[Podcast] How the User Forum Changed the Course of SOLIDWORKS Software

What do you picture when I say “starting a movement?”  Do you picture angry mobs of people walking down a city street or outside of a City Hall?  Or perhaps you think of a large basement full of people speaking their minds?  Or perhaps you visualize the old Frankenstein movie with the angry mob heading to Dr. Frankenstein’s home?  That’s what I would think when starting a movement.

I would like to tell you about a different movement, on that started online – on the SOLIDWORKS forum actually, but it was real, and it was very large, and it certainly made a big impact.  And, eventually, the movement got the results that it wanted.

I had the chance to sit down with Dennis Dohogne and Rick Becker, two passionate SOLIDWORKS users who headed up this movement, and talk about how important it was to get things done right.  It’s a story about strength in numbers and a company – our company, that had to own up to our misstep and make the changes that our customers were demanding.  As a result of this crowdsourced effort– long before that was even a known term–our passionate customers truly changed the future course of SOLIDWORKS software.

If you are a passionate SOLIDWORKS user, listen to this Born to Design podcast and hear this short story about how our users truly changed the future of SOLIDWORKS software.

Also, be sure to check out all of the podcasts, and subscribe below so you will never miss an episode:

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See where it all started:  Check out the SOLIDWORKS forum here to learn about anything SOLIDWORKS-related.

 

Transcription (AI Assisted Transcription)

Rick Becker 0:00
There were six or eight VPs and a programming team in the room

Dennis Dohogne 0:04
and they listened and they took notes

Rick Becker 0:06
and they were there all day from first thing in the morning so the SWUG me meeting at the end of the day that we also got to participate in Waltham and it was an incredible 12 hours of true dialogue.

Dennis Dohogne 0:21
Yeah, we did not hold any punches

Rick Becker 0:23
but we didn’t we, we hit hard, but fair and they listened, accepted to notes and didn’t try to sway our point of view,

Dennis Dohogne 0:32
right,

Rick Becker 0:32
so that it was remarkable

Cliff 0:35
Hi there. This is the SOLIDWORKS Born to Design Podcast, a collection of inspiring stories about those who create, build, invent an engineer new ideas and the actual new products and by the way, they all use SOLIDWORKS. I’m your host Cliff meddling in this episode is titled How the user forum change the course of solid works software. I’m talking with Rick Becker and Dennis Dohogne started a movement on the SOLIDWORKS for that changed SOLIDWORKS applications the movement was simply called “one and two”. Which comes from the top two enhancement requests from users on the SOLIDWORKS forum. let’s jump right in and hear their story. Or should I say their side of the story.

Hi, we’re going to jump right in, Yeah, let’s start with you. Rick, what your background How did you get into this business?

Rick Becker 1:19
Well, long story and I got into this freshman year high school. I went to a Technical High School and went through all the trades are really 14 different trades, and you picked your top three and I got put into number four. So I didn’t get my top three and I ended up in machine shop and ended up to be quite a wonderful thing for my life. Because I learned to love making things out of metal. Very complex things, very complicated things, very simple things sometimes. But learned how to become a tool and die maker.

So I became a Journeyman Tool and die maker from there, I started my own company for a few years. And then I went to work for one of my customers as a design engineer and my very first software, something 30 years ago was Hewlett Packard’s me 10 hope I can say product you’ll Packers. Me, 10 back then was quite innovative. But it was a flat 2d drawing board. But it had wonderful macro engine in it and from there I went to CAD key key creator and that is a free form model. So I learned how to

Cliff 2:35
I remember CAD key back in the day I was in college and Cadkey.

Rick Becker 2:38
CADkey was was groundbreaking in its day, the world’s first true 3D software. and it set a lot of ground. but it’s free form sort of history based, which is very, very different world, it actually made the transition to solve work much harder for me.

I spent two weeks going to tutorials and reading everything I can and at the end of all that I couldn’t make a block I was totally lost because I couldn’t get out of the paradigm of freeform modelling and the history of features. Once I took some classes and there’s my other advice to new users, join your local var, find your local var and join the class which is a beginner’s class.

But once I took that beginner’s class, and I could sheet metal, a couple of other ones. After that, I came to understand how it all works. And it is an amazing tool. Once you truly understand it and you start to see the depth of it. I just absolutely love SOLIDWORKS for that.

Cliff 3:39
That’s great. Thank you Rick. What about you Dennis?

Dennis Dohogne 3:44
well. If my wife were here, she’d love to answer this question. Because she’s known me for most of my life. But prior to that, when I was a kid in grade school, I knew I wanted to be an engineer, inventor, before I even knew it was called engineering. And I got into high school, took all the drafting I could and then finally made it into my engineering program at college. And I was loving and I was having a great time

I’ve been in in product development and having the opportunity to be creative. All my career, I’ve got a bunch of patents. And then finally, I’m doing some for myself, instead of from my employers. I’ve got a way of looking at things and seeing things that other people overlook. People talk about the low hanging fruit, I go to the back of the tree, and I look at the low hanging fruit that other people didn’t even think to go pick that I go climb the tree to get the high hanging fruit.

But I’m always looking for different way of approaching a problem and told my last boss and said, when you hired me hired lazy malcontent goes well, you’re one of the hardest working guys, I know, you don’t understand, I’m lazy, because I’m always looking for an easier way and Im malcontent, because I’m never quite satisfied. And so he liked that answer. But there comes a point to when there’s an old adage, you have to choose the engineer because they just kind of want to keep improving, keep improving, keep improving, so they can support me to gotta get the product out the door. So that’s always one of the challenges for for engineering, you gotta, you gotta learn to balance things.

Cliff 5:12
Alright, so I want to dive right into this wanted to thing you guys who wants to take a stab at starting to where did this all start?

Rick Becker 5:19
“One and Two” started at SOLIDWORKS world 2017 preamble where they run the top 10 list on the forum. And users spend five weeks putting ideas in. And then user spent five weeks voting for ideas. And the number one and number two ideas were fix the bugs and get more stability. And those two had more than double the votes of anything else. And it seemed to be an overriding theme on the forums, that what’s really missing from the 2016, 2017 versions of SOLIDWORKS was stability, and lots of bugs. So we wanted the movement was, let’s get all the developers doing nothing but working on that one release. And let’s see what have of course, that’s an unreasonable request, you got to have innovation, new things, but it was the movement that started in there are hundreds of posts on that forum, under one banner just talking back and forth about “One and Two”.

Dennis Dohogne 6:29
So Rick started it. And I jumped right in. Neither one of us were going to SOLIDWORKS world. So we wanted people who were to carry that chant one and two, one and two, because it was important, and we I had serious problems. I had such problems on 2017 that I had to revert to 2016. And it never had to do that. And so I was just livid, and I wanted some relief, I wanted this problem fixed, because I can understand bugs with the new feature the infant mortality. What I cannot understand and cannot accept is when I go to a new release, and now I’m having problems with stuff that I’ve never had problems with before tried and true stuff. Tell me where that’s acceptable.

it was not acceptible. And so we raised our voice, because that was our only place for voice, our forum is going to I mean, our VARS are going to say, Yeah, you got a problem, and maybe we’ll help you with it, but the forum we could get other people to chime in with their information saying what there’s particular issue was, so that SOLIDWORKS would be listening to us because we know they do monitor the forum. And I’m grateful that they do they respect it, though, because they don’t they don’t stop on us, let us use the forum. And when they do chime in, it’s always very good, very contributory, but they let us air our grievances and they listen to us.

Cliff 7:55
So you definitely as you mentioned earlier you created a movement on the forum yeah so let’s talk about you guys knew each other beforehand on the forum.

Dennis Dohogne 8:02
Okay, no, we really just met on the forum and we met a lot of people on the forum we get to get to know them to some degree but Rick and I never met face to face until November 15 when we were both invited to Waltham to talk to the developers about one and two but we’ve met other people in the forum here and SOLIDWORKS world that we you know we know their names like we met Deepak Gupta and Michael Lord and Todd black shirt.

Cliff 8:30
But, you know it’s just just for the record for those who don’t know Waltham is outside of Boston, the North America headquarters for Dassault systems and the headquarters for SOLIDWORKS. So America so so you guys met there for the first time, right? Two of you were invited to come and tell us about that experience.

Dennis Dohogne 8:47
We we were invited because of that post one and two, and I think it was because Rick and I had been voices very ardent voices for this issue. But we’re also

Rick Becker 9:01
We were passionate voices without a hint of disrespect, or into malice,

Dennis Dohogne 9:07
right.

Rick Becker 9:07
Our goals were genuinely and truly to make the software we use every day better.

Dennis Dohogne 9:13
right

Rick Becker 9:14
Get rid of the bad stuff, include the good stuff and we no matter what was thrown our way, we would deflect it and get mean.

Dennis Dohogne 9:23
right.

Rick Becker 9:24
Nasty or profane in anyway,

Dennis Dohogne 9:26
Right, we were kind of monitor, not monitoring, but we’re kind of shaping the conversation by not encouraging the stupid stuff and encouraging the stuff where people have good substantive things to say. And, and so I think that the guys at SOLIDWORKS Recognized, hey, we were two, just like I said, passionate voices that were reasonable people to deal with,

Cliff 9:50
And how did they originally reach out to you guys how to SOLIDWORKS reach out?

Rick Becker 9:53
Richard Doyle said, this forum message, private message between just the three of us saying, we’d like to invite you to come and visit with the team and welcome as part of our customer outreach program. And we’d like to invite you in there. Me being in Connecticut, I drove up, they had fly Dennis up from Florida to get there and put us up in hotel room for a night or two. And we met with an incredible team of people.

One of the things that was remarkable was, who was in the room and how long they were in the room.

Dennis Dohogne 10:27
and who wasn’t

Rick Becker 10:28
And wasn’t in the room. Right. marketing people werent in the room,

Dennis Dohogne 10:32
no salespeople

Rick Becker 10:33
no salespeople,

Dennis Dohogne 10:34
No business side people, it was all product development.

Rick Becker 10:37
nobody trying to shape our conversation,

Dennis Dohogne 10:39
right.

Rick Becker 10:39
They they were six or eight VPs and a programming team in the room,

Dennis Dohogne 10:44
and they listened, and they took notes,

Rick Becker 10:46
and they were there all day from first thing in the morning to the SWUG me meeting at the end of the day that we also got to participate in Waltham, and it was an incredible 12 hours of true dialogue.

Dennis Dohogne 11:02
Yeah, we didn’t pull any punches.

Rick Becker 11:04
But we didn’t we, we hit hard, but fair, and they listened to accepted it took notes and didn’t try to sway our point of view.

Dennis Dohogne 11:14
Right.

Rick Becker 11:14
So that it was remarkable.

Dennis Dohogne 11:16
And we’ve got a follow up conversation with them tomorrow night.

Rick Becker 11:18
Yeah,

Dennis Dohogne 11:19
you know, I think what I’m expecting to hear is more of their plans about what they’ve done in response to the quality issues.

Rick Becker 11:27
Well, a big big nod to Dassault and SOLIDWORKS is 2018 came out and it truly is a step above 2017. There are no big bug is no big report on form. I use the forum with the backdrop to see what hundreds and thousands of other people are saying, there are 46,000 registered people on the forum, several hundred active members, thousands that read and participate in times. And nobody is complaining about 2018 like they were with 2017. So it’s there was a great movement in stability and bug fixes. And I appreciate that. And so does everybody else.

Dennis Dohogne 12:16
Yeah, and we told them, you know, the proof is in the pudding. You guys can tell us you doing all these things. But until we see the improvement, it doesn’t mean anything. They’re just words until the actions speak.

Cliff 12:28
That’s great. So so we are SOLIDWORKS world, I’m just curious is anybody just come up to you with one or two hats that these guys are wearing hats to say one and two.

Dennis Dohogne 12:37
We haven’t. I haven’t been walking around wearing the hat. But But when we find somebody that that understands one and two, we get pictures with them with the hat. So we’re going to be posting those I think afterwards.

Rick Becker 12:50
we’re we’re going to be posting on the forum a lot of pictures.

Cliff 12:52
That’s great. But But clearly, they heard so that’s good that they had you guys in that’s that’s a great story.

Well, and they heard in such a large way, that’s they actually invented a new preamble for the top 10 this year. Yeah, they came wider with the slider, which was direct result of “one and two” being they didn’t want to let two slots of the top 10 be used up with the same thing as last year, because they knew it would be so they allowed the users before you put an ID in or vote, you had a move a slider left or right to determine what percentage of stability vs bug fixes versus new innovation you want.

Dennis Dohogne 13:37
Yeah it was reliability, speed and new features.

Rick Becker 13:40
Yeah, and, you know, my one and two was 49% by reliability, 49% speed and you know 2% innovation

Dennis Dohogne 13:49
Yeah mine was 85% reliability. Because without that the speed is irrelevant. You know, I told him, I said, you can you guys can do something to save me a couple mouse clicks a day, you know, take a whole year to add up to a few hours of savings.

Cliff 14:05
Absolutely.

Dennis Dohogne 14:06
But one crash can cost me several hours of work. So that’s a bigger bang for the buck is to fix the crashes to prevent those crashes,

Cliff 14:14
and you guys are very satisfied with 2018?

Dennis Dohogne 14:16
so far,

Rick Becker 14:17
so far yeah so far its great

Dennis Dohogne 14:18
Ive had some crashes but not. Not the cataclysmic stuff I was having

Rick Becker 14:23
well, and there’s there’s a ripple effect to there’s been more improvement for 2018 also with the error reporting, help files. The way they integrated things is really improving greatly. You get more information back provide more information. One thing that we came to realize after talking with the gang in Waltham is what will change the future SOLIDWORKS is people participating, people coming forward.

People doing crash reporting. Apparently a very small percentage actually report the crashes in a meaningful way. If at all, in when you have a crashe theres a box where you could put what you were doing with detail, don’t just put, oh, crap, you crash me again, because that doesn’t give anyone meaningful information,

Dennis Dohogne 15:15
right.

Rick Becker 15:16
And once we saw these additional improvements going in there, we knew that the message was heard loud and clear. We knew that the management of programming team did make significant progress for it. So we are very pleased.

Dennis Dohogne 15:30
And we had the opportunity while we were at Walton, in particular, to make some connections with these guys, and kind of build a relationship. And it’s like, Hey, I got a deal for you guys, we’re not going to abuse this line of communication, so long as we get to have a good line of communication with you. And so I’ve been in product development my whole career. And I said, Look, you got to make it easy for people to use or else, they won’t use it. And so I’ve been hammering on them about the enhancement request system, and about the knowledge base system that all these other systems that that might be work good from a database standpoint, information standpoint for their developers, but the users hate it, it’s cumbersome, it’s awful. And the same thing with the problem reporting, we’re finding out what you guys aren’t doing a good enough job of communicating the value to the user of properly using the crash report system, you know, you communicate that that it’s in their best interest to not have a crash, but it’s in the best interest to properly communicate what went on so that SOLIDWORKS has good information to work with to fix that crash. You guys haven’t done a good enough job of getting that story out.

Cliff 16:33
So that that was interesting comment because I just about to ask you, what, what advice would you have for people on the forums and new to SOLIDWORKS. But I think that’s it and make sure that you communicate clearly when you do have a crash. And if

Dennis Dohogne 16:44
you use the crash report system, because it costs you nothing, there’s no proprietary information passed and, it only can help you help SOLIDWORKS to help you and what do you stay, nothing to lose, not a thing. And then if you got any questions about security and intellectual property, it’s easy to read the information there, that that will dissuade your fears. Okay. So there’s no reason not to do this. And it’s to your best interest to do it.

Cliff 17:12
well, good, guys. That was great. But I want I want to dig in a little to a couple more questions. But that’s, that’s excellent feedback. I think so. So Dennis, you talked about being, you know, nerd out for innovation. So what would you say to maybe a new SOLIDWORKS user, somebody who wants to get into starting their own business like yours, or doing something more innovative? Any advice you’d have around that?

Dennis Dohogne 17:34
Are you’re talking about the software? Or just

Cliff 17:35
Just the software or in general? Yeah,

Dennis Dohogne 17:38
on both of them are, basically say, learn everything. You can. Be curious. So learn the software from all angles. I’m taking sessions this week on stuff that I’ve hardly touched, because maybe it will give me a chance to get in using visualize and all of this other stuff, you got to expand your horizons, you never know where you’re going to find something that you had buried in the back of your head that can bear on solving a problem that you’re faced with right now. So just be curious and learn everything.

Cliff 18:07
That’s great. It’s good advice. How would you rate

Rick Becker 18:10
Advice for new users is Be patient, read everything you can, run the tutorials, join the forum ask questions

Dennis Dohogne 18:19
under users group,

Rick Becker 18:21
be part of users, your local users group, there is so much valuable information available, to learn something and everything. And when you run up against a brick wall, you run up against something that’s tough, you are not quite sure how to set the options. Don’t get frustrated. There’s answers right at your fingertips. Go find them, they are there will help you. Join the forum.

Cliff 18:43
That’s great. Well guys, thanks a lot. This is this is an excellent I appreciate the time

Thanks for listening today to remember if you are a SOLIDWORKS user, you should visit the forum as it is a very lively community where you can learn more from our users than you may think and you might meet a friend or two. you can find the forum at http://forum.SOLIDWORKS.com . We will be back again soon with more great born design podcast stories at http://SOLIDWORKS.com/podcast or wherever podcasts are readily available. Until then, keep innovating.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

Cliff Medling

Cliff Medling

Cliff Medling is a Senior Marketing Manager at SolidWorks and the host for the Born to Design Podcast.