the business of cad


Issue #770 |  March 26, 2013
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In This Issue


1. IDEA Architecture 11: Pushing IntelliCAD into BIM

     - IDEA Demo

     - FINE Demo


2.  Out of the Inbox, and our other regular columns.



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IDEA Architecture 11: Pushing IntelliCAD into BIM
IntelliCAD hit some snags in the last few years, what with high-profile defections (BricsCAD, Cadopia) and the years-long delay in shipping IntelliCAD 7. Now things are looking up, as the consortium behind IntelliCAD has a new business manager, and briskly ships point updates to its members.


So it may come as a surprise to us to learn that at least one consortium member has adapted IntellICAD for BIM [building information modeling]. "BIM is ten years late compared to manufacturing," said 4M's Cedric Desbordes, speaking to me from France. "The main purpose of BIM is include intelligence and to allow collaboration between all involved in the construction."


"With IntelliCAD, we are using AutoCAD's look and feel, using typical AutoCAD elements like polylines. This gives it an advantage over ArchiCAD, Revit, and others. There is no easy way to migrate from AutoCAD to BIM, and so IDEA Architecture does this."


IDEA is the name of 4M's IntelliCAD-based CAD software. Because of this, IDEA opens and saves files in DWG format. But DWG does not have BIM intelligence. IDEA gets around this by storing BIM objects layers, but stores calculations and other data are stored in BLD folders. (The DWG file is inside the BLD folder.) IDEA can import and export IFC files, and work on them.


Working to European or American ASHRE standards, IDEA Architecture costs $1,495. That's as cheap as AutoCAD LT, but adds BIM, renderings and video walkthrough, imports/exports IFCs, and generates 2D project drawings from the 3D models. The Lite version is $695. Then there is the FINE range of verticals that range in price from $700 and $1,200:

All use DWG files and share BIM data. The focus is on residential and office designs.


At this point Penny Sarma and Vickie Galanou took over, they being an architect and engineer (respectively) from Greece.


The Viewpoint Panel is a tree that lists names of views and plans, and reminds me of the tree in ArchiCAD. Data is sorted by layers: element and floor. By selecting a view and a floor, the appropriate layers are turned on and off, and the viewpoint is established. Layers are associated with views; for instance, Ms Sarma hid columns in the "pool side" view but showed them in the "front" view.


Xrefs can be attached per-layer, so a different xref can be attached to each floor.


Double-click any element to see its parameters, such as insulation, height, color, and connections to other elements, such as walls and roofs. Intersections are made automatically, even for simple things like inserting windows in walls. The part library is parametric, of course, and users can define their own objects by drawing them from polylines.


Walls, for instance, can be defined from points (start point, end point) but also using the PLine command to draw an arbitrary shape, which is automatically extruded based on current parameters. Draw another polyline "wall" intersecting the first one, and the intersection is cleaned up immediately and automatically. Similarly, parts of walls can be trimmed like any AutoCAD entity.


Stairs can be made from predefined shapes, or from arbitrary shapes from a polyline. Handrails are drawn automatically, if desired. The arbitrary stair design was especially intersecting to me: Ms Sarma drew several polylines to define a varying "cross-section" as it rose; I could see this being useful for steps in landscapes. The steps are easily modified by editing the grip on the polyline.


The same sort of flexibility applies to other elements, such as rails, walls, doors, and windows, so on. For example, (a) create a new shape, and then save it to the library; (b) turn it into a window or door. The program creates the BIM object parametrically, in 3D and 2D. Because parameters are used, an "infinity" of variations are possible, such as open/closed, shutters, handles, and so on. "From a single polyline made in 2D we can create a 3D object that is totally parametric in our library," Ms Sarma explained. (See figure 1.)


Figure 1: Parametrics combines with BIM in 4M's IDEA architectural software


The program makes great use of the Properties panel to modify properties, together with quick select.


To create a cross-section, pick two points of the cutting line, and one more for the viewing side. Naturally, hatch patterning is applied to cut elements automatically. However, the cross section is not just 2D; you can orbit the view to see the cross-section in 3D to see the elements in the back.


IDEA generates 2D plans from the 3D model, with live links so that drawings are updated when the model changes, and vice versa.


By working with the 3D BIM model, FINE MEP calculates thermal losses, cooling loads, and so on. Ms Galanou showed me an example of designing an office air ducting network. She used grids to locate the air ducts, which were then converted into a 3D network of plenums. The work goes very quickly, calculating bends and transitions automatically. The same occurs for water supply and sewage (FINE Sani module). The designer could even import data from a building designed in Revit or ArchiCAD. All the user has to draw is a single line to delineate the vents. (See figure 2.)


Figure 2: Designing ventilation systems with FINE MEP from 4M (click image for high resolution image)


The program includes an Excel-like Calculation Sheet for all info about the ducting, such as flow rates and lengths. It also generates technical documentation with instructions for contractors, based on user-defined templates. The Bill of materials determines the cost of the ductwork. A dialog box controls which documents are printed, following print preview.


The same philosophy applies the other FINE modules: can bring these drawings back into Archticture and export in IFC to share with other BIM software.




Out of the Inbox

CAM vendors have a powerful tool that they've never properly unleashed against CAD vendors: free 3D MCAD software. Delcam's PowerShape is a 3D solids, surfaces, wirefames, and direct modeler; the Pro version adds point clouds and triangle tools and so takes on the reverse engineering industry.
       PowerShape-e is the free version and you can get it from http://www.delcam.com/intlresp/powershape_dl.asp?from=PSHAPE&reason=Download


Dassault Systemes last week updated its V5 line of software to 6R2013, adding composite fiber modeling (acquired from Simulayt), improving Class A surface modeling.

      Of particular interest to users will be further improvements to V6-to-V5 compatibility by adding nearly 40 bits of technology from V6 R2013 and R2013x. Despite this, Dasault exec vp of industry and marketing Monica Menghini claims, "At the highest level, version names V4, V5, V6 should be irrelevant. . It doesn't matter what version is indicated on the screen." http://www.3ds.com/V6-V5


Autodesk's new iOS-based education apps use the acronym STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math, of which there are three apps today -- Applied Mechanics, Visual Design, and Measurement. Search Apple's app store for "Autodesk STEAM."

    In unrelated news, Autodesk last week acquired Firehole Composites for its analysis software for composite materials.


Glovius for Windows is a free JT viewer; it's the add-ons that'll costs you, and they are available for CATIA V5, Pro/ENGINEER, NX, SolidWorks, Inventor, STEP, IGES, and STL. Other add-ons handle measurements, sections, PMI information, markups, and searching attributes and metadata. Seven-day no-charge trial of all add-ons from http://www.glovius.com/downloads


And Dmitry Popov writes from Russia, "Nanosoft just released nanoCAD 4.5 world-wide. New version replaces nanoCAD 3.5 that was launched a year ago. It has some interesting features.
        "I would like to mention a MultiCAD API. It is available under conditions of a nanoCAD Developers Club (registration required). It allows to launch the same application in nanoCAD and in AutoCAD. It means binary compatibility, no need to recompile an app.
      "BTW: I know that we are still lousy at world-wide marketing. But the time will come!" http://nanocad.com/page/PressRelease180313


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

- When communications software fails to communicate
- How to read between the lines of a press release
- Pirated Catia, Ansys, MasterCAM used on Black Hawk and other US designs
- Viewing, Sharing Revit and SketchUp Models withhttp://worldcadaccess.typepad.com/gizmos
- The history of Catia (Computer Aided Tri-dimensional Interactive
- France's skyhigh taxes place "all the digital sector in danger" -- Bernard Charles

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

- When your computer's hard drive fills up prematurely, blame Google and Picasa


Letters to the Editor

"What about VersaCAD, Drafix CAD Ultra, Arris, Archicad, Ashlar Vellum and many others?"
      - David William Edwards


"I can assure you that DataCAD is still around and has been since the 80s. I have personally been writing it continually since April, 1984."
      - David A. Giesselman, senior vp and cto


The editor replies: "I was hoping to hear from readers, so thank you for your lists!


"My criteria, however, was for CAD software that had not changed owners. VisualCADD has new owners, VersaCAD was bought and then sold back to the original programmers, Drafix was bought by Autodesk, ArchiCAD was sold to Nemetschek, Ashlar Vellum might still be original owners."


Mr Edwards responds: "Well, that makes it a lot tougher. <g>"

"I worked for a few years for an unnamed large shipbuilder, who invested an incredible sum into migrating roughly a half-dozen CAx systems to CATIA v4, and then on to v5 before v4 had even been moved to production. I believe they started on that project sometime around 1999. Today, the firm has created entire departments devoted to its implementation, the project is still not 100% complete and they're already pouring more buckets of money into rolling over to Siemens NX-whatever. The amount they've spent on CATIA alone could have bailed out several small nations in debt. (War is good business indeed).


"I can't really blame CATIA or Dassault though. It's really more of a failure of proper due diligence before choosing the best fit for a given industrial use. If only that money could be spent on more useful things; who knows what challenges could be solved."
      - David Stein

"Great read. Really enjoyed reading everybody's opinions. I can relate to some of them, which is what's really interesting. One comment on this feature article: 'Why journalists have trouble with bullying...'

"The reason why journalists have trouble defining bullying is because they're living in a mental-fantasy. If journalists want to learn the true meaning of bullying, then let them begin reporting on fraud and theft in government and corporate business. My advice to journalists: GET OUT OF YOUR EMOTION-BRAIN, AND INTO YOUR POLITICAL-BRAIN. Once you put-on your big-picture hat, you begin seeing things clearly. No room for equivocation there."

     - Chris


The editor replies: "For most journalists, the job is just a paycheque, and so they will do whatever it takes to not get fired. Even Woodward & Berstein only did their investigations of Nixon after receiving support from their bosses."

Notable Quotable

"Hybrid direct-history is the future. In fact, it is the present."
      - Matt Lombard, DezignStuff blog



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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