Other 2D CAD

Gstarsoft Launches New CAD Platform, Seeks to Expand Global Reach

29 Apr, 2013 By: Cyrena Respini-Irwin

Chinese software developer sets its sights on international markets.

Editor's Note: Most quotations in this article were translated by an interpreter.

On April 10 and 11, CAD software developer Gstarsoft held its third annual Gstarsoft Symposium in Beijing, China. The event intends to foster an exchange of best practices among company executives and resellers, but this year’s event also turned the spotlight on the launch of Gstarsoft's new CAD platform, GstarCAD8, and hosted several members of the CAD media.

A DWG-compatible 2D/3D CAD platform for applications in AEC, manufacturing, and GIS, GstarCAD8 is more than simply the successor to GstarCAD 2012. It's built on a new architecture and is much faster and more stable than its predecessors, according to the company. (The name does not indicate that GstarCAD8 is the eighth in a line of releases; rather, the "8" represents the infinity symbol, and infinite possibility.)

Creating GstarCAD8 required "hundreds of engineers and three years of development at Xi’an Gstarsoft," said Gstarsoft President Lu Xiang. "[Our] huge investment in R&D ... has led us to good results." Vice-Executive Chairman Liang Haixia said, "We want to provide a stable, economically friendly CAD solution ... to help the growth of small and medium enterprises."

Seeking Superior Stability

Previous versions of GstarCAD were based on an architecture of overlapping functional modules, which made it difficult to pinpoint the source of bugs and other problems. This arrangement had a negative effect on stability.

In GstarCAD8, in contrast, the functional modules do not overlap — the new modular architecture can be likened to the cells in a honeycomb, instead of the petals in a rose. According to Gstarsoft, this arrangement makes it much easier to locate the source of errors and fix them without affecting other modules, preventing functional interlock that can cause the system to crash. In addition, a new command-management mechanism reduces conflict by keeping commands in order. "The stability of the product has been improved a lot," affirmed Vice-President Liang Jiang.

New Features Support Faster Performance

GstarCAD8 includes several features designed to increase the speed of graphics display while reducing memory usage a reported 40–50%:

  • The Smart Graphic Partition decreases the impact on memory by handling only the data of those objects displayed in the workspace.
  • Categorized Memory Storage Management sorts data during graphic operations, storing it either in the virtual memory or on the hard disk depending on how frequently it's used.
  • The Self-Adaptive Data Model, a kind of compression technology with dynamic display capabilities, automatically generates data models in 2D or 3D modes.

"[Users] can make a very fast visit to a dedicated part of the graphic," said Liang Jiang. Zooming and panning functions operate more quickly, keeping pace with the user's mouse movements.

Gstarsoft claims that GstarCAD8 runs 3–5 times faster than previous versions. That's an average taken from a variety of basic design operations, said Meiyu, and in some cases the improvement is much greater; LISP programming can now run as much as 10–15 times faster, he said, courtesy of a new LISP engine.

GstarCAD8 also features the following:

  • Expanded API and file format compatibility. The addition of GRX parameters enables the transfer of ARX files into GstarCAD8, which can also directly run LSP, FAS, and VLX plugins. The new release adds support for DWG 2013; export of DWFX, STL, EPS, and DXX files; import of SAT, 3DS, and WMF; and publishing PDF and 3D DWF files.
  • User interface enhancements. Users can switch between ribbon-style and classic interfaces without restarting the program.
  • Multilanguage support. Because it uses Unicode, GstarCAD8 can open drawings that contain multilanguage text or that aren't in the system default language.

Building a Platform to the Clouds

The GstarCAD8 platform joins two existing solutions to round out the company's collaborative design strategy: GstarCAD MC, an app for iOS and Android mobile clients, and GstarCAD WEB, which allows users to open, edit, and save drawings via a browser. "This software will change our way of designing," said Liang Haixia. She explained that instead of printing PDFs or carting a laptop between office and job sites, it's faster to upload drawing files to GstarCAD MC on a tablet, record data on site, then access the drawings via GstarCAD WEB or on a desktop computer back in the office. "The process becomes shorter ... it becomes more convenient," she noted.

The company plans to create more mobile CAD tools in the future. "We will open the API interface and develop the software for more applications," said Liang Haixia. "We need to shift our focus ... to collaborative design," commented Liang Jiang.

Global Ambition

Although the majority of its licenses are sold in China, GstarCAD has made headway in many regions around the globe. The software is offered in more than a dozen languages, and its fastest-growing markets are in Southeast Asia, Europe, and South America.

Priced at less than $800, GstarCAD has gained the most support in markets where cost is a primary concern. Maciej Ogorzalek, vice-president of Krakow-based reseller TMSys, explained that Poland is a "very price-sensitive market," and the cost of GstarCAD is "much lower than [mainstream systems such as] AutoCAD." According to Alexandre Miranda of Brazilian reseller Arkisoft, when it comes to the government's software purchasing decisions, "He who has the best price wins."

Even among very cost-conscious government agencies and SMBs, however, price is not the only deciding factor. Resellers also mentioned GstarCAD's tech support and interface with Microsoft Excel as elements important to their customers' selection. "Cheap is not always good — people are looking for more. It's not always the price," said Meiyu.

Meiyu explained that Gstarsoft began its efforts to enter overseas markets in 2007, with the development of its first English-language version. Today, the company is keen to make a splash in more countries, but recognizes that it must first improve the quality of its product and tech support. "We must have the team in the back, otherwise we cannot do business on the international market ... because every client believes they have a high standard of product quality and tech service, especially countries like the U.S., Germany, and Japan," Meiyu observed.

GstarCAD on the Horizon

In the future, Meiyu explained, Gstarsoft will transition away from its low-price strategy and provide more niche market solutions, such as the forthcoming GstarCAD Server, a solution for companies that wish to establish private clouds. The platform product, however, "is still the most important business for us," he noted.

In the two decades since its inception, Gstarsoft has worked hard to catch up in a CAD industry where China was a latecomer. "We lagged behind other countries by 20 years," said Liang Jiang. Lu added, "We also want to work for another 30 years; the release of GstarCAD8 will set a new starting line for us."

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