u p F r o n t . e Z i n e

the business of cad


Issue #695 |  June 14, 2011 

<  Previous Issue | Next Issue >


In This Issue

1. Today is the First Day of the Rest of PTC's Life

2. Autodesk's Inter Suite Interoperability

     - About FBX


3. Out of the Inbox and other regular columns


This issue sponsored by GstarCAD

GstarCAD 2011's
ribbonized GUI, .dwg file format, advanced APIs, and stable operating platform
ensure you design easier and faster.



Today is the First Day of the Rest of PTC's Life

Today is the first day of PTC's reinvention of itself -- unless you count the renaming of the 23-year-old Pro/E to "Creo" as the first day. No matter how you spin it, here's what PTC is shipping today:


     - Creo Parametric is the software formerly known as Pro/ENGINEER, and for awhile was called Creo Elements/Pro. I think that's how it goes.
     - Creo Direct for 3D geometry creation and editing using direct modeling. PTC marketing does not mention CoCreate.
     - Creo Simulate for for structural and thermal simulation. I presume more simulate modules will be arriving in the coming months/years?
     - Creo Schematics for creating 2D routing diagrams of pipes and cables.
     - Creo Illustrate for 3D technical illustrations.
     - Creo View ECAD for viewing and marking up electronic designs.
     - Creo View MCAD for viewing and marking up mechanical designs.


And not shipping today are the following:


     - Creo Sketch for "freehand" drawing of ideas and design concepts in 2D. It was PTC marketing who put the scare quotes around "freehand." Due end of July.
     - Creo Layout for conceptual 2D layouts that drive 3D design. PTC marketing included the word "ultimately," which is wrong, because the ultimate (ie, final) destination is not the 3D design, as PTC's advertising keeps reminding us. Examples include, oh, how about Creo Illustrate? Creo Simulate? Due end of November.


Sadly, the company continues to tout the myth that this is about curing the problems of interoperability, technology lock-in, and others, when the Creo line is meant to lock you into PTC solutions. Naturally, from PTC's point of view, the modular nature of Creo is designed to eliminate these problems -- but that's not seeing it from the customer's point of view:


      - PTC's pov is that Creo apps interop with each other.
      - Customer's pov is that Creo apps should interop with non-PTC software.


Technology lock-in:
      - PTC's pov is that its modular format allows Creo to easily adopt new technology.
      - Customer's pov is to use the best software for a job, not necessarily the best Creo module.


File format:
      - PTC's pov is that all modules can read and write data to and from a common data model (although not a common file format).
      - Customer's pov is that Creo cannot write data to "all" 2D and 3D file formats.   


How open is Creo? Not very, from my point of view, as well as of some others in the media. When we ask questions, we usually get pointed to a video -- the ultimate in canned responses. Over on deelip.com, Geoff Hedges (program marketing at PTC) admits that only "parts of the common data format will be open to customers, partners, etc."


We can expect more modules in the months and years go come, along with updates. I'll be interested to see if PTC has a handle on the problem of sychronizing updates between all modules. http://creo.ptc.com



Design Better: Get the Edge.

Sign up for free hands-on training, a free starter kit, and free software -– Solid Edge with synchronous technology.
Local live events here or more details here. Or call 800-807-2200.

Autodesk's Inter Suite Interoperability
I spoke briefly with Chris Hall last week, he being an MCAD technical marketing specialist at Autodesk. I am trying to get a better handle on how the software in Autodesk's new line of suites communicate with each other. At the MCAD media event in April, we were told that it happens, but not how.


Mr Hall wasn't able to get into as deep technical detail as I hoped, but he did indicated that in some cases it is simple data exchange. For example, Alias -> 3dsMax just exports->imports wire data. Inventor->Revit uses the ADSK file format; previously, it captured just model info, but this year meta data (tables) were added.


Factory Suite has is more sophisticated that, say, Product Design Suite, with interoperability all the way through (even to Navisworks), because it is a year older, and so Autodesk gained more experience in how to handle the data flow with the work flow.


Autodesk's goal, Mr Hall said, is to progress year after year to the vision of processes being more seamless, from concept all the way through to the finished machine.


About FBX

Towards the end, we got into a discussion of the FBX file format, short for "filmbox." For example, you can use Mudbox at the conceptual stage and then link its models to 3ds Max through FBX.


FBX was invented by Cadera for its MotionBuilder software. Alias bought Cadera, and then Autodesk bought Alias, and so came into possession of FBX. This file format is special, because contains both the 3D model and the animation information, especially motion capture and character animation. It loses, unfortunately, the Autodesk Materials Library, which is common to 3ds, Inventor, AutoCAD, and others. http://www.autodesk.com/fbx


There is a rumour that Autodesk's titainium-look 32GB USB thumbdrive contains a hardware switch to toggle its read-only mode. I took it apart, and can confirm that there is no switch.




DraftSight is a no-cost*, easy-to-use 2D CAD product that generally takes a few minutes to download and runs on multiple operating systems, including Microsoft Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, the Mac, and Linux.

*Standalone license.  Activation required.


Out of the Inbox

Last Friday was a really big day in the history of the IntelliCAD Technical Consortium, when they announced the official release of IntelliCAD 7. It was a hard slog, and so congratulations are in order to Dave Lorenzo and his team.
      They completed a complete rewrite that eliminated any code owned by Microsoft (who still owns the IntellICAD 6 code!), and to synchronize development with APIs from Open Design Alliance. You can get a list of members offering 7-based CAD packages from http://www.intellicad.org


It was invented by Linux distributions, popularized by Apple, and now Autodesk has one, too: an app store. If you've used AutoCAD 2012, then you'll already know about Exchange, the one-stop source for help, tips, and other information pushed by Autodesk. As of today, a new Apps tab is showing up in the English version of AutoCAD 2012, with downloadable apps, content, and tutorials that are free, are demos, or can be purchased outright through PayPal.
      A personal note: some of my ebooks are on the this market place, and I helped the Autodesk App Store adjust itself to handle the PDF files. Click General | Learning Tools, or search for "ebook." I'll be adding more as I update my ebooks for 2012.


Win a few, lose a few. After Autodesk "stole" the CalTrans contract from Bentley Systems, Bentley last week did a tit-for-tat over in Michigan. Michigan's Department of Transportation picked Bentley's Power GEOPAK civil engineering design software to replace AutoCAD-based CAiCE for statewide surveys. Will we get a press release from Carl Bass complaing about how unfair to the process was [c.f. Greg Bentley]? No, he's above that.


The war-by-Web-site that won't be quitting any time soon. Andrea Ferri, the bankruptcy trustee running think3 in Italy, shot back against claims by Versata (who run think3 in USA). Namely:
      - Think3 Inc. is a single company under the Italian bankruptcy procedure.
      - Think3 in Italy is not a subsidiary company of Think3, as alleged by Versata.
      - All goods (ThinkDesign, Thinkteam, TD PLM, etc), employees, and goodwill are located in Italy.
      - The US Court has no jurisdiction against the Italian Bankruptcy Procedure.
      - Versata is illegally using the think3 trademark, advertising, and www.think3.versata.com.
      - Contracts with Versata are null and void.
      - Payments for using think3 must be sent to the Italian bankruptcy administrator.


Last Friday, think3 (Italy) announced the "official ThinkDesign 2011 beta." As this drags on, however, customers will look elsewhere to eliminate the uncertainty. By the time either Versata or Mr Ferri wins this war, the outcome will no longer matter. http://www.think3.com/en/news--events/news/official-communication-to-customers

I spent the last month updating my ebook on rendering, and so Rendering with AutoCAD 2011/12 is now available for $38.70 through my PayPal account, grabowski@telus.net. This is the textbook used by an art university in Las Vegas, and this new edition's got 258 completely overhauled pages in full color, on rendering, materials, lights, and cameras.

- - -


This was the news item that was posted during the last week at our WorldCAD Access blog <worldcadaccess.typepad.com>:

- Exactly what are generative components? We find out from Huw Roberts, by Roopinder Tara


Letters to the Editor

"I read about your battles with the HomeStyler program. On existing rooms the old fashioned paper cut-outs are still tops."
      - Herbert Grabowski

"Do you know SweetHome3D? It's an open source interior design app programed in Java, so it's available on Win/Mac/Linux. There's even an online app on the Web site, so I guess it's on the cloud too. It is pretty popular in the French Ubuntu community.


"The Web site (and I assume the app) is available in many languages. I just tried to launch the online app, but the applet won't start. Maybe it's not compatible with the OpenJDK Java that I use instead of Sun's implementation, or maybe the connection is not fast enough."
     - Normand Chamberland

"As CorelDraw user, I have just received a mail from Corel with some news and the announcement of CorelCAD (powered by ARES). Sometime ago you stated that Graebert was the competition to ITC. It seems on the way."
     - Julian Miranda


"Removing C++ from the Win8 palette of tools would be asking for another Vista disaster. They already have a growing problem with applications going platform independent, shutting them off completely would leave Win8 in an OS/2 like situation. Instead, it seems that Microsoft expect to double their revenue from developers, renaming Visual C++ into WinC++: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/microsoft/what-is-winc-and-how-does-it-figure-in-microsofts-bid-to-make-tools-a-2-billion-business/9359


"Linux tools are free, Apple's XCode is $5 from the app store. Where I live, Visual Studio 2010 Pro is a $1000 upgrade. Then there's the Visual Studio 2010 Ultimate with MSDN online subscription, available from the Microsoft e-store for just e299, which I believe includes 25% VAT. There's also the Visual C++ 2010, which is free, but with such limitations that it's not an option: inferior compiler, trashed UI and so on.


"Where do you expect that young developers will put their effort? Hint: MacBook Pro's are very popular among software developers these days."
      - Henrik Vallgren


The editor replies: "It appears that Microsoft will push HTML5 and JavaScript as the preferred frontend and backend programming languages, but as the following article notes, HTML5 has hardware acceleration now only for 2D curves: http://arstechnica.com/microsoft/news/2011/06/html5-centric-windows-8-leaves-microsoft-developers-horrified.ars."


"Keep up the good work. upFront is great."
     - Dave Witso


Notable Quotable

"[With Windows 8] Microsoft is obviously trying to learn from Apple, but they clearly don't understand why the iPad runs iOS, and not Mac OS X."
      - John Gruber

Thank You to Our Subscribers & Donators

These great people support upFront.eZine through their contributions of $25 (or more). Thank you, guys!

     - Richard Kanarek: "Keep up the good work!"
     - Joel Orr
     - Bo Gao: "Congratulations to upFront.eZine for16-years anniversary from a fellow Canadian civil engineer, looking forward to more civil engineering CAD coverage."


upFront.eZine is published every Tuesday, except during summer and Christmas vacation. Editor: Ralph Grabowski. This newsletter is read by 12,000 subscribers in 70 countries. Your comments are welcome at editor@upfrontezine.com! Deadline for submissions is every Monday noon.


To Subscribe

Send the message 'subscribe upfront' to subscribe@upfrontezine.com. All 600+ back issues at www.upfrontezine.com/welcome.htm.


Donations & Subscriptions

upFront.eZine is shareware. You receive this newsletter free. To support its publication, suggested one-time donations is US$25 or the equivalent in your country. If you prefer to pay an annual subscription fee of $25, you will be reminded each year around May 1.



-      PayPal - send payment to the account of grabowski@telus.net

-      Checks or money orders: 34486 Donlyn Avenue, Abbotsford BC, V2S 4W7, Canada.

-      Direct bank transfer: email for details.


Address Change

Send both your old and new email addresses to subscribe@upfrontezine.com.


To Unsubscribe

Send the message 'unsubscribe upfront' to editor@upfrontezine.com. I appreciate knowing reasons for unsubscribing.



US$340 per two weeks. Wanted ads by the unemployed are free. Other rates available. For more info, email advertise@upfrontezine.com.

- - -

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 "WorldCAD Access" 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.

* 11680