upFront.eZine Issue #851  > The Business of CAD > March 24, 2015

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CorelDraw Technical Suite X7

by Ralph Grabowski

The point to CorelDraw Technical Suite is to take data from a wide assortment (such as 2D and 3D CAD files, "blueprints" or scans, and photos), massage them, and then output them in many formats, such as technical manuals, videos, and now tablet and smartphones. Corel Designer comes as part of a suite of software that includes the following packages:

In addition, there's an optional add-on: Lattice3D Studio CAD for handling MCAD files, like from Solidworks and IGES. Last week, the company began shipping CorelDraw Technical Suite X7, and so Klaus Vossen showed me what is new. He is senior product manager at Corel Corp.

Figure 1: Showing off the new user interface of Corel Designer X7

The user interface of X7 has a flatter design that I found attractive (see figure 1); I was glad to see no ribbon -- the program uses standard toolbars and menu bar! There are options for handling high DPI screens common on some laptops today (essentially larger buttons and text that can be scaled larger), and multi-monitor setups (toolbars and palettes can be dragged to another monitor).

Workspaces start the software with the selected user interface, which changes depending on the type of user and illustration method. Some workspaces mimic the user interface other software packages.

Linked 3D Models

For those of us in the CAD industry, the import new feature is semi-automatic updates between CAD models and diagrams. The workflow generally follows this path: a 3D CAD model is imported into Lattice3D Studio (renamed from XVL Studio). It provides full access to imported files, such as looking at the assembly tree and part properties. The software is used to create and store views of the model, such as specific viewpoints or exploding the assembly into parts. The optional Lattice 3D Studio CAD add-on provides animation of parts. (See Figure 2.) The views are sent to Corel Designer as 2D SVG files.

Figure 2: Lattice3D Studio setting viewpoints of a 3D MCAD model

The illustrator then labels with balloons, adds text, and colors the images. If the original 3D model changes, then the illustrator would start all over again. But with X7 (combined with the Lattice3D Studio CAD add-on) this changes: when Lattice3D detects a change in the 3D model, it shows a list of the changes -- both as a text table and illustrated in red and green in the image of the model. The illustrator chooses the "Update in Corel Designer" option, and then the illustration in Corel Designer is updated in about a minute -- depending on the complexity of the part. (Note that this update function is available only through the extra-cost Lattice3D Studio CAD add-on.)

This means that illustrators do not need to wait for the final designs from the CAD department; they can work with earlier versions, and then simply apply the update as later designs arrive. The illustrator usually does not need to adjust anything following the update, if things are set up correctly ahead of time.




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The X6 version of Corel Designer could already insert interactive 3D models into its 2D illustration page as a hybrid document. But its output, such as to PDF files, was only as static previews of 3D models.

Now with X7, 3D objects are exported from Corel Designer in PDF files with the 3D element positioned as an element on a page. The new 3D PDF output allows them to be viewed interactively on the screen, or printed as a preview image by free Acrobat Reader software, version 8.0 or higher.

Output to Apple's mobile devices is new this year. The Lattice3D add-on has always generated XV2 files, but now they can be re viewed with the iOS viewer, complete with zoom, 3D rotate, and animation playback. For Android and other operating systems, Lattice3D generates HTML5 files, which are viewed in Web browsers, but limits 3D viewing to only rotation.

DWG and Diagrams
To better support DWG files, Corel Designer now imports dimensions intact; no longer are they lines, arrows, and text. This means dimensions can be edited in Corel Designer. A new option determines where extension lines are located: outside, midpoint, or inside of wide lines. Layers and hatch fills were supported in the previous release. A new command draws parallel lines, like the MLine command. It automatically mites corners and intersections.

Diagramming is where connector lines stick to objects as they are moved around. New in X7 for diagramming are that symbols can take on styles. Also new is the equation editor.

Multi-lingual Documents
Perhaps the biggest pain in technical documentation is dealing with more than one language. Not only does regular text have to be translated, but also text that appears in illustrations. It is serious enough that to eliminate the problem some companies avoid text in illustration. This approach is painful for consumers, as I recently found out as I puzzled over text-free instructions on how to use a Bluetooth module from Logitech. (I finally figured out how it worked by pushing the single button a variety of ways.)

And so X7 adds support for multi-lingual documents through XLIFF files. Corel DESIGNER extracts the text in XLIFF format, which then is processed by TMS (Translation Memory System). TMS is a system where humans initially translate the English words (for example) into another language, such as German. Each word or set of words is linked between the source and destination languages. The word pairs are stored in XML-formatted XLIFF files. There is a separate file for each language pair, such as EN-DE and DE-EN.

Once TMS exports the translated file to XLIFF, it is imported back in Corel Designer, replacing the original language text with the target language text -- even while maintaining all the formatting.

For example, the menu system of DSLR cameras typically uses the same words for new models, words like Play, Picture, Video, and System. Corel Designer inserts the German text at the same position and isometric angle at which the original English appeared. Text boxes marked in red alert when the new words take up more space than the original: either use a smaller font or larger text box to fit the text in the constrained area.

CorelDRAW Technical Suite X7 is priced $999; upgrades from an earlier release is $429.

Lattice3D Studio CAD is $4,999; the upgrade price for customers of CorelDRAW Technical Suite X6 with XVL Studio 3D CAD or Corel DESIGNER Technical Suite X5 with Deep Exploration CCE is $1,299. Lattice3D Studio CAD adds support for native 3D CAD system and exchange file formats (CATIA, Inventor, NX, PTC Creo Parametric, SolidWorks, SolidEdge, IGES, STEP, JT and others), 3D animation tools and 3D CAD source update functionality to the integrated Lattice3D Studio Corel Edition

New this year are the $360/year and $39/month subscriptions, which an optional alternative to perpetual licenses. Why optional? "Large enterprise customers have very little interest in subscription model, because they want to own the software for perpetual use," said Mr Vossen.

Another option is Premium Membership that gives early access to new features and major upgrades, such as changing the vertical and horizontal perspective of photos. Premium features are highlighted in blue in the software's user interface.



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Even More News

WorldCAD Access is blogging nearly every day about the CAD industry and tips on using hardware. (The feed is available on RSS and through email alerts.) The following articles appeared during the last week:

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Notable Quotable

"There are mushrooms that grow faster than 3D printed parts."

- Joseph DeSimone, ceo, Carbon3D




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