In an interview last month with upFront.eZine, Intergraph revealed its plan to release a free 2D piping design add-on for AutoCAD 2009-2012.
"So what is it about?" asked vp of marketing for Intergraph CADWorx & Analysis Solutions (Intergraph CAS) Vornel Walker rhetorically. "Autodesk estimates that 500,000 seats of AutoCAD are used in the plant creation space, although they have upped that estimate to one million. We estimate that no more than 100,000 are using AutoCAD for intelligent 3D plant design; the rest could benefit from something that can make 2D easier and more accurate."
Intergraph has had quite an impact on the CAD industry since its founding 42 years ago. For example, it developed Solid Edge (sold to UGS, now Siemens PLM) and is the reason MicroStation exists. Today, it is a subsidiary of Hexagon AB of Sweden, and concentrates on plant design software for process, power, and offshore industries. It has two primary software lines:
- SmartPlant and SmartMarine is its own line of 3D design software.
- CADWorx runs on AutoCAD, and was acquired from COADE.
- CAESAR II and PV Elite for engineering analysis.
At the top end of the CADWorx line is CADWorx Plant Professional for 2D and 3D piping design, which also handles steel, HVAC, cable trays, Isogen automatic isometrics, BOMs, with bidirectional links to CAESAR II, and so on -- all running on top of AutoCAD.
A lot of piping design is being done with lines and arcs in plain AutoCAD. Senior vp of Intergraph CAS Rick Allen jumped in here: "Heck, at one time, engineers built nuclear plants and offshore rigs with no CAD at all." He sees the new CADWorx DraftPro (www.cadworxdraftpro.com) add-on as a way to help these designers with intelligent 2D piping design.
DraftPro is the 2D-only portion of Plant Professional. It draws plans, layouts, sections, and plans -- but no isometrics, 3D, or analysis. See figure 1. DraftPro makes use of Z direction for the creation of sections and elevations so that a full BOM can be developed. CADWorx DraftPro drawings cannot be processed by CADWorx Plant Professional, but a onetime conversion of the DraftPro drawings can be made once a user purchases (upgrades to) CADWorx Plant Professional.
Figure 1: DraftPro runs inside AutoCAD 2009-2012.
Because it runs on AutoCAD, DraftPro can open any DWG file; when it opens ones from Plant Professional, it becomes a viewer. Similarly, any DWG-compatible CAD package can view DraftPro-generated drawings. Technical note: it stores and read extended data in objects for the most part; ARx object enablers are used only for a couple of items, like reducing bends. When I asked about it running on Bricscad or other DWG/ARX-compatible systems, Mr Walker replied, "No. Not because there may not be a market for this, but because AutoCAD users are our demographic for future growth."
Also, the free package includes hundreds of specs and accesses about 60,000 components. It is designed for workgroups that undertake small jobs and site modifications, the type of person who might otherwise use 2D AutoCAD. "It allows some customers to bid for and do jobs they thought they never could before," concluded Mr Allen. And it works in several languages.
Being free, there is no direct support; no email or telephone support. As with other free CAD software packages, Intergraph will provide a forum as a form of self-support among users and Intergraph's dealer network. There will be a startup guide, videos on the CADWorx DraftPro site and on YouTube. In addition, Intergraph work with training partner CAD Training Technologies (www.pipingdesignonline.com) to provide unlimited professional online video training on monthly subscriptions, such as $19.95 for one and $39.95 for three. Mr Walker said he hoped others will develop blocks, specs, and other add-ons for the DraftPro community – some of which could later be used with the more expensive packages, should the customer upgrade.
And that's the point to DraftPro, isn't it? It provides an upgrade path. For customers, it lets them move to 3D modeling, should they need it; for Intergraph, it feeds customers into their profitable CADWorx Professional and SmartPlant lines – when they are ready.
Before you download your copy from http://www.cadworxdraftpro.com, Intergraph will ask for your country, in case it is a banned one due to export restrictions. The startup guide needs email address.
Our exclusive preview of PTC's plans for mobile computing in 2012 and 2013
A year-end email sent by PTC's external marketing firm repeated a claim by IDC Research that 46% of employees will be mobile-only by 2014. We know that IDC Research numbers are meaningless; what caught my attention, however, was that PTC quoted the number.
In effect, PTC was saying that "by 2014 nearly half of our customers won't be using desktop computers." The definition of mobile tends to incude smartphones and tablets, but tends to exclude laptop and netbook computers.
Next, the email stated that "2011 saw the introduction of many design apps in the industry. We'll see this continue as more and more employees (and designers) cut the cord from the confines of their desks."
Here, PTC acknowledges that some of its competitors had taken the lead in mobile CAD apps. By recognizing they were falling behind, PTC indicated that it plans to compete by also releasing many apps.
But then the email mentioned just one product, Arbortext for the iPad, something that's aimed more at service technicians -- less so for the designers named by the email.
All these hints told me PTC was up to something more, and I wanted to find out. In the pre-Christmas days of late December, the company arranged for me to have a conference call with vp of product management David Blair, who oversees social product development and SocialLink. From the conversation with Mr Blair, I got the following impressions:
What: PTC has thought through the software it wants to port to smartphones and tablets.
When: It has a rough schedule for releases.
How: But it hasn't quite nailed down some of the enabling technology.
What PTC Plans to App-ize...
Arbortext 3D Service Information for the iPad (and other mobile devices, to be determined) provides service info for technicians in the field. for doing maintenance on machines or vehicles, order spare parts. The software is expected to become available this summer.
Windchill Mobile will ship with desktop Windchill 10.1 in March. In the first release, it will access PLM information on iPhone and iPad, such as accessing and approving tasks assigned to you, searching the WindChill database, viewing product info such as meta data, and visualizing objects through a 3D viewer. It will probably be licensed on the server model, in which the app is free for users, but the employer pays the server license.
In the second release, Windchill Mobile will run on Android, and might allow administrators to administer the Windchill system from where they are (instead of having to go into the office to adjust the system), and provide support for advanced Windchill modules, such as project data, advanced reports, or manufacturing process plans.
The third release might support either BlackBerry or Windows Mobile, if either has sufficient traction.
SocialLink on mobile lets users watch the feed from the team, and ask questions. While it embodies concepts like FaceBook and Twitter, it is its own app.
Creo View will be made available for viewing 3D models on mobile. No shipping date, although a preview was shown last June, in which people got excited over "shake to break," where shaking an iPad created an exploded view. The first release will read the compact CreoView format; conversion of other file formats would be done on servers and then sent to the viewer.
Creo Sketch would probably be the first "authoring" app on mobile devices. Mr Blair suggested that customers could expect to use it for creating conceptual design, and shipping around Creo 3, maybe in the Spring of 2013.
Building mobile apps can be expensive for every device and every function. PTC has two strategies which it is mulling over.
Creo for Mac isn't mobile software, but Mr Blair said it was one bridge to getting Creo on mobile apps: first port to Mac OS X, use that to help the port to iOS, and then to other OSes.
HTML5 is another approach, which takes advantage of existing toolkits that know the hardware, so PTC doesn't have to deal with it.
Other issues to be nail down including methods of getting data on and off the mobile device, and how printing is handled by servers and local devices.
"Thanks for mentioning my recent Autodesk report in upFront.eZine. However, you seem to have confused the number of licenses under subscription in Chart 1 (the right-hand axis) with subscriptions revenues shown on the left-axis. The published data from Autodesk itself indicate over 3 million licenses under subscription, not the 1.25 million you mentioned in the issue."
- Jay Vleeschhouwer
Out of the Inbox
Our third exclusive in this issue: IMSI/Design is the first to release an SDK [software development kit] for writing mobile apps for viewing 2D and 3D DWG and DXF wireframe models. TurboApps SDK is no-charge, and is due to become this month. For more info, email TurboApps@IMSIdesign.com or else wait for our Q&A in next week's issue of upFront.eZine.
In related news, the company updated its free 2D/3D TurboViewer app for iOS systems to handle local and custom SHX font files, tactile feedback, and performance optimization. Download it from iTunes store in three versions: plain (with ads), X ($5, without ads), and Pro ($20, with layer toggling, visual styles, and opens 21 file formats). http://www.IMSIdesign.com/TurboViewer.
Updated for V12: my Customizing Bricscad ebook, the only book on the planet that tells you how to customize Bricscad. This is the 7th edition, and offers the following newness: new chapters on Fields and customizing mouse buttons, updated text and figures for Bricscad V12, 426 pages long, and covers both Linux and Windows versions of V12. Price is $40 and can be purchased by cheque or PayPal through the ebook's Web page: www.upfrontezine.com/cb8
No surprise, but a Cloud Computing Association (CCA) has formed to promote cloud-based technologies by businesses at http://www.cloudcomputingassn.org.
Mercury Learning and Information publishes AutoCAD 2012 Beginning and Intermediate and AutoCAD 2012 3D Modeling, both by Munir Hamad, and both have 50 tutorials. http://www.merclearning.com
Aras moves to new premesis that's 2x larger than before at Aras Corporation, 300 Brickstone Square, Suite 700, Andover, MA 01810-1492. Looking for a job? The company is recruiting, and expects to expanding the number of heads counted by 100% -- or more. Looking for PLM software architects, developers, consultants, finance, IT operations, and international marketing. http://www.aras.com/company/careers.aspx
Oce (now owned by Canon, remember?) appoints Patrick Chapuis as president and ceo of Oce North America. Mr Chapuis replaces Joseph Skrzypczak, who is retiring. Mr. Chapuis continues in his current role as president of OCE's Wide Format Printing Systems division.
Infinite Z appoints Joseph Powers as cfo. He is the former cfo at Virident Systems.
RastereX of Norway updates its RxSpotlight standalone (and RxAutoImage for inside AutoCAD) software for cleaning and converting raster drawings to vector format. New are versions that work with 64-bit Windows, and an increase of working memory in 32-bit systems from 1.7GB to 3.7GB. http://www.rasterex.com
A bit of a shocker this one, but a Christmas present to Matt Sederberg and the crew as Autodesk buys up T-Splines, Inc. The unique t-splines algorithms will be integrated into some Autodesk software at some point. It's all very vague at this point.
Gstarsoft officially released its IntelliCAD-based GstarCAD2012 on Christmas Day. A 30-day trial can be downloaded at no charge from http://www.gstarcad.net/download.php?for=1.
Kenesto's been operating in stealth mode for some months, but now Mike Payne's latest firm is offering a beta of its cloud-based anti-PLM software. "Our big idea in Kenesto is to use cloud technologies to deliver a system that is as universal as email or spreadsheets without the difficulty, delays and costs of using legacy PLM systems," he says. Write to email@example.com to see if you qualify.
bauskas (Alex Bausk): "...now I'm playing with the idea to use Dropbox/any other cloud sync as an INDEX tool, not an actual storage."
MTBSoftware (Tim Markoski): "@ralphg ZWSOFT abandons North American customers tinyurl.com/7qybbgx"
ZWSOFT (ZWSOFT): "Important Notice: Telephone support for ZW3D in USA and Canada will be no longer available from Jan 1st, 2012. More at goo.gl/wXyiw"
JonBanquer (Jon Banquer): "@ralphg Bob Fischer, former head of VX marketing, will be providing sales and support for ZW3D in the US and Canada: pronto3d.com"
rtara (Roopinder Tara): "Soon to be heard at every CAD conference: RT @Budbox: RT @Macr0man - The Ten Most Annoying Management Terms Of 2011 ow.ly/8e9D4"
10 - internalise
9 - Hi, I hope all is well
8 - weaponise price opacity
7 - ideation
6 - stakeholder community
5 - socialise
4 - complementary
3 - bandwidth
2 - geosourcing
1 - reaching out
Letters to the Editor
"Autodesk: 'We closed 10 small but strategically important business and technologies and technology acquisitions, totaling close to $90 million net of cash acquired.' Does that mean Autodesk bought 10 small businesses, which cost them $90million?
The editor replies: "Good job translating the ceo-speak!"
"On the matter of ' Name withheld by request' admonishing you in #716 for referring to Microsoft as a 'monopolist' in the preceding issue: I regarded your original remark not as fact, nor as opinion, but rather as hyperbole (a literary tool), and as a discerning reader I dismissed it with a chuckle and continued reading. 'Name withheld by request' earnestly asked that you refrain from expressing opinion unless it's clearly labeled as such, and instead stick to the facts. You responded in earnest -- much to my disappointment -- by citing case law.
"I earnestly request that you continue, instead, to treat your readers as intelligent, educated, knowledgeable people who are perfectly capable of exercising critical judgment when they read, lest our brains turn to mush, because we have forfeited our responsibility to exercise independent thought, and the quality of our written expression becomes as desiccated as Death Valley.
"Your polemical dissertation on cloud computing and the subsequent reader responses have been among the most engaging and informative pieces I have read on the topic, and ranks among the best work that you have published in upFront. I have learned far more than I have been able to glean from other sources that stick to the 'facts.'
"That said, I find your knowledge of the subject to be very broad, but your viewpoint uncharacteristically narrow in an odd sort of way. But that is another matter entirely for which I will need more time to respond. And by request, I ask that my name not be withheld."
- Michael Tardif, director integrated project delivery systems
Grunley Construction Company
The editor replies: "We all have our biases, and mine is something that I enthusiastically embrace. upFront.eZine would be poorer without strongly held viewpoints, no matter how narrow. Some of the viewpoints I hold strongly include the following:
- small companies should get more coverage than large ones, because small ones cannot afford large marketing budgets
- those who screw customers are inhuman, because we businesses exist primarily because of pleased customers
- treat new technology with suspicion, until it proves it has utility -- based on my 30 years experience of being delighted and dismayed by tech
- scoff at those whose view their version of the future as the sure thing, because they are (a) usually wrong and (b) forget history
- we all make mistakes, from which we have much to learn, and so thank you for writing!
- and so on.
I withheld the writer's name, because he didn't want our email exchange printed at all. But I thought the thoughts expressed were too valuable to keep locked in my Inbox."
"Deelip captured some good information in an interview with an autodesk employee, re: the cloud: http://www.deelip.com/?p=7003. It sounds like they are not proposing to move AutoCAD or Revit software to remote servers - at least, not right now. An alternate approach to controlling software piracy (that other companies already use) is to have the software and all data files installed locally, but have the license on a USB dongle that sends out a permission query every 10 minutes ... internet connection required at all times, of course."
- Peter Lawton
The editor replies: "Um, but they have moved CAD to remote servers. AutoCAD LT is running on remote servers, although in a limited fashion -- just for running it in demo mode for when people are interested in buying it, and not in production mode."
"I have been exploring Autodesk's recently-introduced cloud rendering service, and have generally been very impressed. A rendering that took 100 minutes in Revit on a zippy Boxx 64-bit dual-CPU quad-core 3.0GHz workstation took only 10 minutes on the Autodesk cloud at a comparable size and level of quality, including upload and download times. This is huge for someone like me who makes a living with CGI rendering, or at any rate tries to.
"Even more significantly, I can submit multiple rendering jobs one right after another, and they run concurrently: they are all completed in essentially the same 10 minutes. So, a six-image set of renderings takes 10 minutes on the cloud instead of the 600 minutes -- ten hours! -- I would have to dedicate to them on my workstation. Frankly, it doesn't matter how much it costs, with time savings like that.
"As of a month ago, there were still some limitations to the Autodesk cloud rendering engine. Translucent objects were rendered somewhat differently than in native Revit, animations were not supported, and there were still limits on image size. But overall, it's extremely promising. If Revit came with an alternate rendering engine that more closely matched the output of the cloud service, one could use locally-generated low-res images for preview and client-approval purposes, and then use the cloud with confidence for the high-res final renderings.
- Bill Gilliss, architectural visualization
realer than real
The editor replies: "Thank you for relaying you experience. Over the next year, I expect we will find other limited use-cases where the cloud makes sense, other than wholesale CAD on the cloud."
"Thanks for creating and maintain a forum where the substantive issues of CAD are aired and discussed. You see things differently and I like to listen to you and your contributors! I helps me understand the CAD world."
- John Brunt
Spin Doctor of the Year
"If you choose your own news, you'll be less well read."
- Peter Preston, Guardian newspaper.
"Every successful company has its own path, but failures often repeat themselves."
- Eldar Murtazin, Spillikins