File Sharing/Publishing

From Any Angle - Publish and Share Your 3D Designs (Cadalyst Labs Review)

1 Nov, 2007 By: Ron LaFon

3D publishing software from Actify, Adobe Systems, Informative Graphics, Lattice Technology, QuadriSpace, Right Hemisphere, and SolidWorks provides access to 3D designs created by popular CAD and engineering applications.


Oftentimes, the creation of 3D models in popular CAD and engineering applications is just the beginning of a process that includes using the models for other purposes while trying to retain security over intellectual property. A broad range of 3D publishing software targets virtually every level of need, whether it is for in-house use, current or potential customers, or Internet or intranet use. This 3D publishing roundup review takes a look at the products available from several different vendors who offer software for publishing and repurposing 3D CAD and engineering drawings.

Much has changed since the last time Cadalyst examined 3D publishing applications that provide easy access to 3D design beyond the CAD and engineering applications that created them. With the continued growth of broadband Internet connections, publishing 3D content online has become a more viable way of distributing information. Although the creation of design drawings and 3D models continues to be both labor and resource-intensive, the ability to use 3D content for other purposes has continued to burgeon. Users might want to share 3D design data for training purposes, 3D parts catalogs, or progress reports sent to widely scattered members of their design teams for markup and annotation. Whatever your particular needs, you can choose from a broad array of software to make them possible.

Obviously, any time 3D design information leaves your firm, you will have concerns about protecting your intellectual property. For this reason, most of the applications that Cadalyst reviewed for this article offer some means of preserving the integrity of the data. It might be as simple as having the ability to select which components of the design are included, or it may include password protection and other mechanisms to provide the necessary design security.

Cadalyst sent invitations to vendors of software options for publishing 3D CAD models. Seven vendors responded and sent products for review, including Adobe Acrobat 3D v8, which makes its first appearance in a 3D publishing roundup review.

The scope of the 3D publishing products that Cadalyst received range from the relatively simple to the remarkably capable and sophisticated. Users have a broad range of flexible applications at their fingertips to get their design data working for them in ways that go well beyond the original design intent.

Testing

For testing, I chose a couple of design files created with major 3D applications to evaluate the conversion capabilities of the 3D publishing applications. On the surface, selecting these files might seem to be a relatively simple task, but choosing files that were representative of the production work that Cadalyst readers might regularly produce wasn't quite as simple as it might appear. For example, recent versions of a given 3D design application might not be supported yet, so I needed to choose slightly older files. The chosen files needed to be moderately complex, but not so much so as to tax the capabilities of the even the most powerful of the current generation of workstations available.

Add to the equation the fact that some of the 3D publishing applications use libraries from the originating design application, thus requiring that the application be installed on the test workstation. What's more, some new versions of the publishing applications weren't quite ready for testing, although they are expected to be available by the time this article appears in print. The choices were not easy, but I chose the SeaScooter assembly from SolidWorks 2005 and an older version of Engine.dwg from Autodesk AutoCAD, which I've used previously when testing 3D publishing applications.

This might seem an easy combination, but one 3D publishing application supports only Autodesk MCAD applications — including Inventor and Mechanical Desktop — so I was unable to test Autodesk products with that particular application. As a result, the testing for this particular roundup isn't as complete as I would have liked, but publishing data, published file sizes, and test times are included for the applications I tested. QuadriSpace is about to launch the 2008 version of its applications, and the new versions were unavailable for testing at the time of this article's publication. Lattice doesn't support simple AutoCAD, but it does support the Autodesk MCAD applications, so testing with that software was, of necessity, limited.

All tests were completed on an average workstation that was based on an AMD Opteron 246 microprocessor with 2 GB of RAM and dual 120 GB hard drives in a RAID configuration. It used an NVIDIA Quadro FX4000 graphics card with 256 MB of onboard RAM. I used the latest drivers for the Quadro graphics card that were available from NVIDIA at the time I began testing, which were WHQL-certified version 6.14.11. 6002. The test system had Microsoft Windows Professional with Service Pack 2 installed, including the most current patches available.

Autodesk no longer makes the specifications for its drawing file format available to third-party vendors, so conversion problems with entities found in newer versions of AutoCAD are becoming more prevalent, and they make the repurposing of such design data more difficult. For the SolidWorks models, I selected a moderately complex SolidWorks 2005 Assemblies file, a Sea Scooter design, that totaled approximately 64.9 MB and included a large subassembly. Autodesk provided the file for testing purposes. I also used a 1.02 MB DWG file named AutoCAD Engine.dwg to test the publishing of AutoCAD design data.

My intent was to provide test drawings that could be readily converted while still representing typical work, converting them to whatever the base format of the individual applications happened to be and then comparing both speed of conversion and level of compression as compared with the original files.

This article is a survey, rather than a head-to-head comparison of applications. Given the broad range of applications with varying approaches and intent, to attempt such an evaluation would certainly be comparing the proverbial apples to oranges. Because most of these 3D publishing applications are available in trial versions, the best way to determine their suitability is to test them yourself on the systems you'll be using with the type of 3D design files you expect to be publishing. The test results in this article are intended as guidelines. For more information about each product's features, see the online feature table at www.cadalyst.com/11073D-table.

SpinFire Professional 8.2

Actify
415.227.3800
www.actify.com
Price: $499


Actify offers a suite of products that are designed to facilitate the secure access and distribution of multiple 2D and 3D CAD files and related design documents without requiring access to the originating CAD system. This review focuses on SpinFire Professional 8.2.

Actify SpinFire Professional enables manufacturing organizations and their supply chains to easily access, interact with, and communicate parts data, related files, and documentation.
Actify SpinFire Professional enables manufacturing organizations and their supply chains to easily access, interact with, and communicate parts data, related files, and documentation.

With SpinFire Professional, you can display and interact with product manufacturing information (PMI) and geometric dimensioning and tolerancing (GD&T) annotations, as well as create exploded views and animations, organize and store related design documents of any file type inside a single compact .3D file, and merge assembly files to create one complete digital prototype for early design analysis. You can capture all parts data for later access, markup, and measurement, and you can use the Actify API to create custom solutions tailored to your specific needs.

SpinFire Professional 8.2 supports a remarkably wide array of CAD file formats, including both common and not-so-common variants. For the extensive list of the file formats supported, go to www.actify.com/v2/products/Importers/formats.htm. A version of SpinFire for Microsoft Office supports all of the popular Office file formats.

Installation of SpinFire Professional is straightforward and easy with options for selecting needed file-format support. Once installed, SpinFire Professional offers a clean and well-organized interface with many ease-of-use features. Particularly noteworthy are forward-reading labels regardless of how the model is rotated; display priority that increases readability and comprehension; and the ability to interrogate by PMI type rather than just part or surface. Dimensioning features for 3D files include edge measurements, distance measurements, extents, vertex coordinates, and sectioning capability. 2D calibration and 2D stamps are also available.

Collaboration is implemented by streamlining the communication of CAD data, which enables any user to share product designs and offer feedback. This function is accommodated by distributing design data using Actify's compact .3D file format.

I tested Actify SpinFire Professional 8.2 with the SolidWorks and AutoCAD models, converting and loading them directly into the application. The SolidWorks SeaScooter assembly produced a 2.53 MB file in Actify's .3D file format in less than 1 minute, 30 seconds. I also loaded and converted the AutoCAD engine drawing, which produced a 126 KB .3D file in less than 30 seconds. The .3D files can be viewed in SpinFire Reader, which is available as a 22 MB download from Actify's Web site at www.actify.com.

SpinFire Professional 8.2 runs under Microsoft Windows XP or Microsoft Windows 2000 with Service Pack 4 installed. Recommended hardware for optimal performance is a system with a 2 GHz or faster processor and 1 GB or more of RAM. An OpenGL-compliant video card with 64 MB or more of RAM is recommended, along with 500 MB of free hard disk space.

Pricing for the SpinFire Professional client is $499, but the product is scalable in conjunction with other Actify applications to serve a range of users from small, independent CAD shops to enterprise-level installations. At the Actify Web site, you can download trial versions of applications or order a CD with trial versions of the products. You'll also find extensive documentation and examples of how Actify products can be used, along with PDF data sheets outlining product features.

Adobe Acrobat 3D version 8

Adobe Systems
800.833.6687
www.adobe.com/acrobat3d
Price: $995, upgrades $295 or more


Released by Adobe earlier this year, this second version of Adobe Acrobat 3D offers all the features found in Acrobat 8 Professional, along with a variety of features specifically targeted at the engineering, CAD, and manufacturing industries.

Adobe Acrobat 3D allows you to create callouts for communicating to a work group or design team.
Adobe Acrobat 3D allows you to create callouts for communicating to a work group or design team.

Adobe Acrobat 3D v8 supports a wide range of CAD files, including AutoCAD, Bentley Systems' Micro-Station, Dassault Systemes' CATIA V4 and V5, PTC's Pro/ENGINEER, SolidWorks, and Siemens PLM Software's (formerly UGS) NX, I-deas, and JT. Additionally, Acrobat 3D supports PDF creation from any software application that offers the ability to print. Plug-ins are provided for popular applications, including Lotus Notes and Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Internet Explorer, Project, Visio, Access, and Publisher. Almost essential for an application that supports such a broad range of applications, Acrobat 3D is updated periodically to add support for the latest versions of file formats from its supported applications. Adobe Acrobat 3D publishes files in PDF, EPS, HTML, XML, and many other popular file formats.

3D PDF files can be password protected to restrict access to the document, and users can assign permissions to help control print, save, copy, and modification permissions. Different passwords can enable different views within the document, and users have the option during PDF file creation (from individual applications) to turn layers off entirely or only enable certain layers when a specific password is entered. Other security options include the LiveCycle Rights Management ES server software for larger installations.

In addition to allowing viewing, the freely distributed Adobe Reader lets users who are granted permission mark up and annotate 3D PDF files, making this readily available tool a valuable component for workflow management. Acrobat 3D can produce sophisticated documents that are viewable on a variety of systems, and the documents can include 3D information that can be rotated and viewed with various lighting configurations. In addition to its primary use as a tool for 3D-based collaborative processes as a part of product development, Acrobat 3D can be used to produce tutorials, training materials, and online 3D catalogs whose content can be examined from various angles.

Adobe Acrobat 3D v8 runs under Windows 2000 with Service Pack 4; Windows XP Professional, Home Edition, or Tablet PC Edition with Service Pack 2; Windows XP Professional x64 Edition; or Windows Vista (32-bit and 64-bit) Ultimate, Enterprise, Business, Home Premium, or Home Basic. The product also supports several UNIX platforms for Acrobat 3D Capture Utility (optional), including HP-UX, IBM AIX, SGI IRIX, and Sun Solaris. PDF files can be viewed on additional desktop and mobile-device operating systems using Adobe Reader software.

I loaded the SolidWorks and AutoCAD test files directly into the application, though it is possible to capture 3D data from the system's graphics card driver and convert it to a 3D PDF file. Numerous options can affect the overall size of the resulting PDF file, but I opted to use the default configuration for conversion. The SolidWorks SeaScooter assembly produced a 1.51 MB PDF file in less than one minute. For the AutoCAD engine drawing, Acrobat 3D produced a 442 KB PDF file in approximately one minute, 30 seconds.

MYRIAD

Informative Graphics
800.398.7005, 602.971.6061
www.infograph.com
Price: $115–$595


Informative Graphics Corp. (IGC) offers an array of content publishing software for a variety of uses, ranging from products suited to individual users to those that are scalable to enterprise-level installations. When I last looked at MYRIAD 8, IGC's CAD-focused viewer, it was in a prerelease version. The product has since been released, and a service release has been issued.

MYRIAD is a multiformat viewer that allows users to view, print, and measure 3D models, drawings, Office documents, and images.
MYRIAD is a multiformat viewer that allows users to view, print, and measure 3D models, drawings, Office documents, and images.

MYRIAD is a multiformat viewer that allows Windows users to view, print, and markup Office documents, images, and CAD files without requiring access to the originating application. CAD file support includes STL, VRML, XGL, SAT, OpenHSF, IGES, STEP, and VDA and formats for Autodesk AutoCAD, Inventor, and 3ds Max; IronCAD; Siemens Solid Edge; SolidWorks; and Pro/E. In addition to its flexibility with CAD files, MYRIAD also supports virtually any Office or image file. MYRIAD can publish files in 3DF, STL, and 3D DWF formats.

All output formats, except TIFF, can retain layer information, hyperlinks, bookmarks, and attribute information. Users can redact sensitive content and output to all formats securely (in all formats but CSF in which the information is actually removed from the file). Publishing to CSF/3DF allows users to apply the Visual Rights persistent file security (expiration date; restrict view by layer, print, copy, republish, and markup; and add print banners and watermark).

IGC's Visual Rights allows users to share design content and allows others to view and interact with the file while the originator keeps complete control of what can actually be done with the data. Password protection is incorporated, as are watermarks via an onscreen banner. Visual Rights technology renders document, image, and CAD files into an accurate, encrypted, content-sealed format that embeds persistent usage-governing controls. Embedded Visual Rights controls remain when files are viewed in one of IGC's readers. Speaking of readers, the MYRIAD 3D Reader — a 6.9 MB download — is free software that views STL, VRML, 3D DWF, and secure 3DF files created by MYRIAD. The MYRIAD 3D Reader runs as a desktop program or as an ActiveX component in a Web page; users can download plug-ins for Netscape and Firefox as well.

Available in both standalone and network versions, MYRIAD allows users to easily view and redline document, image, and CAD files without modifying the original design file in any way. Redlines are saved as separate, overlaid files.

I ran tests on the most current release of MYRIAD, creating both a 3DF and a DWF file from the SolidWorks SeaScooter assembly and a CSF file from the AutoCAD engine drawing. The SeaScooter assembly produced a 1.09 MB 3DF file in less than 30 seconds and a 1.30 MB DWF file, also in less than 30 seconds. The AutoCAD engine drawing generated a 126 KB CSF file (CSF for 2D and 3DF for 3D) in less than 30 seconds.

You can find additional product information and downloadable case studies that describe product use at the IGC Web site. Pricing for MYRIAD ranges from $115 to $595; a time-limited trial version also is available for download from the company's Web site.

XVL Studio Pro

Lattice Technology
415.274.1670
www.lattice3d.com
Price: $3,000 or more


Lattice Technology offers an extensive and high-end set of enterprise-level products for publishing 3D data. The products are modular to provide a range of flexible configurations that allow users to purchase only the components they need and to add other modules later, as needed.

XVL Studio Pro is a high-end application dedicated to rapid exploration and validation of designs. It's scalable to very large datasets.
XVL Studio Pro is a high-end application dedicated to rapid exploration and validation of designs. It's scalable to very large datasets.

Lattice Technology products are based on open standards and can be integrated with PLM, ERP, and other applications. The products facilitate the seamless use of CAD data in 3D documents, parts lists, or Web pages. Among the available products are XVL Studio Pro, XVL Web Master, Lattice3D Reporter, XVL Player, and XVL Player Pro. The XVL Converters require a working CAD license and are available as both batch and CAD plug-in versions.

I examined XVL Studio Pro, XVL Web Master, XVL Player, and the plug-in versions of the CAD converters required for testing. Lattice no longer supports plain vanilla AutoCAD, so I was only able to perform tests with the SolidWorks assembly. Lattice stated that the vast majority of its customers used one of the MCAD variants of Autodesk products, such as Inventor and MDT, so it elects to support those specific Autodesk formats and not simple AutoCAD files. As a result, I couldn't test the engine drawing.

Each Lattice application provides different services and has a licensing arrangement similar to the one used by Adobe Systems for their Acrobat family of products. The viewer is free, and customers choose the products and functionality they need.

Lattice's native file format is compact XVL, and file sizes remain small as a result of resurfacing the model with the minimum number of Non-Uniform Rational B Spline (NURBS) surfaces. While retaining the basic form of the original drawing, this resurfacing approach produces files that are much more compact.

XVL Studio Pro is a high-end application dedicated to the rapid exploration and validation of designs and is scalable to very large datasets. It offers advanced functions for automated interference and clearance checking of complex assemblies and displays results in spreadsheet format and integrated 2D/3D cross-sectional views, including profile display of interfering parts. It incorporates all of the capabilities of XVL Studio Basic and XVL Studio Standard. This application is ideal for design review by digital mockup and for exploring digital models throughout extended enterprises by non-CAD–trained personnel.

Lattice's XVL Web Master is a template-based application that provides layout capabilities. For example, a Lattice XVL file can be imported into a customizable template that handles the placement of the parts list using JavaScript or HTML. Lattice's free viewer, available as a 7.5 MB download from the company's Web site, allows free distribution and viewing of XVL files.

Using XVL Studio Pro with the supplied converter for SolidWorks, I converted the SeaScooter assembly into a 1.16 MB .xv0 file (all files) in one minute, 37 seconds and into a 977 KB .xv2 file in one minute, 41 seconds.

For more information about the Lattice family of products, visit the Lattice Technology Web site.

Publisher3D Professional and Pages3D Professional

QuadriSpace
972.359.6700
www.quadrispace.com
Price: $1,295 each


QuadriSpace produces a family of products designed for communicating data, be it 2D, 3D, or animations. As I was preparing this article, QuadriSpace was approaching the release of new versions of both Publisher3D Professional 2008, which is targeted toward graphics and animations, and Pages3D Professional 2008, which is designed with complete documents and online communications in mind. Neither of these products was at the testing and evaluation stage, so I have neither test nor time results for these new products. Instead, I'll discuss the highlights of both products with more specific details available in the associated feature table at www.cadalyst.com/11073D-table. The accompanying figure is a screen capture from the new version of Publisher3D Professional, so you can get an idea of the interface.

QuadriSpace's Publisher3D 2008 is a 3D editing and publishing application that can be used to create interactive models and documents that can be shared throughout a company.
QuadriSpace's Publisher3D 2008 is a 3D editing and publishing application that can be used to create interactive models and documents that can be shared throughout a company.

With QuadriSpace Publisher3D Professional, users can publish files in many file formats — PDF (3D and standard), Word, RTF, HTML, XML, QSD, QSM, U3D, DWF, SVG, CGM, EMF, Flash, AVI, TIF, PNG, BMP, GIF, Excel, CSV, Autorun CD-ROMs, and as standalone executables. Pages 3D Professional can publish files as both 3D and standard PDFs and can create Autorun CD-ROMs and standalone executable files.

Both products support STEP, IGES, STL, SAT, VDA, DWF, DXF, DWG, and OBJ formats and file formats for Autodesk 3ds Max, Inventor, and VIZ; Google SketchUp; Pro/ENGINEER; and SolidWorks. Other supported file formats for both products include DOC, RTF, TXT, Excel, CSV, HTML, PNG, JPEG, TIFF, GIF, PCX, PNM, ICO, and TGA.

Users can select parts using an assembly tree, search for specific part names or metadata phrases, and create and manage multiple parts lists. They also can import Excel or CSV files to associate textual metadata with parts, exploded states, or illustrations and export data for external use. Additionally, users can import and export data to associate information with PDM and ERP databases.

With perspective drawing tools, users can add markups to illustrations as orthographic or perspective layers, easily inserting text, arrows, shapes, and industry-specific symbols into the 3D view. Objects drawn to the perspective plane maintain their position in 3D when the scene is rotated, panned, or zoomed.

The 2008 product line will include user-dockable panels, an updated look, and an overall redesign to better support illustrations, animations, and creative document authoring. A Quick Start feature allows users to get started on their projects quickly — they just choose to create illustrations, animations, or documents and the user-focused interface will seamlessly walk them through 3D import, creative authoring, and publishing.

For those seeking additional information or details, QuadriSpace has interactive 3D PDF and QSD files that can be downloaded from its Web site. You'll also find Flash-based demonstration movies of the products, and, if you want to see the QSD file format in action, you can download the free Reader3D viewer to give it a spin. QuadriSpace typically has demo versions of its products available for download from the Web site, and I expect these will be available for the new versions of the software soon.

Both Publisher3D Professional and Pages3D Professional run under Windows XP, Vista, or 2000.

Deep Exploration 5 CAD Edition

Right Hemisphere
510.818.2880
www.righthemisphere.com
Price: $1,995


Right Hemisphere develops products designed to facilitate enterprise product communication and collaboration. Among these are two versions of Deep Exploration 5 — Standard Edition and CAD Edition. Deep Exploration 5 is a standalone application that allows users to transform, author, and manage 2D, 3D, animation, video, and audio files. For this roundup review, I evaluated the newly released version of the Deep Exploration 5 CAD Edition, which features excellent support for a remarkably wide range of CAD file formats.

Right Hemisphere's Deep Exploration 5 is a standalone application to transform, author, and manage 2D, 3D, animation, video, and audio files.
Right Hemisphere's Deep Exploration 5 is a standalone application to transform, author, and manage 2D, 3D, animation, video, and audio files.

Among the CAD formats supported by Deep Exploration 5 CAD Edition are CATIA v4 and v5, Unigraphics, Pro/ENGINEER, SolidWorks, JT, SDRC I-deas, IGES, MicroStation, CADkey, AutoCAD, Solid Edge, STEP, and VDA. You can download a complete list of the supported file formats from the company Web site. In addition to CAD-specific file-format support, Deep Exploration 5 CAD Edition supports 3ds Max, Maya, LightWave 3D, SOFTIMAGE|XSI, Acrobat, and Adobe Photoshop, with other file formats supported via Right Hemisphere's SDK. All told, Deep Exploration 5 CAD Edition can import from more than 110 formats and export to almost 50.

Deep Exploration 5 CAD Edition is extensible via a plug-in architecture, and readers may remember the PDF Publishing Module — which is now incorporated directly into the product — and the JT/PMI Module — which is available as a separate add-on. These two plug-ins were available for Adobe Acrobat 3D as well, but when Adobe moved from v7 to v8, the plug-ins no longer worked. Right Hemisphere plans to update both plug-ins to work with the latest version of Adobe Acrobat 3D.

Mimicking Windows Explorer, Deep Exploration 5 has a familiar and easy-to-use interface. Applications can be launched from Deep Exploration 5, which also provides the ability to view files in both ZIP and RAR formats without having to unpack them first. Users can merge multiple 3D files for easy viewing as well.

Both Deep Exploration 5 and Right Hemisphere's free Deep Publish product provide numerous kinds of markup and measurement tools for callouts and dimensioning. New to this release is the ability to automatically create and edit thrust lines within 3D scenes and animate lines when parts are moved.

Deep Exploration 5 can publish 3D content for Web-based presentations and create and edit keyframe animation of 3D models for presentations. Both grouping and hierarchy tools are provided for managing complex models, and clipping planes are supported for creating cross sections to better understand or illustrate the 3D models.

With Deep Exploration 5, users can translate and author one model at a time. But for enterprise-level volume, Right Hemisphere's Deep Server can automate these capabilities. The Deep View product is a free viewer that supports the RH file format and functions as an ActiveX viewer inside Internet Explorer. Deep View is available as a 4 MB download from the company's Web site.

Right Hemisphere's Deep Exploration 5 CAD Edition converted our test files without any difficulties, producing a 1.35 MB RH file from the SolidWorks SeaScooter assembly in less than 45 seconds and a 135 KB RH file from the AutoCAD engine drawing in less than 30 seconds. The conversions had no visible flaws. Right Hemisphere regularly updates its converters to add new features and provides support for additional file formats.

eDrawings 2007 Professional

SolidWorks
800.693.9000
www.solidworks.com
Price: $495


SolidWorks eDrawings software is a design-communication tool for sharing accurate representations of both 2D drawings and 3D models. Depending upon which version of SolidWorks you choose, a version of eDrawings is included. The standard edition of SolidWorks includes the basic free eDrawings publisher, and the more advanced editions of SolidWorks — SolidWorks Office Professional, for example — have the more-capable eDrawings Professional, which I evaluated for this roundup review.

eDrawings Professional is a viewing and publishing application from SolidWorks for sharing and archiving 2D and 3D product design data.
eDrawings Professional is a viewing and publishing application from SolidWorks for sharing and archiving 2D and 3D product design data.

eDrawings files are highly compressed, which makes transmitting design data easy and fast. eDrawings provides intelligent interpretation tools such as 3D Pointer, Virtual Folding, and Animated Drawing Views, which help express the intent of original design files. eDrawings files are created with the eDrawings Publisher add-in, which works with a number of popular CAD products. For those without the eDrawings Viewer, you can embed the Viewer directly in an eDrawings file, creating an executable file that can be easily viewed by anyone who has access to a system running Windows. The eDrawings file extension varies with the type of file it was converted from. For example, EASM files are created from assemblies, while EDRW files are created from drawings.

Users can publish eDrawings files from SolidWorks 2005 or later, AutoCAD R14.x–2004, Autodesk Inventor 8 and 9, Pro/ENGINEER 2000ie or 2001 and Wildfire, CATIA v5 R10–R13, a number of Unigraphics versions, and CoCreate's OneSpace Designer 13.01.

eDrawings software runs under Microsoft Windows XP Professional, XP Tablet PC Edition, Windows 2000, Windows NT 4.0 with Service Pack 6 or later, Windows ME, and Windows 98 second edition.

With the free eDrawings software, users can produce compact files from multiple CAD platforms with drawing layouts, hyperlinking, 3D pointers, and point-and-click animations. They can share and view design analyses and save files in STL and other file formats. The fee-based eDrawings Professional software adds a number of additional capabilities, including markup, measurement, password protection, dynamic cross-section and exploded views, and component movement. Additionally, eDrawings Professional lets users view SolidWorks configurations and multiple design variations of a part or assembly model displayed within a single document. To protect sensitive design data, users can disable the measurement feature when creating the eDrawings file.

With the Cadalyst test files, eDrawings Professional produced a 1.79 MB EASM file from the SolidWorks Sea-Scooter assembly in less than one minute, 30 seconds. eDrawings Professional required less than 30 seconds to produce a 159 KB EDRW file from the AutoCAD engine drawing.

For more information about SolidWorks eDrawings software, visit the SolidWorks Web site. There you can download the free version of the software, a trial version of eDrawings Professional, eDrawings Publisher for a number of different CAD platforms, and the eDrawings application programming interface (API) software development kit for customizing eDrawings software to specific needs. At present, the eDrawings Publisher allows you to publish eDrawings files directly from AutoCAD, CATIA v5, CoCreate's OneSpace, Inventor, Pro/ENGINEER, Solid Edge v17, SolidWorks, and Unigraphics.

The free eDrawings Viewer allows users to view, print, and review all types of eDrawings files and also serves as a free viewer for AutoCAD DWG and DXF files and SolidWorks parts, assemblies, and drawings.

Ron LaFon, a contributing editor for Cadalyst, is a writer, editor, and a computer graphics and electronic publishing specialist from Atlanta, Georgia. He is a principal at 3Bear Productions in Atlanta.


About the Author: Ron LaFon


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