Monday, July 25, 2011

How Gibbscam Lost Marketshare Because Of How They Do Business

I've started a new LinkedIn group called CADCAM Technology Leaders. It's already got over 950 members and it's very active. If you wish to join the group and start a discussion or comment you must be prepared to state in detail why you think what you wish to discuss is leading edge CADCAM technology:

Here are the rules I've established for CADCAM Technology Leaders group on LinkedIn:

Comments should explain in sufficient detail why the technology you are discussing is a leading edge technology. Comments like "xyz CADCAM is the best!!!" or "abc CADCAM sucks!!!" will be deleted. Fact based comparisons between different products are acceptable and welcome. Here is an example of what I consider to be an acceptable comparison:

"Solid Edge ST has direct modeling tools that allow me to work quickly and easily on non-native solids. SolidWorks has no direct modeling tools and I find Solid Edge ST much better because our shop mostly works with non-native solids."

No personal attacks of any kind will be permitted.

For many years Gibbscam has refused to make complete and well written documentation available for their product. An example is how the SolidSurfacer history tree works and best practices. I've met a fair amount of Gibbscam users in both the Phoenix, Arizona area where I use to live as well as the San Diego, CA area where I now live and none of them had a decent understanding of SolidSurfacer's history tree. Almost all of them, myself included, will transfer a solid model that needs to be modified to a CAD product like SolidWorks or Inventor and modify it there because they really don't understand how SolidSurfacer's history tree works.

A couple of years ago Gibbscam started to do a video series documenting their product. This video series is only available to Gibbscam customers on current maintenance. I've taken the time to view all of these videos and they are at best very basic and even the basics still aren't properly covered. For example, SolidSurfacer modeling isn't covered at all! To make matters worse for years no independent has created a comprehensive video training series on Gibbscam like has been done by Mike Mattera (Tips For Manufacturing) for Mastercam. I own all of Mike Mattera's Mastercam X training CD's and they are just excellent and I highly recommend them to any Mastercam user.

Gibbscam has been steadily losing market share for years and one of the reasons is because they have almost no real educational support. In the Gibbscam spring 2009 newsletter Bill Gibbs claimed real educational support was on the way. This newsletter has since been removed from the Gibbscam website because it's so embarrassing and because I've pointed out that it shows how Bill Gibbs and Gibbscam don't follow through on their promises.

As way of example of just how bad Gibbscam educational support is, in Gibbscam's own backyard (California), the closest one can take affordable Gibbscam classes in San Diego for the kind of reasonable rates that a Community College charges is 2 hours each way (without traffic) at Cerritos Community College. This has resulted in a lack of knowledgeable Gibbscam users in the San Diego, CA area and because of this several Gibbscam shops switched to Mastercam because even though Mastercam is an inferior product in just about every way compared to Gibbscam plenty of affordable training for Mastercam is available.

I've been asking for a Gibbscam student version since 1993 and been met with nothing but lame excuse after lame excuse. Back in 1993 the excuse was that Gibbscam was so simple no one needed training on it. Over the years Bill Gibbs switched his story to it's very expensive to create a student version. Bill Gibbs was right about that because not making a student version available on top of bad marketing cost Bill Gibbs his independance as Gibbscam was forced to sell out to Cimatron when sales volume dropped. Take a look at this request to the official Gibbscam message board back in 2004. Notice the second post shows this guy was "Banned". Over the years Gibbscam has banned and censored so many users and posts to their message board that I've lost count.

Gibbscam is in many ways brilliantly designed. It's the most non-modal CAM software I've ever used which means you don't have to constantly open and close dialog boxes to move around the software. Gibbscam has a very cohesive feel to it and doesn't ever feel like it's a cobbled together system.

I've read many Gibbscam users complain that Gibbscam doesn't fix what's broken with the product. That's bullshit. What is true is that there are plenty of items left to fix that should have been fixed a long time ago. The reason they haven't been fixed by now is that if you don't market properly you are always looking for the next big thing... MTM, etc. This is especially true if you don't have enough capital and enough profits. There is a reason Gibbcam had to sell out to Cimatron. Sadly many lessons still haven't been learned from the past and they just keep making the same kind of mistakes that got them in trouble in the first place. How the Gibbscam Message Board is run is a perfect example of how poorly Gibbscam is run. So is their use of Twitter. There is no concept of how to properly work with independent non fanboi users of their product who are realistic and know the CADCAM market. The Gibbscam attitude can be described as: This is what we give you and if you don't like it that's just too damn bad. Compare this to HSMWorks and their user forum and you will see a huge reason why Gibbscam will have to be dragged kicking and screaming like a spoiled little child into the new world of fully integrated CADCAM.  New fully integrated CADCAM companies don't have the legacy code problems and they also have a much better understanding of how to deal with smarter CADCAM users who aren't satisfied with the lame excuses they have gotten in the past from legacy CADCAM companies and as a result are now demanding more than traditional CAM companies are willing to provide. 

Gibbscam has started to fix long standing problems with their product like turn the Machining Operation Manager, which was really just a Machining Operation Viewer, into an actual Machining Operation Manager where you can use its spreadsheet like qualities to do quick and easy mass edits. This is a brilliant way to expand the Gibbscam obsolete tile user interface. I also personally believe that a spreadsheet user interface is the best way to do mass editing on machining operations. 

It use to be that Gibbscam had no undo... that's fixed.

It use to be that Gibbscam had very poor and limited use of color... I haven't used the latest version but that problem seems to have been addressed as well.

It use to be that you had no way to dynamically move wireframe or solid geometry... all you could do is enter numbers for coordinates which sucks and wastes time when you want to visually place things like clamps... that's now fixed as well.

Problems that remain are no Tool Library. There is a very expensive Add-In that can do this that should be a base part of Gibbscam. There are numerous workarounds for this and in my view none of them are great choices.

Update 8-5-2011: This was posted today to the Gibbscam official message board by "jkefm" and shows that more and more Gibbscam uses are getting sick and tired of the lame excuses given by Bill Gibbs  in regards to no Tool Library in Gibbscam:

 Update 8-28-2011:

Yet another long time Gibbscam user finally has had enough of no Tool Library and being ignored:

How long has Gibbscam ignored this request? The dates and comments in the following screenshot should give you an idea of how long Gibbs has ignored this popular request and refused to add a Tool Library to Gibbscam.. These comments from five years ago also show how Gibbscam users felt five years ago. Imagine how they feel five years later!

This post from Gibbscam's official message board from years ago shows how Gibbscam users felt even back then about how they were treated by Gibbscam. The treatment Gibbscam customers get has actually gotten much worse since Cimatron purchased Gibbscam because the same horrible management at Gibbscam still exists and they now have Cimatron's money behind them.

Here is a recent post to the Gibbscam Message Board that documents the long standing problem of Gibbscam not remembering where you left pallets when you restart Gibbscam. This problem should have been fixed many years ago and continues to be completely ignored by Gibbscam management. I  personally complained to Bill Gibbs about this problem over ten years ago at a trade show. I really don't think this problem should be very hard to fix, yet it's ignored year after year and never gets fixed:

Gibbscam uses a very unique point based geometry system. People who start with Gibbscam seem to love it. I didn't start with Gibbscam. I started with Cadkey. I don't love it. Point based geometry seems to be unique to Gibbscam and I think a choice should be offered so those that are more comfortable with element based geometry can use that.

Unlike many other CAM companies Gibbscam is far removed from understanding you need very powerful CAD to create toolpaths in the most efficient manner possible. Gibbscam offers no solution for those who want fully integrated CADCAM. Contrast this to the many offerings that are now available that run inside of SolidWorks. Sadly, Gibbscam parent company Cimatron totally understands that fully integrated CADCAM is the only way to go! Gibbscam has no announced plans for a fully integrated CADCAM system whether it means running inside of SolidWorks, porting to the Cimatron user interface, using Cimatron CAD or doing something really brilliant like licensing the source code for SpaceClaim and running inside of a direct modeler.

Even just creating some better trimming and extending tools like SolidWorks has would make a huge difference and this is long overdue. Mention it on the Gibbs Message Board and you are given the lame excuse from moderator "Fisher" that's it's a CAM program. Sorry "Fisher" that bullshit doesn't cut it anymore. Speaking of the Gibbscam Message Board I was banned yesterday once again for writing exactly the kind of things I've written here.