t h e  b u s i n e s s  o f  c a d


Issue #723 |  February 21, 2012
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In This Issue


1. Imaginit Clarity Preview


2. Bricscad V12 for Linux


3. Out of the Inbox, and other regular columns.

Imaginit Clarity Preview

Revit Server is a central file server that handles all project files related to Autodesk's Revit software for all design disciplines. Users access files through the Revit Server application (not Windows Explorer) to view and open model files directly in Revit -- and so can work on bits of the model locally, saving changes to the server, which coordinates the work among multiple users. The server works over WANs (wide area network that connects geographically separated offices), and it feeds copies of files to servers in local offices. It became available as of Revit 2011 by paying more for your annual subscription fee.


Architectural offices have found Revit Server useful, but chafe at its limitations. Imaginit Technologies wrote some software --called Clarity for Revit Server -- that sits on top of Revit Server, adds to its functions, and removes some of its limitations. Imagint is not just the largest Autodesk dealer in the world, but is a third-party developer as well. The development side comes primarily from Avatech Solutions, with which it merged in late 2010. Some of their other software packages include Scan to BIM [see "Pointing at Clouds" at http://www.upfrontezine.com/2010/upf-671.htm ] and Utilities for Vault.


Clarity consists of tools for managing and monitoring the central host and local accelerators. (Local accelerators is Imaginit's term for local server caching.) It provides secure access to drawings for Revit and non-Revit users in multiple offices, and works with multi-firm collaboration. It extends security to the project level inside Revit, so users only see the projects they are permitted to see. For secure connections, use remote access and VPN.


All done through the Web-based Project Dashboard, which is written in HTML5 so that it works on desktops and on mobile devices. The dashboard shows images that are live, meaning that the thumbnails update as the models change. See figure 1. The images can be 3D DWFs, 3D PDFs, or raster images of the model -- which is good for non-Revit users.


It also reports version information about changes, and creates reports and data sheets. Reports include things like sheet schedules, rooms, finishes, doors, reports, and does multi-model schedules. Data sheets are specialized reports, such as a room data sheet for every room of a hospital; it includes everything related to the room, such as doors, equipment, finishes, key plans, and floor plans. Data sheets are generated automatically after designing them. (They are designed through a configuration screen.)


A designated user logs in as the administrator sees more data, 'natch: create and edit tasks, handle security, and check the status of the server. It also allows orphaned model locks to be deleted in emergency -- should other methods for cleaning and clearing locks not fix it.


Clarity adds tasks automation for on-demand and automated generation of reports and printed documentation (PDF, DWF, database exports, etc.), such as when saved to the central server or done automatically at 2am every morning. The work is done on the server, not the local machine.


When I wondered why Autodesk doesn't already do all this, director of business development Beau Turner explained that Autodesk wants to keep Revit Server as a platform, and so allows others to enhance it. The cost of the central server host and local accelerator with three sites is in the range of $35,000, and shipped last week. It is meant for offices that do work sharing across two or more offices, or firms that are collaborating with others.






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Bricscad V12 for Linux

Although delayed by nearly four months, Bricsys has made good their promise to port (nearly) everything from their Windows-running Bricscad V12 to the Linux operating system. In case you didn't catch my coverage of V12 from last October, this is perhaps the most significant release of a CAD package since, um... well, you decide.


For $675, the Platinum edition gets you 2D and 3D constraints, direct modeling and editing through the Quad Cursor, dynamic dimensions, visual styles, design intent, a parametric parts library, and a parametric 3D solids modeling mode. The Linux version sports a couple of features not found in Windows:

There are things not in Bricscad V12 that AutoCAD users would miss. These include animations (walk and fly), annotation scaling, auto publishing, CAD standards checking, drawing layouts, database links DWF markups, 3D mesh and surface modeling, multiline attributes, quick properties, quick view thumbnails, point clouds, sheet sets and tools palettes. But then AutoCAD for Mac doesn't support a lot of these, either, but costs $4,000.


Some missing features are implemented partially. For instance, V12 can display dynamic blocks created in AutoCAD, and edit some special properties defined in AutoCAD's Block Editor, but Bricscad cannot create dynamic blocks. Same goes for multline leaders and mutlilines: V12 can view them, manipulate them to a limited extent, but not create or fully edit them.

Where Bricsys has worked hardest is in mimicking the APIs from Windows. For now, the Linux version has these programming interfaces:

Missing are COM API, Visual Basic for Applications (deprecated in AutoCAD), VBA DVB projects, and .NET.


One of the things about Bricscad is that there isn't a single monolithic release. I write ebooks about Bricscad, and it irritates me that the V12 I wrote about last November is not the same as the V12 you might install next May. Every couple of weeks, Bricsys releases an update that might contain bug fixes only, but is likely also contains new all-new commands and system variables. For instance, they plan to add sheet sets and tools palettes later to V12.




[Disclosure: I write ebooks and other publications for Bricsys.]




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Out of the Inbox

The Abvent Group is known for Artlantis stand-alone 3D rendering software, and now they are launching BIMobject site wtih vendor-based 3D objects for ArchiCAD, AutoCAD, Revit, Allplan, and its own Artlantis format. Each model as a QR codes for scanning by Androids and other portable devices with cameras. Free, after registration at http://bimobject.com


Excitech announces Communico Docs for project managemdocuments and emails using Outlook and SharePoint at GBP125 (roughly US$190) per person. 30-day trial available from http://www.excitech.co.uk/edm/communico_docs.asp


The IGE+XAO Group announces SEE Electrical Expert V4 with a new data explorer, shorter processing time, and a new Open Data module. More significantly, it now interfaces with MCAD, PLM, and PDM programs for labeling, PLC programming, archiving, and so on. Another new module for 3D panel design is based on SolidWorks. http://www.see-electrical-expert.com


A week after word went aroung that Autodesk decided to drop support for computers running its software on the Vista dialect of Windows, Microsoft announced the opposite: it is extending support for Vista by five years. Here's the new drop-dead schedule, as least as support and updates go:

Autodesk still still supporing XP this year, but I expect it'll drop it next year. (Hat tip: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/bott/microsoft-quietly-extends-consumer-support-for-windows-7-vista/4529 )


But not all news need be dismal. An AutoCAD WS update available for Android mobile devices today adds print to plot in PDF and DWF formats, along with printing direct to HP plotters that accept ePrints (plot files sent by email). Also added: geo-location and 3D viewing (finally!). https://market.android.com/details?id=com.autodesk.autocadws


Nemetschek Group reports 2011 revenues up 10% to e164 million (roughly US$200 million). Some 45% of the European AEC software vendor are now from annual subscription fees. The company now has 1,173 employees, which includes Vectorworks and Graphisoft.


On the WorldCAD Access blog

These were some of the news items that were posted during the last week at our WorldCAD Access blog <worldcadaccess.typepad.com>:


Letters to the Editor


Re: Displaying Massive CAD Models Using a Gaming Engine

"It's amazing me how easy/quick people are creating 3D viewing on mobile devices. Hooking these viewers with a wee bit of data through a web service makes for very quick and easy field sales/services automation. "We are going to see lots and lots of simple field tools for sales and services folks running on mobile devices using all that 3D data folks have been creating these last several years. 2D data too, but to some degree 3D data is easier to consume on a small device than 2D data -- which folks, including me, still want that C/D size drawing for :-)"
     - Jim Quanci


"I'm working on a translation of this weeks issue of your newsletter. Could you possibly phrase this in other words for me? 'CAD systems like having multiple gigabytes to work in; phones and tablets are '. Bästa hälsningar."
      - Jane Hamrin


The editor replies: "Thank you for noticing the missing text. It was supposed to read:

CAD systems like having multiple gigabytes to work in; phones
and tablets are
limited typically to 512MB, and less -- depending
on the model."

"A lot of us SketchUp hacks are using Lumion for real-time renderings and animations.
www.lumion3d.com "
        - David William Edwards

Re: Out of the Inbox:
"Hey Ralph, a slight but important correction needs to be made. It is Autodesk, not Imaginit who are offering the Zero % Financing. This promotion is available to all dealers and their commercial Clients in the U.S. as well as Canada."
      - Dieter Schmidt, manager
       Mondrian Hall

"I've enjoyed reading your newsletter for several months now and I am enjoying your refreshing viewpoints."
      - Ron Close, chief marketing officer


Spin Doctor of the Moment

"Plan B is that Plan A is to succeed."
      - Victor Saejis, Nokia, on what the company will do if Windows Phone doesn't work

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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.

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