t h e  b u s i n e s s  o f  c a d


Issue #729 |  April 3, 2012
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In This Issue


1. Sales Matter More than Design


2. Spaceclaim Stakes its Claim in the 3D MCAD Market

3. What's Inside? For AutoCAD Windows and Mac


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



Sales Matter More than Design

During media events, CAD vendors like to promote to writers and analysts exciting designs made by firms using their software. Most times, these are successful firms, like Dyson or Industrial Light and Magic. Once in a while, though, we are introduced to a firm with exciting designs and nearly no sales.

A couple of years ago, DS SolidWorks bussed us to Barrett Technologies, who build a unique robot arms that use cables and tiny motors. We were shown how the first fridge-size controller was shrunk to the size of a hockey puck, thanks to SolidWorks software. This is a firm that DS SolidWorks has promoted in its advertising, especially because Barret bought SolidWorks license #1. We asked how many of the robotic hands the company is selling. About four a month, the low number blamed partly on the US Government's refusal to certify cable-controlled robots.


Last week, Autodesk bussed us to the waterfront office of Hawkes Ocean Technologies, who design unique winged submersibles. They are designed to be highly maneuverable, and simply float to the surface, should power be lost -- thanks to Inventor software. This is a firm that Autodesk has promoted for several years. We asked how many of the 1- and 2-seat explorers have sold. One of each.


Many firms co-promoted by CAD vendors are doing well. You might expect a sales bump from a CAD vendor promoting your product. In the end, however, more important than design is sales.


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More about last week's Autodesk Media Summit 2012 on WorldCAD Access:

     - Live blogging the Autodesk Media Summit 2012
     - Live blogging industry breakouts at AMS12


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Spaceclaim Stakes its Claim in the 3D MCAD Market
During their virtual tour for CAD writers a few weeks back, Spaceclaim produced a startling statistic: despite 25 million engineers working in manufacturing, there are only 1.1 million seats of 3D CAD on maintenance. (I take it that these numbers are world-wide; the Spaceclaim slide deck doesn't provide references.)


The company interprets the 23:1 disparity as the fault of "the complexity of feature-based CAD," and so sees a huge market for its own direct modeling CAD software. The company ignores competitive direct modeling software packages.


The problem, however, with the statistics is that Spaceclaim is comparing peaches to nectarines, total MCAD engineers versus MCAD seats on maintenance, rather than all MCAD seats. I know, they would argue that a seat on maintenance is proof of it in use and not shelfware.


AndI wonder about the number of engineers, for the National Society of Professional Engineers reported in 2004 on the difficulty in counting who is an engineer and who isn't <http://www.nspe.org/resources/pdfs/blog/Abt-Report-on-Engineering-Profession2.pdf>:

Of the 2.8 million people in the United States in 1999 who earned
an engineering degree at the baccalaureate level or above, 2.3 million
were working and 1.3 million were practicing engineers.
In addition, 407,000 workers held engineering jobs without having earned
an engineering degree.

(The net 1999 number of 2.1 million working is for engineers of all types, even those in computer science. )


Never mind arguing over the validity of hand-picked statistics. They are mere warm-up for what is Spaceclaim's master plan. The company is (finally!) moving away from from nibbling at the edges of the CAD industry; this is the year Spaceclaim starts displacing mainstream CAD.


They put it bluntly: "SpaceClaim is a better choice for many design and manufacturing challenges." The accompanying graphic shows Spaceclaim spreading out to assist the CAD-lacking 25 million, as well as pushing feature-based CAD right out of the picture. Competitors, you are warned by Spaceclaim's summary statements:

- We can meet the users' entire CAD needs
- We displace feature-based CAD
- We are committed to straightforward direct modeling for all users
- Enabling all engineers, designers, and machinists to work in 3D

Should competitors have employees pick straws to see which one is designated to turn out the last light? Of course not. But it is a warning that Spaceclaim is no longer content to serve the periphery, away from the center of the CAD industry. Maybe this was Michael Payne's plan all along.




What's Inside? AutoCAD 2013 for Windows and Mac

For the eighth year in a row, the authority on what's inside AutoCAD is back with the most exhaustive coverage of new, changed, and removed commands, system variables, and user interface elements in the industry.


What's Inside? AutoCAD 2013 ebook includes tips, side-by-side screen grabs with AutoCAD 2012, describes changes in excruciating detail. Adds the commands and system variables not documented by Autodesk. Don't miss the "What We Think" opinions and our choice of the Top 3 New Features. New this year: coverage of AutoCAD for Mac.


Purchase the 94-page PDF ebook for $9.89 direct from upFront.eZine Publishing: http://www.upfrontezine.com/wia13.



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Out of the Inbox

As we noted earlier, Spaceclaim is aiming to take over the entire 3D MCAD industry, but a mysterious upstart is gunning for better. Jim Foster (ex-PDMworks and ex-SolidWorks) and friends have formed To 3D Now and hope to turn napkin designs into 3D models effortlessly. http://www.to3dnow.com


We have a winner! Over on WorldCAD Access last week, I wondered which CAD vendor would be the first to announce compatibility with the Metro interface of Windows 8. Missler Software says they've validated TopSolid 7.7 on Windows 8 and Windows Server 8. http://www.topsolidblog.com/?p=3712 {h.t. Jon Banquer}


TurboCAD Pro 19 does 64-bit computing, adds smooth surface meshes to its 3D modeling capabilities, and its new geolocation function features an in-canvas compass. Regular Pro is $1,295, while Pro Platinum is $1,495, both shipping now from http://www.TurboCAD.com


QuorumLabs' Hybrid Cloud Disaster Recovery solution is "the only disaster recovery solution that provides both onsite high availability of key applications and data, plus instant recovery of applications and data from a SAS-70 Type II certified data center maintained by QuorumLabs." This system works both on local servers and on the cloud. http://www.quorumlabs.com


Ironic. Now the cloud even virtualizes executive positions: vCIO provides firms with the expertise of ePlus' consulting CIOs -- without the cost or difficulty of finding and retaining an in-house CIO [chief information officer]. http://www.eplus.com/vcio.htm


As a former transportation engineer who designed signalized intersections, I can appreciate this technological innovation: TRANSYT Online sends optimized signal timings directly to on-street controllers to allow retiming, without the inconvenience of driving out there. 'Course, the advantage to driving out to the intersection means getting extra pay through milage expenses! http://www.trlsoftware.co.uk


CADopia 12 is shipping for OS X and Windows. The Graebert-based CAD package is updated with smart dimension, print configurations, 3D Connexion support, 3D fillets, and more. 30-day demo from http://www.cadopia.com


Are you a blogger? Who'd like to get paid (some) for writing? Over on CADdigest, Roopinder Tara and I are looking especially for CAM users who like to write, but others, too. You make $100 - $200 (depending on the length of the article), and you retain the copyright. This means you can publish the article on your blog (or elsewhere) after it appears on CADdigest.com. The first step is to fill out the form at http://rtara.wufoo.com/forms/z7x3k1. More info in the Author's FAQ at http://www.caddigest.com/about/articles/faqs.htm


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

"I found the solution you posted about print jobs being stuck in the print queue <http://worldcadaccess.typepad.com/gizmos/2006/09/tip_plugged_up_.html>, but my problem is that my printer just sends out a blank sheet of paper. I'm using XP."
      - L.S.


The editor replies: "Here are a few things you can check: Are you printing a blank page from your word processor? Some word processors print only the text that is currently selected. Is the correct printer driver being used for the printer? Install a second printer driver for the printer (Start > Devices and Printers > Add a Printer) and then see if this solves the problem."


Letters to the Editor

"To answer the reader: Laser scanners can't detect the temp of a pipe. They only detect its location in 3D space."

     - Chris Scotton, ceo

       Clearedge 3D


Re: Vectorworks Cloud Services
"I can't recall ever getting an answer from anybody: How can one do graphic design work on a 4" Android screen?


"I remember when I was just a small boy, back in the olden days of 2009, when everyone was gratified to get bigger screens on their desks, and now we are finally very comfortable operating design software on dual 23" LCD screens. What exactly is the new plan, that we all work from our cars parked on the job site, mouse-less-ly using our fingers to type in coordinates to draw lines on a calculator?


"Who thinks this is a good plan, really? Break it down for me: how many people currently sit in offices, using desktops to design AEC projects, versus how many people would prefer to sit in the rain on a jobsite, using the porta-potties, wearing hardhats, and eating at the roach-coach, designing these 200,000 square foot hospitals on their cell phones?


"Just how big is this market that these 'cloudies' are pursuing? I'm just not getting it. Maybe I'm a Luddite or an ostrich. This 'cloud' to which you so often refer seems to be the tail (whose original purpose is obviously software anti-piracy control), and it's wagging the whole dog, to the point where folks are seriously asked to consider radically changing their AEC design workflow to accommodate this new paradigm, whose beneficiaries are solely the software companies.


"I'm really not understanding how this is supposed to play out. There must be someone who can use the cloud idea for design, but what exactly happens? My expectation is that in actual practice it has very limited utility for AEC design: primarily just some drawing mark-up which has been -- and can easily continue to be -– readily (and cheaply) done with a red pen on paper."


"Help me to understand the greater good that these folks are trying to peddle, if any actually exists for us in the AEC design trenches."
      - Peter Lawton


The editor replies: "I think the idea is to see drawings on job sites, not draw them. I met a guy last week who is building a new mall in our town, the largest new mall in 20 years in the province of BC. He was showing a few guys how he could view drawings onsite using AutoCAD WS on his iPhone.


"As for drafting with fingers, Samsung has a new line of Touch tablets that come with a pressure sensitive stylus. The first one was 5" but now they are coming out with larger ones.


"As for degrading our work environment from 23" to 4" monitors, that's why I found the ceo of Vectorworks musing insightful: some are willing to give up power for portability."


"Gary Harding's letter to the Editor should be a Notable Quotable."
     - Craig Hunt


The editor replies: Gary Harding wrote he that he has switched from CAD sales to selling air compressors."



"Very funny!: 'HP finally decides the future of the PC: It's a printer accessory; suddenly it all makes sense!' Nothing like putting the cart before the horse when the bureaucracy fails its investors."
      - Chris

"Thanks, Ralph, for the many years of great content."
      - Paul Jakab

Notable Quotable

"A publicist for my book Here Be Dragons boasted she'd got me in every section of the newspaper. I said 'No, you haven't. It's not in the auto section.' She asked why it should have been in that section, and I said: 'Because it's an autobiography'."
     - Peter C Newman, Canadian author


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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