As CEO of Bricsys, Erik de Keyser gave the keynote at this year's Bricsys Conference International in Germany. Here is the text of the speech he gave to the 1,500 attendees at the BMW Welt conference center in Munich. The speech was transcribed and edited for clarity. As with any keynote address, the opinions given are his own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of upFront.eZine Publishing or its staff.
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We have arrived at a very crucial moment. The background: in 2005 we[at Bricsys]got the idea to bring the existing applications running on AutoCAD to our[BricsCAD]platform. We needed to develop a ton of APIs[application programming interfaces], and we thought if we can offer a choice of applications to users, then that would be it. Done! Great! We can grow.
Since then, new patterns are popping up in the market. Of course, technology evolves, and we were forced to think a couple of steps ahead of what is happening. Our colleagues at Autodesk changed as well, their directions, their strategies.
Bricsys CEO Erik de Keyser presenting the keynote at Bricsys International Conference 2016
What's Happening at Autodesk
One pattern that we saw is that in the last decade Autodesk started to make acquisitions in their own partner network. In each market they make an acquisition of, say, one application developer. At that very moment, of course, they become a competitor to the rest. More and more they try to control these markets with their own brand, because such an[acquired]application becomes their own brand.
So, they are in direct competition with their partners. At the same time we have seen for the last years a kind of slow down in the development of AutoCAD itself. If you compare ten years ago when new stuff was added to AutoCAD every year, that has changed. What they are doing now -- they're no longer delivering AutoCAD anymore -- it's about vertical suites. There is a kind of collection of everything. In whatever market you are, you get almost everything.
It's not perpetual[licensing from Autodesk]anymore. You are teased by 25 products that you can rent for a year. Nobody knows what will happen the next year. Will we have, for every year for the same price, those 25 -- or is there a change expected? There are a couple of things that are not real clear in that strategy. It is interesting to watch what will happen there.
Another general thing you can derive from all these things that are happening around Autodesk is that there is a new direction: there is no space any more for DWG as a platform. All the things you see for yourself:
AEC is not longer DWG as the main thing, it is replaced by Revit with another file format
Mechanical is no longer DWG, it is Inventor with another file format
If those two directions are a winning hand, then there is no space any more for applications based on DWG. (There is more and more direct sales from Autodesk.) So, their strategy is no future role for DWG, no future role for partners.
Don't forget that there are 12 million registered users[of AutoCAD]. The unregistered users, we can only guess, but a substantial part is there as well. 3,200 applications are running on AutoCAD, and there are billions of DWG files out there.
Patterns in the CAD World
When you observe what is happening not only in the CAD world, but in CAD and engineering, you can see patterns and evolutions that are different from the changes of the two, three decades before that. Everyone was at ease with AutoCAD growing for decades, and all of a sudden it changes.
These kinds of patterns are very important for a company like ours, and as well as the whole community that surrounds it, for the 12 million users of DWG, for applications. In general, the trends that we see are...
Cloud collaboration was introduced several years ago by Autodesk with 360:
SaaS[software as a service]is a prerequisite for today's collaboration
Connects team members with other teams
Manage documents, data, and models
Automates recurring processes; those boring processes where you can make mistakes when you forget to send things, make revision -- they can be automated to be safe
Must be open for nearly every system; you don't make it for your own CAD system, it has to be open to other systems
Cloud-based 2D-3D CADlike we know from Onshape where we work together with several people on the same model in your browser:
Useful for co-design
New ways of temporary licensing
No concessions on performance
No concessions on features; must have the same features as on the desktop
Storage on the cloud for versioning, access rights; can use DropBox but it is only for putting your things there; it is better if you can use the features of a full-blown SaaS, and we can combine some technologies
If you talk about something like Onshape that is completely in the cloud and you have no other choice, then this is something we have to follow, to see where the trends lead next year and in the years to come. It is today something we must have, as well.
Artificial Intelligenceis not only a buzzword, but it is important to study it, explore it, and use it. In our products today, it is already used:
Suggests but may not take over; it cannot make decisions in your place
Can learn how you use your CAD system and adapt to the individual user
Can be provided in APIs, which means[third-party]applications can use it as well
From[3D laser scanned]points clouds to faces and solids
Applicable to BIM and plant design
Partially automate the process of transition
The first usable cases for us is in BIM. We are exploring how far we can automate from a point cloud to a solid or a face. You cannot automate it completely, but I think we can add value compared to what is out there today. We didn't make it for this conference, but I want to assure you we are working on it.
Observations for MCAD
The mechanical market is dominated by Dassault, Siemens, and PTC. There is a huge opportunity for us. If you look to the DWG world, it has never played a role in the mechanical world of any substance; I mean, it is used as a 2D exchange format.
We know that companies like Boeing are based on Catia but they have thousands and thousands of AutoCAD licenses for exchanging with those[supplier]companies information and plans and designs -- those providers to Boeing that don't have Catia. We can replace that idea of "2D only" by a powerful 3D approach, with our Communicator[translation module]. It more and more gets the attention of those kinds of players.
In MCAD, there are not a lot of applications for DWG; it is not comparable to the AEC space. Here we feel like the lonesome cowboy in MCAD 3D with DWG. In the MCAD space, we are...
Continuously improving 2D and 3D integration
Managing geometry and model data and material data not only for the desktop but also through SaaS
Bi-directional communicator between DWG and the other formats
Partner more and more with CAM software providers
Modeling BIM-detailed smart objects at a high level of detail
I think we can partner with good CAM solutions, integrate them, and then combine them with Communicator. We can doing amazing stuff. We are now doing that with sheet metal, and the next step probably will be milling. If you have to model mechanical parts in a high-level of detail -- we have one of the best modelers to do that -- we an model that in our mechanical modeler, and then integrate that perfectly in BIM.
Observations for BIM
BIM is not only for buildings; it's broader than that. I am also talking about AEC and civil. There is a strong push from governments to regulate. There is a continuous push to raise the LOD[level of detail, how much detail a BIM drawing holds]. Today in the UK you have to comply with LOD 2; they are thinking about moving up the scale[LOD 3], which means you need more and more details. Which brings me up to the next thing:
Manufacturers use BIM smart objects, which indicates that if you have a digital 3D object, you can give it reactors. If it fits in a wall, and it understands what it can do for that wall. There is more and more interest for manufacturers to prepare their products digitally, the way it can be used in 3D models. But there is a long way to go, as there are hundreds of thousands of manufacturers. When we talk with BIM Objects, the company tells us they have products for -- I think -- seven or eight thousand manufacturers. So we have a long way to go.
So far there is no DWG solution in the BIM world -- or there was none.[He refers to his company's DWG-based BricsCAD BIM software.]The market today is dominated by Autodesk and Nemetschek. Historically, Nemetschek has a long, long history with BIM with ArchiCAD, Vectorworks, and allPlan. Autodesk has Revit.
Knowing that there are 12 million users out there of DWG, 50% more or less are in the AEC market, gives us a potential of six million at least, and so I think it is worthwhile to invest in that. We try to solve a couple of problems in the market with that approach[of using DWG].
Observations for IFC
IFC[industry foundation classes for exchanging data between incompatible BIM programs]is led by the BuildingSmart organization. I remember 20 years ago or so I was at a meeting in London when IFCs were starting up, and since then it has gone a long, long way. Now it is at the level where it becomes an ISO standard.
You cannot bypass it. If you want to play a role in BIM then you have to be IFC-certified. You can do that for architecture, then there is the whole market for MEP[mechanical, electrical, plumbing]-- there are all these applications. There is no way around it, if you want to be part of the BIM future then you have to go along with IFC certification. We can help all these applications [written by our third-party developers]to do that.
Is all this possible in DWG? Autodesk chose another direction, we take the challenge. We think we can integrate all these trends, one by one, into DWG. There are today more AEC users in the DWG space than in Revit. If the question is, "Are we too late," I don't think so; I think this is the right moment.
We didn't have the power to convince the market to go for BIM! There are other companies bigger than us that have done that successfully, but it is time for us to say, "Hey, there are other solutions than that." We will provide:
A full range of APIs for all these innovations that are coming along
IFC certification and international member of Building Smart
Going for COBie and BCF certification; it is about the process and the detailing
Will provide points clouds to solids in the future
Observations about DWG
For DWG in general, we have BIM, we have MCAD, and so we can have:
100% cloud collaboration
100% cloud-based 2D and 3D CAD, two different things but we will combine them
Parametric objects that are like 3D dynamic blocks, and we provide a more interesting interface[to edit them?]
Generic model browser technology useful for BIM and MCAD
SQLlite database built into BricsCAD and our SaaS solution
Stick with DWG. It is probably better than Autodesk itself thought. There is a huge market out there on DWG and we want to bring it to the next level. https://www.bricsys.com
TheIntergraph Process, Power & Marinedivision ofHexagonreleasesCADWorx Structure 2017. It's based on AutoCAD, and meant for designing concrete and steel structures for plant buildings, pipe racks, offshore topsides, and industrial structures.
There is more at ourWorldCAD Accessblog about the CAD industry, tips on using hardware and software, and our popular travelogues. You can keep up with the blog through its RSS feed and email alert service. These are some of the articles that appeared onWorldCAD Accessduring the last week:
Hi Ralph, greatstuff inupFrontthis week! Just wondering if you meant the section about Forge embeds to actually display the content from Autodesk, or simply to show the code and link (which is how it displayed in iOS and on Outlook on my workstation running in Win7).
BTW. I’m going to share this week’s article about OpenBOM with my boss – looks like something we should incorporate to me! - Name withheld by request
The editor replies:I didn't test the code, as he had implied it was a sample. But it does actually work. Use the URL part of the code in the Web browser's address bar: https://myhub.autodesk360.com/ue29c8251/shares/public/SHabee1QT1a327cf2b7a56acd0ff89f1bce8 It can be slow to load into something like Chrome, but does work. See attached screen grab. The rest of the HTML code is pasted into the Source Code view of a Web page editor. In a lot of them, the toolbar icon looks like<>.
The reader responds:The way it rendered in the email showed all the HTML code – maybe that’s what you intended, but I wondered if you wanted to embed it in the email itself if that is possible (or wise). Now that I think it through, you were probably just sharing the code for others to see how it can be embedded in a website, not actually showing the model for probing right in email.
It is waaay cool though! If I can get us into the 21st century here, I would love to use something like that to interact with our distributors.
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Re: Solidworks Numbers
There are threekinds of people in the world; those who understand arithmetic, and those who don't. - Bill Fane
The editor replies:Sometimes when CAD marketing departments boast about numbers, they don't understand the implications -- as did Dassault in the case of how many have been educated on Solidworks.
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Re: HP and the World's Smallest MCAD Workstation
Cute, but don'treally see the point of compromising to get a small form factor with a desktop machine. - RobiNZ via WorldCAD Access
The editor replies:Hence my question to HP: how does the nVidia graphics get upgraded.(Their response: replace the motherboard, which means it won't happen.)
Prior to unveiling this new workstation, they did a prelude presentation that there are 2.9 million CAD users without a workstation. So I guess they figure that's their market. I can see it as a secondary computer. I have a second Windows desktop on a side table -- an all-in-one that can't be upgraded, which is useful to do things when my primary computer is occupied.
PC World suggests that this is HP attacking Apple's Mini Mac, which I also have as an unobtrusive Mac, which I need to use only once in a while. It shares the monitor with the all-in-one.
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Re: Best CAD Practices book
I purchased yourbook yesterday, and as I am skimming through it and reading various sections, I am very happy I did. This is a terrific reference that includes just about every aspect of maintaining CAD systems. Thank you for providing this terrific resource. - D. W.
Here's 30 buxfor yourBest CAD Practices book. Never read it before, but it seems like a good time as any -- piques my interest now for some reason. Thanks for doing such a good job with the words! - C. H.