u p F r o n t . e Z i n e
t h e b u s i n e s s o f c a d
Issue #675 | January 28, 2011
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In This Issue
1. SolidWorks World 2011
- Live Buildings
- SolidWorks 2012
- Local Motors
- The DSication of SW
2. And in Other News
This week's issue of upFront.eZine is late, because my visit to SolidWorks World 2011.
SolidWorks World 2011
It's the annual lovefest for SolidWorks users whose main stage this year managed to mostly avoid the subject of "solidworks software" until day 3. Instead, software programs from parent Dassault Systemes budged their way onto the stage of days 1 and 2, and even part of day 3 -- software packages like these:
-- the V6-based Live Buildings
-- the V6-based Post3D
-- the curiously named and also V6-based N!fuse
-- and multiple references to DraftSight.
Perhaps the most interesting statement of the entire event was made at a press conference SolidWorks held on day 3. The company wants to have desktop, mobile, and cloud versions of every program -- even DraftSight. The software will connect to the Enovia database, and connect to the shop floor. Devices like tablets are becoming less expensive, and so will allow the paperless shop floor.
Tied for Most Interesting Statement was new SolidWorks ceo Bertrand Sicot's comment about reading blogs and comments about the concern customers have over Solidworks-on-the-cloud. See figure 1. It was so good, he repeated it at the press dinner Monday night. In short, he promised there would always be a locally-installed version of SolidWorks, as long as market conditions permit. The cop-out is needed in case the number of desktop users ever dwindles to a small number.
Figure 1: The fourth ceo of SolidWorks is Bertrand Sicot, SolidWorks Europe employee #2.
And then there was SolidWorks co-founder Jon Hirschtick's private musing made in front of the five thousand: perhaps the software should be developed like open source. He quickly added, "Maybe I'll get into trouble for saying that."
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In the press room, a CAD journalist greets me: "Ralph, I thought I would see you with the latest MacBook Air!" He adds, "I love reading the fights you have with Mac addicts."
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N!fuse is renamed from "Connect," which was renamed from "SolidWorks Product Data Sharing," and replaces "3D Instant" -- and I keep wanting to call it "n!gage." It was due to ship early this year, but now won't even go into beta until this spring. If I were a consultant, I would say that three names in 12 months is indicative of something significant.
N[exclamation mark]fuse is a pane in SolidWorks that lets small teams share drawings. Just by dragging models and from the pane, other team members have access to them, depending on restrictions imposed. It is meant for offices of three or fewer SolidWorks users. I wonder if the emphasis is on small due to technical limitations?
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I overhear a pr rep badmouthing another. Ouch. She's forgotten that relations are public at these events.
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I'll let Matt Lombard describe it: "You can learn all about Post3D at www.post3d.com/solidworks -- if you have a username and password. This product is part of Dassault's immersive lifelike 3D experience initiative. It's being described as Second Life for CAD powered by 3Dvia." To me it was more like creepy avatars blocking my view of the 3D model.
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I wonder how uncomfortable it was for HP and Dell to both be platinum sponsors. Notable for its absence as a sponsor this year: Microsoft.
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Live Buildings is the result of Dassault's long-threatened entry into the AEC market. We saw a program that contained a 3D model of the future new supercenter near Boston that would house SolidWorks and American Dassault employees in a single building. The demo jock showed how he could slice the building to see inside, navigate in 3D, and then add offices and cubicles.
Everything appeared to be interactive. For example, to create a new corner office, the demo jock drew a pair of lines, which extruded into walls. He attempted to drag this interior wall outside, but the exterior wall blocked that from happening. A number of at-cursor UI elements obviate the need for the keyboard. It does preliminary sun studies, energy analyses, and so on.
The software's official name is "SolidWorks Live Building", even though it is based on Dassault's V6 software, and not SolidWorks. For those wondering about what SolidWorks on the cloud will be like, this is a hint. See figure 2.
Figure 2: Live Buildings does conceptual building design interactively.
At a press conference, staff insisted that Live Buildings is not architectural design software, just a conceptual design program. They said that is not something that is available in the market today, and so LB addresses early project planning, building site data, projected energy analysis, and so on. They plan to have exchanges with major players to procure data to add to plans, such as zoning information, and noted that SolidWorks 2011 already has IFC export.
They managed to insult Bentley Systems by calling MicroStation a just a "2D platform."
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During the standup dinner Dassault Systemes SolidWorks put on for the media, PLM analyst Oleg Shilovitsky tells me that the V6-ification of SolidWorks is a good thing. Until now, he says, SolidWorks and Inventor were too similar. Now SolidWorks that is diverging, it is becoming different from Inventor. http://plmtwine.com
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DraftSight is the free 2D (and somewhat 3D) AutoCAD workalike that is now getting its own app store. Wilfred Graebert, the owner of the company that licensed its ARES software to Dassault, must've been beaming from the frequent mentions DraftSight got each morning from the big stage. For instance, a floor plan said to be from DraftSight was inserted into Live Buildings, but of course the floor plan could be a DWG from AutoCAD and any workalike.
Despite all that attention, little new right now on DraftSight itself, for the OS X and Windows versions are still in beta, with Linux promised to come. Graebert did announce that it is opening an app store in April at www.graebertmarket.com. Developers are welcome to apply now. (See worldcadaccess.typepad.com for details on how it will work.)
DraftSight was shown briefly, running on iPad. After hearing all this about DraftSight, I am beginning to take more seriously Dassault ceo Bernard Charles threat to make that CAD company in the West quake in its boots.
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For the first two days, Wifi access was a fail for some of us throughout the convention center, but finally got fixed for the last day. In a curious twist of fate, Wifi access at the Marriott hotel was free, despite the in-room sign warning of a $12.95 access fee.
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SolidWorks 2012 won't ship until this fall, and so we got just a brief preview at the user event. Each year, staff create a theme around which to introduce new features, and this year may have been my favorite: donut-munching "CAD Cops" go around arresting inefficient SolidWorks users working at night to get projects completed, and then expose them to the new features. One user dropped a floppy disk as he ran away, avoiding arrest. See figure 3.
Figure 3: Inefficient SolidWorks users get 2012 features pounded into them.
At the press conference, a reporter asked, "No news about solid modeling this morning?" Staff said that there had been "not a lot of specific requests in the modeling area from customers." In any case, not the whole release was shown, and there are "hundreds in the new release, and some will touch on modeling." Here's what I wrote down as the features flashed by:
- Feature freeze will be in 2012.
- Complete uninstall: registry, install folders, users files; can be uninstalled by administrator
- Span dual monitors, with new controls to maximize to right or left monitor.
- Pin files (a dialog box with recent projects)
- Units switcher on the status bar (mm/inches)
- Enhancements to sheet metal design, such as select which faces to unbend
- Command search
- Automatically double dimensions when dimensioning diameters
- Automatic solve order solves parameters in the correct order
- Can specify which balloon is the first one, others reoder automatically.
- New magnet line for lining up balloons.
- The XYZ compass in 3D Via Composer shows a mini version of the model.
- 20112 has a costing tool, so no need to use Excel to figure out the cost to manufacture the current design.
- SolidWorks will support motion sensors, like actuator forces, bearing loads, to let the computer run an optimization of design variations.
- New large design review mode opens massive designs in seconds, even on laptops.
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At the press conference of a hardware vendor [whose name I won't reveal to save them the embarrassment], we are shown the newest model of this company's cheapest product. This "no photographs please" session is so boring I want to stalk to the front, camera clicking away, just to generate some excitement. The editor next to me offers me $20 to do it. "Who cares about this stuff?" he asks me. "He does, deeply," I replied, pointing to the earnest young man happily chattering through his PowerPoint slides, oblivious to our collectively glazed over eyes. "He needed to create sufficient bullet points to fill each slide," I explained. Thank goodness for netbooks computers and smartphones with wifi; we can get some work done as we wait for the end of the sessio.... zzzz.
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SolidWorks has a thing for beer and cars, and so this year Local Motors was featured on the main stage, they and their open source car design. It costs "just under" $1,000 to join, and then you get to (a) create a new concept car with other members online, and then (b) build it at a local Local Motion microfactory (just one at present, in Arizona), where all tools are provided. Only two thousand cars will ever be made of the design. Apparently, you can assemble it in three two-day weekends.
The resulting car is a combination of original styling and stock parts. Some components are custom nade from scratch, like the exterior design (designed with Catia); some are stock, like headlights and engines; and some are modified. For example, we saw a universal joint that had been scanned, redesigned in SolidWorks to make it shorter, and then printed with a 3D printer to ensure it would mate.
A Creative Commons copyright ensures no one can steal the ideas. Members can further mod the car by accessing all of the car's data online; all designs files at the site in SolidWorks or IGES format. www.local-motors.com
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I have no idea why Kevin Bacon showed up on stage. It was nice to hear about his 6degrees.org site for contributing good works to charities, but things got creepy when he described the two pairs of washable underwear he travels with. Will the admission make the covers of 'People' and 'Weekly World News'? There was no link to CAD -- except maybe the rumor that GraphicSpeak's Randall Newton tracked down: Mr Bacon's band had been hired for the dealer's party.
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The DSication of SW
Martyn Day of Develop3D tweeted, "I have ... seen much DSication of SW." As I watched the new ceo of SolidWorks (a Dassault employee) on the stage, I wondered if the proud, scrappy, independent era of SolidWorks is ending, and if the European corporatists will win.
SolidWorks World 2012 is in San Diego CA. www.solidworks.com
[Disclosure: DS SolidWorks provided me with air travel, hotel accomodation, and some meals.]
More show coverage at WorldCAD Access:
- The under-reported news of SolidWorks World: Graebert Market for DraftSight
- SolidWorks World 2011 - Day 1
- Highlights from SolidWorks World 2011 Day 3 Keynote
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And In Other News
These were some of the news items that were posted during the last week at our WorldCAD Access blog:
- ZWCAD previews direct editing in its upcoming ZW3D 2011
- foto of the sunday: when snow really fell
- World's largest catalog of Briscad books (also, the world's only collection)
- CADopia is back (and no thanks to the ITC)
- Dave Ault asks 40 tough questions about the cloud. We've got all 40 of them
- The Wengerd Report: The meaning of Q?+:$$ &9*^0E#1@2AF5+_R)!/&#<*
- Intergraph, Bentley settle; Bentley buys back $200 million in shares
Letters to the Editor
Here's an article that clarified a few things for me -- PS vs EPS vs PDF: http://www.adobe.com/print/features/psvspdf/index.html
- Don Beaton
The editor replies: "Now I finally know the difference between PS and EPS! Thx, Don."
Re: Understanding Hybrid Workflows between CAD and BIM
We're an AutoCAD/Revit shop and had a consultant try to use ArchiCAD on a project a few years ago. The consultant tried to convince our Principals that the design work could be done back-and-forth from our office in AutoCAD to the consultant in ArchiCAD. It didn't really work at all. I came to the conclusion that ArchiCAD's DWG translation was mostly a marketing fiction. Yes, it will produce a DWG, but not one that anyone would want to actually work in.
- Andrew Blyholder, senior associate
Architectural Resources Group, USA
The editor replies: Their DWG xlation gets better with each release, but it's like mixing oil and water -- hence my use of the term 'bifurcation.' Even Autodesk has a tough time exchanging DWG between AutoCAD and its parametric modelers, Revit and Inventor. Autodesk's solution seems to be that they will make DWG more encompassing. I was, however, impressed that Graphisoft allowed me to include many of the DWG xlation problems in the whitepaper. But your are right: it's best to stick to one CAD package; if a client uses a different one, then it's probably cheaper to rent a few licences and operators for the duration of the project.
I attended one of the "Mastering your CAD System" seminars when you came out here to New Zealan d in 2003. Your opinion on file translation then was 'avoid it if at all possible'. In my opinion this still holds true today. I'm a full time Revit user now, and this is a topic that gets discussed often -- both in-house and at various industry levels.
I wonder how it could be necessary to import large amounts of 2D data into a BIM package then manipulate it. Surely this constitutes a BIM failure of epic proportions, and the user should be sent to BIM boot camp to have their thought processes repaired. For small amounts of data it is usually always better to just redraw it in native format. You only need to do it once for your library to be populated. So my answer to translation choice #1 is emphatically, NO.
Translation choice #2 is pretty much unavoidable, but still causes a few headaches. You have to know what you're doing with the coordinate systems of both packages to get the 'CAD background' to stay in the correct 3D position. I often need to edit the AutoCAD drawing to 'fix' things that are drawn on the wrong layer, so I can turn off the irrelevant information. Of course, all the setting up and fixing only lasts until a new background is received.
Our solution is to use the AutoCAD data for reference only, then turn it off. I want all the site services drawn in 3D anyway, with correct invert levels. Similarly, we will use the surveyors TIN file to create a native topo surface, and having gone that far it would be silly not to trace over adjacent buildings, too, if we need to show them. It takes six clicks to draw four walls, plus a few more for a generic roof. Suddenly we find that we are really "BIM-ing". We've 'accidentally' created a 3D view of the building and its environs that will impress the socks off the client when we put it on the cover sheet. Also, we are ready to do a shading analysis, and we will know that the building-site service interface will work, because we can easily identify inverts at any point, not to mention clash check with the building foundations.
Oops that's got a little off topis, lucky I managed to avoid ranting about vendor-suppled BIM content (or lack there of).
- Kevin Thickett, senior technical officer
GHD, New Zealand
The editor replies: I was talking alst week to a friend who created a drawing in AutoCAD Architecture. Someone whispered in his ear that he should be using Revit instead. I explained to him the problems of moving 3D models from AutoCAD to Revit. Indeed, Autodesk has its own whitepaper on the problem. Since he only does 3D models for himself, there is no need to switch. He persisted, and so I advised him to download the 30-day demo of Revit. But, if for some reason, someone does need to swap drawings between AutoCAD and ArchiCAD, then Graphisoft hired me to find the problems in their translator, and then to write up some tips on how to do it with fewer headaches.
Re: Nvidia Quadro 2000 Graphics Board
I meant to send you a note after the previous issue re: our Quadro 2000 card, but looks like Anna Muse of SolidMuse beat me to it. She's correct, the ports indeed DP [display port], not HDMI.
- Mark Priscaro
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I don't have Bricscad yet nor do I need another CAD system, but I'm gonna get a copy [of Customizing Bricscad V11] to support the Linux developers. And been too long since I read any of your prose too. Take care, mister, and give 'em heck when you can!
- Herb Fuhrer
As always, I appreciate the insight into the industry that you offer.
- Solomon Smith
"You know who you are, hipsters. You're the kind of person who isn't satisfied with merely taking a photo of your Pabst Blue Ribbon with your iPhone 4: you have to make it old timey before you Tweet it, Facebook it, Instagram it, print it out, and mail a physical copy of it to your best friend from the third grade."
- By Laura June, Engadget
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