In this week's issue of upFront.eZine newsletter, we have for you:
Drawing credit: Budweiser2010.dwg from CAD Studio
You can read all about the business of CAD at www.upfrontezine.com/2015/upf-842.htm.
Command equality for all OSes
When some years ago software companies like Bricsys and Graebert re-launched their CAD software, they did so with multiple operating systems in mind. The old mindset of writing programs using Microsoft's convenient programming and user interface toolsets (as well as DirectX)... well, all that has gone out the door now.
Being locked to Microsoft is seen as restricting the size of one's market. OS X, Linux, Android, and iOS each have their desirability factor:
As of BricsCAD V8 and ARES, Bricsys and Graebert used cross-OS programming tools like wxWidgets and OpenDWG API, as well as developing their own cross-platform APIs. So the question becomes: how well did they pull it off?
AutoCAD Compatibility Score = 53%
First, let's look at the standard bearer, AutoCAD. We see Autodesk struggling for several years now to get the Mac version to catch up to the Windows version, which is, unfortunately, locked to Microsoft. It's been hard work to create a Mac version, and a comparison list provided by the company shows that the gap remains still huge in 2015: http://www.autodesk.com/products/autocad/compare/compare-platforms.
Counting the checkmarks, we see that of 125 features, 57 are unique to Windows and four to OS X. AutoCAD's compatibility score is 53%. This is calculated from ((125 - 4) - 57) / 121 = 0.528.
Autodesk charges as much for the half-featured Mac version as it does for the Windows version, and is missing a version of AutoCAD for Linux.
BricsCAD Compatibility Score = 98%
BricsCAD runs on Windows, Linux, and OS X. Its help file is helpful to today's exercise, because it applies Windows, OS X, and Linux icons to indicate which commands work with which operating system. See https://www.bricsys.com/bricscad/help/en_US/V15/CmdRef/index.html
Out of 705 commands reported by the Commands command in BricsCAD V15 Platinum edition, 14 are listed by the Help file as specific to Windows. All of the other commands are also found in the OS X and Linux versions of the program. BricsCAD V15's compatibility score is 98%. This is calculated from (705 - 14) / 705 = 0.980.
BricsCAD has the same price for its Windows, OS X, and Linux versions.
I didn't perform a rigorous count for ARES, but from an informal perusal of its help file, this CAD system has a compatibility score similar to BricsCAD. Graebert applies the same price for the Windows, OS X, and Linux versions of ARES.
1. It's free.
2. The free version has fewer functions, reduced file size limits, and cannot start new (blank) drawings. To get more functions, you pay Autodesk $50 or $100 a year.
3. It is meant to view and markup DWG drawing files on the go, but could also be used as a simple 2D drafting system.
4. It operates only in Microsoft 8's metro (aka modern) mode, so cannot work in Windows 7 or earlier.
5. As a Windows 8 app, AutoCAD 360 must be downloaded from the Microsoft store at http://apps.microsoft.com/windows/en-ca/app/autocad-360/095a823e-3111-4507-bde9-6ac7feeb2a1e. To download from Microsoft store, a Microsoft account is required. To run the program, an Autodesk account is required.
6. It opens files from Dropbox and Autodesk's online storage, but not from the local computer.
7. It displays drawings in 2D model view, 2D layouts, 3D wireframe, and 3D solid (shaded). It must reload the drawing each time you switch between 2D and 3D modes. Its lists layer names, blocks, layout names, and properties in a side panel.
8. It is inaccurate at displaying some AutoCAD objects (traces, solids, 3D polymeshes, vertical text, and so on), and does not display others (constraints, fills, generated drawings, and so on). Dynamic blocks do not work.
9. It can draw simple entities (like line, circle, arc, polyline, and rectangle) in several colors, add redline markups, make measurements, and perform simple 2D editing (move, copy, rotate, resize, and delete); 3D models cannot, however, be edited.
10. When exiting a drawing, all changes are saved; there is no canceling of changes. To exit a drawing, click the Windows 8 pancake button, choose App Commands, and then click the back arrow.
Welcome back to another year of upFront.eZine. It's hard to believe that our newsletter is turning 20 this year, what with the first issue that was emailed out on 1 May 1995.
In this week's issue of upFront.eZine newsletter, we have for you:
You can read all about the business of CAD at www.upfrontezine.com/2015/upf-841.htm.
More revenue from subs
Autodesk is thinking about eliminating perpetual licensing within the next two years (starting first with AutoCAD LT). Paying repeatedly is more expensive than paying once, of course. As I remind my kids, by buying a $70 high-gain antenna and never paying for cable tv, our family so far saved $27,430 -- and counting.
With the elimination of the perpetual license, how much more will Autodesk programs cost you? Owen Wengerd did the research, and found the following ratios:
Most products carry the same ratios, but there is an anomaly with LT-branded software, which tends to be 30%, ie. 3 years 4 months. Perhaps the better ratio is the reason AutoCAD LT will be the poster boy for permanent-license elimination.
(Note: the # indicates products that are on the Autodesk Web page but are hidden by CSS code.)
|3ds Max Entertainment Creation Suite Standard||$5,775||$4,045||$290.00||$2,310.00||12.55%||40.00%|
|AutoCAD Design Suite Premium||$5,245||$3,670||$265.00||$2,100.00||12.62%||40.04%|
|AutoCAD Design Suite Standard||$4,525||$3,170||$225.00||$1,810.00||12.43%||40.00%|
|AutoCAD Design Suite Ultimate||$6,295||$4,405||$315.00||$2,520.00||12.50%||40.03%|
|AutoCAD 2015 for Mac||$4,195||$2,935||$210.00||$1,680.00||12.50%||40.05%|
|AutoCAD LT 2015 for Mac||$1,200||$840||$45.00||$360.00||12.50%||30.00%|
|Building Design Suite Premium||$6,825||$4,780||$340.00||$2,730.00||12.45%||40.00%|
|Building Design Suite Standard||$5,775||$4,045||$290.00||$2,310.00||12.55%||40.00%|
|Building Design Suite Ultimate||$12,075||$8,455||$605.00||$4,830.00||12.53%||40.00%|
|Entertainment Creation Suite Ultimate||$6,825||$4,780||$340.00||$2,730.00||12.45%||40.00%|
|Factory Design Suite Premium||$6,825||$4,780||$340.00||$2,730.00||12.45%||40.00%|
|Factory Design Suite Standard||$5,775||$4,045||$290.00||$2,310.00||12.55%||40.00%|
|Factory Design Suite Ultimate||$10,495||$7,345||$525.00||$4,200.00||12.50%||40.02%|
|Infrastructure Design Suite Premium||$7,345||$5,140||$370.00||$2,940.00||12.59%||40.03%|
|Infrastructure Design Suite Standard||$5,775||$4,045||$290.00||$2,310.00||12.55%||40.00%|
|Infrastructure Design Suite Ultimate||$12,075||$8,455||$605.00||$4,830.00||12.53%||40.00%|
|Inventor HSM Pro||$9,995||---||$465.00||$3,700.00||12.57%||37.02%|
|Inventor LT Suite||$1,495||$1,045||$55.00||$450.00||12.22%||30.10%|
|Maya Entertainment Creation Suite Standard||$5,775||$4,045||$290.00||$2,310.00||12.55%||40.00%|
|#Plant Design Suite Ultimate||$13,645||$9,550||$685.00||$5,460.00||12.55%||40.01%|
|#Plant Design Suite Premium||$9,975||$6,985||$500.00||$3,990.00||12.53%||40.00%|
|#Plant Design Suite Standard||$6,295||$4,405||$315.00||$2,520.00||12.50%||40.03%|
|Product Design Suite Premium||$5,775||$4,045||$290.00||$2,310.00||12.55%||40.00%|
|Product Design Suite Ultimate||$8,395||$5,875||$420.00||$3,360.00||12.50%||40.02%|
|Revit LT Suite||$1,675||$1,175||$65.00||$505.00||12.87%||30.15%|
Prices sourced from http://www.autodesk.com/store/all-products
Kinda handy, as it turns out
A couple of years ago, I bought one of the very first smartwatches. It was made by Sony, communicated with Android phones, and cost $99. I bought it from England through eBay, as the watch was never released in Canada.
It had a four-point touch screen, but the low resolution, dim display, and the need to recharge it daily meant it soon ended up in my graveyard of watches. (Second shelf, third bookcase.) In particular, it did not communicate well with the Android phone, probably because Bluetooth communications protocols were not as robust as they are today.
Next, there was the Nike exercise tracker band that Autodesk gave to the press at some event or another. I found it useful for seeing how many calories I burned in my exercise regime (a long walk each day, weekly volleyball games). Worked out to 100 calories per hour, and now that I knew, I no longer needed it. The rubberized skin irritated my skin, plus it would never work with Androids (so Nike vowed), and so I gave up on it.
With the current tech mania over smartwatches rekindling my interest, I wondered which one I should get in a third attempt. I didn't care for ones that needed daily recharging (I want to be wearing my watch at night), or have plastic or leather straps (they don't work well with my skin).
Around Black Friday, I read of Pebble, one of the first in the newer generation of smartwatches. That week I got the Pebble Steel on sale direct from the vendor ($150+$20 for steel strap). It met my needs:
(Photo credit: TechCrunch)
Plus it had the added attraction of being a history maker:
In practice the watch works well for me. I particularly appreciate that it reports notifications from my phone, such as incoming emails, appointments, and text messages. Using a cell phone while operating a car is illegal in our jurisdiction, but it's not illegal to glance at your watch!
The only additional app I use is one that displays the date, time, and weather for my area. A discrete dotted line reports the remaining battery life -- very classy.
Pebble can hold up to eight apps. A master app on the Android loads and unloads apps; it also keeps additional apps (that aren't on the phone right now) in a "warehouse" on the phone. The Pebble app provides access to dozens of apps for the watch, although most tend to do with the display of the time, weather, or your exercise results. A few are more ambitious, such as displaying a map, but these look crude and run too slowly.
The watch has four buttons: Return (& turn on backlight), Up (& long-hold to access a specific app), Select, and Down (& long-hold to access another app). Shake the watch to turn on the backlight. The charging cable plugs into any USB outlet, but uses a proprietary connector to the watch that attaches Mac-like with magnets. Two hours for a typical recharge.
The only drawback is the low 144×168-pixel resolution of the monochrome e-paper display (with back light). In practice, this is not a problem for my use of it, especially keeping in mind that it is responsible for the long battery life. But it does look dull compared with that Android watches are outputting these days!
I look forward to traveling with this watch, for two reasons. One, to remind me of appointments, etc. The other: changing the time to new time zones more easily. (I love my Citizen Eco-drive watch that I've owned since 2001, but changing the time with it is a pain!)
To end off: that Citizen watch (tells time and date) cost me $450 some fourteen years ago; the Pebble cost me $170 last month.
It's almost hard to believe that I've written and updated 22 books on BricsCAD, and today I'm pleased to announce that #23 is available from the Bricsys Web site.
BricsCAD V15 for AutoCAD Users tells you just about anything you need to know about what's different and what's the same between the newest releases of BricsCAD and AutoCAD. It's loaded with hints on how to work with both CAD systems.
In particular, Chapter 5 on how to operate a design office with both BricsCAD and AutoCAD will be of interest to firms looking to lower their production costs. It's not unusual these days for offices to maintain a few seats of AutoCAD (for those tasks BricsCAD cannot perform), while bulking up on licenses of the 4x cheaper BricsCAD Platinum.
The chapter solves issues such as the following:
The entire ebook is free, and can be downloaded from https://bricsys.com/estore/estoreBooks.jsp.
To apply these practices, I am available through firstname.lastname@example.org to consult on enhancing dual-CAD offices.
Creativity by Hipgnosis
As I was buying a copy of Pink Floyd's newest album at the local store, the young sales clerk stared at the DVD-sized package for a few moments. Finally, she asked me, "Is this a movie or a music group?"
The cover art and included videos of "Endless River" show a man rowing a boat across a sea of clouds. Aerial photography was provided by Bluesky of England, and I'll let their press release explain it all:
... Endless River, the fifteenth and final studio album by the British progressive rock band, features high resolution aerial photography of the River Cam in Cambridgeshire [, England]...
James Eddy, Technical Director of aerial mapping company Bluesky and lifelong Pink Floyd fan added, “It is a tremendous honour; Bluesky aerial photography helping to promote the last ever Pink Floyd album. It was also a great pleasure to work with Glassworks to bring their creative ideas to fruition.”
The aerial photography featured within the commercial video was taken from Bluesky’s nationwide archive of high resolution aerial photography. Available to view and purchase online at www.blueskymapshop.com the images were taken during the summer of 2013 and are offered at standard 25cm resolution as well as higher 12.5 cm resolution.
Open Design Alliance's Teigha Cloud 4.0.1 beta
Press releases from Open Design Alliance are important, because they tell us today what AutoCAD workalikes like IntelliCAD, BricsCAD, and ARES (DraftSight, CorelCAD) are going to be doing tomorrow.
ODA's API is called Teigha, and it gives them and a thousand other CAD developers access to file formats like DWG from Autodesk and DGN from Bentley Systems. In addition, ODA makes it easier for the companies to implement complex CAD functions, such as ACIS-based solids modeling.
This week, ODA announced v4.0.1 of Teigha with these added functions:
ODA members can now implement these functions -- or not. The point is that it is easier for them to do things like implementing arrays that automatically update themselves. ODA does the heavy lifting.
It depends on the direction
I love checking numbers, and so I was interested when Dell joined Autodesk in announcing a new study. It said that you would be more efficient if you just would spend more money with them. (Had the study found the opposite, it would not have been released, naturally.)
Here's what part of the press release that interested me the most:
The two companies just released a joint study that outlines the productivity gains that can result from upgrading your hardware and design software -- and results found that by moving from AutoCAD 2010 to 2015 and upgrading from a Dell Precision T1600 to a T700 tower workstation, customers can achieve a productivity improvement of 92 percent!
Autodesk has over the years released other studies that "proved" increased efficiency by upgrading to a newer release. Someone once added up all the percentages, and we would now be completeing drawings in something like seconds, if true.
The most infamous one claimed that the ribbon made AutoCAD users 40% more efficient than using menus and toolbars; later, when the Mac version came out, it had no ribbon. I insolently asked Autodesk marketing if this meant that Mac users were 40% less efficient than Windows users, but never received an answer.
When I work through the math in the study, I find that the percentage changes are less dramatic. The study timed drawing activies on AutoCAD 2010 and an older Dell workstation, and then did the same tasks on AutoCAD 2015 and a newer Dell workstation.
Converted to decimals, the timings were 10.18 hours (for the old system) and 5.32 hours (new system). Just by eye-balling it, we can see that the fastest system takes about half the time of the slowest one. Calculating the percentage, it is 48% better.
The study says the improvement is 92%. If the fastest system truly were 92% faster, then its timing should be around 1/10th that of the slowest one.
I think the error resulted from the order in which the results were graphed. The fastest system was graphed first, but was the last result; the slowest system was graphed last, but was the first result.
Percentages are tricky to calculate, because their value depends on the direction of the calculation. It appears the study author calculated up (from 5.32 to 10.18 hours) instead of down (from 10.18 to 5.32).
Here is a site that helps perform the tricky percentage calculations: www.percentagecalculator.net.
AutoCAD's first 3D parametric modeller
As I researched for an article that will appear in the January 12, 2015 issue of upFront.eZine, I was racking my brain about an Autodesk MCAD product called "Designer." I knew it existed briefly, but could not find any references to it on the Google. I asked editor friends for help, and some of them thought it might be connected to Autodesk's acquisition of Woodbourne, whose most famous employee was "Buzz" Kross, today the head of Autodesk's MCAD division.
(Woodbourne was located in Lake Oswego, Oregon, explaining why Autodesk's MCAD division is still headquartered in the Portland area, instead of Marin County, California or even Novi, Michigan.)
After several days of on and off again searching, I finally came across a press release from November 1993. (Here's a test for you: try searching for "AutoCAD Designer" and see what you can't find!) This is the relevant part from the only source I could locate, www.freecadapps.com/uploads/info/designer.txt:
AutoCAD Designer automates the production of mechanical designs and drawings by integrating a feature-based parametric solid modeler into AutoCAD.
With bi-directional associativity between the 3D model and drawing, users
obtain powerful dimension-driven editing during the design and drafting process.
AutoCAD Designer resulted from Autodesk's acquisition of Woodbourne, Inc., a privately held corporation located in Lake Oswego, Oregon. Prior to the acquisition, Woodbourne was an Autodesk third party developer and creator of Design Companion.
"AutoCAD Designer brings the crucial elements of the now established
feature-based modeling paradigm to the desktop and makes it accessible to many users, not just the few," said John Lynch, vice president, Autodesk Product Development, adding "AutoCAD Designer makes AutoCAD a powerful mechanical design tool...
"With AutoCAD Designer, we've taken the best parts of parametric design and adapted them to the needs of AutoCAD customers."
As I recall, AutoCAD Designer went nowhere as a stand-alone product. The price was $1,500 and ran on DOS. Released at the same time was AutoCAD Surf, which gave AutoCAD 3D surface modeling, also for $1,500: free-form NURBS curve and surface modeling with blending, filleting, sweeping, automatic trimming, and surface offsetting.
After the two add-ons disappeared, the parametric and surfacing functions would not reappear in AutoCAD until releases 2011 and 2010, respectively -- 17 years later. One other note: Mr Lynch later moved to Bentley Systems.
Some subscribers noted that I haven't kept up with an annual feature in which I wrote about the books I've read. Here we return with this year's list.
You can read the book reviews at www.upfrontezine.com/2014/upf-840.htm. This is the last issue of 2014, as upFront.eZine takes its annual break over Christmas. Look for the next issue on January 12.
In this week's issue of upFront.eZine newsletter, :
It's Time to Declare browserCAD in a Deep Funk
[This article is expanded from one first posted Nov 20 on WorldCAD Access.]
Oh, and readers keep responding to our article on user interfaces. You can read all about the business of CAD at www.upfrontezine.com/2014/upf-839.htm.
from Kitimat BC Canada
My dad sent along photos taken by friends living in the northern seaport town of Kitimat, where I recall growing up with (as much as) 40 feet of snowfall in winter. What Buffalo residents residents experienced once is what we experienced every winter.
The bus stop sign is shown for scale
And finally, a photo showing the raw material from which these snowmen are constructed:
In this week's issue of upFront.eZine newsletter, readers respond to last week's article on user interfaces:
You can read all about the business of CAD at www.upfrontezine.com/2014/upf-838.htm.
from Senic GmbH
Tobias Eichenwald wrote last week to give me an early look at his company's new controller, named Flow. Like a 3D mouse, it is designed to work with your existing 2D mouse. Unlike the 3D mice from, say, 3Dconnexion, this one has no buttons.
(Important: this input device is not available yet, and is dependent on funding from an IndieGOGO campaign that begins today.)
The puck-like device is used by rotating it and tapping on areas of the white top. It connects through Bluetooth (not available on most desktops, however), has an API, and can be customized by end users for specific applications -- 30 at last count, including Rhino and AutoCAD. It is expected to ship in June, be manufactured in Germany, with early backers paying as little as $79.
The best thing is to visit the Web page and see how it works through videos. https://www.indiegogo.com/project/preview/ec7eaad9
My daughter does photography as part of her work in the communications department of a university. She does professional photography as a side job on weekends. And she does photography as a fun hobby. Here she is at work at a local mall; photo by Wendy Delamont Lees.