t h e b u s i n e s s o f c a d
Issue #744 | July 31, 2012
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In This Issue
1. Right Hemisphere
- A Little Bit of History
-What Right Hemisphere Does for SAP
2. FM:Systems FM:BIM
3. Out of the Inbox, and our other regular columns.
upFront.eZine has covered Right Hemisphere a number of times over the years, with the earliest reference being in 2003. The company last year was bought up by SAP, and so marketing director Bob Merlo thought it's now a good time to catch up on what happened.
A Little Bit of History
SAP had already been using Right Hemisphere's viewing system for a number of years. In August last year, SAP took over Right Hemisphere, retiring the "Right Hemisphere" name in February after renaming it "SAP Visual Enterprise."
Mr Merlo described for me what went on behind the scenes following the acquisition. The first step was to go through the Right Hemisphere product line to find any parts that did not meet SAP standards, such as open source security concerns; this took about four months. The next few months were spent integrating Right Hemisphere with SAP software; the first release was last February.
And the integration work continues. This September Right Hemisphere will be further embedded into the SAP workflow, such as manufacturing and enterprise asset management. In addition, the team is working on iPad and Android versions for mobile technicians; it already runs on Windows tablets.
upFront.eZine: Did SAP snap you up in reaction to Oracle grabbing AutoVue?
Mr Merlo: Our's is not the same as AutoVue's relationship with Oracle. As I understand it, Oracle bought [PLM maker] Agile, which earlier had bought Cimmetry Systems [maker of AutoVue], and so Oracle got AutoVue almost by accident. In any case, AutoVue is not as integrated into Oracle as Right Hemisphere is in SAP.
upFront.eZine: Corel has been using Right Hemisphere in some of its software. Any changes there?
Mr Merlo: Corel OEM'ed Right Hemisphere's technology in Corel Technical Suite, mainly for the authoring of 3D documentation; the relationship will stay intact. In fact, all relationships we had before the acquisition stay intact.
upFront.eZine: So, why then did SAP buy Right Hemisphere?
Mr Merlo: SAP had a limited connection to the CAD environment. Right Hemisphere has a neutral lightwieight format, and its software reads just about any CAD format, thereby providing data to enterprise software.
What Right Hemisphere Does for SAP
In brief, Right Hemisphere legitimizes SAP for the CAD industry. "It helps SAP bring its PLM offerings up to a better level," explained Mr Merlo. "Siemens and PTC would prefer that you use their proprietary software; in contrast, SAP is CAD-agnostic and offers the advantage of being connected to the enterprise, a market that SAP 'owns'."
Right Hemisphere lets customers search more than just by text or BOMs; now they can search visually by picking a part in a diagram, and then get back all info about the part(s) selected. This is called "Proximity" searching. (Or, users can type in a part number, which returns the visual view, along with all related data.) Viewing technology is free to those inside and outside the firm, providing access to the data.
This data is now available to the rest of the enterprise through SAP's software, such as 3D step-by-step instructions for training technicians -- without having to bring them into training classrooms. All they need to do is type in the model number of the machine into a Windows tablet to get the information they need. (First the iPad and then the Android version are coming this fall.)
I'm wondering if FM:Systems is the oldest, still independent third-party developer for AutoCAD. Certainly the only one with still the original name and ceo, Michael Schley. Anyhow, facilities management (FM) software is their specialty, and they have been fortunate that demand for the software has only increased over the decades, as BIM slowly seeps into the consciousness of the construction industry. (They don't need to worry about Autodesk trying to enter the biz, since Autodesk a few years ago shut down its own FMdesktop software, and then gave the customer list to FM:Systems.)
The company's primary software these days is FM:Interact, which runs on a server inside your office and is meant for FM professionals. New is FM:BIM, which vp of BIM initiatives Marty Chobot last week took the time to tell me about.
FM:BIM is packaged as an enhancement for FM:Interact, a streamlined version that runs on a Web site, a cloud service hosted by FM:Systems. See figure 1. It is meant for "anyone" in AEC firms, and provides a way for anyone on the project team to work with Revit or BIM data without needing to be a Revit user. Indeed, "anyone" in the firm can do the data entry, leaving the Revit guys get to do the modeling.
Figure 1: FM:BIM from FM:Systems
(Click image for larger resolution version.)
You pay for it on subscription pricing, and can turn it on and off as needed for building projects. "What then happens to the data that we input, after it is turned off," I wondered. You can keep the site up; or migrate the data to FM:Interact, which runs on a local server; or export the data in a spreadsheet format.
FM:BIM was turned on just two weeks ago. "So who is using it already," I asked. Well, there is MathWorks who is putting up a new building on their campus. "They must have been very brave to use this untested, unreleased software," I said. It helped, Mr Chobot said, that the ceo is a programmer who could immediately see the benefit of using 3D building models. Another one is Xavier University, which started a project in 2009 and mandated BIM deliverables to get better communication of the design intent, fewer change orders, do clash detection, and so on. For instance, it used to take two person-years to inventory the finishes in the rooms of all buildings; now with BIM, they get the data with no effort. They adopted FM:BIM in mid-project.
"One thing that scares people about BIM is that so much more data needs to be entered," explained Mr Chobot. "But the data needs to be entered at some point, and so it might as well be done early to get more benefit." For instance, pre-move-in the owner can already plan out the maintenance -- well before the official hand-over.
During beta testing, FM:BIM benefited from being critiqued by a working group consisting of some customers and AEC firms. FM:Systems learned about deliverables and information being provided very early in the project; they are very clear about what owners want out of it.
"But," added Mr Chobot, "BIM is not just a technology problem; people need to work together."
== Professional 3D File Conversion/Viewing/Rendering Software ==
For over 2 decades Okino (Toronto) has provided mission-critical 3D conversion software used extensively by tens of thousands of professionals. We develop, support and convert between all major CAD, DCC & VisSim formats. Robert Lansdale (CTO, email@example.com) tailors each package to the specific conversion requirements of each customer.
Popular formats include 3ds Max, Maya, C4D, LW, ProE, SolidWorks, Inventor, SketchUp, DWF/DWG, DGN, CATIA, IGES/STEP/Parasolid, 3D PDF/U3D, JT, FBX, Collada & more. We know data translation, and provide immaculate developer-to-customer relations.
Out of the Inbox
VisualARQ is the plug-in for doing architecture with Rhino, and now Francesc Salla tells me that v1.6 is available with real-time plan views in page layouts, customizable wall joints, wall component wrapping, hatched section views, and tables that report the size of VisualARQ objects. Download the update and/or get yourself the 30-day eval version from http://www.visualarq.com/download/
Graphisoft expands the base of its mobile 3D viewing app BIMx, from just iOS to Android. No-charge download from https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.graphisoft.bimx
Also no-charge for Android and iOS is Autodesk's update to AutoCAD WS v1.5 that lets you place photos in drawings. Access your copy from https://www.autocadws.com.
Also no-charge from Autodesk is Inventor Fusion for Mac, the company's first 3D MCAD software native to OS X. It offers 2D sketching, direct modeling, assemblies, rendering, and cloud storage. You can view the designs on portable iOS devices and WebGL-compatible browsers. Get it from iTunes: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/autodesk-inventor-fusion/id529580720
A somewhat tentative press release from Lightworks: "Lightworks has been working with AMD to provide capability for stereoscopic 3D technology. Lightworks already provides this capability within its Lightworks Author product where customers are able to enhance the perceived realism within their 3D models. This capability has now been developed further to incorporate hemispherical backgrounds within Lightworks Real time thereby increasing the depth, realism and involvement in the model." I think this means the technology is at a show stage, and not the sell stage. http://www.lightworkdesign.com
Pay-per-use online nesting from Geometric at http://www.NestLibOnline.com. First ten jobs are no-chage.
Nemetschek Engineering Group makes available Scia Engineer 2012 for structural and civil engineers, who get interoperability with Open BIM, improved analysis and structural optimization, and more international design codes. http://www.scia-online.com
Geomagic is re-releasing the software it acquired from Senable, integrating its surfacing tools into Freeform v12 SP2 and Claytools v4. http://www.geomagic.com
Will 3D Systems stop when it finally swallows up the entire CAD and CAM industry? Latest acquish is Viztu Technologies and their Hypr3D online software that turns digital photos into 3D printer input. "Now everyone can begin to express themselves in 3D as easily as snapping a picture," says vp of global marketing Cathy Lewis. http://viztu.com
Steve Potter of Docupoint passed away a few months ago. David Hughs is president of the company.
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The editor replies: "Amazing, you were able to get floppy diskettes working?"
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Re: Why I Quit the CAD Business
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The editor replies: "I find it fascinating that after 25 years, the raster-to-vector problem has not been solved. In my experience, OCR software does well at interpreting scanned text, but that drawings are best redrawn from paper."
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