Product reviews, features, tutorials, and tips for computer-aided design (CAD) software.
Conceptual Design

Advocating Innovation in Trying Times, Siemens Accelerates Xcelerator Portfolio, Part 2

9 Jul, 2020 By: Cadalyst Staff

NX software, part of Siemens’s Xcelerator portfolio, adds unconstrained concept design sketching within the 3D environment.

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff


Pandemic Transforms the CAD Industry in 2020 and Beyond

30 Jun, 2020 By: Kathleen Maher

The 2020 CAD Report from Jon Peddie Research was completed at the end of 2019, before the pandemic shook North America. How has the landscape been affected in the six months since?

During the first half of 2020, it became obvious to people in every business that expectations for the near future would have to be seriously adjusted. Pandemics will do that.

The 2020 CAD Report from Jon Peddie Research was completed at the end of 2019. At that time — which seems so long ago — we were cautious about the prospects for 2020 and beyond. We would love to claim that we had seen the pandemic coming, but back then, we thought of viral epidemics as a seasonal challenge centered primarily in Asia.

Market share in CAD has remained relatively stable over the past ten years, but that’s a deceptive measure because each company is carving out specific areas of expertise so each can run the race in its own lane. There has been enormous change over the past decade that is serving these companies well in recession.

Instead, we were more concerned that desperately needed infrastructure projects had been stalled for years in the US, and worldwide global manufacturing had taken a downturn due to trade issues and fracturing trade alliances. In addition, the threat from climate change loomed large over every human activity.

CAD Industry Undergoes Major Changes, with AEC at the Forefront

The AEC industry was the success story of 2018–2019 thanks to the growing acceptance of digital technologies, especially building information modeling (BIM) and also modularization and on-site fabrication. Specifically, the construction industry re-emerged as a huge opportunity as decades of hidebound traditional practices began to modernize and reveal long pent-up demands.

The CAD industry as a whole has restructured for resiliency. It has transitioned to subscription, which offers a buffer for short-term shocks, and there is plenty of room for expansion in the steady adoption of digital twin approaches that connect designs, data, analysis, and documentation to the real-world objects they represent, including autonomous vehicles, smart cities, airplanes, power plants, industrial machines, and mobile phones.

So far, the plan has been working: CAD company revenues have been stable through the first half of 2020. But most companies are guiding down for the rest of the year as hopes fade for a fast end to the pandemic and a fast recovery. Instead, the crisis is evolving, and we’re seeing rolling outbreaks worldwide. We know now that recovery is going to take some time.

What’s also true is that in our modern age, every period of recession has been accompanied by innovation and transformation.

Room to play: The major players in the CAD market have their own areas of influence, but the digitization of industry means there is quite a bit of overlap. The successful companies in the coming decade will be those most able to make interoperability easy for customers.

As we said, the AEC industry has been ahead of the curve. Driven by a shortage of skilled workers in construction and also the lack of affordable housing challenges seen worldwide, the construction industry has been on the forefront of digital transformation. Autodesk, Bentley, and Trimble have all been investing in new tools for construction. In 2018 Autodesk began the acquisition process for Assemble, BuildingConnected, and PlanGrid to build on to BIM 360 and create the Construction Cloud; Trimble has bought Viewpoint and e-Builder; and Bentley has bought Synchro and most recently NoteVault. All these tools enable much better transparency for construction costs and work progress.

Continued demand for connected construction software is pretty much guaranteed. The industry has long relied on armies of low-cost workers working side by side. It was always inefficient, dangerous, and often immoral; now it’s becoming impossible. Instead, construction companies are adapting techniques from manufacturing: They’re moving to using pre-fabricated modules that can be built elsewhere and delivered to the job site, more automation and fabrication onsite, and direct communication with workers onsite who can interact with more-informative 3D models.

The companies building software for mechanical design and manufacture have led the industry in digitalization for decades. They are marching forward into a new age of digital twins, which are now coming much closer to being reality instead of an ambitious vision. For example, Siemens has defined the digital twin as a single model that grows and develops with the development and eventual deployment of the real-world project.

In process and power, we’ve seen Siemens and Bentley forge a powerful alliance that builds on the strengths of both companies, and not coincidentally fuels continued whispers that Siemens may buy the privately owned Bentley Systems. The rumor of a Bentley–Siemens merger has been countered by Bentley’s cyclical announcements of an imminent IPO. (The one thing that possible IPO has never been is imminent.)

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About the Author: Kathleen Maher


Latest Revamp of Revit Adds Generative Design Capabilities

17 Apr, 2020 By: Cadalyst Staff

Autodesk has announced the new Generative Design in Revit feature, which can create design alternatives based on user-defined goals and constraints.

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff


Vendors Alter Plans and Policies to Support CAD Community During COVID-19 Crisis

2 Jun, 2020 By: Cadalyst Staff

The companies that supply designers and engineers are changing license terms to support working from home, and taking in-person gatherings online to help keep attendees safe.

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff


Ten Tips for Success with Online Meetings

27 Mar, 2020 By: Lynn Allen

From simplifying your CAD environment to smiling, here are ten simple ways you can improve your online meeting experience when you’re working from home.

If it isn’t rough enough adjusting to working from home, now you need to deal with online meetings! Sure, you’ve had a few here and there in the past — but now your success with clients and coworkers practically depends on them. I recently taught a series of classes focused on mastering online meetings, and thought perhaps you could use a few insider tips to help you shine during this transition. Hang in there; we’ll get through this together!

Whether your company chooses to use Zoom (my favorite), GoToMeeting, Skype, or another application, these tips should come in handy for most any online meeting app. The goal here is to craft an online experience that’s as close to a face-to-face meeting as possible, thereby netting the best results.

Tip 1: Log on Early

Online meetings are notorious for having technical issues. (There, I said it!) Start off on the right foot by logging on at least three minutes early — or five, if you’re the meeting organizer. You can ensure you have time to load the app, if needed, and to check your speakers, microphone, and webcam (when applicable) before entering the meeting. (This also means you should try to avoid booking back-to-back online meetings.)

If you are the meeting organizer and you open the meeting early (which you should), don’t just sit there in silence; be a good host and make small talk. You wouldn’t ignore your coworkers and clients in a conference room before a meeting started — would you?

Tip 2: Select an Appropriate Location

Whether you’ll be on camera or not, you’ll want to choose a location conducive to success: Someplace quiet and free of distractions, with a strong Internet connection. Aim for good lighting and a professional-looking background free of clutter, if there is a chance you might find yourself on camera. It’s really as simple as turning around and looking at what is behind you! Some apps, including Zoom, allow you to customize your background — which certainly comes in handy if you don’t have a professional-looking location available. (Office in the bathtub, anybody?)

Are you the type that keeps a messy desk? Take the time to be sure that the area behind you is tidy, or use a custom background image instead. Image source: Tetiana Soares/

If you find your Internet is dodgy, kill the camera first. If you are still in trouble, then call into the online meeting by phone to make sure you at least sound good.

Close the door and put an “On Air” sign on your door to avoid unnecessary disruptions; this is especially important now that the kids are home! (I also close the lower blinds so my dog can’t see outside, to prevent any extemporaneous barking episodes.) And not to worry if your kid, cat, or partner accidentally makes their way into your online meeting during these unusual times of isolation. I’ve found that everyone is much more tolerant right now — and it might just lighten everyone’s mood! Just don’t make that the goal.

Tip 3: Speak Concisely, Loudly, and Slowly

Online meetings can be tough on the quiet introvert, because you really need to speak up for the other participants to understand you. Enunciation is key (especially if you are not on camera), and fast talkers are doomed. Think of yourself as a news reporter as you are presenting: While that style of speaking may seem slow and uncomfortable to you, it will sound clear and intelligible to those in attendance. And always use a headset or microphone! Don’t get lazy and rely on your computer mic, or you risk sounding faint or garbled.

Tip 4: Say Your Name, Say Your Name!

If you are not on camera, please don’t expect people to magically know who you are by the sound of your voice when you start talking. If you are in a small online meeting (or conference call) with people who have known you for years, perhaps this will work, but don’t try it in any meeting with more than four people (or with anyone who is new). When you decide to speak up, a simple “This is (insert name here)” should do.

Even if you are on camera, it doesn’t hurt to identify yourself, because it will take people time to determine which of the little boxes on their screen is speaking. Those who are pros at online meetings will do a quick wave of the hand to indicate when they are speaking.

When there are many participants in an online meeting, a wave can help everyone quickly identify who is speaking. Image source: Pormezz/

I’ve noticed that many of the online meeting apps are getting better at differentiating who is talking, and have various means of accentuating the speaker box, or even explicitly spelling out who is speaking. One accidental brush against a microphone, however, and the focus can be mistakenly transferred.

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Has Coronavirus Closed Your Office? Work from Home the Right Way

17 Mar, 2020 By: Lynn Allen

If you’re transitioning from a company office environment to a home office, these six tips will help you create a more positive, productive experience for yourself and your coworkers.


CAD Management 3.0 — The Change Is Real

28 Jan, 2020 By: Robert Green

CAD Manager Column: We’re now in the midst of the third major change wave in CAD management, which will place new demands on CAD managers and redefine what it takes to compete in the field.

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green


Cadalyst White Paper Reveals Top CAD Tech Trends for 2020

15 Jan, 2020 By: Cadalyst Staff

What are the most important technologies to keep your eye on, now and in the months to come?

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff


Manage Major Changes with Incremental Innovation

12 Nov, 2019 By: Robert Green

In CAD management, the only thing that doesn’t change … is that things change! When coping with radical changes in software, hardware, or workflows, choose an approach that minimizes risk and cost.

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green


Calculate the ROI of Today’s CAD Software

25 Jun, 2019 By: Robert Green

CAD Manager Column: Unsure about whether you should switch to a shiny new CAD application, or implement an intriguing new utility? The ROI never lies, so start crunching numbers!

About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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