Having a Steering Wheel tool concept for geometry manipulation that works with the latest in direct modeling and the new Synchronous Technology is a good start. However, this only gets us to the analogous point of being able to first manufacture or machine a design. The folks doing manufacturing or CAM will tell you this is when the real work begins. The Solid Edge software developers will tell you the same.
A good software developer has a number of skills. Beside having a good understanding of the tools and best practices, he or she must often apply them in different situations. Sometimes code must be rock solid to withstand anything a user might throw at it. Sometimes code is meant for prototyping and understanding. Sometimes developers must iterate between the two to build both a solid piece of software that has adapted to the best ideas exposed during various design iteration.
With something relatively new like the Solid Edge Steering Wheel, you might guess there were a number of iterations. Dan Vinson had this to say:
The key developer for this tool, Mr. Bill Cecil, displayed patience and expertise that is usually reserved for the wizened sages of philosophy. While constantly absorbing the many changes that occurred, his code was stable enough to test other new functionality. That is akin to flying the wing of an aircraft while the rest of the team rebuilds the fuselage in mid-air.
If we were to limit our discussion to the Steering Wheel, we would still have to mention my friend, Ganapathy Kunda. This is because Gan’s knowledge and code are the warp drive for our adventure into the unknown. The Steering Wheel may be the cursor, but the commands are what it controls. Those commands function due to Gan’s truly incredible skills and sharp intellect. Though his abilities are grounded in natural talent and perseverance, his wit and understanding will sometimes leave you in awe and teary-eyed laughter. Later, you’ll realize that you were the target of his joke and laugh even harder. Gan and I have a strange relationship. I dream up things and he makes them come true or submits them to his “worst ideas in the history of known civilizations” pile. Apparently, only he can tell the difference between my dreams and a developer's’s nightmare.
With Bill's and Gan's development skills and their own input to the process, the steering wheel was turned into a fully functioning tool. So ship it, right?
Nope! Try to break it! While I can tell you about the excellent quality assurance work and key metrics that are produced by some talented QA professionals in the Solid Edge organization, I think Dan's view is more interesting:
Before anything gets added to the Solid Edge product you see and use, it is tested by an excruciatingly intensive group called Certification. These are the folks that make sure that we ship a reliable product. They break stuff for a living. When we decided to create a new product, it was our (planning) turn to break things. Cert personnel decided they would show us how they do it better. They started by questioning our best conceived notions and continued on to testing our patience. The whole point is to reduce the errors that the user sees. The fact that they can make you cry over your lost work just enlivens them. I kid them because they’re not here. They’re back at the office collecting more bugs than an Orlando bound Winnebago windshield. Most of those will be corrected, some will become future projects, the rest I will work through, in therapy.
Next week, I'll try to follow up with some practical information on using the steering wheel, hopefully just in time for some of you to try it out at the Siemens PLM Connection Conference.