celebrating our 19th anniversary!
Issue #817 | May 6, 2014
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In This Issue
1. What I saw at COFES (and what I didn't)
First looks at older and new technology
2. Letters to the Editor
Wifi too spotty
What I saw at COFES (and what I didn't)
The annual COFES (congress on the future of engineering software) is about conversation between CAD vendors, analysts, and journalists, but that doesn't mean vendors can't whisper about new stuff they have. I'll tell you about some that I heard about, and one that I didn't.
iCAD from Fujitsu
Large manufacturing companies sometimes develop their own CAD systems, and one of these is Fujitsu. Their iCAD software (short for integrated computer aided design) has 30 years of development behind it, but now Fujitsu is looking to sell it to anyone. From a press release, I learn that the base price appears to be about $13,000, plus add-ons; Fujitsu hopes to sell 10,000 licenses a year.
At COFES, their representative (sorry, I lost his business card!) explained that it is specific to designing machinery, and so it loads 1,000,000 parts into 2GB RAM very quickly. An interference check of 36,000 parts is completed in 20 seconds; It does not do complex surfaces or freeform models, which can expand the data by as much as 50x and so take up much more memory.
It includes translators for standard formats (STEP, IGES, DWG, and so on) and importers for SolidWorks, Inventor, and ME10. Pay extra for Catia V5, NX, and Pro/E translators. The kernel is named "CGM," and is no relation to Dassault's CGM, he tells me. I could not, however, find out more about this CGM, except that it was independently developed, and so proprietary to Fujitsu.
IntelliCAD 8 beta from ITC
Rob Berry is the new head of IntelliCAD Technology Consortium, and he was at COFES discretely handing out information sheets about IntelliCAD 8, now in beta. On WorldCAD Access, I wrote about what's in the new 64-bit release: http://worldcadaccess.typepad.com/blog/2014/04/whats-inside-intellicad-8exclusive-coverage-now-that-the-intellicad-technical-consortium-is-over-the-huge-multi-year-hurdl.html
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What I saw at COFES, continued...
'Geometric Modeling' book from Golovanov
During its technical sessions, C3D Labs announced a new book "Geometric Modeling" by Nikolai Golovanov of ASCON Group. Mr Golovanov is the lead architect of the 15-year-old C3D kernel employed by KOMPAS-3D MCAD software and several other packages. (C3D Labs was formed to commercialize the kernel).
"Geometric Modeling" is a university-level textbook that describes the mathematics needed to construct and manipulate curves, surfaces, and solids. The book was originally written in Russian, and then Joel Orr helped edit the English edition, due out in a few months.
Online MCAD from Lagoa
I was to meet with Lagoa at COFES, but the arrangement fell through. Reports from two CAD journalists were useful to learn what this company is up to.
What we have here is a new cloud-based CAD company whose background is physics-based effects for computer gaming. This means that things like an avalanche or an explosion looks real in games because of the way the particles interact with each other and with other objects -- bouncing, rolling, colliding... all in real time. (I should note that numerous companies do physics-based gaming; the tech is even available on Android phones.)
Lagoa wants to take its gaming experience and apply it to 3D CAD modeling. The aim is two-fold: make CAD easy enough for your mom to use; and allow analysis to take place during design -- so that there is no post-design analysis phase. The company plans to have a free version, as well as charge $50/month/user or $200/month/user.
Now, the interesting thing is that Lagoa is in the same neighborhood as Belmont Technology (since renamed OnShape), the latest grouping of CAD guys around John McEleney and Jon Hirschtick, both founders and former ceos of Solidworks. Whereas OnShape is still keeping quiet after two years (Mr Hirschtick was at COFES), Lagoa decided to seize the initiative to go public first. Also interesting: both use the Parasolid kernel.
Lagoa's two-step development is not surprising. Several firms started with rendering on the cloud, because it is easy, relatively. (There is not much user interaction: upload a 3D model file, tweak a few settings, and then sit back and wait for the resulting JPEG or TIFF file to be made available.) Once the cloud infrastructure is in place for rendering, it can be extended to the harder task of 3D modeling and (harder yet) editing.
About Our 19th Anniversary
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And One More Thing...
ANSYS last week bought nine-year-old SpaceClaim for $85 million, and here is how the CAD world reacted on Twitter:
"Venture capitalists invested $39.5 million in the company since 2005" (Evan Yares).
"Spaceclaim has been totally non-responsive since @bcourter and others left; they lost touch with their users" (Jon Banquer).
"Analysis of SpaceClaim early growth (Feb. 2012), compared w/ SolidWorks: DS paid $310m, ANSYS paid $85m" (Randall Newton).
"BRKG [breaking]: Senior janitor at Facebook bought Spaceclaim for change money left after dinner" (Alex Bausk).
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Download a free trial version of Power Surfacing to become an industrial design superstar. And then visit our tutorials page to learn how to model difficult shapes easily.
For More News
Letters to the Editor
Re: What I Learned at COFES 2014
One doesn't need to be in India to get the "Yes, but..." reaction to cloud software. Here in the United States internet connectivity is poor enough to make a mobile-based product not viable. My last hotel stay was in a Hilton Hotel, where they charged $10/day, did provide a reliable connection, and dropped the connection quite often. At Starbucks, if the store is busy, the Internet is slow and unreliable. I even found this to be the case at Starbucks with the new Google-branded WiFi.
Presumably Google and its vendors would be using the latest technology. Even in Silicon Valley this is the case, as sitting in AMD's headquarters I couldn't get a reliable cell service to tweet pictures, let alone get any work over the cloud. The cloud at this point is a desktop product, so why spend millions going to a server-based system?
Software vendors appear to need to shift focus from the mobile/cloud and emphasize the server-based software instead. This way, users can focus more on the processing power improvements provided by multiple CPU cores across servers -- rather then a mobile/cloud product that is hindered by infrastructure outside the control of users. Letting companies host the software on their own servers appears to be the correct model, rather than one of remote hosting -- at least for CAD products where user interaction is near constant, which it should be, if we are to believe the hype.
- Christopher Fugitt
A good read!
Please send Mr. Steve Wells a kind note mentioning that he is putting his company's IP at risk if he is still using MS Word 2003. This product (along with all of the Office 2003 products) is now unsupported by MS security updates, and is a wide-open attack vector for malware.
- Lynn Brielmaier
Re: upFront.eZine's 19th Anniversary
Congratulations on making it this far in the CAD business. I see you as an investigate reporter that has not been bought, so I do enjoy reading your news feeds. My ex-partner Steve Shein actually came out to meet you [in your home town].
I ended up in LED sign buisness. This is a multi-billion dollar industry. At first, I thought this was a major step down: what similarities can there possibly be with a LED sign and a CAD system? Well there is overlap, but at a really low level. First of all, a LED sign is a piece of paper at a certain matrix size. You can still draw on it, insert images, drag them around, but you are confined to the paper size much like the old AutoCAD system was. There is no zoom or pan. Basic drawing tools still apply, line, circle, ellipse. Of course you need undo-redo. One thing that is really important in LED signs is video and animation. To do this efficiently is a job in itself with low cost single core ATOM processors.
- Chris Hannukainen
Ralph, thanks for all the great work. Even if some of the topics are not in my industry or area of interest, it is nice to know what is going on out there.
- Jim Balding
Thanks for all the valuable editions I received, and wish you best of luck.
- Nasrullah Khan
"At this point in time, we can build a tower that is one kilometer, maybe two kilometers. Any higher than that and we will have to do a lot of homework."
- Sang Dae Kim, director, Council of Tall Buildings
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