CAD Central

31 May, 2006 By: Sara Ferris

BE2006 conference news, free 3D modeling and data-exchange study.

Bentley Systems Announces Earnings, Acquisitions

At Bentley's BE Conference 2006 last month in Charlotte, NC, Bentley CEO Greg Bentley announced the company's latest acquisitions. GEF-RIS is a German company that develops GIS for multi-utilities—those that provide more than one service. The sisNET product is built on MicroStation, ProjectWise and several other Bentley products.

Bentley also acquired the CADScript and MAPScript applications from Corporate Montage, an Australian developer of MicroStation add-ons. MAPScript is a map-finishing product that gives Bentley cartographic capabilities. Corporate Montage plans to focus on its CADConfirm standards management software.

In other news, Bentley released its long-awaited MicroStation V8 XM edition. Vertical applications are expected to follow within 30 to 60 days.

Greg Bentley presented a summary of the company's 2005 performance. It generated $336 million in revenue, with an organic growth rate of 8%. Two-thirds of the company's revenue comes from subscriptions, and one-half is generated outside North America.

Chief marketing officer Tony Flynn announced a new program called Bentley Learn, an on-demand e-learning service that will provide 800 hours of courses. He expects that amount to triple by year's end. SELECT subscribers can access Bentley Learn for 20% of their SELECT subscription fee. Users can also configure it as a private portal and incorporate their own training materials. Bentley Learn will be available in June.

Bentley also plans an increase in pricing for its SELECT subscription program, its first increase in ten years. It will augment SELECT with additional benefits such as an annual license exchange that enables users to switch the products they use.

Google Releases Free Version of SketchUp

"It's a good day for 3D," said Google's Brad Schell when Google launched Google SketchUp, a free version of the SketchUp 3D modeling product it acquired with its purchase of @Last Software last month. The move follows the path Google took with previous acquisitions such as Keyhole (the predecessor to Google Earth), the Picasa photo organizer and a blogging tool from Pyra Labs.

 The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA, as shown in Google SketchUp.
The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA, as shown in Google SketchUp.

Licensed for personal use only, the free version offers basic 3D modeling tools but lacks workflow features—support for export to different file formats (DWG, DXF, 3DS, OBJ, XSI, VRML and FBX), AVI and MOV export capability, and large-format printing.

Google is also introducing what it calls the 3D Warehouse, a repository for sharing 3D content. Users can attach a description to their 3D models, and site visitors can search those descriptions to find content.

The 3D Warehouse will hold both georeferenced and nongeoreferenced content in KML and SKP formats. Schell says that Google aims to be the "Switzerland of formats," so the company decided to support only content in SketchUp format, rather than pick and choose among the many other existing options. The warehouse will offer roughly 3,000 pieces of content when it launches.

By offering the free SketchUp tool, Google hopes to encourage users to populate Google Earth with 3D built models, Schell notes, adding that Google "has no intention of getting into the CAD space."

Google SketchUp is available now for Windows 2000/XP; a Mac version is coming soon.

PTC to Acquire Mathsoft

PTC plans to purchase Mathsoft Engineering & Education for $63.25 million in cash. Mathsoft develops Mathcad, software designed to create and manage engineering calculations critical to the product-development process, as well as other mathematics-driven processes. Mathsoft has 250,000 users worldwide and annual revenue of around $20 million.

Engineers use Mathcad to perform calculations in a whiteboard environment using built-in operators and functions. Once the acquisition closes, customers can continue to use Mathcad as a stand-alone solution or as part of PTC's PDS (product development system).

Calculations authored and documented in Mathcad can predict parameters that will drive PTC Pro/ENGINEER designs. Similarly, Pro/ENGINEER parameters can be fed into Mathcad to perform supplementary engineering calculations.

"The powerful combination of Mathsoft and PTC solutions will significantly reduce the number of iterations and physical prototypes necessary to achieve product confidence, and also will improve an organization's ability to capture and reuse information for a variety of downstream uses," said Jim Heppelmann, executive vice-president and chief product officer of PTC.

PTC and Mathsoft share more than 900 customers. Mathsoft has 130 employees in seven countries.

Sara Ferris is Cadalyst's editor-in-chief.

About the Author: Sara Ferris

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