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

the business of cad


Issue #708 |  October 18, 2011 

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In This Issue

1. Just How Open is Aras with its Open-Source PLM


2. CAD-related Software for Android Smartphones and Tablets


3. Out of the Inbox and our other regular columns

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Just How Open is Aras with its Open-Source PLM
"You repeated the claim by Aras that Aras Innovator is open-source. That's just marketing drivel; they in no way follow the basic principles of open-source software. Most notably, they do not make their source code available for inspection. See http://www.opensource.org/node/102.
-Duncan Lithgow

Marc Lind of Aras responds:

There has clearly been some misunderstanding about what we are doing here at Aras, both in the open-source community and the PLM community. For those trying to understand, it's important to know that we are combining open source PLM solutions with non-open source infrastructure. Some might call it a 'mixed source' format or 'split-licensing', while for marketing purposes we refer to it as 'enterprise open source' because everything about our structure is designed for global enterprises.


What this means is that the enterprise PLM applications are freely-available open-source using OSI compliant licenses. The software and source for Bill of Materials management, engineering change workflows, AVL/AML, stage-gate project management, controlled documents, part definition, quality plans and much more are available to get, use, inspect, modify, and redistribute as needed. The open source format gives companies a level of control and flexibility over their PLM data model / schema, workflows, lifecycles, integrations, forms and business rules/logic that they can't get from the other major PLM providers.


There are currently 95 open-source projects on the Aras community site at http://www.aras.com/communityprojects and there are additional projects at various locations on the web, such as the open source Office integration and AutoCAD connector at http://prodeos.codeplex.com.


Now, the 'rub' for many in the open source world is that Aras DOES NOT release the underlying application framework infrastructure as open source. While it is a free download with no software license fees, it is, however, a compiled binary. The source code is distributed as "community source" -- see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_source -- which means it is available to a defined community, in our case, paid Aras subscribers. This structure provides subscriber companies with the security and confidence necessary for running mission-critical enterprise software, as well as direct influence over our roadmap and long term direction.


Finally, the question everyone asks, "If the software's free, how does the company make money?" Very simple. Aras brings the Red Hat business model to the enterprise PLM market in the following ways:

Aras sells optional enterprise subscriptions, consulting, training, and add-ons


This business model gets rid of upfront expenses for PLM licenses, and means that the TCO (total cost of ownership) is lower than conventional PLM systems for large scale deployments. As well, it is not an all or nothing, "rip & replace" proposition. A company can use Aras with their existing systems.


At the end of the day, none of this matters unless the software works -- and works better than other PLM systems. We believe that our open approach aligns much better with customers' objectives than the restrictive lock-in and named user licensing that is pervasive in the PLM market. An added benefit of our format is that companies do not need to believe marketing hype from me or anyone else: they can download Aras Innovator to check it against Windchill, Teamcenter, MatrixOne, or Oracle/Agile systems.


There's more about our open source approach at http://www.aras.com/technology/open-source.aspx.


[Marc Lind is senior vp of global marketing at Aras.]



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CAD-related Software for Android Smartphones and Tablets

'Out of the Inbox' lists a bunch of new CAD software for iPad, and so I thought I'd list CAD-related software for Android devices.


Design Dimensions (by Arc Mist LLC) -- a visual database of commonly referenced items and their corresponding dimensions, such as beam, tables, lumber, and so on.


Frame design 2D (by Dako) -- analyzes the force distribution and deflections in complex 2D frames. Also available from this developer: Open Channel Design, Steel Design, Engineering Libraries, Concrete Design, Weld Design, and more.


AndCAD (by Talon Designs LLP) -- 2D CAD application for your mobile device; supports DXF.


AutoCAD WS (by Autodesk) -- views and marks up AutoCAD DWG drawing files. Also available from this developer: Inventor Publisher Viewer.


AutoCAD Q&A (by Patrick EMIN) -- provides AutoCAD questions and answers. Also from this developer: Autodesk blogs, AutoCAD SysVar, Autodesk AutoCAD forums, and more.


Civil Calculator (by FitzgeraldEngineering) -- performs calculations of interest to engineers, such as air flow conversion.


AndTruss2D (by Thodoris Bougas) -- linear static analysis of plane trusses. Also from this developer: Civil Calculator.


Droid 2 CAD (by QubeCAD) -- captures locations using the Android's GPS, and then saves the data as DXF file.


My Measures & Dimensions Lite (by Mobile Software) -- lets you apply dimensions to photographs of objects; see figure below.





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Out of the Inbox

IronCAD says they've put a thousand improvements in its suite of 2D design and 3D modeling software -- IRONCAD and INOVATE 3D modelers, IRONCAD DRAFT 2D mcad drafter and TRANS native CAD translators. You can get a feel for the changes at http://www.ironcad.com/products/newfeatures.html


COMSOL unveils Multiphysics v4.2a with two new modules, Particle Tracing Module and LiveLink for Creo Parametric. The Parasolid geometry kernel is now the default geometry kernel for the CAD Import Module. Actually, there's a ton more new features, surprising given the "a" in the version number; read it all at http://www.comsol.com/4.2a


CCE updates its ODX libraries to support CATIA V5 R21. http://www.cadcam-e.com


Abvent launches Artlantis 4 stand-alone rendering application in two editions: Render for still renderings, and Studio for panoramas and animations. New features include iVisit for virtual tours, exports to iOS devices (via iVisit3D), new radiosity engine, and up to 4x faster. http://www.artlantis.com
      iVisit3D is $20 at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/ivisit-3d/id465949093


Lattice Technology releases iXVL View to view 3D models -- no-charge from the Apple App Store at http://itunes.apple.com/app/ixvl-view/id465579405


Also at the App Store is CadFaster's no-charge iPad app for 3D models. Exports drawings with the the CadFaster Collaborate export plug-ins (subscription payment required) in ArchiCAD, MicroStation, Revit, and SolidWorks. http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/cadfaster/id447057884


OrthoGraph introduces the iPad version of its software that allows freehand sketching of floor plans and exact measurement of distances on-site. Drawings are uploaded to Dropbox. 40 Euros from http://itunes.apple.com/hu/app/orthograph-architect/id464252559

As reported first by Randall Newton on GraphicSpeak, SolidWorks co-founder Jon Hirschtick has resigned from DS SolidWorks. A week later, the company's vp of R&D, Austin O'Malley, also left (as first reported by Roopinder Tara); he was immediately replaced by Gian Paolo Bassi, founder of RIWEBB.


LEDAS appoints Alexey Ershov as its new ceo, replacing Dmitry Ushakov, who is now ceo of the new Bricsys Technologies Russia company. Mr Ershov is the company's former cto.


Letters to the Editor

"Your point, 'It seems to me that the future is a fork in the road, two environments that are optimized for various platforms: (a) fat and feature-rich on desktop for creating content, like for CAD, games development, programming, and desktop publishing; and (b) lean and specific on portable devices -- for consuming content and communicating effortlessly.'


"Who consumes CAD on a mePhone? It seems like software folks are exploring what can be done, without really thinking about whether it needs to be done. The result is a gee-whiz app, but no one really needs it (or it solves a short-term problem), so it may linger in the software for years, (like ActiveX and DWF), but eventually it drops off like a wart."
      - Peter Lawton


The editor replies: "One Android app that impresses me is Autodesk's IPM, Inventor Publisher Mobile, which lets you view animations of how parts come apart and fit together to fix or assemble devices. Even works well on my Android's 4" screen."


Mr Lawton responds: "I believe you when you say 'it can', and I believe you when you say 'it's cool', but under what circumstances would a responsible engineer be trying to solve a $10,000 coordination problem in the field, and arrive on the site equipped with only a phone with a 4" screen? I usually bring two sets of paper drawings, one at 1/8" scale and one at 1/4" (or 1/2"), along with a laptop (sometimes). When you say that they're writing CAD apps for micro-Phones (nanoPhones?), it sounds like they're creating novel solutions, but not really practical ones."


"I noticed that you held a talk about trends hardware and software. This is what I believe to be cutting edge in software:


"The latest trend in software is the return of C++. I've read that Vista was an attempt to do everything in 'managed languages' (e.g. C#, Java, etc) that are great on programmer productivity but low on efficiency. The trend back then was that every program got faster as we got faster anyway, so efficiency wasn't important. These days, lower efficiency turns into shorter battery life, which users do care about.


"Microsoft recently demonstrated something called 'C++ AMP' (accelerated massive parallelism), which makes it simple to use the GPU for calculations. For numerical calculations, we're told to expect a 10-100 fold speed increase. And, while the GPU is crunching numbers at incredible speed, the CPU is free for other work! Actual outcome depends on your graphics card, so don't expect too much from a system with Intel GMA graphics.


"Here are some links for C++ AMP: http://www.danielmoth.com/Blog and http://channel9.msdn.com/posts/AFDS-Keynote-Herb-Sutter-Heterogeneous-Computing-and-C-AMP "
      - Henrik Vallgren


"I want to clarify one point you made in your most recent upFront.eZine NEWS #707, as your readers may get the wrong impression from your statement that indicates we "professed ignorance of LEDAS of Russia." We are, or course, quite aware of Ledas as Dr. Neil Howarth of the D-Cubed team volunteered in your interview with him recorded in upFront.ezine Issue #645 when he answered your question "Who are your competitors?" We believe that competition makes all competitors better and we certainly respect the competition Ledas has provided over the years. Thanks for allowing us to clear this up!"
     - Jim Phelan
     Siemens PLM Systems


The editor replies: "You're right; I misremembered the interview. In it, he describes LEDAS as 'a relatively recent entrant,' even though the firm was ten years old at the time."


"Enjoy reading your blog. Currently I'm using Bricscad V11 pro and wanting to buy an Acad book that would come closest to being relevant to V12 as I'm going to be upgrading. What version would be best? Or are you coming out with an ebook that would be more helpful?"

     - Tim Neumann


The editor responds: "As it turns out, I have three ebooks specifically about Bricscad V11 (and earlier) at http://www.upfrontezine.com/eBooks/default.htm#Bricscad . I began updating them last week for V12, and I'll let you know as I complete them."


"I would like to follow your blog http://worldcadaccess.typepad.com by email. Is it possible?"
      - Purushothaman Munusamy


The editor replies: "As it turn out, you cannot follow WorldCAD Access by email; you can, however, subscribe to its RSS feed (http://feeds.feedburner.com/WorldcadAccess) . In addition, I mention on Twitter (@ralphg) each time I post something at the blog."

Notable Quotable

""Just about every day we're treated to claims of a device being the 'world's first' or 'world's biggest' or, indeed, 'world's fastest.' Typically we file these stories into the 'world's least exciting' folder in our inbox..."
      - Tim Stevens, Engadget



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.


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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 "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.

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