Graebert: Only CAD Vendor to Support All Viable Platforms
by Ralph Grabowski
The theme of this year's Graebert Annual Meeting was "The ARES Trinity for CAD." The 'trinity' refers to desktop, mobile, and cloud. Graebert Gmbh believes the three platforms are complementary, as they feel that there is a ten-year transition before mobile and cloud predominate in the CAD world. This is different from companies, like Autodesk and Onshape, who think that multi-server-based CAD needs to happen now.
Figure 1 Founder and CEO of Graebert Gmbh, Wilfred Graebert
There is actually a trinity of trinities happening from Graebert. First, the three hardware platforms:
ARES Commander for PCs
ARES Touch for mobile
ARES Kudo for cloud
Then there are a trio of operating systems, twice:
Windows, Mac, and Linux
Android, iOS, and Web browser
And then there three forms of licensing:
Permanent license (pay $795 once, use forever, upgrade at 50% any time later)
Flex license for networks and customized for corporations
Annual subscription (pay little upfront and get tri-annual updates)
A single $250/year subscription gets you a license to run all of the software.
Graebert can rightfully boast being the only CAD software vendor to provide 2D/3D CAD for all viable platforms in this millennium.
What's New in ARES Commander 2017
In a manner inverted from any other CAD company, Graebert's flagship ARES Commander software represents only 10% of its sales. This is because the company sees ARES as a marketing device. The real money comes from OEM'ing the software to other companies who don't have the time or inclination to write their own CAD system. Think of the IntelliCAD Technical Consortium run on a for-profit basis.
Instead, the biggest-selling software written by Graebert is DraftSight, which is "sold" by the Solidworks division of Dassault Systemes, which is the biggest CAD vendor in the world. I write "sold," because Dassault actually gives away a basic version that's suitable for 2D drawing and some customization. As a result, we're talking millions -- something like nine million downloads, making DraftSight second only to AutoCAD from Autodesk, with about 1.3 million renewed every year. Dassault also sells Pro and Enterprise versions with more features and support. (Dassault's biggest selling software isn't Solidworks, it's DraftSight, as GraphicSpeak editor Randall Newton points out.)
Other OEMs include Corel with CorelCAD for PCs and CorelCAD Touch for mobile. Their story is actually the same as Dassault's. Both companies were looking for software that could touch up DWG files, and that they themselves could provide to their customers. Both have added links to their versions of ARES to work better with their own proprietary software, such as the DsApi integrations shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2 Connectors between DraftSight and Dassault software
The companies help each other out. Programmers at Dassault have written functions for DraftSight that they then shared with Graebert to put into ARES. Nevertheless, ARES is the mother, out of whom the children spring. What's new is ARES 2017 is an indication of what will likely be in the OEM versions.
New black UI to match the UI of Touch and Kudo
Support for high-resolution monitors (ie, larger icons)
Palettes have auto-hide. to access a palette, hover the cursor over its title bar.
Trim hatches, such as a path through grass pattern.
Path array copies entities along a path entity, such as an arc or spline
Block attribute editor now handles all properties, text and its options, and the option to apply the changes to all instances or the selected attribute
Multifunction grips edits lines, arcs, polylines directly, such as converting lines to arcs and back
Actual preview in the Print dialog box (rather than just a letter A in a rectangle); no need to go to the Print Preview dialog box
Split dimension lines that cross other entities
Command-line completion: enter just the first few letters of a command to all names
PEdit command gets the Taper option, which retroactively changes constant widths to variable widths. It also get the Reverse option, adds a vertex to midpoints, and convert between line and arc segments.
Save the drawing to Dropbox (or Google Drive, etc) and then open in Kudo or Touch
Use @ for relative angles, such as drawing a polygon with corners of 72 degrees (@5 @72)
Droplist showing undo actions
Insert centerline between lines, concentric arcs, and polylines
Clean (purge) now cleans "unspecified data"
ChangeSpace moves entities between model and layouts
SetByLayer changes the properties of an entity to match the layer's properties
ARES Commander 2017 is due to ship this month, with three service packs to follow in each quarter (Q1, Q2, Q3)
Kudos for ARES on the Cloud
The list of new functions for ARES is the sort of thing we pretty much expect out of CAD these days. The fascinating project is Kudo, the CAD system that runs on your Web browser. It's not yet shipping from Graebert, even though a version of it has been running for a year now inside Onshape. It's the part of Onshape that generates and touches up 2D drawings from 3D models.
Viewing DWG files and doing simple editing, like markups, is easy enough. The tough part is getting fast response from the server to the users's editing functions, and the company is still working on this.
Figure 3 CTO Robert Graebert showing off ARES Kudo running in a Chrome browser
The Future for Graebert Gmbh
With the company pulling in a healthy income from its OEM business, where does Wilfried Graebert see his company heading next? He notes that "There 25,000 architects in England with five CAD packages chasing them." Which is why he does not want to go for a Revit challenger in such a tiny market.
Instead, he eyes the million construction sites that represent a million potential customers for his mobile software. His plan is to have a full CAD system (ARES Touch) for mobile devices.
He recognizes, however, the problem of the mobile market. On the one hand, "it is a price-sensitive market that tends towards $0," he notes. "But on the other hand, there is a specialized market that is not price-sensitive," such as kitchen designers who output the equipment to build 800 new kitchens a month.
The company is already in the kitchen market with its SiteMaster Kitchen software, for which Graebert charges e99 per month (US$110) in Germany and Austria. "From kitchens to bathrooms is not very far; from bathrooms to interior design is not so far," he says.
Enhancements on mobile currently can be dramatic, whereas on the desktop it is small these days, like a few percent improvement each year."We want to take our customers along from desktop to cloud, but not do it instantly, because that costs a lot of money," he says. "Some of our competitors are struggling [with mobile and Web] and are going very slow," he concludes.
[Disclosure: Graebert Gmbh provided me with partial air fare, hotel accomodation, and some meals.]
And One More Thing...
Complex sheet metal design with BricsCAD gets easier with DS Tools from Design Sense. BricsCAD has basic sheet metal capabilities, and so DS Tools adds to them, with a pedigree that saw this add-on originally developed for Solidworks:
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