In 2009 I had to go through the decision process of SW versus INV when I started my business. At that point, I had about 1 year experience with each. In the end, the only really determining factor was that Inventor had native support for the creation of gears and gear systems - something which I had an immediate need for. Solidworks had nothing similar to offer except in a 3rd party add-on which I tried it and found to be clunky at best.
But, in the nearly 4 years I've been using Inventor, I've never found something that I needed to do that I couldn't accomplish with Inventor. I remember the SW guys showing me a tool called TolAnalyst that would be nice to have (automatically ran parts through their tolerance limits and checked for interference in the assembly), but all in all I'm happy with my choice.
Really comes down to your individual needs but I think both software packages are very good and very competitive.
And what about the dialog boxes the IV still has plus IV mini tool bar that does not have all of the options that the dialog box has.
Far superior in Inv. The solidworks dialog box is way worse. They replace the whole feature/assembly tree area with one big dialog box, and then throw the assembly/feature tree into the workspace. At least I can move the dialog box out of the way. In Swx you have to move the model away from under the tree that just landed on top of it. The mini tool bar is not for me but it doesnt get in the way, but the right click marking menu is far superior to the SWx S key short cut. Then there is the context senitive short cuts that inv has that Swx doesnt. Click a plane in Swx nothing happens, but click a plane, face, edge etc in Inv and a context sensive toolbar displays at the mouse pointer, no right click or s key required. Yes there are some things that Swx does better, but menus and tool bars arent one of them.
I have more crashes with SW than I do with Inventor, but I also do more graphics intensive procedures in SW than with Inventor.
I think in regard to controlling assembies, functionally, Inventor and SW accomplish the same things, but in different manners. Inventor has iLogic, which I like, and in SW you control suppression states of features and components from the design tables in Excel. Either way, I use Excel and/or VB/C++ to accomplish what I need from either software. I simply don't use parameters without using Excel in SW or Inventor.
I can't really comment on toolbars/UI issues because I almost never use them. with the way I've got my 3d mouse programmed, I pretty much don't need them. I do like SW mouse gestures better than the Alias style hotbox, though, because it's quicker and I don't have to look at what I'm doing. It's involuntary.
Something I wish would be changed in Inventor is filtering of parts in drawings via assembly view representation. This is backwards. This should be done by LOD. It makes more sense for your parts list to display parts based on which parts are suppressed/unsuppressed in a LOD rather than which parts are visible. If I want a part constrained so that it's not affected by changes in an assembly, I don't constrain it to something I know is going to change often. I more than likely constrain it the origin in the assembly. The same logic is applied to the parts list filtering. I change the visibility of parts often while working in assemblies and I don't want my parts list based on a tool I use during a design process.
In regard to surfacing, baseline SW is terrific for surfacing. I use surfaces a lot for mold design and I choose to use SW for this because it has more features that accommodate me. With that said, I LOVE Alias in Inventor. For industrial design of consumer products it's awesome. The ability to freeform drag surfaces, edges, vertices, etc. with Alias is something that SW does not have. I often design certain types of products in Inventor with Alias and design the tooling in SW. I, however, have my own custom application that I use for mold design in SW, so no comment on mold tools in Inventor vs. SW.
Bottom line? I don't think it's possible to say which software is better. I like each one for different reasons. It would be nice to have everything under one roof, but I don't think I'll ever be satisfied with any software in its entirety until I finally take the plunge and develop my own.
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