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O N T E N T S
My Data Look Big in This?
very few of
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Updated and Expanded for AutoCAD 2005!
Tailoring AutoCAD 2005 is the new e-book for AutoCAD 2005. Download as a 260-page e-book in PDF format (US$26.95) or on CD ($31.95). Covers all areas of customization, from changing the user interface to writing toolbar macros and LISP routines.
Joe Greco died last week. You may not have known Joe Greco, but I knew Joe. He was a friend of mine, and a friend of the CAD industry.
He wrote many reviews of mechanical CAD software, and had recently taken on the job of running The CAD Society. In some of his last emails to me, he urged upFront.eZine to speak out against CAD corporations who outsource. "I think a stand needs to be taken."
In his very last email to me, he apologized for missing Autodesk University. "I wish I was at AU, but I got snowed in."
He died of a heart attack while on vacation. Joe was 41.
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This is the last issue before our annual break for Christmas and New Years. Next issue comes out Jan 4.
But it's a break for upFront.eZine only; our WorldCAD Access blog continues to post News You Can Use at worldcadaccess.typepad.com
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We'd like to announce a new e-book from editor Ralph Grabowski: "Tailoring AutoCAD LT 2004-2005" (US$24.50) is now available for purchase from www.upfrontezine.com/lt5
While on the topic of ebooks, we'd like to remind customers that it's not cool to make copies without payment. A customer recently asked if it was okay that his corporation had made 12 copies of our "What's Inside? AutoCAD 2005" e-book.
We're flattered, but no: making 12 copies is definitely not okay. We make a living from selling e-books, and how else will little Katrina afford the crutches she desperately needs? <g> If you want to make copies, we have a bulk purchase price. Thank you for not being Grinch-like.
by Martyn Day
I've just read this article <news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/technology/4079417.stm> about how these days we are becoming 'digitally obese' -- not meaning that technology is stopping us from moving about because we are getting fat (which is true), but the amount of data that we carry about now is verging on the ridiculous.
According to professor Roy William from the California Institute of Technology, we all have a "Virtual weight" measurement, based on the metric that 1GB of data is equivalent to a pickup truckload of paper. Seems that people these days are walking around with huge digital fat deposits of music, images, e-mails, and texts.
It made me do a quick check, and it confirmed my worst fears: I'm technically weighing in at the 'coach party' level. I have:
My total digital weight comes in around 202GB. That's 202 pickup trucks of paper. At any point in time, Iím carrying around a modest car park's [parkade] worth of information.
Before I wallow on about having digital gland problems, I work in IT, so I think I'm expected to be on the Sumo side of digitally divide. But it has made me think why the heck am I carrying all this about with me? It's not as if I need access to my digital life all the time.
Thinking about it, I have another 31.25GB of virtual fat, because as my Apple email account comes with 250MB of space on their servers, plus the Google account that gives me 1GB of hosted storage. I also have another 30GB USB back-up drive, which I forgot to bring in with me today.
The BBC article goes on to say that "we could be carrying around 20GB of data with us by next year." By that reckoning, I'll be carrying around a server farm on my back!
Music and digital images take up the most space, plus all those the system back-ups, copies of applications, magazine PDFs, Outlook .PST files, address books... the list is endless. The strange thing is, even with all this storage, I never feel I have enough. It's pure data gluttony.
(Martyn Day is Group Editor at EDA Ltd. He runs his own Weblog at www.martynday.com. At worldcadaccess.typepad.com , we analyze the accuracy of professor Williams' claim.)
Mr. Hallstein makes several excellent points, the "A" and "B" categories being particularly accurate:
I don't like the term "cheaper", though, partly because our 3D system falls into category B, but mainly because it implies "less useful", directly contradicting the next-listed "more efficient" characteristic. That term aside, the comparison is spot-on.
With Mr. Hallstein's thorough understanding of 3D systems I'm surprised to hear such a negative overall tone to the article (disaster, unable, stuck, cheat, mess, etc). In my experience dealing with our customers as well as customers of other 3D systems, experienced 3D users are almost always much happier having moved to 3D methods. I've never heard a single 3D'er wishing to go back to 2D, but I lost count long ago of the "I'd never go back to 2D" remarks, so there must be something positive going on.
That positive, unmentioned in the article, is accuracy. Whether an "A" or a "B" system, working with a single 3D model is invariably more accurate than working with multiple 2D views which always have opportunity to conflict.
Limitations, difficulties, and frustrations?
Yes, just like every 2D system, but if end-to-end productivity is
the goal, ask anyone well versed in both worlds and you'll find
that the vast majority have found 3D methods to far surpass 2D methods.
While I find myself agreeing with the majority of the assertions put forward by Mr. Ystanes I must respectfully disagree with his concluding paragraph and statement in which he says, "Still wondering why 3D has not broken through? And why you can count all the real 3D users you know on one hand? A real 3D user (designer / engineer) is able to actually do the design and problem-solving in 3D from scratch. Most users of 3D (operators) are only modeling the solution already found in 2D on a sheet of paper or on a plane section from a 3D model."
One item that I learned early in my education and career in engineering, which began in 1969, was that to accurately depict any 3D object, I first needed to be able to completely visualize that object in three dimensions. It does not matter if I am working from scratch or from information provided by others.
I also learned that those who can not do so, quickly become managers or marketeers. (I'll apologize right now for my warped sense of humor.) I do not believe it matters whether a designer/engineer or operator is working at a 2D drawing board or a 3D CAD system, all MCAD objects are designed and drawn in three dimensions, with the third, or "depth" dimension, depicted either isometrically or orthographically.
Therefore, the proper response to "How
Many 3D Users?" must be the same as to the question of "How
many dead people are there in the cemetery?" and that would
be "All of them".
No matter what software one uses, if they turn their models into real things, then they nearly always need to convert them into AutoCAD [2D] orthographic drawings. Consequently, there isn't a 3D program out there that I know of that is useful for a fabrication shop.
Also, there is a time element (= added expense)
involved with converting the 3D drawing into AutoCAD format, and
then scrubbing it. I like consorting with 3D for my models, but
would never consider filing for divorce from 2D AutoCAD.
I would like to comment on a few of the things in Mr. Ystanes editorial:
* Software piracy in Norway must be much less than here [in the USA]. 3D is rapidly gaining a foothold in the MCAD world. If 3D is purchased and not used, the management of the firm has not made a commitment to 3D, nor have they been willing to train their users.
* He says, there may be several, different 3D licenses for one "engineer seat." This is the exception, not the rule, for obvious reasons
* There are several companies successfully doing plant design in 3D. I will agree that there is room for improvement but that's true in 2D as well. 3D does continue to grow. The more functionality you give engineers, the more they want. Specialized disciplines call for specialized packages. The days of AutoCAD "can do it all" are long gone. There is nothing that fits the term "general CAD" anymore, especially in the MCAD world.
* Mr. Ystanes asked, "What's the point of doing a prototype in 3D when you can make and test physical parts faster than virtually?" The reason for this is quite obvious: his key word is "parts" (plural). How many physical prototypes are correct the first time? Agreed 3D is often as lengthy as developing a physical model (the first time), but what happens when you make a change? Virtual changes are much simpler and much, much faster. This includes design and analysis.
* 3D has broken through UG-NX, Solid Edge, CATIA, Solid Works, Inventor -- how many do we need to admit that if you're not in 3D (especially mechanical), you should be. We have a manufacturer of the world's largest front-end loader that has reduced their design time by months. The VP of Engineering asked, "Do we have to make another change to the design?" The design engineer happily replies, "Yes, but it is a virtual change, not the disassemble-remachine-reassemble we used to do."
Mr. Ystanes observations may be more applicable to certain disciplines other than manufacturing, but his comment about 3D being a disaster for inexperienced users would hold true for just about anything (guns, explosives, even an automobile). Successful implementation of ANY 3D system requires at least three things:
1. A commitment from management they must buy in to the fact that the investment will pay off in reduced design time and fewer ECOs [engineering change orders].
2. A commitment from engineers and designers to accept that 3D isn't 2D, and that you don't think the same way. If you aren't willing to take eliminate the tunnel vision, you are dooming yourself to failure. We don't build houses with axes and crosscut saws anymore.
3. A commitment to train your personnel. 3D
isn't the pick-it-up-and-learn-it-in-a-few-days that CAD used to
be. Learning the correct concepts in modeling that facilitates downstream
changes is often overlooked by management and engineers alike. Professional
training on your 3D MCAD solution will pay for itself many times
over. Professional training will also considerably reduce the learning
curve often feared by most companies.
The current technology "desire" in the AEC industry is to create 3D models complete with embedded information. The result is called Building Information Models (BIM). The problem is the cost of doing that, as stated in the September 2003 'AEC Automation' article: "Who will pay for the Building Information Model?"
One of the conclusions was that creating one-off building information models is way too costly. Creating detailed 3D models interactively and populating the models with requisite data to make it a true BIM is certainly a huge task, that few owners are willing to pay for.
How is it then possible that a single company has created over 50,000 detailed one-off 3D BIM models of major building structures with up to 150,000+ components during the last 10 years and continues to do so at the tune of 7,000 models each year? Each model goes through an average of 13 customer requested significant modifications and eventually produces typically 100+ detailed 2D drawings. And all this is done while saving money and resources when compared to 2D design?
What makes this possible is design automation.
I'm talking about Robertson-Ceco Corporation (RCC) that specializes in the supply of complex shaped metal buildings (churches, office buildings, industrial buildings, etc.). RCC has captured their design expertise into a system that takes the architects building shape and automatically designs the buildings down to each bolt hole, presents it in 3D and retains all information in an associated object model for further use <www.dp.com/pdf/burlingame.pdf>. To create such detailed models interactively is simply not possible (See also detailed drawings link at the bottom of www.dp.com/design++/customers/robertson.php ).
Wide 3D use is not in the future, it is here
now -- for those that understand how and why.
We misread the press release: Bentley Systems provides an AutoCAD LT upgrade to MicroStation PowerDraft.
Spin Doctor of the Moment
"That 'wow' factor for a middle-school
girl is such a great hook."
"Slide rules made me miserable in school,
but now I collect them with a passion. They are functional and beautiful.
I guess you could say I'm obsessed."
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