CAD Central

31 Jan, 2007 By: Kenneth Wong

Showdown in BIM town; Autodesk Maya for Intel-Based Macs; and More.

Showdown in BIM Town

Last December, while we were busy shopping for stocking stuffers, Nemetschek AG, headquartered in Munich, Germany, went out and bought 10.6 million shares of its Hungarian competitor Graphisoft at 9 Euros (US$11.72) apiece. The transaction makes the former a majority stakeholder (54.3%) of the latter, and the acquisition was done with Graphisoft shareholders' blessing. Suddenly, three competing BIM (building information modeling) products—VectorWorks Architect and Allplan from Nemetschek and Archicad from Graphisoft—find themselves in the same camp. They're now pitted against another BIM contender: Autodesk Revit.'s Editor-in-Chief Randall S. Newton observed, "I believe it would be in the best interest of both the vendor and the user base if the Graphisoft and VectorWorks lines could be consolidated as soon as possible." But that's not currently in the plan, said Nemetschek North America's CEO Sean Flaherty. "What we're talking about now is the possibility of channel partnership," Flaherty said. "For example, in the United States, Graphisoft uses a network of consultants and sales partners. We use a tele-marketing force."

Flaherty also questions the notion of a one-size-fits-all architectural CAD solution. "Even though VectorWorks and Archicad are both after the same customers and we both run on Mac as well as Windows, I think something will be lost to the industry if it's forced to choose between what we call hybrid building modeling and what Graphisoft calls virtual building modeling," he said.

Jay Bhatt, vice president of Autodesk's Building Solutions division, remarked, "BIM is changing the industry, but the reality is the 2D workflow, often built around DWG, is also critical. Our view is that the customers want 2D support while they transition into BIM. With our industry-leading AutoCAD and our Revit BIM platform, we feel we have the right mix for whatever way our customers choose to work."

According to Autodesk, a total of 140,000 seats of Revit have been sold worldwide since 2002, and 18,000 Revit seats were sold in the last quarter alone. Revit now ships with AutoCAD; therefore, Revit statistics may be partially attributable to AutoCAD sales.

According to Nemetschek's Flaherty, 400,000 VectorWorks licenses are distributed around the world. The statistics include mechanical, civil, landscape architecture and entertainment products, in addition to VectorWorks Architect.

Autodesk Maya for Intel-Based Macs

As Macworld Conference and Expo came to a close in mid-January, Autodesk announced Maya 8.5, available for Intel-based Macintosh computers. Marc Petit, vice president of the company's Media and Entertainment division, pointed out, "Auto-desk Maya 8.5 is our first universal application of Maya. This multithreaded software leverages the latest multicore work-stations from Apple." This version marks the debut of Maya Nucleus, a new technology framework in which multiple solvers can influence each other bidirectionally and use the same forces and constraints. The first implementation comes in the form of Maya nCloth, a feature for simulation clothing behaviors.

 One of Maya 8.5's new features is Maya nCloth, which can simulate clothing behaviors.
One of Maya 8.5's new features is Maya nCloth, which can simulate clothing behaviors.

Maya became part of Autodesk's portfolio when the company bought Alias in January 2006. Autodesk also netted Alias Studio Tools—a well-known prod-uct in automotive styling—from the same acquisition. In recent media events, Auto-desk officials have repeatedly emphasized synergy between the company's manufacturing business and its media and entertainment business.

New EDA Consultancy

Veteran EDA (electronic design automation) industry watcher Gary Smith called 2006 a "year of confusion" ("EDA 2006: Year of Con-fusion," Electronic News, In October, he himself became a casualty of the confusion. Citing slow sales, Smith's employer Gartner Dataquest shut down the Design and Engineering group he managed. But that isn't the end of Smith. He and former Gartner analysts Mary Olsson and Laurie Balch recently launched their own consultant firm Gary Smith EDA (

A recent Gartner Data-quest report—authored by Balch before her departure from Gartner—predicted a 13.3% growth for the EDA industry in 2006. "The year was marked by a lot of stumbles and few successes," observed Smith. "We seem to have come out of 2006 with a far better idea of where EDA is going than we had during 2006."

Smith's new firm plans to publish its debut EDA market share report before the next Design Automation Conference in June.

Kenneth Wong is a former editor of Cadence magazine.He explores innovative use of technology as a freelance writer. E-mail him at kennethwongsf at

About the Author: Kenneth Wong

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