Issue #19: 25 January, 1996.

Hyperlink to the previous issue of Upfront: Upfront #18 | Upfront #19 | Upfront #20 is the next issue of Upfront.

Recommended Reading

If you like getting Upfront, you'll appreciate appreciate TESS Times. This weekly eZine specializes in topics about 3D -- CAD, VRML, but mostly 3D graphics -- and is produced by the editors of 3D Artist. For example, they were one of the first to review Microsoft's SoftImagey, the $8,000 competitor to Silicon Graphics 3D modelling software.

To get on the TESS E-mail broadcast, send a simple subscribe message to 3D ARTIST subscribers, include your subscriber number or mailing address to link you to the earliest broadcast.

MicroStation Authors Wanted

What's your availability for writing books about MicroStation? A book publisher is looking for "high-end" books on MicroStation 95 and ancillary products. If you are interested, contact me at

AutoCAD c4 Ships

AutoCAD Release 13c4 (includes the Windows 95 version) began shipping January 22, 1996, to new (read: paying) customers. That lets Autodesk include those revenues in its FY'96, which ends 31 January. The free c4 maintenance release will be shipped directly to registered customers on February 12, 1996.

Where is VRML At?

From the www-vrml mailing list, we get the following summary to questions about the different versions of VRML -- v1.0 (current), v1.1, and v2.0. The latter two specs are being worked on; the deadline for submitting your idea for VRML v2 is 1 February, 1996.

"There will be a change in going from VRML v1.0 to v1.1 but I strongly suspect that adding behavior [to VRML v2.0] will be just that: *adding* behavior-related nodes. There shouldn't be any need to change either the syntax or semantics of the language in going from v1.1 to v2.0. If I remember correctly, the v1.1 spec would have:

"Those are some substantial and worthwhile changes; I wouldn't want more than that to happen in going from one version to the next. Realistically, v2.0 is six to eight months away. By then, people may have gotten tired of waiting and started to look for alternatives (and there are several strong contenders for that position).

-- Bernie Roehl

Where is Autodesk at With VRML?

Asking Autodesk about their efforts in VRML is like talking to a stone wall. Nevertheless, here's what we've managed to dig up.

When proposals were requested for VRML v1.0 back in 1994, Autodesk had proposed their CDF file format based on their Cyberspace Development Kit. However, that proposal was rejected in favor of Silicon Graphics' OpenInventor format.

Brian Blau - formerly of Autodesk - developed some the 3D Studio VRML-translator IPAS. He's since left to work with Intervista, which produces the WorldView VRML browser. TESS Times last fall reported that Autodesk attended a meeting with other software companies to develop VRML v2. However, "I don't think there's any ongoing VRML work at Autodesk now," according to one individual involved with the VRML movement.

Since then, we have heard that the 3D Studio team has updated their VRML plug-in but that the AutoCAD people are doing nothing.

Reporting Bugs to Autodesk

When you report a bug to, expect to get back 10KB worth of email containing reams and reams of minute instructions. It seems to me that this is a great way to prevent bugs from being reported. Agrees the keeper of the R13 bug list:

"Absolutely. There is an adage that 'Every action of Government has the opposite effect to that intended.' I believe this applies to large organisations, too.
"This is why I don't agree with some of the Autodesk conspiracy theories that do the rounds. I believe the people making these decisions honestly think they are doing the right thing, however self-evidently counterproductive the decisions may seem to an outside observer."

-- Steve Johnson

3D-Eye vs. HP Solid Designer

With respect to the commentary on HP's Solid Designer in the last issue of Upfront, here are the comments from a reader:

"The comparison between Trispectives and Solid Designer render speed is more appropriate than the writer [Geoffrey Harrod } may think. They guys at 3D-Eye wrote much of Solid Designer under contract to HP and I believe they are still receiving a royalty on it. They wrote the graphics, some of the UI, and a lot of ACIS husks to work around the limitations of the modeler. These guys are mostly from the Cornell graphics lab and obviously know how to write fast software based renderers.

"They also obviously didn't 'come out of nowhere'".

For the Trivially-Challenged

Intel has named its 64-bit P7 CPU and will delays shipment until late 1998.

Maximized Software released "LogoMax" for replacing the big "N" and comets on Netscape's Navigator Web browser with a multimedia image of their own choosing.

Just when CompuAdd begins the push into high-end markets (like CAD), PC Week reports that "CompuAdd Computer, once one of the largest PC makers in the world, is going out of business after 14 years."

Nearly one-fifth of Web surfers turn off their browsers graphics capability or do it with non-graphical browsers, acccording to a study by Jumbo Internet World Wide Web site. I am one of those 20%. I turn off Netscape's 'Options | AutoLoad Images' to help speed up surfing. To view a graphic, I simply click on the image's border. However, this is a problem for Web advertisers, many of whom who use a graphic as their ad on the Internet.

Fifth International World Wide Web Conference is May 6-11, 1996, in Paris, France. Organized by INRIA in cooperation with ERCIM and the WWW Consortium. European site and American site.

Corel has delayed the release of CorelCAD to second quarter 1996 -- now ten months late. Welcome to the world of CAD (g).

Latest rumor is that Sun will acquires Apple for a $4 billion stock swap valued at $33 a share.

Humor: Create-Your-Own Microsoft-Style Press Release

In Redmond, Wash., Microsoft announced plans to release _____ some time in 1997. "This is a project we already had underway," said a spokeswoman for Microsoft chairman Bill Gates. "We just decided that the marketplace won't be ready for it until 1997. Or 1998, if we decide that's when we really want to do it. Or maybe later.

"Right now, we're hiring additional staff, developing new technology, and getting ready to copy _____'s idea, strategy and execution. Oops, I meant to say that we're evaluating previously extant competitive actions."


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