the business of cad
Issue #774 | April 22, 2013
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In This Issue
1. Introducing Geomagic (nee Alibre) Design
- Software Demo
2. Document Managers Need to be Vaulting, Says Synergis
- Part I
3. Out of the Inbox, and some of our other regular columns.
Introducing Geomagic (nee Alibre) Design
Alibre began during the Internet bubble as a server-based MCAD design service, but they were more than a decade too early, as cloud-based (as it is now called) MCAD is just starting to get off the ground. Alibre reverted its Design software to a traditional desktop program, and then in July 2011 was bought by 3D Systems, a company known for its 3D printers.
Alibre was one part of 3D Systems' acquisitions binge, the most recent being Geomagic just in January. Geomagic specializes in software that processes 3D points gathered by laser scanners. Things move fast, because five months ago in late November, Geomagic launched Spark, an integration with SpaceClaim, a move blogger Josh Mings headlined as "shake scan-to-CAD scene."
For industry watchers, this is delightful: Geomagic last fall hooks exclusively into SpaceClaim MCAD software, 3D Systems weeks later acquires Geomagic, and this week renames Alibre MCAD software as "Geomagic Design." The URL is, however, still www.alibre.com.
What does the renaming mean for Geomagic Spark's relationship with SpaceClaim? "This has no effect on the relationship with SpaceClaim," says Rachael Dalton-Taggart, director of Geomagic marketing communications at 3D Systems.
Following its acquisition of Alibre, 3D Systems said it planned to "expand the breadth and reach of the Alibre design productivity tools and to leverage its combined global channels to deliver complete 3D design-to-manufacturing products, tools and services."
It took a year and a half, but now the first stage in expanding the toolset was announced last week. Max Freeman (general manager Geomagic Design Group) and Ryan Montgomery (product manager) introduced the renamed Geomagic Design to upFront.eZine.
Ralph Grabowski: Why was the "Geomagic" name picked for renaming Alibre?
Max Freeman: This is just the first step of a larger plan to combine and leverage the various technologies and expertise of 3D Systems' software groups. We felt that Geomagic is a strong brand name for a lot of potential customers. You can expect more interesting developments. Imagine the potential of combining our portfolio of products and technologies under 3D Systems. Many interesting things are in the works.
Ralph Grabowski: But Geomagic is known for expensive software.
Max Freeman: As CAD software has gone down over time, I think you can expect other things to go in that trajectory as broader groups of people begin to be served. Alibre serves a wide range of users , from makers working out of garages to corporations. Incorporating other 3D Systems technology will make the value go up as we move to provide unique value propositions over time.
Ralph Grabowski: What is the pricing of Geomagic Design?
Max Freeman: Still the same as before: $199 Personal Edition, $999 Professional, and $1999 Expert. [The Expert edition has sheetmetal design, surfacing, configurations, direct editing, motion, vault, and additional import and export formats.]
Ralph Grabowski: Direct editing is a popular fashion in CAD these days. How does your software support it?
Ryan Montgomery: We've had direct editing for four years now. What is now Geomagic Design could import models with no feature history, remove pockets, change radii, and so on -- with no need for sketch features. In the background, the software was employing feature-based modeling, adding and changing the history tree. It just feels like direct editing.
Ralph Grabowski: 3D Systems is big on 3D printers. What in this new release is directed at 3D printing?
Ryan Montgomery: STL Export is the main thing. [STL is the primary export format for 3D printers.] The STL options dialog box now shows settings graphically, so that they make more sense to infrequent users. Also new is that we incorporated a validation checker in the STL exporter to verify the fidelity of the files and heal them when appropriate.
Mr. Montgomery began by describing the old Alibre as "an independent company that didn't have the breadth of resources and development options of its larger counterparts. Alibre Design in the past could be frustrating for certain types of workflows." Since the acquisition by 3D Systems, the Alibre folks have been given more breathing room to develop the product. The initial plan was to take however long it would take to fix bugs and improve the 2D module.
This is the first release under 3D Systems that benefited from an increased QA team that went after long-standing bugs. The new policy is to do whatever it takes to ensure releases are stable and exciting, and so this release took 1.5 years to come out.
For this release, there were two objectives: the user experience (improving the UI, ease of use, and stability), and improving the 2D drawing module. I am not able to describe everything; the "What's New" document published by 3D Systems is sixty pages long. So here are just a few highlights Mr. Montgomery showed me. (See figure 1.)
Figure 1: Geomagic Design (click for higher-resolution image)
Among the improvements to the UI, there is now consistency in user interaction. For instance, whether holding Shift or Ctrl, modifiers work the same way. Many commands are updated to handle multiple selections, such as hiding parts simultaneously or moving several views at the same time. Many OK buttons are changed to Apply, so that the current command doesn't need to be reactivated for subsequent operations. Focus now switches automatically so that, for instance, you start extruding and the Depth field is current.
Conflicts, such as with constraints, are now more obvious. In the past, measurements had to be made using a specific measurement command. Now you can just pick two points, and the CAD program reports the measurements in the status bar. And the software now prints 2D drawings exactly, taking into account lineweights and margins.
Users can now define driven dimensions at any time; previously, they could only do this when the sketch was fully constrained. Now any dimension can be converted to a driven dimension, and can be accessed through the equation editor.
Geomagic Design now imports points from CSV files, which can be brought into 2D or 3D spaces. The output for BOM [bills of material] tables now use custom templates.
There are improvements to sheet metal design, such as creating bends from sketches.
Drawings can now show shaded views that color settings from 3D space. Users can set layers on parts, which specify linetypes, color, and so on. In addition there are new section view types, such as hide the background behind the section.
IMSI/Design Releases TurboSite v1.2
Now Supports Video Chat and More
TurboSite™ is the ultimate fieldwork and site visit app. View CAD drawings with your actual position synchronized with or without GPS. Record and document field information using photos, videos, and markup from a simple mobile device, saving you up to 80% of the burden compared to traditional methods. Download Free TurboSite Reader to test virtually all of the functionality of the commercial version of TurboSite.
Document Managers Need to be Vaulting, Says Synergis
Synergis Software has several decades experience in producing Adept, their engineering document management server software. I spoke with Todd Cummings on the topic of vaulting; he is the company vice president of research and development.
Ralph Grabowski: Let's begin with basics. What is "vaulting?"
Todd Cummings: We describe vaulting differently from others in the industry. The image often presented by competitors is one of protecting data, of bank vaults, a Fort Knox. The truth is that vaulting is more than that. It includes the method of transporting data into a protected area and then back out. It's pretty simple: Vaulting is both the document delivery and storage mechanism.
Ralph Grabowski: If you describe vaulting as 'a document delivery and storage mechanism,' how are others in the industry describing it?
Todd Cummings: They describe it as the location where your documents are stored. We say that vaulting is both the storage location and the transport medium. The reason I believe we speak about it differently from other solutions/vendors is because we offer alternate vaulting choices and other vendors do not. In reality, the 'data' in an EDMS system is comprised of three main types: metadata that are stored in an SQL database; documents that are stored in one or multiple vaults, and the FTS (short for "full text search") index data, which is an entire index of searchable contents of documents.
Ralph Grabowski: How does the Adept EDMS system store documents?
Todd Cummings: Adept stores documents in one or more vaulted file system locations using the original folder and file names.
Ralph Grabowski: You place importance on how documents are moved. Tell me more about the process.
Todd Cummings: To the best of our knowledge, we are unique in how we store our customers' data. Here is how the system works in competing solutions: After engineers and designers place their drawings on the "Engineering Drive (E-Drive)," they are moved from the current E-Drive location during the vaulting process. Along the way to the final resting place (the vault), the filename and folder name are transformed. This transformation is known as "hashing." For instance, My Documents becomes a folder name that is not easily readable by humans, such as "PDQ813."
Ralph Grabowski: Why would your competitors do this?
Todd Cummings: The reason competitors hash files and folder names is to make the internal handling of documents easier from their perspective. I think it's the difference between what the developer wants versus what the customer wants. We made a design decision that the customer's data belongs to the customer. If we are going to add value by protecting their data while they use our EDMS, we are not going to obscure the data that belongs to the customer. Our solution lets them have access, yet protects the data. Other vendors make the case that hashing provides a passive layer of security by making names unreadable. But we know there is a difference between name hashing and encryption. Encryption secures data; hashing data does not.
Ralph Grabowski: You mentioned encryption: what kind do you use?
Todd Cummings: Encryption is an option -- it can be used or not. If it's chosen, we use SSL [Secure Sockets Layer, a cryptographic protocol for secure communication security over networks]. We believe the document storage itself should be secure enough that there is no need to obscure the file and folder names.
[This interview first appeared on CADdigest at http://www.caddigest.com/exclusive/Synergis/041813_document_managers_need_to_be_vaulting.htm . Part 2 will appear in an upcoming issue of upFront.eZine.]
Out of the Inbox
Artec3D's multi-eyed scanner, Spider, is meant for scanning objects with small details and sharp edges: its resolution is up to 0.15mm with an accuracy of 0.03 to 0.05mm. The $20,000 scanner is announced but not yet available. Sorry about that. http://www.artec3d.com
It's a deja vu all over again as Rand Worldwide launches a new division, Rand 3D, to handle sales and training of software from Dassault Systemes, as well as training for other big-boy CAD pacakges, like Creo. Rand 3D will be a dealer for the whole gamut of 3DS's upper-cased software: 3DVIA Composer, CATIA and DELMIA PLM Express, CATIA V5 and V6, DELMIA V6, and ENOVIA V5 VPM and V6s. The deja-vu part? Rand got its start as the dealer for Pro/E. http://www.rand3d.com
The spunky Generic CADD continues to live in the Windows world through General CADD Pro, and now its 350,000 customers can look forward to v11.1, which adds xrefs, MDI windows, import of VCD files, send files attached to emails, custom toolbars, and more. http://www.generalcadd.com
Vero appoints Simon Lee as general manager of Sescoi, which it recently acquired.
Trimble appoints Timo Keinanen as managing director of Tekla, replacing current ceo Ari Kohonen. Mr Keinanen is the former cfo of Tekla; Mr Kohonen will pursue other interests.
It used to be free, and now it's not. Once Fusion comes out of beta, Autodesk will charge $25 to $200 a month, depending on the functions you want. fusion.autodesk.com
REVIZTO v1.1 supports Windows 8 and Revit 2014. The online viewer also works with SketchUp. http://www.revizto.com I reviewed the software at http://worldcadaccess.typepad.com/blog/2013/03/viewing-sharing-revit-and-sketchup-models-with-vizerra-revizto.html .
AutoTURN is software for determining the turning paths of vehicles, and it doesn't seem possible to need to update something like this, but Transoft Solutions has v8.2 with new vehicles and support for recent releases of CAD software. http://www.transoftsolutions.com
How high can bandwidth go? Matrox figures 10Gbps isn't too high for its new Avio KVM extenders that allows remote desktops to view uncompressed HD video (plus keyboard, mouse, and audio) over a single fiber connection. http://www.matrox.com/graphics
A workstation is a workstation, but hardware vendors still try to differentiate their offerings. Dell's Precision Performance Optimizer software configures settings in its workstations automatically for Creo and SolidWorks to speed up design and render times. http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/precision-desktops
On the blog
Here are items that appeared on our WorldCAD Access blog recently at http://worldcadaccess.typepad.com:
No more Gizmos Grabowski blog, because I combined its content with WorldCAD Access, whose new tagline is "Talking about computers and design by Ralph Grabowski."
Letters to the Editor
Re: American CAD/CAM Software Secure Enough for Chinese Military
"It would seem that Mr. Gao would need to supply a little proof of the existence of a 'tracking tool' in the software he mentioned in his letter. Seems a little too FUD-y to me."
- Kevin Ellingson
The editor replies: "I suspect it may be the same thing that Autodesk does, recording name, address, etc of people activating SolidWorks. I don't know if Mr Goa's claim is valid, but it may have been enough of an excuse for the Chinese government to look to local MCAD software. I wonder if American CAD vendors will notice a slowing of sales following this move by Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in China."
"In your latest ezine, you said 'you are forced to give Autodesk permission to monitor your usage'. Are you referring to CIP (which can be deactivated) or are you referring to another embedded function Autodesk is using?"
- R. Paul Waddington
The editor replies: "CIP -- customer involvement program -- tracks the commands you use. When installing the software, you are required to give Autodesk permission to record your name, address, etc; if you do not give permission, you cannot run AutoCAD 2014 and some earlier releases.
"Owen Wengerd has updated his free utility that turns off InfoCenter in AutoCAD 2014 and earlier. See http://otb.manusoft.com/2013/04/turning-off-infocenter-in-autocad-2014.htm?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+obox+%28Outside+The+Box%29 "
Re: Ralph Grabowski's Command Reference for AutoCAD 2013
"Will there be an AutoCAD 2014 edition of The Illustrated Quick Reference? If so when can I expected it?"
- Gerry Klein
"Will there be an update for AutoCAD 2014?"
- John L. Loudermilk, Jr., president
Gay & Loudermilk Engineers
The editor replies: "Cengage Delmar added and Beyond to the title of my The Illustrated Quick Reference AutoCAD 2013 book, because they planned to have me update the book once every three years to cut costs, instead of annually. But then this year, they dropped all their CAD books altogether. I plan to update the ebook edition for 2014, but this depends on how busy I get with other projects. So I cannot guarantee it, unfortunately."
"OK, does this command reference cover all the commands, including AutoLISP commands? Because that is where I need a reference, and I cannot tell if this volume actually contains ALL AutoCAD commands or leaves some out?"
- S. M.
The editor replies: "My Command Reference ebook covers AutoCAD commands only. AutoLISP functions are handled by a different ebook, Tailoring AutoLISP, DCL, Diesel. See this ebook's Web page at http://www.upfrontezine.com/tadd/default.htm "
S. M. responds: "Anything newer on AutoLISP than that ebook from 2008? Much is the same I would think, but maybe not all?"
The editor replies: "Mostly it is the same, because Autodesk is ignoring AutoLISP for the most part. There was, however, one changed and one new function in AutoCAD 2014:
PS: See Ralph Grabowski's Command Reference for AutoCAD 2013 at http://www.upfrontezine.com/cr13
Re: What's Inside? AutoCAD 2014
"Have gone thru your ebook on 2014 and have found it to be quite comprehensive, thank you. But I could not help thinking: by the time I had reached the last pages, what in AutoCAD 2014 yielded anything in the way of increased productivity?
"Maybe an inclusion in later reviews could be a rating system as a measure of the increased/decreased productivity relating to the upgrade and another rating the upgrade as value for money or not. Best wishes from down under."
- R. Paul Waddington
The editor replies: "This is something I hint at in the ebook's Chapter 1, in which I list the number of new and changed commands and system variables. Over the last eight releases, the number peaked with 2011, and then has fallen steadily."
New Commands New SysVars Changed Commands & Sysvars
AutoCAD 2014 20 22 26
AutoCAD 2013 33* 20 53
AutoCAD 2012 43** 26 64
AutoCAD 2011 86 89 86
AutoCAD 2010 58 70 100+
AutoCAD 2009 46 42 ...
AutoCAD 2008 35 40 ...
AutoCAD 2007 77*** ... ...
*) Excludes 20 commands used by Vault.
**) Includes 2 commands converted from Express Tools
***) Includes 18 commands converted from Express Tools
PS: See What's Inside? AutoCAD 2014 at http://www.upfrontezine.com/wia14.
"In some sense, SmartGeometry conf[erence] is about finding the most complicated solutions to problems that don't exist. Made up 1st world problems"
- Martyn Day
Read the thread at https://twitter.com/martynday/status/325905374349754369
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 firstname.lastname@example.org! 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.