Issue #587 : : January 13, 2009
In this issue:
CAD That Runs on Mac and Linux
Write the editor. Make him smile!
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SolidThinking followed up an earlier interview with a WebEx demo. As the company's co-founder told me, "This is not possible to do in CAD." He was referring specifically to this shoe, but his statement could apply to most of the SolidThinking's abilities.
Figure 1: Shoe design output as a PDF file.
Alessandro Mazzardo emphasized that his software is designed to handle design that freeform and precise. His demo jock showed this by adjusting a single curve that changed the entire body shape of a motorcycle. Even more fascinating was (1) taking a flat toothbrush and fitting it to a curve; and then (2) dragging the toothbrush along the curve and watching it dynamically change its shape.
Figure 2: SolidThinking's user interface.
With SolidThinking, you can edit any part of any curve at any time. Even change the radius of NURBS curves, which normally have no radius. When the user applies a fillet to an edge, the software automatically compensates for edges that cannot be filleted, such as a pinched corner, which becomes a non-uniform patch. After the fillet is applied, users can adjust the fillet's radius interactively, as shown in the figure.
Figure 3: Variable and constant radius fillets.
Objects can be edited as solids or surfaces. Of the many renderings of products designed with SolidThinking, my favorite was this industrial looking fawcett.
Figure 4: Industrial design of fawcetts.
The final demo showed me how SolidThinking interactively works with SolidWorks:
1. Create a curved shape in SolidThinking, in this case a telephone handset.
CAD That Runs on Mac and Linux
Stefan Boeykens put together this list of CAD programs that run on operating systems other than Windows. As he puts it, "So, it is not that there is no choice available."
CADintosh, 2D Architectural drafting
Electric, electrical design software, Open Source, cross-platform
HighDesign, 2D CAD and illustration program
MacDraft, cheap 2D CAD for MAC
QCad, partly open source, 2D-only, cross-platform
TurboCAD MAC, Generic 2D CAD for MAC
VersaCAD, 2D architectural CAD for Mac (& PC)
3D Home Architect, budget home design application
AliasStudio advanced modeling
BRL-CAD, open source CAD program
deskartes IDS, range of CAD solutions
FormZ, NURBS + solids modeling
FreeCAD/CADSM, 3D CAD with motion simulation
Gmsh, 3D finite element grid generator
Grass GIS, open source GIS system
Pro Series, cheap suite of design applications
Sailcut CAD, sail design and plotting
SolidThinking, freeform surface modeling
TurboCAD Mac Pro
VectorWorks, 2D/3D CAD application with modest price
Vellum, range of freeform modeling applications: Argon, Graphite, Neon, Cobalt, Xenon
ViaCAD, cheap 2D/3D CAD for Mac (and Windows)
Architrion (Is this application officially discontinued?)
B-processor, (very early) open source BIM in JAVA
BOA (not sure about its status, related to Architrion)
Domus.CAD Pro, 3D architectural CAD for Mac
And Don't Forget
Mike Riddle tells me that he's posted a no-charge update to his FastCAD and EasyCAD programs at http://fastcad.com/x-support.html
Schott Systeme improves advanced milling aids for 5-axis parts in their latest of Pictures by PC 3.4 CAD/CAM software, such as reducing the amount of waisted machining moves. Demo video at http://www.schott-systeme.com/en/newCAMrestvideo-en.htm
Softcover International offers currency-enhanced savings on its Scan2CAD automatic raster-to-vector conversion software: US and Canadian buyers save roughly 20% when purchasing from the UK-based website due to the weak British pound. http://www.softcover.com [This move is the reverse of another CAD software company, who changed its pricing to Euros so that US customers pay MORE due to the weaker US$.]
progeSOFT releases progeCAD 2009 Professional with Google Earth export, PDF import, and improved user interface. It is available through:
In related news, I've updated my IntelliCAD for beginners ebook to IntelliCAD v6.5, based on progeCAD 2009. You can order the 190-page 'Inside IntelliCAD 2009' for $19.00 through PayPal in the account of grabowski @ telus.net
In further related news, iCADsales.com and progeSOFT North America release ProgeCAM, their new CNC machining software based on PartMaster CNC and linked to progeCAD Professional. A no-registration demo is available at http://www.icadsales.com
Lattice Technology releases XVL v1.2 plug-in for Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro Extended. It allows you to embed 3D parts lists and BOMs created with Lattice3D Reporter and Excel in PDF files. http://www.lattice3d.com/products/products_PDF_3d_software.html
CNC Program Developer v18.104.22.168 is a 3-axis software development environment with a structured file format that is both Haas and Fanuc compatible. Videos and trial version are at http://www.cncprogramdeveloper.com
And Altima Technologies announces NetZoom 9 network design and diagramming software. It's better at creating network designs, rack elevations, and data center layouts in Visio and AutoCAD. http://www.NetZoom.net
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These are some of the news items that were posted during our Christmas break at the WorldCAD Access blog <worldcadaccess.typepad.com>:
Seminars & Conferences
SolidWorks World 2009 is Feb. 8-11 in Orlando FL USA. www.solidworks.com/pages/swworld09/index.html
People/Companies on the Move
LMS appoints two new vps: Stefaan Goossens is vp of simulation, and Bruno Massa is vp strategic planning and communication, as well as interim vp of the LMS Test division. Both are internal promotions.
Graphisoft's Viktor Várkonyi took over as CEO from Dominic Gallello.
"Tailoring AutoCAD CUI 2009"
Letters to the Editor
Re: Looking Back at 23 Years in the Biz
"A bunch of these effects were provided in DesignWorkshop, which started shipping in 1993. Artifice even has a patent on the drawing on a wall business.
"Even so, for a while now we haven't been able to keep up with the funding of continual updates needed to pace the operating system revisions. Few dimensions of the CAD business (or software business, or...) have proven as important over the medium term of a few years as distribution and sales. So boring, yet inexorably demonstrated."
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"Has anyone timed the Nozzle lately, say on a dual quardcore AMD or Intel machine?"
The editor replies: "Even complex 2D drawings now regenerate as quickly as you can press the Spacebar to repeat the Regen command. Somewhat slower are complex 3D drawings displayed in a shaded mode.
"Part of the reason for the speed is the caching of data; for example, AutoCAD even caches switching between layouts. Another reason is raw speed of CPUs and GPUs.
"Display speed is no longer an issue. Now, the headaches come with load times, loading huge 3D parametric assembly files, and the time it takes to recalculate history trees.
"In the days of DOS, I used a LISP routine to determine the display speeds. But under Windows, the LISP routine was no longer reliable (as compared with a stopwatch). I think this was due to Windows multitasking."
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"Personally -- and I could be wrong -- but I think our VectorWorks product changes this year were deep, and not glitzy. Not something customers necessarily glommed on to right away, per se, but something that will deeply change all forward movement.
"But, you know, not even AutoCAD is for sure. How would you know what the future brings? How do you know how Millennials will impact the workplace and purchasing decisions. They have a tendency to make collective decisions and push brands to prominence or the sidelines by their collective choice-making. These are just my thoughts.
"I couldn't even offer that Vectorworks would be the #1 leader in some future scenario. I just offer that massive cultural shifts occur about every 20 years, and we're in the early-early stages of one of them now. Things change radically with culturally shifts; just most people don't see how big the shifts are til afterward."
The editor replies: "Since the advent of desktop CAD in the early 1980s, only AutoCAD has thrived. Some years ago, I editorialized that Autodesk should get rid of AutoCAD, but instead they are using it more and more as their preferred platform for verticals.
"I think they turned from an earlier strategy of replacing AutoCAD (c.f. Inventor and Revit), because of the headaches they've encountered in trying to translate DWG files accurately between the three. Solution: Don't translate. Instead, build on AutoCAD, and build out AutoCAD with new programming paradigms, such as .Net and the new features due out in AutoCAD 2010."
Re: Spin Doctor of the Moment
"I know that this was posted in the Spin Doctors section of your newsletter, but sometimes clarification is needed for the less sustainable groups.
"I am sure that when PVC fencing stated this particular fact it failed to include that the forest converted CO2 to oxygen, housed wildlife, enhanced the beauty of the surrounding area and was likely grown locally.
"The fossil fuel was shipped from overseas on some of the worst polluting transports in the world, besides supporting anti-American governments. I also assume that it doesn't take into consideration that the pollution from the oil processing as well as the PVC processing is much higher as well as the wood fence is totally recyclable. As for the forest protection from insects, even Canada has acknowledged that the global warming has made their northwest forest a disaster waiting to happen and from what? Carbon based fuels like oil."
Re: Conferences in Orlando
"Wow, I got food poisoning too the last time I was at the Swan & Dolphin (Autodesk University some years ago). I feel your pain."
The editor replies: "You would be the third I know of who suffered from a meal that event. (Another was a vp of Autodesk.)"
Re: IntelliCAD for Linux
"Hitslink? As a demographic for sales projections? Bwah Hah hah. I know that India generates about 15-20% of the world CAD/CAM related search engine traffic. Guess how much software I sell to India? That's righ: ZERO. My guess is all the traffic comes from the free loaders looking for Internet tutorials on how to use their pirate version software which they have NO INTENTION OF EVER GETTING LEGALLY OR PAYING FOR.
"Also remember that, unlike Apple which is developed under the cover of a private corporation, that Linux is actually developed online by a public community that constantly posts public messages back and forth about bugs, fixes and tricks which generates wider online community and more traffic.
"But this is not 'paying traffic' either. I have both Linux and Mac, and find myself doing about three times as much Web research for the Linux software as the Mac for whatever reason. I think YOUR demographic is FAR less pertinent than my practical experience in the market.
"I was just down at the new Apple store in Sydney yesterday. Several months now since they first opened their new complex here. You know what I saw? PEOPLE BUYING MACS. LOTS OF THEM."
Re: The Proper Place for the 3D Mouse
"Thanks for including the response from Peter Debney. For some reason, viewing is one of those subjects that defies a common understanding. It looks simple but is actually quite involved. The issue you raised is probably a key factor why ‘grabbed’ perspective panning is not seen today.
"However, to grab a point and drag a perspective view around requires a new motion algorithm that uses a distance from the eyepoint; we call it the 'control distance'. This point then stays under the mouse cursor. Things closer to the eyepoint pan faster, while things further away pan slower.
"To see a crude demo of this type of mouse panning takes only a few minutes: 1. Install the latest Astroid Drivers from our Downloads page at http://www.spatialfreedom.com (you don’t need an Astroid to run this demo). 2. Run the AstroidSuiDemo1.exe file from http://www.spatialfreedom.com/demo . 3. Click on the Pe button to turn on perspective. 4. Use the right mouse button to rotate the model so the red ‘A’ is close and the white ‘d’ is far away. 5. Now use the left mouse button to grab and pan a point on the red ‘A’, then do the same on the white ‘d’. Notice how the grabbed point sticks to the cursor.
"I bet that if enough CAD users requested grabbed perspective panning from your CAD vendors, it would happen almost overnight."
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"I gotta say, Ralph, yours is one of the few eZines that I faithfully open when I see it in my inbox 'cause you never know what you are going to write about. It's always worth reading: keep up the good work!"
Spin Doctor of the Moment
"It's O.K. if everyone doesn’t understand what we’re doing."
"Typically, what Intel giveth, Microsoft taketh away."
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