We are very pleased to announce two new versions of EnSight, EnSight Free and EnSight Desktop. These new products accompany the EnSight 10.0.2c release. And these two products will replace EnSight CFD Free and EnSight CFD Paid, offering more capability, a smoother upgrade path, and the same price as the products they replace. A smoother upgrade path because EnSight Free and EnSight Desktop have the same GUI as EnSight Standard, EnSight Gold and EnSight DR, so they also benefit from the same full documentation, tutorials, and custom-developed python scripts and tools. More capability because EnSight Free and EnSight Desktop can read FEA, CAD, and other data formats whereas EnSight CFD could only read CFD data, and more capability because EnSight Free and EnSight Desktop are based or derived from EnSight rather than based on a blank sheet new design, so they inherit a rich set of features and functionality. And the same price because we really like having a Free version that people can download, try, test, and use as long as it serves their needs; it’s great for students, for the unemployed, for those looking to make a post-processing switch but not yet ready for a full evaluation, and for those who develop CAE software and just need a simple tool to check on things. We also like the price of EnSight Desktop because it makes it much easier to bring into a new customer site and get the ball rolling. We are very excited to be able to take the success we’ve seen with EnSight CFD and apply that also to the FEA, Crash, and other CAE markets with EnSight Free and EnSight Desktop.
So logical question to ask is how did we get to this situation. Why not just start down this route two years ago? Since you asked…
Several years ago CEI faced a challenge. We needed a new user interface for EnSight, it was working well but looking a little dated. We wanted to make a bold, fresh new version, but that’s always risky with your flagship product. And to make that new version we needed to upgrade our toolkit as well, which is a challenge for the developers. So we needed a way to test out a new GUI on a smaller project that we could prove out the design and the software components. Making EnSight CFD seemed like a perfect solution, it would serve as our test program and show the advantages of the new GUI. And it was so successful at our user group where we unveiled it we received an immediate order from a major car company which was not already using EnSight. It worked well but it taught us a few lessons.
Lesson 1 – be very careful of the name. EnSight CFD had two problems with its name. Some people thought that it was a full package including a solver. And that’s not what EnSight CFD was, so we wasted their time and our time. The second problem was that EnSight CFD name implied that this product was the best CEI had to offer for CFD users, whereas it actually only had a subset of the features of EnSight Standard, Gold, and DR, since it was a new product it would have taken time to get all the powerful features of EnSight. So it was for both of those reasons that the name was a problem.
Lesson 2 – a new product takes a lot of time to develop, but it takes also a lot of time to document, support, sell, market, and so on. So there had better be a really good strong, logical differentiation between the original product and the new product. Fact is EnSight CFD was too close to the market serving EnSight so there was always tension between improving EnSight CFD’s feature list and improving EnSight’s GUI. Fortunately CEI has taken the approach of already overhauling the EnSight GUI by releasing EnSight 10 – which is even better than EnSight CFD. So now there is no more tension since clearly EnSight 10 is a more capable, powerful, and just as easy product as EnSight CFD.
Lesson 3 – maybe a great prototype should be preserved as a prototype and not released as a product. People might argue about this one because we’ve certainly gained several customers with EnSight CFD that we value very much and some have migrated upwards to EnSight Standard and Gold. But we might have been able to introduce EnSight Free and EnSight Desktop faster had we spent less time enhancing EnSight CFD. This is one of those kind of hindsight 20/20 arguments which cannot be proven. So its the weakest of the lessons and therefore a distant third place.
So the name was problematic and the existence of two overlapping products created tension. And yet we are happy with the outcome. EnSight CFD gave us the confidence that people would like the new design of EnSight 10 and some breathing room to work on EnSight 10 and enthusiastic sales partners. And it gave us some new customers in the meantime telling us that we were on the right track to have two lower end versions of EnSight.
So we hope you like EnSight Free and EnSight Desktop, we look forward to updating our website and bringing transition information for those using EnSight CFD. Thank you for your support.
EnSight 10.0.2c will be released in late May – early June 2012, so nearly any day now.