t h e  b u s i n e s s  o f  c a d


Issue #726 |  March 13, 2012
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In This Issue


1. OrthoGraph Architect for iPad

    - Tutorial
    - Getting Drawings to CAD
    - Future Plans
    - Q&A


2. PTC Meets With Journalists (Part ii)


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

OrthoGraph Architect for iPad

OrthoGraph had been available for creating floor plans on-site with portable Windows CE devices, but due to the aging WinCE platform and significant increases in the computing power, they have written the software for iOS, and so now recommend the iPad version only. (The company is continuing to port features from WinCE to iOS.)

During a Webinar last week, Orthograph managing director Laszlo Toth emphasized that this is a survey tool, and not CAD software. You use it to create floor plans, add information, and then export it to a CAD program.



Here is how it works:

  1. Enter initial data into Orthograph running on the iPad, such as a room on level 1, and the units, metric or Imperial. Specify wall thickness and indicate which sides of the walls are being measured, inside or outside.

  2. With your finger, sketch an initial outline of the room. The software converts your sketch into straight lines; if necessary, edit the initial outline, such as to change walls to curves (arcs).

  3. The software guesses at the initial dimensions; when you correct one dimension, the software updates the rest of the room's initial measurements. See Figure 1.

  4. Manually correct the other dimensions; you can enter diagonal (corner to corner) measurements, too. A green '+' indicates fully surveyed areas, a red '?' means one or more dimensions are missing. In this way, you cannot forget to take all measurements!

  5. Enter the height; edit the data sheet of walls, such as color, material, and override thickness. It generates data, such as area, perimeter.

  6. Pick points to located doors and windows; for doors, you can swipe the direction of its opening. You can add room furnishings from the built-in library, such as chairs and tables, and then you can edit their properties.

  7. You add additional rooms in the same way, and then attach them by locating their connecting doors.

Figure 1: Sketching the room layout (left) and then adding dimensions (right).


You can insert point clouds and scanned documents as backgrounds, scaled and with variable transparency. As before, you trace over the image with the finger, and then add accuracy.


Getting Drawings to CAD

When done, you upload the drawing to Dropbox in JPG, PNG, and SRVD (Orthograph) formats. To get SRVD files into other CAD packages, you use translation software, which runs on desktop computers (not the iPad):

The DWG and ArchiCAD translators are free for five rooms, $100 each for up to 50 rooms, and $500 each for an unlimited number of rooms.


Future Plans

This is just the first release of Orthograph for iPad. The company already has plans to add freestanding walls, and to record lines and sketches -- rather than always converting them to walls. 3D visualization of walls and objects is planned, as well as the ability to coordinate with multiple inputs from several surveyors.


It will allow you to customize templates and objects in the library. A translator for Revit is forthcoming.



Q: Can the program recognize curves from your finger sketches?
No, but you can bend segments after the initial sketch by adding arcs or vertices.


Q: How do you take the measurements?
Distances must be entered by hand; Apple's implementation of Bluetooth does not connect to Bluetooth laser measuring devices, such as from Leica.


Q: Will this software be available on Android tablets?
In the long term, yes.


Q: How does the software determine the initial lengths of walls?
It makes a guess; once you specify the actual length of the first wall, the remaining walls are changed to match.


Q: How many simultaneous objects does the software handle? How many rooms per project?
There is no limit. OrthoGraphic uses a tree structure to support very large surveys, such as 240,000 sq ft.


Q: Can the iPad version be used on its own, or do you have to also purchase the desktop software?
iPad could be used on its own, but you need a desktop computer to further process the data. All the CAD converters are standalone programs that run on a desktop computer.

OrthoGraph Architect is $50 from http://itunes.apple.com/hu/app/orthograph-architect/id464252559





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PTC Meets With Journalists (Part ii)
During the media day with Parametric Technologies Corp, staff explained that many improvements were made in basic tools like sketch-based features in Creo 1.0: extrudes, sweeps, anything created from a sketch. For example, select a planar face, hit extrude, and then start sketching on the face; if no face is selected, then you can select a sketch to immediately create an extrude feature.


Looking Forward to Creo 2.0

In Creo Parametric 2.0, new drag handles adjust just the related dimensions, and not any linked dimensions; this carries out automatic parametric unlocking. Hold down Alt to select to geometry with which to reference a constraint, such as parallel to an edge.


While assembling components, the 3D dragger will limit dragging to respect degrees of constraint as assembly constraints are applied. For example, a concentric constraint allows a part to be dragged only along the axis.


When you choose an edge or a face, a rectangle pops up with data about the feature. You can copy and paste the data, and then use it to build a parameter, meaning, design intent. (This feature was always available, but was hidden deep in the old menu system.)


Cross sectioning is improved through the use of a drag handle for dragging the cross section to revealing more or less of the model. A 2D window pops up to show the face on section view.


Flex modeling was already in 1.0 and now in 2.0 is improved. It is meant for making edits towards the end of the design process, such as just before manufacturing. "Flex" is the name for direct editing done inside Creo Parametric.


Pattern (array) recognition finds patterns in imported models, with black dots locating members of the pattern. This lets you change the pattern, such as from twelve to five polar copies. Pattern propagation lets you edit one item of the pattern, and can specify that the change be propagated to the other items; as this happens, parametrics get applied to the imported model.


Q: How does the history tree deal with the changes created by Creo Direct?
As of Creo 2, the user has the option of collapsing a number of modeling changes into a lump of geometry -- although this action loses the parametrics. The collapse capability is for when the user has taken a model into Creo Direct and done a bunch of geometry-based modeling on the model. Much of that work will be recorded in Creo Parametric as features. If the Parametric user doesn't want those features, then they can be collapsed into a single piece of geometry.

This option is not provided in Creo Parametric's Flexible Modeling extension. We are assuming that parametric modeling users would modify the original parametric model to achieve the results they want. For a many different reasons they are, however, unable to do this, and so they use Flexible Modeling to perform geometry edits on the model, which is done as a parametric feature.


Q: Competitive systems struggle with dealing with topological changes.
We are working towards making significant topological changes. CoCreate is the best at that, and we are getting close to what CoCreate can do.


Creo Layout

Creo Layout is the name of PTC's AutoCAD-displacement program, as product management manager Raphael Nascimento showed us. It is software for drawing in 2D and editing sections imported from 3D programs. Creo Layout and Creo Parametric are one-way associative from 2D to 3D: changes in 2D show up in linked 3D models, but not the other way around. Because Creo uses a common database, there is no "importing" or "exporting."


In Layout, you can specify items as "public" or not, allowing you to use the program as a scratchpad. Only public entities are visible back in Parametric. "2D and 3D each have their advantages, and so we want to synchronize them, something that is not possible with AutoCAD," PTC told us. "Layout does not compete against AutoCAD on the basis of features, but rather on integration." Nevertheless, PTC plans to expand the capabilities of Layout over the next several releases.


Q: But isn't 2D CAD dying market?
We have tried for decades to convince customers to only use 3D Parametric modeling. But we have large customers with hundreds of seats of Pro/E and AutoCAD, because they still do certain kinds of tasks in 2D.


PTC now offers a 30-day demo of Creo Parametric 1.0, delivered on a DVD after registration, at http://www.ptc.com/product/creo/free-trial/parametric/. For another review of the PTC media day, read "Creo 2.0 is Near" by Evan Yares at http://www.3dcadtips.com/creo-2-0-is-near/



[Disclosure: PTC provided me with airfare, accommodation, some meals, ground transportation, and a lovely gray PTC sweater.]



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Out of the Inbox

Sensable updates its Freeform 3D Design for Manufacture software, meant for those folks who design "organic, highly sculptural goods, from jewelry to toys to medical implants – and need to manufacture them efficiently." It works wtih voxels, meshes, polygons, and NURBS. As of tomorrow, you cna read about the 50+ new functions at http://www.Sensable.com


Staying alive: think3 of Italy releases service pack 1 for ThinkDesign Suite 2011, with the aim of releasing a 64-bit version later. http://www.think3.eu/en


We interviewed Christopher Scotton of ClearEdge3D a year ago at http://www.upfrontezine.com/2011/upf-688.htm over his software's ability to convert point clouds into objects automatically. Today he wrote me with an update: "We have been perfecting a series of new algorithms that can extract nearly every pipe in the scene -- in testing we've been pulling out more than 90% of the pipes and no other extraction tools comes close to that." Some intelligence is being extracted, such as ODs and lengths. http://www.clearedge3d.com


The cycle continues: Intel has a new CPU, and so HP has new Z workstations with 8-core Intel Xeon E5-2600 CPU, up to 512GB of DDR3 memory, and third-generation PCI Express slots. http://www.hp.com/zworkstations


Not to be outdone, BOXX says "Things just got better, 80% better" with their new 3DBOXX 8920 with 16-core -- well, two 8-core CPUs -- workstation that can handle 32 threads -- assuming you have software that supports that many processing threads. http://www.boxxtech.com/products/3DBOXX/8550_Overview.asp


Bentley reports 2011 annual revenue of $523 million, up from $470 million the year before.


Creaform had sales in 2011 of CDN$37.5 million, up 37% over 2010.


Spend $3,899 (+tax) and get a free Kindle Fire worth $200. That's the AutoCAD 2012 for Windows offer from Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html/?ie=UTF8&tag=pm-20&linkCode=ur2&docId=1000774671. The Mac version is $300 less.


"Now ARCADY 8 combines ARCADY and PICADY in one interface." We translate: ARCADY is software for designing traffic circles, and PICADY is for intersection design. http://www.trlsoftware.co.uk


ShipConstructor Software Inc. releases a new version of its AutoCAD-based CAD/CAM software. It's faster, models electrical cable suports, has dynamic marking blocks, and more. http://www.ShipConstructor.com


Gibbs and Associates is 30 years old! "In 1982, Gibbs began a business venture as an NC Programmer with a CAM system that he had designed for a machine tool dealer." The company now has 11,000 edit-free post processors. http://www.GibbsCAM.com


SAP acquired Right Hemisphere a while back, and now renames the software as SAP Visual Enterprise. "The new software combines the inherent strength of SAP Business Suite with related visual product and plant content, providing existing and new SAP customers access to contextual and reliable visual information in an intuitive visual format." If you understand this, then you may be a candidate for SAP. http://www.sap.com


New York City's Open Data Policy "involves getting any info stored online in locked formats released over the next year so that it can be used for creating applications." I wonder what this might mean for the CAD industry? http://www.engadget.com/2012/03/12/bloomberg-signs-nyc-open-data-policy-into-law-plans-web-porta/


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Thanks to the work done by Fair Trade Digital Exchange (the new distributor of my line of ebooks on CAD), you can now get Kindle editions. The first two are:

In addition, Fair Trade Digital Exchange is making a number of my ebooks available in other ebook formats, such as ePub and Mobi. More info at http://www.ftdxbooksonline.com. My ebooks in good ol' PDF format continue to be available from my eBooks.onLine portal at http://www.upfrontezine.com/ebooks

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>:


CAD Tips

Q: Have you evaluated DraftSight recently? I would appreciate hearing your opinions -- especially regarding the API (LISP & .net) available in the Professional version."

     - B. T.


A: The free version is mostly like AutoCAD LT. The command names and system variable names are different in DraftSight, but there are aliases to make most of them the same as AutoCAD.


I haven't used the Pro version, and I have no experience with .net, so I wouldn't be able to tell you how/if it works. The workaround is to download the demo version of Graebert ARES Commander Edition, which I believe has similar APIs as DraftSight Pro. The list of features is at http://www.graebert.com/en/cad/ares/65 and the download page is here http://www.graebert.com/en/cad/ares.


Letters to the Editor

"Thanks for not getting into GIS politics (it's a mess!). However, you've got a typo there: Pitney Bowes does not own MapQuest, it owns MapInfo. MapQuest is now under AOL's editorial (aka Huffington Post) division. See http://apb.directionsmag.com/entry/arianna-huffington-will-oversee-mapquest/163225 "
      - Adena Schutzberg, principal
     ABS Consulting Group Inc.


"Have just translated your your fresh article about PTC-Creo [into Russian] at http://isicad.ru/ru/articles.php?article_num=15088 ."
      - David Levin


"Ralph, here's the first look at a new product!"

      - Leif Steinert

Notable Quotable

"With four cores, in order to execute an operation, a floating point add or a floating point multiply, 50 times more energy is dedicated to the scheduling of that operation than the operation itself."
     - Jen-Hsun Huang, ceo, NVIDIA




upFront.eZine is published every Tuesday, except during summer and Christmas vacation. Editor: Ralph Grabowski. This newsletter is read by 11,000 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 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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