the 500th issue of
Issue #500 : : December 19, 2006
C o n t e n t s
Write the editor!
Through Paypal, consider donating $25 in support of upFront.eZine.
Access daily CAD commentary at our Weblog, WorldCAD Access.
This is the 500th issue of upFront.eZine. Half a thousand issues of this weekly newsletter, each about 11 pages long. That would create a 5,500-page book, and it would probably have to be hardcover.
Thank you to you readers and advertisers: your enthusiastic support of upFront.eZine makes this possible.
- - -
As my Christmas present to you, this issue contains lots of long letters on the Autodesk vs. ODA court action.
It's time for the annual Christmas break, so this the last issue of upFront.eZine until January 15, 2007. Remember to take a break, and not work for at least a week or so!
It's not shipping until next year, but Uli Mahle (vp of marketing) and Todd Black (marketing communicaionts manager) were eager to talk with me about the CoCreate's new software this year.
Their primary marketing push is to call themselves a "third generation" PLM company. [Third generation? Wow, I hadn't realized PLM had already been around for that long.] CoCreate defines 3G thusly:
So, 3G PLM is meant to be really easy to install and even easier to run. New in CoCreate's 2007 PLM software (called OneSpace) is a greatly enhanced BOM [bill of material] and integration with mySAP.
Recall that CoCreate's CAD software dispenses with history; Mahle and Black call it "dynamic modeling." (This is the same for IronCAD and some other CAD systems as well.) No history? That may make it hard if you're used to working with parts histories, but ridding the 3D drawing of history lets you work more creatively.
(Here's a counter-example: the folks at SolidWorks showed me how to add fillets using a new wizard. The wizard rolls back the history, applies the fillet, and then runs forward through the history -- essentially re-editing all parts to arrive at the present now-with-fillet model. Now that just screams "Kludge!" to me.)
New features in CoCreate include edge-to-face blends, the ability to store faces as styles, simultaneously modify parts and assemblies, route cables dynamically, view differences between similar-looking parts, perform FEA on thin walls, export 3D PDFs, and schedule background processes, such as model checking.
One of the more powerful new editing commands edits parts through sections: cut a section plane through a part, and then pick the resulting edges to edit and manipulate.
CoCreate has three ways for you to pay:
A summary of CAD industry news you may not have read elsewhere, or that I found interesting:
- - -
Autodesk and PTC agree to employe each other's direct translators in MCAD software. It sounds like RealDWG could appear real soon in Pro/E, but it might take longer for Granite to show up in Inventor.
General CADD Products releases General CADD Pro Version 5.1 2D CAD software with lots of new features, including new polar coordinate entry formats, support for AutoCAD 2007 DWG/DXF files, batch printing and job files, and more. /www.generalcadd.com/whatisgcp.htm
KPP-SDK allows users to develop custom modules for KineoCAM's KPP software, which combines CAD readers, 3D engine, collision detection, interference analyzer to compute motion. /www.kineocam.com
SWORD announces C2Share software for doing document management with SharePoint 2007 in engineering departments. In beta testing now, with commercial release in May. www.C2Share.com
softelec releases VPHybridCAD v9 with support for AutoCAD and LT 2000-2007. New features include reading scans stored in PDF files and direct raster editing. www.softelec.com
FreeDesign announces the first release of FreeDimension (US$495) N-sided surfacing software. Students pay just $99; free trial at www.freedesign-inc.com/downloads.html
Cimmetry Systems releases AutoVue 19.1 for SAP PLM. www.cimmetry.com/integrations-vuelink-integrations-sap-plm.html
Realworld Imagery announces "Foreground Plants - Zones 2-7 Foliage" (US$99) collection of high-resolution, 32-bit TIFF photos for architectural visualization. Download a free sample from www.realworldimagery.com/Samples/sample.html
Generalitat Valenciana releases gvSIG: open source GIS that integrates GIS (geographic information system) and SDI (spatial data infrastructure) to combine data from local and Web services. Includes advanced editing, geoprocessing, scripting language support, and georeferencing. Source code and binary files at www.gvsig.gva.es
ASCON is a vendor of CAD/CAPP/PDM solutions in Russia since 1989. Its KOMPAS-3D software combines all basic features for parametric 3D solid modeling and full-scale 2D design and drafting. Demos and light versions of the software are at /www.ascon.ru/english/download.php
GTX announces GTXRaster CAD Series v10.0 for AutoCAD 2007. www.gtx.com
Autodsys releases ArchT 2007 for AutoCAD 2004-2007 and Architectural Desktop and Building Systems. New features include a new curtain-wall object, new mansard roof object, and Styles toolbar. www.autodsys.com
- - -
These news items were posted during the last week at the WorldCAD Access blog < worldcadaccess.typepad.com>:
And at the Gizmos Grabowski <worldcadaccess.typepad.com/gizmos/ > Weblog:
Seminars & Conferences
UGS Connection -- Americas User Conference 2007 is Apr 23-27 in Long Beach, CA. event.plmworld.org
People/Companies on the Move
T-Splines appoints Robert McNeel, Dr. Thomas Jensen, and Dr. Carsten Hochmuth to its board of directors.
Dassault Systemes hires Robert L. Taylor as a corporate fellow. His job is to research to advance technology for ABAQUS's FEA software.
Planit switches from public ownership on the London stock exchange, to private, through the assistance of August Equity, HSBC Bank, and the senior management team.
AfterCAD Software merges with OrbytSoft Communications.
This discussion about social networks applies equally well to CAD data:
Letters to the Editor
Re: Autodesk vs ODA
"The PC has changed a lot of things, ever since it brought computing to the mass. These days, a lot of people feel they have right to anything, any time. Like it or not, AutoCAD has been the no. 1 CAD product for some time.
"Some tried to displace it, with no success. Since they were not able themselves to impose a new drawing format, they decided to make money out of someone else's creation, namely the DWG format.
"I agree with people when they say that they own what they design with AutoCAD -- whether a house, or boat, or anything else. But to carry their design to someone else, they need a vehicle, the DWG format, which they do not own.
"When you take a plane trip, you own what you carry with you, but you don't own the plane design. You can buy a Boeing 747 if you wish, but you just can't make one yourself.
"Now tell me, why in the world Autodesk would let others
impact the sales of AutoCAD by letting them freely use the DWG format.
Is TrustedDWG a clumsy move? Maybe. But there is an exchange format,
called DXF, fully documented. Since the companies behind ODA are
so smart, they should be able to come up with a new drawing format,
much better than DWG, right?"
The editor replies: "DXF is not fully documented for all entities that can reside in AutoCAD drawings, such as ACIS and ShapeManager objects. Unlike other CAD vendors, Autodesk declared DWG as the standard for CAD drawings worldwide, which places them in a position of responsibility."
"I'll never forget the first meeting I had with the Autodesk guys who came into Cadkey to turn it around. I asked them why Autodesk never documented the DWG format. The answer to me was, 'Because nobody really knows what's in it.'
"Sounds like the Open Design Alliance is doing all AutoCAD
customers a favor by its existence."
The editor replies: "I've heard a similar story from other sources as well. DWG was originally designed by Mike Riddle for his MicroCAD program in the late 1970s. After his software became AutoCAD, he had a falling out with Autodesk. Thus, some of AutoCAD's and DWG's internals became unknown to Autodesk, such as how the Mike's 3D worked."
"I agree very,very strongly with Gary D'Arcy. I don't (fortunately) have to use AutoCAD (luckily, as I've always thought it has a terrible interface), but we do have to use 3ds max here, so we are subject to the Autodesk juggernaut.
"But Gary has an important, nay critical, point: any CAD tool is just that: a tool. Autodesk does not create a drawing any more than I create CAD software. I use CAD software as a tool to communicate my ideas and concepts and designs to a wider audience (customers/ suppliers/ partners/ superiors/ etc). I as a designer or engineering company retain the intellectual property rights to my creation; Autodesk has no rights to it. In the same way, I have no rights to copy or resell my CAD software license beyond the terms of the license.
"There should always be a division, and software companies would do well to remember this. Attempts to take control of the output (i.e. the design) by software vendors should be strongly resisted. My design may last a thousand years (if I'm very fortunate!), but it is highly unlikely that any software company or indeed data format will last that long.
"Strong-arm tactics such as TrustedDWG merely highlight the need for the CAD industry to stop its marketshare grabbing and bickering long enough to settle on a universal open-source output data format which is freely available and portable and allows the engineers and designers (those who CREATE with the software) to retain FULL control over their creations.
"Idealistic? Maybe, but it should be something the industry
is striving for, or else they may find us all printing off our drawings
and going back to the drawing board."
The editor replies: "Universal file formats always fail, because CAD is too complex. The solution is to document each proprietary format, as Bentley Systems did with DGN V8.
"CAD vendors would do well to stay away from ownership of designs, because some lawyer would then find a way to include them in his suit for damages."
"It's interesting that in your discussion with Greg Milliken you would create a fictitious scenario using Microsoft Word, when in fact Microsoft has chosen a quite different approach from Autodesk.
"Instead of continuing to use a proprietary binary format,
Office 2007 will offer an XML-based format that has recently received
ECMA International approval. The format is available for anyone
to use. Corel has announced an update that will support it in WordPerfect
Office. Perhaps Atlantis word processor will add support for it
The editor replies: "Microsoft will always be viewed with suspicion, because they have a history of working with open standards until they become proprietary in Microsoft products, such as IE-specific extensions to HTML. As for Atlantis, they already support an open, ASCII-based format: RTF."
"When reading TrustedDWG discussions I first consider the participant's perspective. Mr. Milliken and Mr D'Arcy, as well as the ODA, are Autodesk competitors. All parties are, first and foremost, looking out for the best interest of their own companies (and rightly so). So I have to view their comments in that light.
"End user comments would seem to be the most unbiased, and Mr. Thickett points out a significant problem for the end user. It would seem that the end user should be able to turn off such notifications if desired, understanding of course that they do so 'at their own risk'.
"So you'll know my bias, my company develops AutoCAD add-ons; we rely on AutoCAD, yet we also compete with other Autodesk products. We've handled numerous tech support requests where the root problem was some other third-party developer using 'creative' techniques. They caused the problem yet we spent our time identify and in some cases resolving it.
"I can understand Autodesk and/or the end user wanting to
know if the DWG file they're working with was created/modified by
non-Autodesk sources. Go slap a turbocharger on your new car and
you void the warranty, right? Doesn't mean you can't do it, but
it does mean you accept the responsibility and benefit that comes
The editor replies: "The TrustedDWG notification also interferes with scripts that run automatically when AutoCAD 2007 is launched, as one CAD instructor found out."
"I have been grappling with pile of DWG files created in Autodesk's Inventor, supplied to a customer of mine who runs AutoCAD Mechanical. Put simply, not all files will load into Mechanical; those that do, report errors and suggest Recover be run.
"Files that do load do not allow the drafter to Save or Save As. Net result: absolutely useless Trusted DWG files. Various attempts to save as DXF files or use other methods to recover these files have also failed.
"So, for your readers' information: we downloaded SolidWork's XchangeWorks software [which uses the ODA's libraries] and installed it. Now from WITHIN the very same AutoCAD Mechanical that could not -- moments before -- save a true AutoCAD file, we now Save using SolidWork's software. The saved files present absolutely no problems in AutoCAD Mechanical from that point on.
"The customer now has _working_ DWG files, and that is financially
more important than _trusted_ files! I guess Autodesk could legally
reverse-engineer the SolidWorks-generated files and use the knowledge
to improve their own products."
The editor replies: "From your email and others, I have a feeling that TrustedDWG is a way for Autodesk to cover up for DWG's frailty. I found that Autodesk's QuickCAD was better at reading DXF files than AutoCAD. The reason from Autodesk was that AutoCAD had greater error checking than did QuickCAD -- yet, as the customer, QuickCAD did the job that AutoCAD could not."
Mr Waddington responds: "It would appear to me that Autodesk is deliberately embedding 'something' in their vertical to make it difficult to share. We have regularly found AutoCAD LT will handle both DWG and DXF better than AutoCAD and the MCAD verticals.
"I have uncovered that Autodesk has an application to register 'DWG' with IP Australia. It has been deferred, but as far as I can tell it has as yet gone un-contested. In the same area I found that SolidWorks attempted to register 'DWGEditor' as a trademark. This application has been denied and it will come as no surprise that it was Autodesk who contested it."
"Autodesk is trying to register the mark DWG as copyright
in Brazil (www.inpi.gov.br)."
- - -
Re: Peer Software's new PeerSync PeerSync for CAD
"We have found this product to not work as described UNLESS
the environment is completely within control, i.e. no replication
over a non-dedicated VPN. Tech support is fine if they know the
answer, useless at finding solutions for problems they have not
- - -
"It is with great pleasure I read your UpFront.eZine. I
appreciate your tone and free journalistic approach. A great job!"
"I do enjoy your newsletter. It truly speaks to the business
Spin Doctor of the Moment
"If you choose an individual, you have to justify how that
person affected millions of people... But if you choose millions
of people, you don't have to justify it to anyone."
"The Lexus has collided with the olive tree, and its crumpled
hulk spins in a ditch as the orchard smolders."
Copyright 2006 by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. All rights reserved worldwide
Article reprint fee US$250.0 and up.
trademarks belong to their respective holders.
"upFront.eZine," "Talking About CAD," and
"On your desktop every Tuesday morning" are
trademarks of upFront.eZinePublishing,