AEC Tech News (#277)

16 Sep, 2010 By: Cadalyst Staff

Take CAD to the Next Level

SharePoint-based solutions for design data facilitate collaboration and accelerate the AEC workflow.

By Nancy Spurling Johnson

Document management, at its most basic, is valuable as a structured repository for CAD data. But it's no surprise that much of the information exchange in the AEC workflow takes place outside the structured system, in formats such as e-mail, instant messages, blog posts, and the like. Software developers are building solutions on Microsoft SharePoint that aim to collect this information and give it structure as well — that is, capture collaboration and correspondence, integrate it into the project history, and make it accessible to everyone in the workflow who can benefit.

Collaboration Engine

Simon Floyd, Microsoft's director of technology strategy, enterprise solutions, described SharePoint as a backbone for sharing any information, including documents, drawings, e-mail, and social media content (such as personal blogs, content tagging, and activity feeds) with anyone, including immediate staff, downstream users, and customers. "It is a facilitator of business processes," he said, adding, "We're working very hard for SharePoint to be a decision engine, to surface more and more information to support decisions." Even more SharePoint power will come in the next year or two as the platform is ported to mobile devices.

According to Floyd, adoption of SharePoint has taken off in recent years because it is a relatively low-cost, feature-rich solution that's Internet-based and easy to integrate. In a world where most CAD users still share data via traditional means, such as local hard drives and networks, companies are beginning to question how they can leverage the collaborative power of SharePoint to get that CAD data into the hands of the people who need it.

"In the past 12 to 24 months," Floyd said, "we've experienced a tremendous increase in the number of businesses looking for SharePoint-based solutions, or indeed just for SharePoint itself. A significant number of large companies have SharePoint today as an enterprise solution and this is becoming true for small- and medium-sized businesses as well. We believe that the strong uptake in SharePoint is due in part to the economic reset and the fact that businesses still need solutions, but at a cost that makes it viable for everyone to use." Read more »

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Nancy Spurling Johnson is Cadalyst's editor in chief.

Vectorworks 2011 Makes Leaps in Rendering, BIM, and 2D/3D Modeling

Service Select subscription program rolls out to U.S. customers, offered at a 50% discount through year-end.

By Nancy Spurling Johnson

Nemetschek Vectorworks CEO Sean Flaherty has dubbed Vectorworks 2011, released this week, the largest Vectorworks release in the product's history. In a web presentation to the press, he said, "We've done really substantial replacement of a lot of our different functionality, adding OBDC [open database connectivity], 3D wall components, a new text-editing platform, and a brand-new rendering engine kernel. There's a whole host of large, new features, particularly those that drive us into the 3D realm." The company summarized the major updates as follows.

2D/3D Integration

Vectorworks now offers a true 3D modeling environment, the company reports. Biplab Sarkar, chief technology officer, said, "Taking a page out of the [mechanical CAD] world, Vectorworks now supports drafting on arbitrary working planes and interactive modeling based on the drafted entities." 2D planar objects can be created and edited within a planar context, where they display with all attributes. Users can work in top/plan view as usual, or switch to a 3D view and continue working in the same way, with the same tools and operations.

Improved Building Information Modeling (BIM) Capabilities

Vectorworks Architect offers improved ease of use and new tools designed to improve productivity, design quality, and collaboration. "Users will find the new 3D wall components, floors with components, and improved space and stair objects very useful to create the building model," Sarkar said. The product continues to support IFC open standards and is interoperable with a range of other products common to BIM workflows. Read more »

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Nancy Spurling Johnson is Cadalyst's editor in chief.

Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events


OpenPlant Road Show
September 21–30, 2010
Various cities
Bentley Systems is hosting complimentary OpenPlant Road Show events in Houston, Calgary, Denver, and Charlotte to demonstrate and provide direct, hands-on access to the new OpenPlant Modeler plant design product. Read more »

AUGI CAD Camp 2010
October 26, 2010
Wilmington, Massachusetts
AUGI (Autodesk User Group International) CAD Camp 2010 will include industry authors and Autodesk University speakers, four specialized tracks comprising 13 classes, and networking and technology exhibits. Read more »

National Institute of Building Sciences Annual Meeting
December 6–10, 2010
Washington, D.C.
This event will be held in conjunction with the Ecobuild America Conference and will incorporate the buildingSMART alliance Conference, FEDCon '10, Advanced Materials Symposium, COBie Challenge, and the Institute's awards banquet. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to


What’s New at

SolidWorks 2011 Measures Up
The latest release from Dassault Systèmes features automatic dimension re-arrangement, a part de-featuring tool, and simple sharing of parameter values and equations between parts. Read more »

Design Makes a Difference for Hardworking Trucks
Even the most prosaic vehicles benefit from thoughtful conceptualization and extensive clay and CAD modeling. Read more »

A Preview of the CAD Manager's Survey 2010
Reader feedback helped create this year's survey, which is almost ready for your input. The topics will include demographic data, CAD standards, training, and much more. Read more »

CAD Manager's Toolbox: A Free File Transfer Utility Fills the Bill
When it's a hassle to share large files via FTP or e-mail attachment, this program offers a simple alternative. Read more »

Shortest Route to a 3D Throw Pillow
As use of Autodesk Revit increases, so does the demand for stock imagery, called entourage, to add detail to architectural presentations. Read more »

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