Thursday, October 12, 2006

V4 vs V5

It seems like there has been a fair amount of discussion about the Dassault V4 and V5 suites recently. (e.g. here, here, and (sort of) here) But no one really seems to explain what the difference is, and why it matters so much. Here's my attempt, as I understand it.

The Dassault V4 suite is primarily geared to producing drawings of what will eventually be built. Yeah, they are often in three dimensions, but it's still essentially drawings. In contrast, the V5 suite is geared towards producing models of what you are building. Everything is geometry that can be used in various ways, for instance, for simulation, for manufactoring producability, etc. If Germany was in V4 and France was in V5 in a recent problem, I'm actually surprised it's only as "small" as it is. Imagine one group bringing a bunch of drawings and sketches to a meeting, and the other group bringing a bunch of models and mock-ups in three dimensions. It's not at all clear that the critical integrations ("Does your wire harness (drawing) fit around my body rib (model)" for instance) can even be done.

There's a little more about the Dassault suite that I don't think I can really talk about, in terms of making the integration a little harder. From my perspective, it seems like Boeing has an edge over Airbus, in terms of proprietary software that helps with the integration challenge.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Word(s) of the Month

  • Vel•fea•ture (noun (adj?)) A description of a feature that is implemented well enough to be checked off of a comparison matrix for a give set of products, but not so well as to actually engender utility when used. Usage: "E-mail notifucation [sic] is just another Velfeature.

    Entomology, From "Velocity" [Intercim], a private MES software suite from the midwest and "feature," an attribute or function that one of 3 groups believes is absolutely essential.

  • Vel•con•cept (noun) A description of a velfeature that inspires, in the mind of the supplier, one thing, and in the mind of the customer, something entirely different, using (seemingly) the same set of terms and common ground. The Velconcept is best described in the Parable of the 4 Year Old.

    A small child is being dropped off at pre-school. He is a good kid, and as he leaves, turns to his parent(s), smiles, and asks what they want him to draw for them. Both parents agree on the sublime pachyderm, the gentle, herbivore monster of asia and africa, but digress, "or whatever you like."

    Later, after a day filled with smiling thoughts of their little kid, they pick him up from pre-school. He bounds out the door with some paper. It's grey, with some flashes of color. The parents love him, but he is not yet an artistic genuis. [His genius will be much later, descibing a general transformation such that P = NP, but that's a different parable.] He proudly shows them his drawing, and asks "Guess waht it is?"

    The parents stare for a second, in part at the sheer joy and pride of the child in his acomplishments. "It's an elephant, right?"

    "No, it's a rocket. Isn't that awesome?"

    The Velconcept in the story is subtle. it's not the elephant or the space rocket. It's request to draw something. One party said what they wanted, a pachyderm. The other party made it into a space-going vessel. This is a velconcept -- the parents got a drawing, but it wasn't quite what they expected. And the look on the vendor's face when they tell you how amazing it is is priceless.

    Again, entomology is from "Velocity" [Intercim], a private MES software suite from the midwest and "concept," an idea or an inkling of a feature set that would rock every users world.

Velocity is good stuff. They're just young. (Rulesets! Ha! In my day, we just published a Java API, and then in the configuration file, had the system dynamically load the class. Good times.) I'll rant about rulesets later.