the business of cad


Issue #767 |  March 5, 2013
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In This Issue


1. Meanwhile, Back in the Real World

   - Readers Respond


2. Autodesk to Roll Out More Rentals Mid-Year


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



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Readers Respond

Meanwhile, Back in the Real World
"On the one hand, Autodesk has made rendering an unlimited number of images from AutoCAD and Revit available to student accounts, which I concede is a brilliant long-term goodwill policy. It is certainly tasty bait on the hook.


"On the other hand, once the students get out into the real world, there is a limit to the number of jobs each seat can run. [Autodesk provides] very little clear information about what constitutes a job: each push of the "Render to Cloud" button? Or a final image after ten test runs? Is additional capacity available for sale, and for what cost?


"Autodesk's cloud rendering currently only accommodates images up to 2000x2000 pixels, less that 14" square when printed at a reasonable 150 DPI. Doesn't come close to even a small 24x36 presentation board. Animations, where all those cores would be far and away the most useful, are not supported at all."
      - Bill Gilliss, owner


The editor replies: "I knew that Autodesk also places limits on cloud rendering, but I didn't have data on it -- other than the couple of times when an online rendering failed for me. Thank you for the added data points."



"Yay, Ralph! Thanks for looking into the realities of the cloud. I suspected there was no free lunch."
     - Roopinder Tara, ceo


"Interesting quote from Box, and I may have to review my DropBox usage. Stuff like this link makes me wonder how much effort to put into all of the security I do as there is always an army out there poking about... literally: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2013-02-14/a-chinese-hackers-identity-unmasked "
      - James Martin


The editor replies: "Box was designed from the start for corporate environments, while Dropbox first went after the easier consumer market. I have accounts with both, as well as SugarSync. I started with SugarSync because they had more features initially than Dropbox, but then Dropbox caught up. Between the three of them, I have 100GB of online storage free, of which I use about 2GB."


"Again, thanks for telling the truth and exposing these greed-driven frauds. This is how I believe these devils justify their fraud to themselves: They market 'ideas' instead of 'products and services'. They have lawyers to back them up in case of a legal battle."
      - cadman777


"Thanks for the link to the Network Management survey. This is a huge topic and always good to have some data to support the thought process."
      - Stan Przybylinski, vp research


The editor replies: "Some of the percentages in the article seemed high to me, but I suppose if they included "has happened at least once. The concept of rogue cloud services was interesting to me, and while I didn't explicitly state it, the concept would apply to Autodesk 360, Vectorworks Cloud, and similar offerings from other CAD vendors."


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Autodesk to Roll Out More Rentals Mid-Year

Autodesk and a few other CAD vendors have experimented with software rentals, in which the CAD software license is valid for only 90 days or so. Design firms apparently utilize these during peak periods of design phases. For a typical engineering office, there is a lot of design work in the first year of a project, and then as construction gets under way, fewer licenses are needed. By paying tri-monthly, the overall cost is cheaper for the firm, while the software vendor makes more per month.


Design firms are in a legal bind because of the law's vagueness over the resale of software. Litigious CAD vendors like Autodesk insist software is only licenses and so cannot be resold; the customers of CAD vendors would rather work with a brokerage that would buy software packages no longer needed by one firm and sell them to a firm that needs them -- no different than the legal resale of gaming software.


At last week's conference call with financial analysts, Autodesk announced its plan to go big on software rentals this summer, and so the analysts quizzed company executives on how the plans work. Ceo Carl Bass introduced the topic:


Carl Bass (Autodesk): Starting later this year, you will see more rental and usage-based offerings from us. These offerings will be designed to give our customers even more flexibility in how they utilize our products and will provide us with new ways to capture new market opportunities. These offerings are a significantly different model, and we expect adoption and consumption of our cloud and rental offerings to increase gradually over time.


Sterling P. Auty (JP Morgan Chase): [paraphrase:] How will rental changes affect future income?


Mark Hawkins (Autodesk cfo): I think when you look at the rental, it's not going to have a material impact on our business model for the year. It actually serves a new market opportunity for us.


Mr Auty: And do you think that the rental is not an impact on the business model because it's rental and not usage-based, and that's why it goes after a different part of the market?


Mr Bass: I think the take-up will just be slow. We've seen that historically. When we make more new offerings, it takes a while for them to gather steam. I don't think this will be any different. Second thing is, I think some fraction of this is actually coming from people who didn't actually pay for our software. There is certainly some legitimate use that's transforming into rental use, but a fair amount of that is, there are illegal ways of having rental models right now. And so I think in some ways -- we're actually tapping into that. People who really do want to pay for it but haven't availed themselves of that opportunity before.


Jay Vleeschhouwer (Griffin Securities): Vis-a-vis rentals, you've been running an experiment on 90-day rentals for Max and Maya. When you talk about rentals later in the year, is that across the product line? And will you limit future rentals to 90-day terms or might they go longer?


Mr Bass: We've been building the back-office infrastructure to support rentals and shorter-term licensing models. 90 days is something we chose to go out there and pilot. And we will [not] limit ourselves to just those two products or to the 90 days. More details to follow as we roll it out during the middle of the year.




Out of the Inbox

Majenta PLM is Siemens PLM's major UK reseller, and last week it set up a new division to handle CAE [computer-aided engineering]. Dr. Peter Ward is running things as the new CAE Business Development Director. Cool image of a watch on the home page of http://www.majentaplm.com


It's after 9am GMT, and so I can tell you that CADfaster's public beta of MyCadbox is available from http://www.mycadbox.com. It does STEP co-viewing, sharing, and markup on Windows PCs and iOS tablets. The iPad app is at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mycadbox/id581184797

Erica Perkins from Cometdocs tells me that her company's free online document management system converts PDF files to AutoCAD's DWG and DXF formats, "which is a very useful tool for PDFs that were designed with AutoCAD to begin with." Cometdocs also does file transfers and storage. http://www.cometdocs.com


By coincidence, the day before the Cometdocs email landed in my Inbox, Investintech.com wrote me that their PDF converters are avaialble for mobile devices, too -- kind of. While Able2Extract Mobile runs on Android and iOS phones and tablets to convert PDFs to Office formats, it does not output to DWG/DXF, as the desktop version does. The mobile versions sends conversions to servers, so I'm not sure why CAD formats were left out. http://www.investintech.com/apps


Redsdk is a rendering engine popular with some segments of the CAD industry, and now Fabien Chuavira tells us that he has a free Bridge for Parasolid module, including a free Parasolid viewer that saves files in .red format. He notes that some customers have integrated the .red format into their application's native format. http://www.redway3d.com/pages/redsdkBridgeParasolid.php


And finally, March 28 is the first day that AutoCAD 2007 users can upgrade by paying full price for an upgrade. Yup, half-price upgrades are gone like the Dodo bird for you after March 27. But just because you are on subscription doesn't mean you are protected from price increases. Here is how Autodesk approaches this delicate subject: "However, to reflect the increased value offered and provide more consistency in Subscription pricing ratios across the product portfolio, price adjustments are being phased in." http://www.cadsoft-consult.com/news/news/364-02-15-13-autodesk-policy-pricing-changes-announced . As Autodesk cfo Mark Hawkins explained in last week's conference call, this is only the second of three price increases planned.


On our blogs

Here are items that appeared on our WorldCAD Access blog recently at worldcadaccess.typepad.com:

And on our Gizmos Grabowski blog at worldcadaccess.typepad.com/gizmos:


Letters to the Editor

Re: Re: Sales of SolidWorks seem to be blowing the doors off Inventor, Creo, and so on
"Has anyone ever come up with a truly accurate, credible, auditable, independent way of measuring software use? I've been to more than a few media events where the CEO or other high executive of the host company breathlessly announces that they have reached xxx number of 'users'. When questioned closely and backed into a corner, (and perhaps after a couple of drinks at the evening cocktail reception) they'll sort of admit that since Day 1 they may have issued xxx number of serial numbers, including educational seats and upgrades, and promo copies to CAD journalists, but they don't actually know how many are being used on a fairly regular, current, production basis.


"In a perfect world, software would log into an independent score-keeping auditing site, say twice a year, to simply proclaim "Hi! I'm still alive!" No need to collect usage data or even the user's name, just the fact that a particular copy had been used in a commercial environment within the last six months.

"Note that I'm not picking on SolidWorks specifically, nor am I necessarily disputing your statement, but it might be nice to know what the 'real' numbers actually are for everyone."
      - Bill Fane


The editor replies: "I wrote the sentence as a provocation, because PTC and Autodesk no longer announce seats -- while Dassault proudly does so. Analysts agree that SolidWorks is outselling Inventor, because they check into sales made by dealers and distributors."

"Funny, I was reading your comments while I'm about to get a SolidWorks demo. I've found out that of the big three mid-range products SolidWorks is the easiest for what I do (pressure vessels/piping).


"The thing is, when I mention the Catia V6 issue, the salespeople feign ignorance or so it seems anyway. To me that's alarming in and of itself, that I know more about this than they do! So, if I choose their product then it's best to wait years for the bugs to be worked out before jumping on? Would like your take on this if possible."
      - Tim Neumann, draftsman
        Addison Fabricators


The editor replies: "They are not feigning ignorance; the sales people are being kept in the dark by Dassault.


"All products have bugs, and so the question I ask myself is, 'Is this new software better suited to me and my workflow than an older one?' After 30 years of being in computing, the answer for me increasingly is 'No' as older software is good enough for my needs and new software has no benefit to my bottom line. Some of the software I use every day was end-of-lifed five or ten years ago, but still runs on Windows 7, thankfully. I only get new software for compatibility with clients, and this is a surprisingly rare occurrence, because the software of my clients also have to be compatible with everyone else."


"I enjoy your newsletter and books."
     - Phil Craven

Notable Quotable

"I've got Dropbox, Box, YouSendIt, Teambox, Google Drive. From the standpoint of corporate IT, my team is a problem."
      - Delyn Simons, Mashery



upFront.eZine is published every Tuesday, except during summer and Christmas vacation. Editor: Ralph Grabowski. This newsletter is read by nearly 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 2013 by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. All rights reserved worldwide. Letters sent to the editor are subject to publication. Article reprint fee: $840. 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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