Graebert Gmbhis significant to our industry because it is the only CAD company to have all or most of itsARESCAD software running on six operating systems: Android, iOS, Linux, MacOS, Web, and Windows. (Coming in second place is Autodesk, who lacks a Linux version.)
"We make sure that the workflow between all these devices works well," says Graebert's head of marketingCedric Desbordes. "The idea is[for users]to operate with the data, which is important to us," adds chief technology officerRobert Graebert.
The two executives were on GoToMeeting to describe the latest advances ofARES Touchfor iOS andARES Kudofor Web browsers. Neither program is released yet, as both are in alpha testing; the shipping dates will be announced during the Graebert's Annual Meeting in Berlin this October. The long wait for the releases is due toApple's approval process for iOS apps -- and to take time to improve the performance of large drawings in the Web browser app.
In terms of "operating with the data," ARES Touch stores drawings in two possible areas:
Save drawings onboard for non-sync storage, or by companies who want to protect their IP[intellectual property]from the inherent uncertainty of the cloud
Save to “My files in the Cloud” when it is important to ensure the design firm and its clients are working with the most current version of each drawing
ARES Touch for Android supports Dropbox, Box, and Google Drive, and maybe Microsoft OneDrive in the future; the iOS version also supports Apple iCloud.
Figure 1 The user interface of ARES Touch for Android
ARES Touch for iOS
Touch is the version of the ARES CAD software for tablets and smartphones. The Android version is released and is available as beta fromGoogle's Play store. The iOS version will, as much as possible, have a UI[user interface]similar to Android. (See figure 1.) Graebert uses the same home-grown rendering engine for all of its versions of ARES, but some aspects have to be changed for iOS. (By "rendering," programmers mean how the drawing and UI elements are displayed on the screen, not the rendering of 3D scenes that we normally think of.) For instance, in Android a menu pops out when youtapon the three dots to the right of a file; in iOS usersswipethe file name to the left to reveal file options on the right.
When it comes to pricing mobile apps, Graebert employs a hybrid business model. ARES Touch for Android and iOS are "free" in that you do not pay for the full version when you pay for an annual subscription to ARES Commander on the desktop: you get both Android and iOS versions with that annual subscription installable on all your devices registered with Google and Apple. If you don't have a subscription, the app works in full mode for 30 days, and then downgrades to Simple Mode for viewing and marking up drawings.
Graebert is going to be trying other approaches, too. Some apps will have free and Pro versions, others might have a freemium model in which customers get a free version but can then buy additional services and features (as in games).
Ralph Grabowski: iOS is the least friendly of all OSes when it comes to letting users access the file system. How do you transfer drawings between an iPad and the desktop computer with a cable?
Robert Graebert:Like other iOS apps, you use iTunes to move onboard files to desktop computers.
Kudo for Web Browsers
ARES Kudo is the name of Graebert's CAD program that runs on the cloud. By cloud, we mean it runs on a remote server and is displayed by a Web browser on your computer, with data being transferred back and forth over the Internet. Although Kudo itself is not yet released, you can experience the original version of it running inside Onshape as the integrated drafting component. It uses Onshape’s data management system, and is strictly for annotating 2D views. Nevertheless, Onshape must be pleased with it, because ceo Jon Hirschtick has tweeted his kudos for Kudo. While Graebert continues to add features requested by Onshape, it has been at the same time working on its own version, ARES Kudo.
Figure 2 User interface of ARES Kudo for Web browsers (image credit Graebert)
Here are some of the things Robert Graebert showed that are being developed for Kudo:
UI is similar to that of a Mac, such as a floating tool palette and dark UI (see figure 2)
Web browser is more vertically constrained than a desktop program, because the UI elements of browsers and OSes [operating systems]tend to hog the top and bottom of the screen (see figure 3), and so it has no ribbon but uses the hamburger menu; dialog boxes simplified from the desktop version
Assigns access rights to users (see figure 3)
Will support LISP, and all the drawing features people are used to seeing
Supports Google accounts currently, but will add more third-party sign-ins in the future
Supports Dropbox, Google Drive, Box, and storage on Kudo’s own servers
If large accounts desire, they may be able to host their files on a private server
Figure 3 File manager in ARES Kudo showing permissions; running in Chrome Web browser on Mac
Ralph Grabowski: How does your Kudo differ from the one running on Onshape's servers?
Robert Graebert:The Kudo user is a demanding DWG user, more so than an Onshape user. For Onshape, the drafting component is only for generating 2D views from 3D models and then annotating them.
In ARES Kudo, we want to expose a feature set that’s equivalent to our desktop or mobile applications. The goal is that users should not have to decide between the platforms -- desktop or cloud -- based on the features they need. As a result, ARES Kudo is exposing many more features than Onshape Drafting, including those requiring complex dialog boxes, such as block insertion and gradients/hatching.
Grabowski: Where do you see Kudo being used? Graebert:I see it for casual drafting, that can happen anywhere a Web browser is available. We have interest from large accounts who would like to grant flexible access to DWG editing for occasional use. Kudo can be used by people who receive DWG files and need to to update them. It could also be for those who work primarily with vertical software (like mechanical, BIM, or engineering) but need a good solution for DWG editing on an occasional basis. These users typically use network licenses, but cloud-based software provides even more flexibility and workflow possibilities.
There is interest in strong control over access rights for files shared in the company and with partners. There are OEM partners working on cloud-based solutions, such as simple viewing, annotation, graphical input for calculations, migration of a vertical application, and more.
So the question we are asking is, "How can this compliment the desktop version?" Most people use the desktop version as their main CAD program, complemented by the mobile versions[on tablets and in Web browsers]. A benefit of being browser-based is that Kudo can become the ARES app for smaller OS markets likeWindows MobileandChromebook[that don't warrant the development cost of a native app].
Grabowski: Will Kudo have Featurescript, the user-oriented programming language in Onshape? Graebert:No, because Featurescript is specific to part modeling, and is integral to Onshape. We are instead concentrating on supporting custom objects, LISP, and so on, in future releases.
Grabowski: How can third-party developers run their add-ons with Kudo? Graebert:We are writing a server-side API [application programming interface]for third parties.
Grabowski: One drawback to browser-based CAD is latency, the lag in reaction time that frustrates users. How are you able to cure this problem? Graebert:Once the data is piped over, Kudo is fully interactive. We have improved its speed 50x since last October[when it was first unveiled].
Grabowski: Another drawback to browserCAD like Onshape is that you cannot work offline; no Internet connection, no work. How do you solve this? Graebert:If you require working offline, use our desktop version and then synchronize your work through online storage like Dropbox, Box, or Google Drive.
Grabowski: I've been grousing about the drawbacks to browserCAD. One benefit is that it its OS flexibility: it can run in any Web browser on any OS on any hardware that supports it. What other benefits might Kudo have over the desktop version? Graebert:The browser version lets you see updates as someone else is editing, and it provides other forms of collaboration that are not as easy to program for desktop CAD. It's true, we have to illuminate the user on why this is useful to them. We are spending our time asking, "How is this different? How does this fit in when you already have a desktop version? What can we make it do?"
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And One More Thing...
HPis pretty pleased it's managed to runIntel's i7-6700K CPU at speeds as high as 4.2GHz, without causing system crashes. They did this by taking an existing workstation (theZ240; see figure 4), and then tweaking the motherboard with different fan table and a higher-end voltage regulator to handle the higher wattage consumed by the fast-running CPU. The result is that a 12-13% performance boost forAutoCAD,Solidworks, andRevit.
Figure 4 The Z240 in SFF (small form factor at left) and full-size chassis
The press release says the system starts at "under $900" (actually $799 with HP's instant rebate), but that's for the bare-bones version. I spec'ed it out with the features mentioned by the press release -- fast CPU, 64GB RAM, HP Z Turbo Drives, etc -- and then the price jumped to $3,431.73, before taxes. The 4.0/4.2GHz CPU alone adds $525 to the price. http://www8.hp.com/us/en/workstations/z240.html
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upFront.eZine (@upFronteZine) Jul 18: The risks are: changing print orientation (weakens part) and introducing flaws that are hidden from view.
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