3d Experience and xDesign

Inspired by the recent announcement of GrabCAD Workbench shutting down and some of the comments in that thread, I’m curious to hear what people’s experiences have been with SolidWorks 3d Experience suite (most specifically their xDesign software).

My general vibe I’ve picked up over the last couple years on here is that it’s got issues making it not ideal for use in an FRC environment/setting. What specifically are those issues you’ve experienced? Or if you’ve enjoyed using the software thus far, why is that?

It’s fairly decided on that my team won’t be switching to OnShape (at least not any season soon), and after watching some general overview videos of xDesign today, I’m intrigued by its potential.


I haven’t used it since 2019-2020 (roughly when they launched ‘public’ access) I can’t remember specific examples off the top of my head but it was generally buggy and the tool sets, feature tree, etc. was way off from my expectations of a “Solidworks-like” product. I was kind of hoping for an experience far closer to just opening a VM terminal running SolidWorks.

I have signed up to try the newer version as announced a few weeks ago on the FIRST Blog and I look forward to trying it again. We will likely stick with our current GrabCAD setup for this upcoming season but some effort will definitely be put in in parallel to find the next CAD system whether it is Solidworks xDesign or Onshape (or Fusion if we’re desperate).

I’ll gladly report my findings once they send out the sponsorship notices.


Per @cad321’s thread suggestion, asking here:
Does anyone have familiarity with SolidWorks Cloud wrt GradCAD Workbench? Can I use it like GrabCAD, is it like OnShape, any problems or limitations to consider? Did anyone already transition from GrabCAD to SW Cloud when it came out?


Would love to hear back later! I’m waiting on our sponsorship approval with SolidWorks too.

The thought of basically accessing a VM running solidworks through a browser is definitely my ideal dream. Watching the overview video above I was relatively pleased with the UI they were showing. It appeared to be all the normal solidworks “buttons” and a fairly normal design tree, with a slightly different layout.

We’ll be desktop solidworks and GrabCAD for 2023, but likewise will need to find a solution as we move into the 2024 season.

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I tested 3D Experience last offseason. Echoing others responses, found it a bit different from the Solidworks UI (first thing to realize is that it is not Solidworks, but based on a different kernel that looks somewhat similar to Solidworks). It was manageable for making simple part models and assemblies, and tested loading a reasonably large assembly on poorly spec’d computer that would otherwise have struggled with Solidworks, so all that was good.

The usability was kind of like Solidworks versions 20 years ago, for instance everything needed to start as a sketch and then apply the feature rather than doing it in one step. Advanced commands were missing. In general it was a primitive UI compared to up to date Solidworks and involved more “clicking”. Unfortunately I also found it buggy (freezing), file management awkward at best, documentation and support poor, and difficult to navigate the set of modules to go from part to assembly to drawing (never really got drawings working and couldn’t apply our templates. Also existing Solidworks files could not be imported other than by STEP file, giving it no inherent database advantage over a switch to Onshape. I was quite surprised at how unpolished it all was given how central this is to Dassault’s CAD future, and the existence of Onshape. Perhaps others have tried it more recently and have more positive experience, I was enthusiastic to try it but found it was really not ready for FRC or industry use.

I don’t know if there is a way to use their cloud systems for desktop applications, it is not in their advertised literature. The simple version of Solidworks PDM is server based not web based so does not meet our needs for students working from home, and their advanced PDM is expensive and much too complicated for our use.

Our expected plan after today’s announcement is to use Solidworks / GrabCAD through this season and then quickly migrate to Onshape. If a free or low cost data management solution emerges we might think differently.


With the 3DEXPERIENCE platform,

Simple solution: There is “3DDrive”. 3DDrive allows you to store data and share data with your team members.

Engineering solution: There are also PLM tools. And as people here on chief delphi have stated PLM can range from simple to complex.

Here is a 2 min video with the help of the Celt-X model in more of an engineering environment, monitoring tasks and data


I’ve used 3DX extensively at a large company but that’s with the CATIA flavor.

I’m now running 3DX at home with the SOLIDWORKS desktop flavor, it’s a long story… It’s the same exact desktop version of SW that we’re all familiar with, however you have to login to 3DX via web, and then launch the application. This is what DSS calls “3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS” and I do believe they have browser based only SOLIDWORKS too - I’m not sure what - if anything - they are providing to teams like they used to.

For my version, if you lose internet, you get warnings about lost connection and then it stops working. You can save files locally to desktop, or to 3DX (cloud). You can lock files for editing or not. I’m the only user in my environment so I haven’t explored many of the features.

The other 3DX apps are there - xDesign, xShape etc. but they have a learning curve that I don’t have time for right now. I login, launch SW, and get to work just like I always have. Generally it’s been as stable as SW ever was…

Not sponsored by DSS, in fact quite the opposite

If a team has questions and/or wants to see a real world demo reach out to me.

Edit: seems like there is now an offline mode - https://www.cati.com/blog/3dexperience-solidworks-adds-new-offline-mode/


Thank you for the feedback. I’m happy to hear you like 3DEXPERIENCE SolidWorks. So do I.

We wanted to give FIRST teams a 100% cloud solution if they had chrome books, macs, PC, tablets and a good internet connection.

3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS requires a windows native PC. It is a great product and is part of our Maker offer. SOLIDWORKS is installed on the PC data is stored on cloud or to your PC.

But you cannot run 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS and SOLIDWORKS desktop on the same PC.

Many schools have SOLIDWORKS desktop so this is why we are providing SOLIDWORKS Connector to the platform ( cloud storage ) with SOLIDWORKS desktop.

At this time, we are not offering the CATIA apps. We wanted to simply the cloud cad experience with one design tool. So our cloud cad tools are xDesign xShape xSheetMetal xFrame ….

We have a new Welcome app for the first time xDesign user with tutorials and methods. You have to create collaborative space. This is really important. Collaborative space and bookmarks will be new terms in everyone’s vocabulary.

Next month we will have more videos that use some cool champion robots to show these apps.

I’ve been using SOLIDWORKS desktop since 1997. If you have an good internet connection, the apps are worth a try. Learning a different tool helps build your portfolio.

Chief Delphi has showcased so many SOLIDWORKS tutorials and tips over the years.

Thank you for talking about our newest technology.

Ooh, what is this exactly? (Or more to the point, is it a drop-in replacement for GrabCAD Workbench?)

The SOLIDWORKS Connector (also known as Design with SolidWorks app) is a app on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. The app connects SOLIDWORKS(desktop) data to cloud apps and cloud storage.

I never used grabcad, so cannot answer your question.

The video here might help. We are working on videos with FRC Components but this one involves a prosthetic designed in SolidWorks and Collaborative Designer with SOLIDWORKS.


Well, since I have the director’s attention, may as well shoot my shot. The closing of GrabCAD Workbench has been the sole talk of the water cooler this week for every MechE project I know, FRC and beyond. I think we’re all basically looking for the same thing:

  • A free “it just works” GUI setup and operation that lets students and colleagues:
  • Upload locally made/edited SolidWorks files of all types (organized by project/folder)
  • Hosted on a secure cloud without the team needing to do any work with servers
  • Download the same, preferably with integrated syncing to user’s desktop
  • Edit locally and then recommit uploads, with robust version tracking
  • Bonus points for file locking, visual version comparison, file format agnosticism (even conversion!), web-based viewing, and markup and communication tools
  • I guess fully in-cloud editing is fine if it looks and feels like this does. I haven’t tried remote editing of SW files in like 10 years, so I’m stuck on the thought that it’ll be slow or under-featured.

Basically some version of GitHub for CAD. Is that Connect? I’ve heard a lot of words in the Dassault ecosystem, but I don’t know what they really mean. I am a vanilla SolidWorks CSWP that’s only ever used the desktop program with GrabCAD. But Cloud, Connector, PDM, 3D Experience, xDesign…:woman_shrugging:


Congratulations on achieving your CSWP!

The 3DEXPERIENCE platform is the technology and business platform by Dassault Systèmes. The technology is for scientific and engineering applications. It is far more than just CAD. So yes there will be new vocabulary.

The platform is like your mobile phone’s operating system. It hosts a collection of apps. Sometimes you take a photo and you want it on your PC. Other times you just use the native app.

The compass identifies different types of apps. Some are CAD. Some are data driven. Others involve simulation or manufacturing/robotic automation. Apps are also related to different industries: aerospace, medical, consumer, transportation and many more.

With a new platform and new technology, your cad data becomes information that can be used in many places such as task management for your team mates, critical issues during the design process.

Yes you could just use xDesign for cloud CAD and this will be a solution for many teams that cannot use SOLIDWORKS desktop. But SOLIDWORKS has almost 7million users out there. We have to provide new apps to do new things. And we love robots. Companies like Square Robot & Scara Robot use both SOLIDWORKS desktop and 3DEXPERIENCE apps.

So we put together an offer for FIRST teams that can do more than CAD. We also have multiple ways to control data.

FRC Mentor Ridvan Polat from Turkey has created a series of videos to help his team. They are on the 3DExperience Student Community.

Remember first learning SOLIDWORKS? I did the first tutorial three times til I really understood the interface, vocabulary and the methodology.

We will have more videos next month. There are many tutorials about the platform on My SolidWorks.

I’ve been a mechanical engineer for a long time, you never stop learning. With new software options you investigate and make a decision, is this right for the team now or maybe in the future.

Even SOLIDWORKS Apps for Kids is browser based digital clay with ShapeIt and mechanisms in MechIt, complete with a 3DPrinting App, for kids ages 4-14. ShapeIt looks similar to xShape App. MechIt follows techniques in xDesign. Little kids are learning new apps too.

We support FIRST with many options.

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Marie, with respect - I’m familiar with the tech you’re talking about, and still even I am confused by your descriptions. It doesn’t help that product names are non-descript and repetitive. Information is out there, but the documentation is very convoluted IMHO.

For those curious, this seems to be a good demonstration of SOLIDWORKS Desktop, integrated with 3DEXPERIENCE: https://www.solidworks.com/media/3dexperience-design-apps-solidworks-desktop

Why one would want to move from a CAD platform they’re using, into the cloud, into a completely different user interface, back into cloud, and then back into their first CAD platform is beyond me - but as I said I haven’t taken the time to see how these new “apps” are going to improve my design experience.

Another way I might explain 3DEXPERIENCE to folks is: it’s like going from using MS Excel on your desktop to using Google Sheets. Okay sure there’s some learning curve to the cloud platform. However then you find out when you open Sheets and want to put a chart in - it’s actually a separate hidden “app” that you have to load (and pay for!) to get the chart functionality. When you want to spellcheck, it’s another app, etc… This then allows certain industries to customize the software to their needs - presumably to save money by not paying for features they don’t use.

I apologize if I gave the impression I like 3DEXPERIENCE - because I do not. 2.5 years of using the platform, and I find it to be a major regression of user experience.

@Siri from what I can tell, SOLIDWORKS Connector is not at all a substitute for GrabCAD. I believe the intention is that one would utilize various 3DEXPERIENCE platform apps to accomplish the same thing:

  • A free “it just works” GUI setup and operation that lets students and colleagues:
    You will need a fairly knowledgeable admin to setup the 3DEXPERIENCE environment, train users, and maintain the system. Figure a few months to get it setup, and then frequent training classes for new users. Then at that point it will “just work”

  • Upload locally made/edited SolidWorks files of all types (organized by project/folder)
    Upload yes, organized by project/folder, not quite. 3DEXPERIENCE utilizes a 6S tagging system as the primary organization method. This means users have to be diligent with their metadata.

  • Hosted on a secure cloud without the team needing to do any work with servers

  • Download the same, preferably with integrated syncing to user’s desktop
    not a sync like GrabCAD had per se, but yes you can pull the latest version from the cloud repo

  • Edit locally and then recommit uploads, with robust version tracking
    file versions are not automatically created like they are with GrabCAD. In my experience, users specifically have to submit a new revision through the UI. If the ecosystem is setup to control revisions (the PLM features), then there could be a controlled revision/release process. I think this is out of scope for most FIRST teams - it’s a lot for a large company to manage.

  • Bonus points for file locking, visual version comparison, file format agnosticism (even conversion!), web-based viewing, and markup and communication tools
    yes to file locking, web-based viewing, markup, and communication tools
    no to visual version comparison, or file format agnostic. A “3DEXPERIENCE Drive” desktop app does exist, but I don’t think this is much more than a “basic” cloud storage folder

  • I guess fully in-cloud editing is fine if it looks and feels like this does. I haven’t tried remote editing of SW files in like 10 years, so I’m stuck on the thought that it’ll be slow or under-featured.
    In my limited experience the built in 3DEXPERIENCE xDesign and xShape work fine enough for basic parts/assemblies. I have not tried anything large or complex, and I typically have a strong internet connection and decent hardware. In my experience with 3DEXPERIENCE CATIA - which uses completely different apps - the platform can handle some sizeable models however when you reach the limit there is nothing you can do to your local hardware to improve the performance.


I wanted to offer some thoughts as a FRC Team 5422 alumnus. I have used the 3DExperience Platform quite extensively and it has been such a great tool for collaborative CAD design. Our team always struggled with data management, and 3DExperience is a great solution for that.

SOLIDWORKS is such a great tool and connected with 3DExperience Platform it provides the data management alongside the CAD design needed for FRC.

Please feel free to DM me if you have any questions about my experience with it!


Thanks all, especially @ecotton. I’m amazed the entire Dassault and 3rd party ecosystem isn’t all over this with explicit recommendations for GrabCAD’s 7M users. I personally know multiple high school and college programs with dozens of students that’re basically going, “this is way too big a mess, do we need to learn OnShape?” GrabCAD has “just worked” for so long that the last thing anyone wants to add to their plate, especially as a volunteer, is navigating this. (Similar to @ecotton, the only I’ve ever heard associated with 3DExperience before this is “ugh”, and I have only had bad experiences with SW PDM in years past.) I do see a few positive views around CD now though, so I did the 3DS demo contact us (primarily for my university role) and we’ll see. :crossed_fingers:


@mplanchard thank you for putting in the time to provide information to FRC teams. Solidworks is my team’s tool of choice when it comes to making robots, and we greatly appreciate the support!

Is there an avenue through which Solidworks users (FRC, hobbiests, and industry engineers) can provide feedback to Dassault Systemes on their products, and what tools and implementations would be most helpful to them?


Hi Andrew, You mention three of my favorite communities. FRC, Hobbies and the Industry Engineer.

The method to provide feedback to Dassault Systemes is through “communities” on the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. The ones I mention below are all free and public. They just require a 3DEXPERIENCE ID. (Login to the platform)

For FRC (students) - The 3DEXPERIENCE Student Community is for all students. This is where we will take any question from a FIRST student or mentor about installation, SOLIDWORKS, platform, cloud cad apps, design issue. Anyone can post. The Wiki is the location for the Kit of Parts - right now its 2021, 2022 SOLIDWORKS/STEP - we haven’t updated it for 2023 yet.

There are other students there too - from competitions we sponsor globally like World Solar, Formula Electric, Sustainably Challenges and Model Mania. We have engineers that monitor this community and help out students.

For Hobbyist, it is the MadeIn3D Community and the Makers Support Community (You need to purchase to get support). Last year we introduced 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS for Makers. This contains 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS - based on SOLIDWORKS professional with data saved to the cloud by default or local to the PC. Managed PLM through the platform. Also included are the SOLIDWORKS Cloud CAD apps and NC Shop Floor Programmer. This is what I use for my house projects - I have an old house. Lots of DIY makers. See 3DEXPERIENCE SOLIDWORKS for Makers | SOLIDWORKS Makers is $9.99/month, $99 per year. You cannot do commercial work.

For industrial clients, there are many ways join the SOLIDWORKS 3DEXPERIENCE User Community, Public and Free- used to call the SOLIDWORKS Forum- you can post an idea there. Join a SolidWorks User Group. When a SolidWorks User Group gets together, they can submit enhancement requests.

Access to both of these can be found on our community page

You can also make a request to a VAR through the customer portal if you are a customer on subscription.

A a FIRST team, the easiest might be to join a SOLIDWORKS User Group. SWUGN.org. Students always welcome.

There you can connect with other SOLIDWORKS users and ask question. Many hold virtual meetings. I have seen FIRST teams present at SWUGN meetings too.

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Hello everyone,

I am Rıdvan Polat. I’m SolidWorks, 3DEXPERIENCE Edu Student and ENOVIA Champion.

I produce content related to 3DEXPERIENCE. I wanted to share with you a sample video content of how to use 3DEXPERIENCE in FRC. I recommend reading the descriptions of the videos.



Thank you for supporting FRC teams in Turkey and beyond.

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