Issue #502 : : January 23, 2007
C o n t e n t s
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Mike Campbell has a tough job. PTC’s vp of product development has to keep the interest of us journalists, wedged between a dancing Japanese robot and lunch.
Yoichiro Dan of Japan’s ZMP gave a live demo of their Miuro robot (short for "Music Innovation based on Utility RObot technology"), the sixth in a series of educational and consumer robots developed the company. Miuro is a music player with wheels -- and speakers in the wheels. It gets its music from an inserted iPod or other MP3 player, or wirelessly from the Internet. It has a half-dozen dance modes, where its wheels jitter about in time with the music. Sensors keep it from falling down stairs, off tables, and bumping into people. www.zmp.co.jp/e_home.html
Earlier in the day, ceo Dick Harrison boasted of PTC's progress. He's pretty thrilled, because his company has nearly accomplished its comeback, after losing its way around 1999-2001. The Pro/Engineer CAD software of the time was getting old; instead, the company was betting on its WindChill PLM software, but it was too green. So, PTC spent a $150 million rewriting Pro/E as "Project Wildfire," and rewriting Windchill, changing it from a toolkit to an out-of-the-box product.
The result is what Mr Harrison calls the "single biggest revenue generator in the MCAD market." Because sales of Pro/E grew 12% last year, he figures PTC is taking away marketshare from competitors; the rest of the industry grew just 3%. (The company resisted announcing fiscal results until Wednesday of this week.)
While growth in North America is still the most important to PTC, runner-up in new sales is China. "Every company we talk to wants to relocate design off-shore: Eastern Europe, China, and so on." Note that he said DESIGN. "Gone are the days when PTC was hard to do business with," he declared. www.ptc.com
Q: How do you define "SMB" [small and medium
Q: Everyone has an SMB strategy. How is your's distinct?
Q: What's happening with IBM? They are now working with Dassault
Systemes, UGS, and PTC.
Q: What is the cause of your problems in Japan?
Q: How do you rationalize your advantages, when Pro/E growth
is half that of Inventor?
Q: What is the timeline to get all UIs [user interfaces]
The Pro/E Roadmap
Mike Campbell described the many ways that Pro/E is sold. The five levels of Pro/E have been given new, consistent naming effective 1 April:
XE = extended edition
Pro/E v4 will have the following enhancements, as vague as they are:
An Acorn of a Design Firm
Ken Haven is ceo of Acorn Product Development, a firm interesting enough (and small enough) that I'd want to hire on. His firm designs consumer, medical, and computer products for companies like Palm, Logitech, Apple, Sun, and more. Most of his designers are located in California, but he also has an office in China, and just opened a third in Boston -- to be closer to potential clients.
Mr Haven told a fascinating story of designing a travel case for the Sony PSP on behalf of Logitech. (You think Logitech designs its own stuff?) Sony would not provide a PSP sample unit, so Acorn worked from spy photographs obtained from a variety of sources, and then created the 3D model parametrically in Pro/E. Once the PSP become available, Acorn quickly tweaked the dimensions, and then sent the drawings out to manufacturing. He is pleased that the hard-plastic case has become Logitech's best-selling product for the PSP. www.acornpd.com
Professor Steve Eppinger of MIT gave a lecture on global product development (GPD), the polite new term for outsourcing and offshoring. When talking to large and small firms, he found that they go global for these reasons:
Outsourcing and offshoring are used interchangeably, but should not be. "Outsource" means your company is using other's resources overseas; "offshore" means you run your operations overseas. He gave an example of Kodak switching to digital cameras with global product development:
(I would give you more from Mr Eppinger's interesting talk, but there was no handout.) esd.mit.edu/Faculty_Pages/eppinger/eppinger.htm
Employees from Microsoft also gave a presentation -- or tried to. They had a hard time getting the Microsoft LiveMeeting software working properly. What struck me was presenter Sharon Ward's noting that Microsoft software is reliable to build upon, even as she apologized for the many problems of the presentation software. A journalist next to me muttered, "So much for being 'people_ready'."
At this event, Microsoft announced that PTC now supports SQL Server 2005. PTC uses .net for programming 100%, which limits them to running on the Window operating system.
PTC made the mistake of letting TechniCom’s Ray Kurland and me be together in an interview with Dave White, former cto of Arbortext. "Two on one!" we enthused, because usually it's two PR people against one journalist.
The former cto is now PTC's vp of product strategy -- a title that doesn't tell us much until we learn he looks at cross-product strategies. DRM [digital rights mismanagement] is a bad word amongst entertainment customers, but is needed by CAD users. He is looking at a client-server solution to provide permissions for each CAD file; if the server cannot be accessed, then time-limited access might be given.
In the future, he hopes that the ArborText technical publishing system will be more responsive to end-user needs, to the point that configurations are tied to individual serial numbers -- airplanes are an obvious example. He also sees a content delivery system that sits at the technician's spot providing as-built and as-maintained documents, along with feedback from technicians streaming back to the doc writers.
(ArborText comes from Ann Arbor, Michigan.) www.ptc.com/appserver/mkt/products/home.jsp?k=3591
Introducing the reseller panel, Greg James (head of PTC's worldwide channel marketing) described the marketing by VARs [value-added resellers] as "varketing." A nearby editor remarked that that sounded vaguely dirty.
ITEDO IsoDraw is now renamed "Arbortext IsoDraw." www.isodraw.com/
PTC is dropping the Wildfire name from Pro/Engineer.
MathCAD 14 was announced at this event. New features include bi-directional links between Pro/E and MathCAD, enhanced symbolics, gradients, Jacobian matrices, inline numeric evaluation, five more languages, and more. It’s due to ship in mid-February. www.mathcad.com
PTC’s largest office is in Pune India. Read Roopinder Tara's site visit at cadinsider.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/01/ptc_headquarter.html
More about my trip to and from PTC headquarters in Needham MA at my WorldCAD Access weblog.
[Disclosure: PTC provided attendees with hotel accommodation, transportation, meals, and corporate gifts.]
Another new year, another new ebook. You may be interested in purchasing my latest, "Animations with AutoCAD." This PDF ebook is just $8.70. In 58 pages it tells you how to do walkthroughs and make animated movies with AutoCAD 2007. More details and a PayPal button at www.upfrontezine.com/awa
Many of those who have already purchased this ebook found it useful to also purchase another: "Tailoring AutoCAD Render" ($21.00) tells you how to apply materials, lights, and render presets to make those animations look more realistic. 140 pages. Info and order button at www.upfrontezine.com/tar
A summary of CAD industry news you may not have read elsewhere, or that I found interesting:
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UGS will begin using Certeon's "application acceleration" hardware to speedup Solid Edge when used at remote offices over a Web portal. Large design files are downloaded in seconds, instead of minutes. www.certeon.com
Print Audit 5 tracks plot jobs. Three modules analyze, reduce, and recover printing and plotting costs for networked, local, and IP [Internet protocol] printers. www.printaudit.com
Users of Nemetschek software can now export and import PDF files from inside VectorWorks 12.5, as well as allplan. Imported files are displayed as images. www.nemetschek.net
COADE updates PV Elite Version 2007 vessel design and stress analysis software with the latest ASME code updates and new calculations. www.coade.com
Bentley OnSite automates stakeout, inspection, and measurement tasks in the field. www.bentley.com/onsite
Icona Solutions releases of aesthetica v2.3 software for visualizing predicted manufacturing variations on automobile assemblies. The software now reads CATIA V5 and UGS JT files. www.iconasolutions.com
Solid Modeling Solutions ships VSLib in February with improved Boolean functions, fillets and blends, and reduced memory leaks. www.smlib.com
Dassault Systemes updates DELMIA V5 robotics software with the VB programming language, and high cycle time and path planning analysis. www.delmia.com
Autodsys will integrate its IntelliCAD-based CAD software with Solustan's LinkMotion direct-to-CAM printer driver by the end of March (under US$500). www.autodsys.com and http://www.lnkmotion.com
VX Corporation releases VX CAD/CAM v12 software with new capabilities for mold and industrial design, enhanced light-source rendering, raster-to-vector conversion, surface analysis, and more. www.vx.com
VizUp Reducer v2.2.8 has improved Wavefront .OBJ import and export. Download the update from www.vizup.com/load/vizup.exe
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These news items were posted during the last month at the WorldCAD Access blog < worldcadaccess.typepad.com>:
Oce unveils its TDS700 mid-volume large-format monochrome printer-copier-scanner that prints up to 9 D-size prints per minute.
Seminars & Conferences
2nd UK CAD Managers Forum is Mar 7 in London, England. www.eatyourcad.com/article.php?incat_id=1383
International Conference on Computational Methods in Systems Biology is Sept 20-21 in Edinburgh, Scotland. conferences.inf.ed.ac.uk/cmsb07/
Nemetschek North America launces "PodCAD" podcasts by VectorWorks trainers Dan Jansenson and Pat Stanford. www.podcad.tv
People/Companies on the Move
Cyon Research hires Dana Deke Smith to research the AEC market. Mr Smith is the chair of the National Institute of Building Sciences Facility Information Council.
FreeDesign appoints Scott Hagen as vp of product development. Mr Hagen is co-inventor of the FreeDimension patent.
Right Hemisphere appoints virtual reality expert Dr. Roy Davies to manage Nextspace, its new technology development lab in Auckland, New Zealand.
As well, Right Hemisphere appoints Rix Kramlich as vp of worldwide marketing. Mr Kramlich was the co-founder of Solidcore Systems.
Delcam acquires footwear CAD/CAM specialist Crispin.
Brand New CAD Books/eBooks
"EdgeCAM 11.0 for Manufacturers"
Letters to the Editor
Re: Nemetschek Buys Graphisoft
"Thanks for your coverage of the Graphisoft acquisition news. I want to correct a misperception that I've seen in a few pieces about the global presence of VectorWorks that is also in your piece.
"VectorWorks is sold broadly around the world: 40% of our
customers are in the Asia/Pacific region, 35% in Europe, and 25%
in North America. Although we are proud of our success here in the
North American market, I think saying that your positioning us as
'Affordable and American' may oversimplify things a bit."
"IronCAD is the only hybrid history/non-history modeler on the market. Objects in IronCAD are organized with a feature tree, allowing users to build parts, assemblies and surfaces from features or imported data in IronCAD's working environment. From this, a history of features is built that can be rearranged regardless of history order, without dealing with the stringent restrictions commonly found in history-based systems. Users can also reference geometry regardless of that geometry's location in history.
"Traditional history-based systems don't have such a flexible history and can only reference features created prior to the feature edited. This restriction hinders the user's ability to freely design.
"IronCAD features can be built from traditional sketches or pre-defined catalog features. Using sketches, the users are able to apply constraints to parametrically define the design intent as in other parametric systems. Parametric relations can be applied at the part and assembly levels as well.
"However, as mentioned in the Kubotech article, IronCAD is not bound by constraints or parametrics. Users are free to modify geometry directly, if design changes must be made late in design where the constraints may conflict with the requested change. Changes made using the direct modifications will only affect selected geometry and only the necessary features, leaving other features intact. The direct modification also allows users to import and edit geometry without the need to build up feature data.
"Our type of hybrid modeling is unfamiliar to most people,
because IronCAD is the industry's only example of it."
Re: Where Can't You Buy AutoCAD
"Did you know there was one country in the world where you
can't by vanilla AutoCAD?
"You can buy AutoCAD LT or the verticals, but not vanilla
AutoCAD; all versions are in English, there is no Icelandic version.
It seems that Autodesk took the decision to 'trial' the removal
of AutoCAD here."
The editor replies: "I have argued before that AutoCAD is a pointless product. It is too expensive for the general user, who should use LT; it is too general for the professional user, who should use a discipline-specific program."
Re: Windows Software
"I read both your blogs and your ezine. You are one who cherishes avoiding mainstream: You extol Atlantis and refute MS word; you shun iExplorer and embrace [Opera].
"Other than the fact your bread and butter -- CAD -- is
pretty much tied to MS Windows, I often wonder why your streak of
rebellion does not lead you to the dark side -- Mac OS X!"
The editor replies: "It's true that I make the bulk of my income from Windows-based AutoCAD. But maybe I wouldn't switch to Mac, given the choice. I can't figure out Macs when I try them in the store, and my daughter's iPod frustrates me (compared to my Zen Micro music player). As well, I now have a nice suite of programs that meet my needs. I would hate to have to re-assemble a different suite under Linux."
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Re: 500th Issue
"Ralph, congrats for the 500th time. You been good since
the very 1st!!!!"
"Congratulations on your 500th! Quite an achievement!"
Spin Doctor of the Moment
"It is recommended that a graphics manufacturer go beyond
the strict letter of the specification and provide additional content-protection
features, because this demonstrates their strong intent to protect
"Most product managers assume that a feature equals a benefit,
though customers don't always see it that way. So it's always a
good idea to think like a customer."
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