the business of cad
Issue #776 | May 7, 2013
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In This Issue
1. CAD Wars Erupt in China and Russia
- Part 2: In Russia
2. Dual-Culture Wedding in Germany
3. Redo, and just a few of our other regular columns.
From the editor: This week is the one time a year when I ask for donations to upFront.eZine. Please consider sending $25 (for individuals) or $500 (for corporations). To pay by PayPal, I have added buttons at www.upfrontezine.com; for cheques (or cash, or money orders), please use this mailing address: upFront.eZine, 34486 Donlyn Avenue, Abbotsford BC, V2S 4W7 Canada. Thank you for supporting upFront.eZine!
upFront.eZine takes a break for two weeks as I and my family travel through Germany, Belgium, and The Netherlands, partly for business but mainly for my daughter's wedding in Germany. (Details below). See you again on May 27.
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CAD Wars Erupt in China and Russia
Last week, I described the competition between two of China's CAD vendors, ZWSOFT of Guangzhou and Gstarsoft of Beijing. This week, I'll introduce the brand-new compeition among kernel developers, a market for quite a few years now considered staid.
Part 2: In Russia
We considered for the last decade or so the geometry kernel situation settled. Every serious CAD package uses ACIS (Dassault) and/or Parasolid (Siemens), a smaller one like from IntegrityWare, or a home brewed kernel. The last time a press releases triumphantly announced a major new win by a kernel developer was Parasolid for Vectorworks; the other exceptions are for the occasional brand new CAD package.
Things are stable--
Until last summer's announcement by the Russian government for a new geometry kernel, RGK. It is needed, apparently, to help make Russian software companies more competitive internationally. (Whether it can is a whole other article.)
RGK is sponsored by a technical university in Moscow and by Top Systems. Top Systems produces T-Flex, considered the #2 native Russian MCAD package. It uses Parasolid, the #1 licensed modeling kernel in the world. Top Systems says it is contributing expertise, but will not use the new kernel in T-Flex.
The announcement triggered what I call "the CAD wars in Russia," because it caused ASCON to release its kernel under the name of C3D. The move surprised, because ASCON had kept its kernel proprietary for the previous 17 years. ASCON produces the #1 native Russian MCAD package, KOMPAS, and analysts consider it #2 overall in Russia, after Autodesk. (It is hard to know for sure, because publicly-owned Autodesk acts like a Russian company in keeping seat numbers secret, while privately-owned ASCON acts like a Western company by making its numbers public.)
In the past 18 months, the firms behind RGK and C3D picked up the pace of battle, firing rounds of press releases at each other, proclaiming early customer wins, and now both triumphantly presenting at the end of this month in Saint Petersburg at COFES Russia.
(By the way, there is a third new entrant. Last year Dassault put its CGM kernel on the market through its Spatial division, this being the division that also licenses ACIS. CGM is the kernel used by Catia V4 and V5. From a seminar I attended last fall, I learned that the roll-out of CGM is deliberately slow.)
That's all background; so, where do they stand? The Russian government-funded RGK is brand new code, and so it written with the latest programming standards. Due to the involvement of Top Systems, it may contain Parasolid-like interfaces. These are its advantages; but it is untested by market forces for it is only now emerging from alpha.
The privately-funded C3D has been under development for 17 years, and so it has proven itself in KOMPAS and a few third-party programs. Being mature, it offers most of what any MCAD system needs: solids and hybrid modeling and sketching; constraints; and translators. I have no information on how well it interfaces with new programs.
It is exciting to watch this burst of capitalism energizing ASCON, Top Systems, and LEDAS (who is working for both camps), and I intend to expand on this topic in future issues.
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Dual-culture Wedding in Germany
Later this month, my daughter Heidi marries Manuel in Bavaria, Germany. (See figure 1.) They met two years ago while studying at Capernwray College in England. Last summer, my daughter passed her German A1-level language proficiency exam, and then moved to Germany to work as an au pair.
Planning the wedding of a Canadian in Germany results in certain culture clashes as things are done differently here and there. For instance, following a church wedding in Canada, the bride and groom sign the government papers right in the church; in Germany, the civil wedding can take place on a different day at city hall or other government building (appointments must be made!), and then the church wedding takes place separately. And there are many other differences, both sides have found, such as these: what does "engagement" mean? In which order does the wedding party enter the church? Who sits at the head table? How late into the night should the reception go? (On this last item, the difference between the Canadian and German cultures amounted to about six hours.)
Figure 1: The Canadian bride-to-be (left) and German groom-to-be (right) at the castle near Weissenburg, Germany.
Exactly sixty years ago, my mother moved to Canada to marry my dad, and now my daughter returns to Germany to wed. Anyhow, we hope to stream the church wedding live on UStream for anyone to watch at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/heidi-and-manuel, Saturday 18 May 2013:
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"The link to 'fusion.autodesk.com' doesn't work. No such site."
- Mike Appel, Germany
The editor replies: "It should be www.autodesk.com/fusion360. I usually confirm every link, but once in a while I assume one is correct when I shouldn't."
"You correctly quote the 470,000 Catia active seats (a number from Dassault management itself at COE last week). However, I've not used or published the 1.7 million SolidWorks seat figure you mentioned. The active base figure for SolidWorks I've most recently published is about 340,000 commercial seats. You'll need to make a correction."
- Jay Vleeschhouwer, managing director
Griffin Securities, Research Division
The editor replies: "The 1.7 million (commerical+educational) was stated by Dassault at a media event in February, but I can see how the text made it look as if you stated the statistic."
"You wrote that 'Dassault Systemes today running ads in airports; it's not where the target audience is.' As far as Dassault Systemes is concerned, the target audience is Mahogany Row or the Executive Suite, or whatever you want to call the senior level. An airport is a good place to get their attention. They definitely aren't pitching to engineers."
- Randall Newton, managing editor
GraphicSpeak, Jon Peddie Research
The editor replies: "Ya, I know. I just wanted to egg them on."
"Thank you for writing 'CAD Wars Erupt in China and Russia' in upfrontezine.com. But there is product name in this article that is not so appropriate. Only ZW3D has a Lite version. I'm afraid it may confuse our readers. The price of ZW3D Lite is $1,000."
"Also, we mentioned ZWCAD Architecture for AEC, but for now we only have an alpha version for some ZWCAD partners. We are still discussing the release time for beta testing and official version.
- Kenyth He, overseas marketing specialist
The editor replies: "In the article, I incorrectly referred to ZWSOFT Lite; it should have been ZW3D Lite."
On the Blog
Here are items that appeared on the WorldCAD Access blog at http://worldcadaccess.typepad.com:
No more Gizmos Grabowski blog, because I combined its content with WorldCAD Access.
Letters to the Editor
Re: CAD Wars Erupt in China
"Is it possible that the Chinese are reverse-engineering some CAD programs to create their own, so they can market it in competition with everybody else?"
- CADman 777
The editor replies: "It certainly is the case with the AutoCAD clones ZWCAD and GstarCAD, which copy the UI and certain features slavishly."
"Thanks for the quick mention of CAXA in your recent newsletter. However, I do want to reference the comparison of CAXA in the Chinese market. The 2012 Annual Research Report for IT Applications Used in Mechanical Engineering in China is created by the Machinery Industry Information Center. The report is in Chinese unfortunately, but I have highlighted some points in English. CAD brand awareness:
#2 Dassasult Systemes
"The top four companies have awareness exceeding 50%, and so CAXA is the only one among domestic CAD venders, and so local leader among all in China. The four are categorized as first tier, and others are the second tier.
"CAD venders and brand names actual usage distribution: Autodesk, Dassault Systems, PTC, CAXA, GStarCAD, and ZWSoft. Again, CAXA is the only domestic vender included in the first tier.
"CAD vender customer satisfaction: CAXA, Autodesk, SolidWorks, GStarCAD, PTC, and ZWSoft. Here CAXA has 72% leading edge to others. I just thought that I should share this with you regarding the size of CAXA in the Chinese market."
- Cary O'Connor, vp of marketing
The editor replies: "Thank you for providing this interesting set of data. Note to readers: CAXA owns IronCAD, the company; IronCAD, the software, uses CAXA Draft as its DWG editing component."
"I strongly suspect that the Time Square photo of GstarCAD is a fake. Please take a look Fotoforensics.com and the artifacts detected. Do you have any credible source able to confirm the ad is really running at Times Square?"
- D. C.
The editor replies: "I have no reason to disbelieve the press release. The ad was run in conjunction with PR Newswire, who has a section of Times Square. PR Newswire is a service that distributes press releases. They rent out the space to its clients; who knows how long Gstarsoft contracted to run the ad -- a hour, a day? The photo you analyzed is from a Flash slideshow that runs on the Gstarcad Web site, and so the artifacts reported by FotoForensics are due to Flash compression."
Mr D.C. responds: "Yes, is possible they have run the ad maybe just long enough to make a photo shoot for the press release. By the way, the artifacts visible with FotoForensic are focused especially in the area of the ad, and this is what made me suspicious. Anyway I was just curious. I don't think it is really important if they are running this as fact, or not. The interesting thing is both Chinese firms are diverging from ITC and this gives me some thoughts."
Re: Annual upFront.eZine Donation Drive!
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- Frank Neumann
The editor replies: "Excellent idea! I have set up a 'Donate through PayPal' link on the home page at http://www.upfrontezine.com. There are buttons for individual $25 and corporate $500 donations. Thank you the suggestion."
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Entire contents copyright 2013 by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. All rights reserved worldwide. Letters sent to the editor are subject to publication. Article reprint fee: $840. All trademarks belong to their respective holders. "upFront.eZine," "The Business of CAD," and "WorldCAD Access" are trademarks of upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. Letters to the editor may be edited for clarity and brevity. Translations and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd.