Issue #542 : : January 15, 2008
In this issue:
- Reasons of
Out of the Inbox and the other regular columns.
Write the editor. Make him smile!
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We're trendy. We have a Weblog. WorldCAD Access.
Deelip Menezes reported in his Weblog entry "More DRX Noise" that Chinese IntelliCAD developer ZwCAD was including all of the DRX API [applications programming interface] in their CAD software. The implication was that "if you want to write DRX plug-ins you do not need to join the OpenDesign Alliance to get the DRX SDK."
Because many IntelliCAD developers will be shipping updates of their software with DRX, I commented, "2008 is the year DRX busts out all over." And then Arnold van der Weide, president of the Open Design Alliance, confirmed it: "There is no need to join the Open Design Alliance to get the DRX SDK. The ODA will make the SDK available to the public at the start of 2008."
This move is important and unimportant. Here's why:
Reasons of Importance
DRX mimics ARX [AutoCAD runtime extension], the primary means by which Autodesk adds commands and objects to AutoCAD, and by which third-party developers write add-ons.
AutoCAD third-party developers can now port their applications to IntelliCAD with just a recompile.
As a result, hundreds of new applications might become available to the IntelliCAD market in a short time.
IntelliCAD developers can more quickly add features to IntelliCAD.
Since the IntelliCAD market is independent of the AutoCAD market, this may have an appeal to some developers.
Reasons of Unimportance
The ITC and ODA are 13 years late to the party; ARX first shipped with AutoCAD in 1995.
There are some 4,000 functions in ARX, and the ODA has apparently implemented fewer than half. (Many functions are not used by third-party developers, and the ODA could add more when requested by members.)
Autodesk may well switch to a new programming paradigm, perhaps using VSTO (Visual Studio Tools for the Office), Microsoft's replacement for VBA; the CAD company, however, tends to maintain old APIs.
The IntelliCAD market is much smaller than the AutoCAD market, which might not appeal to otherwise interested developers.
"The DRX SDK allows users to create extensions for DWGdirect-based applications. DRX applications can access the data in a DWG/DXF drawing file, add custom commands to the global DWGdirect command stack, and create custom objects and entities.
"The SDK can be used to create DRX modules only, not stand-alone applications. DRX modules are Microsoft Windows DLLs which can be loaded at runtime by a compatible DWGdirect host application."
You can request to download DRX (20MB) from www.opendesign.com/download, after registration. You are free to make unlimited copies, and give the software to others.
I listened in in the hopes of learning something of Adobe's plans for 3D. Or CAD translation. Or further moves into the CAD market. But no such luck. If anything, this conference call was characterized by its vagueness -- something the financial analysts noticed.
As far as financial figures go, Adobe is going great guns:
While there were dollar numbers aplenty, unit numbers were excised from the call -- something that made me go "Hmmm."
Adobe was also shy about preannouncing new products for 2008, other than its AIR (Adobe Integrated Runtime) shifting from beta to shipping. They plan to combine two divisions: Knowledge Worker Solution division is merging with the Enterprise and Developer Solution division to create the new Business Productivity Solutions division.
As far as the Adobe software package dearest to CAD users, the company said that "Acrobat Professional revenue continues to outpace Acrobat Standard." Well, one would almost expect that, based on the respective list prices: $449 vs $299.
Financial analyst Jay Vleeschhouwer picked up on the lack of units numbers: "With respect to Acrobat, can you comment at all on how the increase in the installed base compared with the previous couple of years?"
Ceo Shantanu Narayen responded, "On Acrobat, we’re not updating the total number right now," and then went on to use phrases that some might consider indicative of slow sales: "Very, very pleasing" and "We are starting to see some significant adoption." [Adobe subsequently cut the price of Acrobat 3D from US$999 to $699 -- another sign.]
Analysts asked about unit sales of Adobe's other software, but were stonewalled. "How do you consider a unit of a suite? Do you consider a suite that has multiple products in it as multiple units or as one unit?" Later, the ceo noted that 65% of the revenue comes from suites.
My favorite quote from the call: "We are not giving any more color other than the color that we gave -- again, primarily to give you some idea to model from a quarterization perspective."
SpaceClaim, the 3D software for the other four million of us, made some new year resolutions, as reported by CAD journalists Deelip Menezes and Randal Newton.
Chief operating officer Michael McGuinness is no longer there. And an anonymous poster claims that 20% of employees in the development and sales departments were let go. Among other changes:
The company originally refused to allow potential customers test drive a demo, but then relented last fall.
The software first could be licensed only on an annual or tri-annual basis; it's now also available with a permanent license + maintenance.
Finally, the company last week released low-cost versions that are surprisingly capable. For less than the price of AutoCAD LT, you get a 3D modeling package that only lacks an API and heavy-duty translation. SpaceClaim LT is US$695.
I can see CEO Mike Payne wanting to launch a different kind of CAD company. But as GM found with Saturn, sometimes that won't work; standard approaches are required.
- - -
In related news, Sycode releases nine import and export modules for SpaceClaim Pro: export DWG and DXF, import STL, and import/export 3DS, 3DM, and OBJ. Each module is sold separately for e195. http://www.sycode.com/news/14_jan_2008.htm
Punch Software releases ViaCAD Pro (US$495) for Mac and PC. Deformation and warping is new, for bending, stretching, twisting, and deforming NURB bodies independent of design history. Trial version from www.punchcad.com
Paris-based Altadyn announces 3DXplorer V3 beta real-time 3D software for Internet-based "3D environments to everyone." [3D to everyone... Where have we heard this before? From another Paris-based company that also markets a 3D Internet-based environment.] Get the online authoring module [requires membership] and player [fee required when used more than 200x a day] at no cost here: www.3dxplorer.com
Delcam's Crispin3D is for designing shoes. One
new feature allows you to add pull-strap loops to the backs of sports
shoes. [CAD for shoes! Makes me wonder just how verticals there
are in CAD that we rarely hear about. Another company specializes
in CAD for tombstones.] www.footwear-cadcam.com
ROMER updates DOCS 2.3 (Data Overlay Camera System) with Auto Single Measure Mode. www.ROMER.com
Cadsoft announces Envisioneer 4.5 with materials
eyedropper, boundary hatch, user-defined profiles and opening trims,
and 10x faster rendering. Update is free to v4 users. www.cadsoft.com
The developers of BRL-CAD release v7.10.4 of the 3D solid modeling system with 111 enhancements. http://brlcad.org
SymLab is a free version of simulation software, and can handle its own native projects files (.sym) and Open Cascade geometry files (.brep). Add-ons have an annual subscription < www.symscape.com >:
nPower Software releases Power Translators Maya that translates STEP, IGES, SAT, and Rhino files directly into Maya and Sudio Tools. www.npowersoftware.com
In addition to the SpaceClaim xlators mentioned earlier, Sycode also shipped DWG DXF Converter (convert between formats without AutoCAD), IGES STEP Converter (convert between those two), and Mesh Converter (convert between mesh file formats). e195 each. www.sycode.com/news/8_jan_2008.htm
And CADopia ships the IntelliCAD-based CADopia 8 with enhanced image support, 3D DWF, COM API enhancements, and better performance. An OEM version is available for developers. Download an eval version from www.cadopia.com
- - -
These news items were posted during the last week at the WorldCAD Access blog < worldcadaccess.typepad.com>:
And at the Gizmos Grabowski < worldcadaccess.typepad.com/gizmos/ > Weblog:
NVIDIA release the Quadro FX 3700 (US$1,599) graphics board for CAD users. It's claimed to be 2x faster than its predecessor due to its 112 parallel processors, 512MB of memory, and a 256-bit memory interface. Data can be transferred at fast as 16Gbps. [Make my head spin.] www.nvidia.com/quadro
Seminars & Conferences
2008 3D Collaboration & Interoperability conference is May 15-16 in Denver CO USA. www.longviewwadvisors/interop
Well-known writer and architect Ed (Eddie) Goldberg launches his "Ed's Independent Voice" e-newsletter. It'll provide info on "innovative technology and industry trends that I consider to be of value to the practicing AEC/O professional" on a monthly basis. Subscribe free through mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org?subject=SUBSCRIBE
Graphisoft launches Graphisoft West, a regional distribution/reseller business to sell, teach, and support ArchiCAD in the western USA. www.graphisoftwest.com/
Brand New CAD Books/eBooks
"Customizing Bricscad V8"
Letters to the Editor
Re: Changing the Guard
"I think some of the breakdown is self-fulfilling. It gets
really interesting to watch when the New Guard becomes part of the
Old Guard, generally through acquisition."
"The guard is indeed changing. Any chance you'd let me know
who the others you spoke to were? ;-) I had to ask."
The editor replies: "No."
"One thing that strikes me is that new players tend to be
privately- owned. I assume that you've been talking to Evan and
The editor replies: "No."
Mr Vallgren, responds: "My take on the situation:
"Windows is certainly looking weaker. I've spent about a year making my software platform- and language-independent. For now, I look upon Vista as such I might support in the future once it gets its OpenGL act together."
""What do we think of the New Journalism? The more
content the better, we guess -- as long as it's free and as long
as someone else is willing to create it and consume it and alert
us if it ever contains anything interesting."
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