t h e b u s i n e s s o f c a d
Issue #718 | January 17, 2012
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In This Issue
1. Exclusive! sgCore from Geometros
2. TurboViewer SDK for iOS
3. Out of the Inbox, and other regular columns.
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Exclusive: sgCore from Geometros
Geometros is not a new company. Looking in my email archives, I see that in 2006 they sent out a press release announcing their solid modeling kernel, sgCore. Last week, Mike Whusberg wrote me that they planned to release sgCore for iOS. I needed to learn more.
upFront.eZine: I am interested in your background. Who is Geometros, and where are you located?
Mr Whusberg: In 2001, a group of young mathematicians (from a just-collapsed research institute in Russia) was hired by an American company to develop a geometric library for solid modeling. Initially, it was just a set of functions that were used for convenient representation of 3D objects and their manipulation in a furniture modeling program that was being developed by the client. With time, we expanded the functionality of the library with a number of object creation tools, Boolean operations with solid objects, tools for extrusion, twisting, surface editing, surface merging and a lot more.
sgCore was not the result of theoretical research, but a practical solution to specific problems that any developer of 3D CAD editors faces. These tools became the foundation of a company called Geometros. We are registered in the US, and many developers of the original version of sgCore moved from Russia to the US to continue working on the product.
upFront.eZine: What are some of the benefits of sgCore solid modeling library? I mean, why should someone pick your library over someone else's?
Mr Whusberg: sgCore provides the minimal sufficient set of mathematical functions and classes for developing a full-fledged geometric modeling system. sgCore is pure mathematics, without object rendering, data entry, or any other UI tools. Just math, which, however, is the most complex and the most important part of any CAD system. The choice of the object rendering method is left to our customers. Some of them use OpenGL, DirectX, or a third-party engine, such as Unigine Engine or C4 Engine.
We never intended to develop a full-scale framework for building a CAD system in 5 minutes. Apparently it can be convenient in some cases, but in these situations the resulting library is large, inflexible, and limited in its ability to adjust to a variety of purposes. We have customers who switched to sgCore after using OpenCASCADe, Parasolid, or CGAL. But none of them has ever given up on sgCore for another library.
upFront.eZine: Who do you see as your customers? By this, I am wondering what needs you are filling.
Mr Whusberg: Developers often need to create a narrowly-focused 3D editor or CAD system tailored for a specific purpose, and uses a unique rendering engine, its own object editing tools, own material libraries, own bindings and object manipulation algorithms. For instance, some of our clients develop furniture modeling tools, software for designing wooden houses, pipelines, metal structures and so forth. sgCore allows you to create a small program that will solve a specific task or build a full-fledged 3D editor.
upFront.eZine: It is currently available for Mac and Windows. Will it be available for Linux?
Mr Whusberg: sgCore does not depend on any third-party libraries, because everything was written from scratch and can be compiled for any platform. You can currently download Windows and Mac versions of the library from our site, but these are just the two platforms our clients use. No one has requested a Linux version, yet.
upFront.eZine: You mentioned iOS in your original email to email. Why iOS, and not Android?
Mr Whusberg: We also plan to release an Android version shortly after rolling out its iOS counterpart.
upFront.eZine: iOS has significant limitations, and so I expect sgCore for iOS will have fewer functions. What will be left out?
Mr Whusberg: Thanks to the fact that sgCore is a mathematical library, the iOS version will contain the same set of functions and classes for creating and editing objects. It will not have any limitations compared to Windows or Mac versions.
upFront.eZine: When will the iOS version be available?
Mr Whusberg: First half of 2012. We plan to finish the development and testing phases by summer 2012.
upFront.eZine: You also have your own CAD package, called Solidgraph OpenSource CAD System. When did it become available?
Mr Whusberg: We had published SolidGraph source code at the beginning of 2006. At first, we uploaded the source code on CodeProject (http://www.codeproject.com/KB/applications/solidgraph.aspx), and immediately began receiving thanks and wishlist items for the future sgCore and SolidGraph development.
Figure 1: Solidgraph OpenSource CAD System
SolidGraph was written for Windows using the MFC GUI library. In the near future we will open sources of the cross-platform system, written on the basis of sgCore and Qt libraries.
upFront.eZine: Do you see Solidgraph as a functioning CAD system, or more as a demo of what sgCore can do?
Mr Whusberg: sgCore is just math. To create fully-fledged 3D modeling systems, it is also necessary to provide interaction with users in some way, somehow depict the objects, and to give the user tools to visually manipulate objects. The open part of the SolidGraph system is an example of how this can be arranged. We have fuller versions of SolidGraph, which are created to suit specific needs of our clients. But there is nothing stopping any developer from using SolidGraph sources to develop his own system.
upFront.eZine: Does rtEngine Ray Tracing Engine use your own engine, or is it licensed from someone else, like mental ray or Lightworks?
Mr Whusberg: It's our own. Any 3D editoring system should have functions for rendering modeled objects. One of the most powerful algorithms of this rendering is ray tracing. Here, just like in sgCore, you don't need interactive interaction with the user, but only the math. Therefore, we developed the rtEngine library. In the demo at our site you can see an example of how something modeled using sgCore can be depicted using the rtEngine library. Just like sgCore, rtEngine was developed entirely by us and does not depend on any other libraries.
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TurboViewer SDK for iOS
IMSI/Design was the first with a 3D DWG viewer for iOS, and now are the first with an SDK, software development kit. The idea is that IMSI/Design provides the DWG view/markup engine, on which other programmers can write custom apps for their own needs.
In an exclusive interview last week, chief technology officer Doug Cochran explained that his new SDK acts as the drawing engine for other developers. "There are thousands of applications possible, more than just viewing drawings. There are lots of niche markets, such as insurance adjusters who pull up a floor plan and then mark up the damage."
Here company ceo Royal Farros jumped into the conversation: "This new world of mobileCAD is not just taking functions from the desktop and moving them to the mobile world, but it's about creating brand new solutions.
"We are always going to need the desktop, but a whole bunch of solutions are going to come out that you can't do with desktops. We were late to the party from a TurboCAD-perspective, and so we want to be early to the party this time around by creating a robust SDK for mobile apps.
"We get that Autodesk has locked up the desktop and laptop market for decades," concluded Mr Farros. "We want to be focused on being that company that people turn to for mobile CAD."
upFront.eZine: The SDK will be free, at least initially. Why free?
Mr Cochran: We want to popularize the platform, so it is free for now. We are a for-profit company, and so we will start to charge once we add more functions to the SDK.
upFront.eZine: You announced the SDK last week, but when will it become available?
Mr Cochran: The SDK ships in the next 30-60 days, probably in February.
upFront.eZine: What functions will be in the SDK initially?
Mr Cochran: The first set of functions will be the same ones as you find in the free TurboViewer app, such as multi-touch navigation, reading DWG and DXF files, handling SHX and TTF fonts, and converting files to OpenGL.
upFront.eZine: To write an app with your SDK, would I have to be a member of the Apple Developer Network?
Mr Cochran: Yes, but that's only $99 a year.
upFront.eZine: This is just version 1. What are your future plans?
Mr Cochran: We have lots of plans [in addition to the features found in the X and Pro versions of TurboViewer]. We are even going to add GPS, camera functions, and all the other sensors found in iPad and iPhone.
upFront.eZine: With this SDK, it seems to me that you are replacing OpenDWG Alliance?
Mr Cochran: No, not at all. We use their Teigha API in our SDK. They provide DWG/DXF libraries, not a mobile viewer.
upFront.eZine: I paid the $20 and got your Turbo Viewer Pro for iPad. [IMSI/Design is loaning me an iPad 2.] I notice that the translation takes place on the cloud. Can you tell me what's happening there?
Mr Cochran: The conversion [of TCW, 2CD, 3DM, 3DS, SAT/ASAT, CGM, DCD, DGN, DWF, EPS, FCW, IGS, OBJ, PLT, SKP, STP/STEP, STL, and WRZ files] happens on our servers. A file is converted once, and then stored locally on the iPad in our proprietary format that is based on OpenGL format.
It's a bit different for DWG, DXF, and PDF files. These are converted locally to the OpenGL-based format, a process that is similar to desktop CAD programs converting their data files to integer format for display.
Rendering is done locally, and so it is not dependent on an internet connection. The rendering capabilities of TurboViewer are dependant on iPad's own rendering abilities.
upFront.eZine: Last year you mentioned a version of TurboViewer for Android. Where's that at?
Mr Cochran: We are working on it.
upFront.eZine: Apple says that if you don't want to deal with their AppStore, then you should write your apps in HTML5. What's your thoughts on this?
Mr Cochran: We have not looked into it, because HTML5 seems mainly to be a substitute for Flash. The main thing CAD viewers need is access to OpenGL.
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Out of the Inbox
Heavy snow today made it difficult to write a full edition of upFront.eZine.
ralphg (Ralph Grabowski): "Looks like Vectorworks is going to launch its mobile viewer app and cloud connection -- at some point in the future. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYy4gpT9G5M "
martynday (Martyn Day): "Just read @ralphg's ezine. Integraph giving away AutoCAD piping CADWorx DraftPro (cadworxdraftpro.com) Seems like a spoiling tactic."
On WorldCAD Access
These were some of the news items that were posted during the last few weeks at our WorldCAD Access blog <worldcadaccess.typepad.com>:
Letters to the Editor
"30-story building built in 15 days: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hdpf-MQM9vY "
- David Earl
Re: Name withheld by request
"Looks like someone got their undies all wadded up on this one!"
The editor replies: "There is always a debate over how much of the editor should be in his newsletter -- what balance between objectivity and subjectivity. I figure all of me should be in it!"
Mr Cadman777 responds: "you don't hear me complaining, do ya? i like the balance btw 'bidnez' and 'poly-ticks'"
Re: Most Annoying Management Terms Of 2011
"So, are we finally finished with 'going forward'?"
- Jess Davis
Davis Precision Design
The editor replies: "Hope so, along with 'our customers tell us...'."
Re: Intergraph Launches CADWorx DraftPro for AutoCAD Users
"Regarding the DraftPro software: being in the CAD business since 1984, when I hear that name the old HP DraftPro pen plotter comes to my mind first (and will always do so)."
- Steve Huffman
The editor replies: "The name sounded familiar, and so I thank you for reminding me of the source!"
"There are three kinds of people in the world; those who understand arithmetic and those who don't. As seen in #717:
'It has two primary software lines:
'SmartPlant and SmartMarine is its own line of 3D design software.
'CADWorx runs on AutoCAD, and was acquired from COADE.
'CAESAR II and PV Elite for engineering analysis.'
"Unless my old eyes deceive me, there are three bulleted items, not two. And you're doing the tech edit on my [AutoCAD for Dummies] book?"
- Bill Fane
The editor replies: "Well, there are two lines of software, the Smart series and the CADWork series, plus a collection of other misc. programs. "
"My main reason for subscribing is I cannot access this week's issue through the website. The latest issue I can see is December 13th."
The editor replies: "The current issue is always at http://www.upfrontezine.com/current.htm . If you do not see issue #717, try refreshing your browser (press F5). If that does not work, try another browser. Sometimes I find that the cache gets 'stuck'."
"What does that innovation look like? Where's it going to go? We don't know. That's why it's called innovation."
- Rod Beckstrom, president, ICANN
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Entire contents copyright 2012 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.