisition of ITEDO and its opinion of Seemage.

Naturally, both Seemage and ITEDO customers have asked us to respond. What better place to do so than on our blog? And who better to respond than Seemage’s founder Eric Piccuezzu?

Here are PTC’s emailed comments, followed by Eric’s response:

PTC: Prior to the acquisition, ITEDO communicated 3D availability in the next version of the product. Upon acquisition, PTC and ITEDO agreed to regroup and evaluate the appropriate delivery of the 3D capabilities. This 3 weeks evaluation period is now complete and the decision to proceed forward with the original ITEDO 3D strategy has been made.  The next release will include everything originally planned plus further enhancements including native access to Pro/E data via Granite, license management consistent with Pro/E, and support for the same 9 languages that PTC supports worldwide. 

Eric Piccuezzu: With all due respect to PTC, this is a promise to do something, not a roadmap. We all know that it takes multiple release cycles to converge product lines. Doing so with ITEDO – a fundamentally 2D non-associative product – will have real impact on functionality and usability.

We wonder if the Granite reference means users wanting lightweight ways of producing product deliverables will have to absorb a full-weight CAD infrastructure. We also find it interesting that PTC would adopt ITEDO’s 3D strategy, and not the other way around. Why introduce a new 3D file format? What will happen with the Product View file format?  And does this mean users will need to manage a visualization format as well as two additional and separate illustration formats?

PTC: 99% of the current market demand for creating Technical Illustrations is 2D. With the acquisition of ITEDO, PTC now has the best of breed product for creating 2D Technical Illustrations leveraging rich CAD data.  ITEDO customers’ demand for printed and printable documents presents a critical need for IsoDraw.  Therefore, Seemage cannot replace ITEDO and Seemage’s offer shows a naïve understanding of the customer’s challenge.

Eric Piccuezzu: We reject the assertion that Seemage customers suffer from “naïveté.” Our customers have clearly found that Seemage meets their challenges.

But the really shocking assertion here is that 3D doesn’t matter. This is a very interesting assertion coming from the company that revolutionized the CAD market. If 3D is good for design then why doesn’t it work as a way to express the product for other purposes? Maybe PTC doesn’t really care about the individual productivity of the technical illustrator and is only interested in finding additional files to check into a Windchill vault. Years ago 2D might have been the dominant modality. Today you don’t have to navigate the web very long to find product information being displayed in 3D. It’s unsustainable to assert that 2D is the future for displaying product information. It just doesn’t make sense.

PTC: With the next release of Arbortext IsoDraw 7.0 (expected to launch in late Q2), PTC will enable customers to realize the full vision for creating robust 2D and 3D Technical Illustrations.  IsoDraw 7.0 will dramatically accelerate the realization of PTC’s Pro/Illustrate vision:

  • Continued best-in-class creation of 2D Illustrations
  • Native access to Pro/ENGINEER data, along with increasing levels of associativity between IsoDraw and Pro/E.
  • Ability to utilize other CAD data formats
  • Creation of 3D Illustrations directly from Pro/E or other CAD data
  • Creation of illustration and animations that blend both 2D and 3D (this is the most common desired use case)

Eric Piccuezzu: The shocking news here is a warning that PTC will deliver partial associativity. It’s astonishing to hear this coming from the company that created the term. You’re either associative or not, right? Does PTC mean you could sometimes be associative in a future IsoDraw and sometimes not? Sounds like it might be a little confusing and hard to manage.

Seemage has delivered fully associative illustrations and animations that blend both 2D and 3D (what PTC insists is “the most common desired use case”) since 2004. When Seemage customers speak about associativity they include information like service or manufacturing BOMs and metadata like reorder codes all of which are maintained in their ERP system. PTC couldn’t be expecting customers to duplicate this ERP information in Windchill, could it?

PTC: The full PTC Dynamic Publishing Solution now gives customers the ability to:

  • Create rich, reusable textual content
  • Create rich reusable graphic content in 2D or 3D
  • Manage the information together in a single system
  • Dynamically publish the information for consumption by end users in a preferred format or delivery channel.
  • Visualize and interact with any form of intelligent data embedded in the publication.

Eric Piccuezzu: The promise PTC is making is only valid for customers willing to turn over their infrastructure to a single vendor’s platform strategy and therefore also willing to ignore best-in-class solutions. While customers wait for PTC to catch up by integrating pieces into the platform, the market is moving forward. In December Seemage will raise the bar once again with a major new release, while PTC is still adding more file formats that need to be integrated and which, apparently, might be only partly associative.

PTC: With its narrow point solution, Seemage can only provide a very small percentage of the true requirements customers have for Technical Publications.  To get value comparable to PTC’s solution, the customer would have to assume the role of a system integrator and create and maintain the necessary integrations to CAD, 2D illustration, text authoring, data and process management, etc. In summary, there is no uncertainty whatsoever for PTC / ITEDO customers. The PTC vision and overall solution is far more valuable than a point / “me too” product from a small company.

Eric Piccuezzu: Reading about PTC’s point-of-view on “narrow point solutions” brings two thoughts to mind. First, it assumes customers will discard ingrained productivity tools like Microsoft Word and, second, it implies that there are no customization and implementation costs associated with the deployment and operation of Windchill. If it’s true that the implementation cost of PLM systems has declined to zero, I applaud the instant value this represents for customers. But I just don’t believe that is the case today.

While I completely agree deployment cost must be kept to a minimum I believe customers disagree with the single vendor, bet-the-farm, massive enterprise undertaking as the best way to deliver productivity. This is why Seemage allows customers to start their deployment with a desktop-based, individual productivity system which delivers a compelling ROI right away. Then, customers may expand the solution based on success in exactly the same way customers deployed and proved the value of parametric feature-based CAD systems.

The Seemage system is built on a 100% open XML architecture. Therefore the customer decides the extent of the integration and deployment, based on success and value. Seemage doesn’t dictate the customer’s infrastructure or means of storing and maintaining the content authored within Seemage. Seemage sees the challenge as the production of great technical illustrations quickly, not the deployment of an “enterprise illustration infrastructure.” What, after all, are “point solutions” if not good answers to important questions? CAD itself is an important point solution, isn’t it?

With the Seemage system customer after customer has proven they gain ROI faster and for less money. From implementation costs all the way through to support costs, customers get results sooner with Seemage than with a huge, top-down enterprise infrastructure deployment. When big software companies tell you innovative solutions are point solutions, it’s a way of (Wind)chilling your desire to implement a solution the big software company doesn’t yet support. In short, it’s a coded message that says, “We don’t have it…but we’ll get there… just stick with us…”

I’d be happy to openly debate and compare deployment costs and resulting time to ROI with PTC.  Just schedule a benchmark and Seemage will prove it.

Whew! All I can say is, “Thank you, Eric” for taking the time to counter PTC’s position and respond to it on our blog. I’d like to invite readers to join the discussion here and by email to eric@3dmojo.com.

One comment to PTC declares 3D isn’t important

  • Nicolas L.  says:

    Really interesting.

    And yes we are not naïve… we are just using solutions that meet our needs and our customer needs (or future needs)

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