u p F r o n t . e Z i n e
t h e b u s i n e s s o f c a d
Issue #683 | March 22, 2011
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In This Issue
1. TurboCAD Pro 18
- Unique Features
- AEC and MCAD
- Ruby Scripts
2. Programming Languages and AutoCAD, Part 1
- Guest Editorial by Patrick Emin
3. Out of the Inbox
TurboCAD Pro 18
It was a trifecta when ceo Royal Farros, coo Bob Mayer, and product manager Dave Taylor gathered to Webcast me TurboCAD Professional 18 ($1,295). IMSI/design (as it's now known) has been updating this software since 1986, and has proven itself by being one of the survivors from the initial Cambrian-like explosion of PC-based CAD software of the mid-1980s. (There are just a few other survivors; they carry names like AutoCAD, DataCAD, and Cadkey, now KeyCreator.)
This release's primary theme is performance enhancements. The RedSDK is extended from just handling wireframe displays to also speeding up draft renderings and hidden-line removal. (RedSDK is the fast-CAD-display API from France that's powering CAD systems on Linux and Windows.)
ACIS and LightWorks renderings are now multi-threaded. For instance, multi-threaded processing assigns different parts of the scene to each core in the CPU. In addition, drawing load times are shorter.
Bob Mayer said, "We really feel our leveraged development strategy between TurboCAD and DoubleCAD continues to pay dividends for our customers." (DoubleCAD is their AutoCAD work-alike.) I asked him what he meant.
TurboCAD and DoubleCAD are two separate CAD programs, but increasingly the core programming code is being shared between them. Certainly, the interfaces are different: TurboCAD looks like, well, TurboCAD, complete with its distinctive Inspector Bar; DoubleCAD looks a lot like AutoCAD and deliberately so.
This means that features that were in DoubleCAD are now added to TurboCAD 18: PDF underlays, enhanced layers, additional filleting capabilities, and so on. "Features are leapfrogging each other," explained Mr. Mayer.
Not only does TurboCAD 18 now import PDF data, but it can snap to vector data in the PDF, and, better yet, can explode the PDF into lines and text, which can then be edited.
Other new features include bidirectional selections (window or crossing), purging unused objects, viewport controls for layers; rays; and fillets that can be edited, and that work on polylines.
Another feature new to TurboCAD 18 is its House Wizard. Not new to IMSI, this wizard was borrowed from their consumer-oriented Home Design software.
In the wizard, you fill out a form, specifying the type and number of rooms, number of closets, an optional deck, and so on. The wizard generates appropriately-sized building blocks (colored rectangles) that you then move around, resize, and snap together. The idea is to lay out rooms in a house, freeform.
When you click the Build House button, TurboCAD generates a 3D drawing, adds the dimensions, and inserts doors between adjoining rooms. In the future, IMSI wants to add more to this wizard, so that'll be interesting to watch.
AEC and MCAD
Now shutters (and any other kind of block) can be attached to doors and windows -- even those giant fabric butterflies, if that's your idea of style. Roof gaps in gable ends used to have to be closed manually. Now in TurboCAD 18, the new Roof Wall Modifier fixes the problems in one click -- a top request from users.
On the MCAD side, there are improvements to assemblies: you can now connect 3D objects through tangents and by distances. Sweep now works along the edges of a face (of a 3D object), through which you can create a pool table-like look.
Ruby Scripting was first added to DoubleCAD, and now in TurboCAD 18. This was needed, because Microsoft had abandoned VBA. (I asked about TurboLISP: it was dropped long ago.)
I recalled that TurboCAD came with several verticals, and so I wondered what was happening with them. Mr. Mayer explained that at one time TurboCAD came in four flavors: Basic, Architectural, Mechanical, and Platinum. As of R17, the four were recombined into two Pro editions: Basic and Platinum. Basic has some of arch and mech, and Platinum has much more. On the architectural side, there's multi-component walls and rails; on the mechanical side, thread, bend and unbend tools.
Mr. Mayer gave a fascinating explanation for merging the products: because IMSI/Design found their customers were buying both arch and mcad editions. By making both verticals available in one package, TurboCAD has a distinctive position compared with other AEC products. Also, while more CAD packages now import SketchUp, TurboCAD is the only one to also export drawings in SKP format.
"What about TurboCAD Macintosh?" Mr. Mayer found that sales increased ever since Autodesk announced AutoCAD for the Mac. IMSI/Design sells theirs mainly through Apple retail stores and their own Web site.
"And DesignCAD?" They still sell DesignCAD, which has a small and loyal user base.
"What ever happened to CorelCAD?" After IMSI/design acquired it, they sold it for 3-4 years under its original name of VisualCADD, and then sold it to Tri Tools Partners, who support it to this day.
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Programming Languages and AutoCAD, Part 1
Guest Editorial by Patrick Emin
AutoCAD is dear to my heart, because I worked with it for about 20 years now. At first, I drew lines that were supposed to represent real things. This is typically how the draftsman work with AutoCAD: creating geometric objects that represent real objects.
For instance, a double line represents a wall in architectural drawing. We know this, because conventionally a wall is represented as such. We are sure that it is not a pipe, because it is nearly impossible that a pipe be located here on the plan, without putting the building in danger of collapsing. This tells a lot about the empiricism of the method.
This approach has limitations: it can lead to misinterpretation; it assumes that the drafter and all who read the plan understand the industry, its conventions, and the symbols its uses to represent reality. When people did not have computers, this was the only way to work. Then came the idea to represent and manipulate actual existing objects, such as walls, windows, furniture, and so on. We began to give intelligence to objects -- I leave you to ponder the essence of this sentence.
Of course, these real-world objects were always represented by a set of primary geometric objects; it can not be otherwise. We can not fit an entire building into the memory of the computer, as powerful as it may be. (Do not believe what they tell you, the Building Object Model (BOM), does not exist yet.)
But what this has to do with programming? I can feel you getting impatient.
Programming a computer is writing a series of instructions for it to perform tasks that would be too cumbersome or too slow or too impossible to perform by human beings. And it is clear that in CAD terms, particularly AutoCAD, many programs have been written to automate the design. The AutoLISP language is certainly the best known, chosen by Autodesk long ago because it was a high level language suited to the unstructured aspect of AutoCAD drawings. This language is designed to manipulate lists (LISP is short for "LISt Processor), collections of objects, and AutoCAD drawings have many collections of objects.
But when you look at the source code of a LISP program, you would hardly recognize any objects of the real world. With a little luck and if the programmer has done his work, you may be able recognize the names of certain variables. But otherwise nothing is further from your drawing than the source code of a LISP program.
Programming is a job for specialists. While many people jumped into AutoLISP programming and came to make respectable programs (often through many hours of work, sometimes on their own time, interacting with others on the Internet, reading books on the subject, acquiring basic knowledge of programming), yet coming from artificial intelligence concepts, LISP still requires smart programmers. "But," you will say, "It is quite clear: to write a program, you must be a programmer."
Things were quite clear when LISP was the only way to program in AutoCAD, and of course I speak of end-user programmers, not pf development professionals who program in C.
Part 2 will be presented in a later issue of upFront.eZine.
Patrick Emin is an AutoCAD and Android programmer, and runs numerous helps sites, such as www.acadnetwork.com and autocad.shapado.com. This article was reprinted by permission from http://www.acadnetwork.com/topic-80.0.html
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Out of the Inbox
Michael Buchli updates his The CAMWorks Handbook with (a) a non-color version at lower cost ($99); (b) new CAMWorks 2011 info; and (c) metric/inch values. http://camworksguide.com
tsElements from T-Splines transfers T-Splines-for-Rhino designs to SolidWorks, and then lets you edit them with the SolidWorks feature tree. http://www.tsplines.com
Geometric releases eDrawings Professional for Google SketchUp v8. 15-day trial from http://edrawings.geometricglobal.com
Design Master Software updates Design Master HVAC, Design Master Electrical, and Design Master Plumbing to export IFCs file for 3D collision detection in Revit, Navisworks, and SketchUp. http://www.designmaster.biz
Aras adds John Sperling as director of product management for engineering applications. Mr Sperling is the former [deep breath now, this is one long title] director of product management for engineering collaboration and enterprise visualization at Oracle.
After Autodesk released its year-end earnings FY11, the Manufacturing Industry Group issued a press release to make sure we'all know that it led the company's growth for a third consecutive quarter. Later this week: division head Buzz Kross holds a "Business Segment Overview" Webcast. [Does anyone else get the feeling the MCAD division is going indie?]
Bricsys is making good on its promise to collect a really big roster of add-on apps, especially ones that used to only run on AutoCAD. Latest one is VidCAD software for designing cabling and electric equipment installations. "So far the software had been available for AutoCAD only," announces the press release. http://www.bricsys.com
And Dassault acquires Intercim for $36.5 million for its Delmia division. http://www.intercim.com
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These were some of the news items that were posted during the last week at our WorldCAD Access blog <worldcadaccess.typepad.com>:
- TIP: How to force AutoCAD to save AutoSave time
- A few days too soon: Autodesk UK leaks AutoCAD LT 2012 features. Update: Autodesk Japan, too
- Their bad: tantalizing news release fails to deliver news
- TIP: How to see the same CAD drawing twice, on two monitors
- Cloudy CAD vendors should copy Google's new delayable updatesr
Letters to the Editor
Re: Sub-D and NURBS
Your article on Sub-d and NURBS from IntegrityWare is very interesting. It should be noted that we have offered our SDLib (subdivision surface/NURBS) product since 2004. The interface between Sub-d and NURBS representations is well understood and available with our products, and our customers have made appropriate use of this capability. See www.smlib.com/sdlib.html for more details.
- Jim Presti
Solid Modeling Solutions
I was a bit surprised when I read the article about subd to NURBS conversion; it seemed as though you asked about the wrong players in this niche. True that D-Cubed and Spatial are not here, but Autodesk has had a subd-NURBS conversion feature inside Maya for years. We also offer a robust, push-button subd-NURBS conversion, now on the 4th version of its code, which has also been used by our customers since 2007. We offer this both to end users (as a feature in our plugins for Rhino and SolidWorks) and to OEMs. More info here: http://www.tsplines.com/products/t-tools-libraries/subdtonurbs.html
- Matt Sederberg
I wanted to point out an inaccuracy in your article today about IntegrityWare. You said: "...and Bentley Systems has its own kernels." In fact, Bentley MicroStation and its many derivative products are based upon Parasolid as its solid modeling kernel.
- Name withheld by request
Your statement about Luxion licensing technology from IntegrityWare is incorrect.
- Thomas Teger, vp marketing
The editor replies: "Not my statements, but ones made by IntegrityWare's president David Gill. I passed your concerns on to him."
Mr Gill responds: "I actually knew Bentley used Parasolid for its kernel, but missed that in the context of the discussion. As for Luxion, it is Bunkspeed that licenses our technology, and it was used in the Hypershot product, which is now owned by Luxion. We don't have a license agreement with Luxion directly."
Re: Looking for BetterCAD
Gerald Davis seems to be assuming that there is no knowledge required to prepare fabrication drawings. If this were the case, it would be possible for a computer to generate them automatically. At least, you can send your model to on overseas office and have someone do the work at $0.75/hr.
My experience has been that there is quite a lot of knowledge required to prepare good drawings, particularly in areas like sheet metal and welding. Good drawings provide clear, unambiguous instructions to the fabricator. The tolerances are achievable, and fabricator can take them seriously. You can do tolerance stack-ups and use these to validate your design.
If your sheet metal parts are fairly standard, you can create a library of templates, complete with models and drawings. When you need a new design, you select the appropriate template and hack it to your requirements. My understanding is that this is how most of the spectacular productivity improvements have been made in SolidWorks.
Just for the record, when I specify a tapped hole, I delete the tap drill specification SolidWorks supplies. I expect machinists to know how to tap holes. If the machinist disagrees with SolidWorks over this, I will trust the machinist.
Don't overestimate the ability of a computer program to deliver intelligence and technical knowledge.
- J. Howard Gibson, mechanical designer
"..a left-handed person drafting with the right hand." I would give my right arm to be ambidextrous.
- Bill Fane
"We'll not join Microsoft in perverting the net again."
- Gerhard Killesreiter, Drupal, explaining why he won't support non-standard HTML elements used by IE v9.
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Entire contents copyright 2011 by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. All rights reserved worldwide. Letters sent to the editor are subject to publication. Article reprint fee: $250 and up. All trademarks belong to their respective holders. "upFront.eZine," "The Business of CAD," and "On your desktop every Tuesday morning" are trademarks of upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. Letters to the editor may be edited for clarity and brevity. Translations and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd.