CAD Central

28 Feb, 2007 By: Kenneth Wong

Vista Beckons

The new Windows OS beckons you to explore its green pasture, but before you bid adieu to old reliable XP, you'll probably want to know how your primary CAD applications will fare in Vista.

SolidWorks Vista and the first Vista-supported version of Pro/ENGINEER Wildfire (v3 M070) are scheduled for release in March. UGS has previously announced its intent to support Vista on Teamcenter, NX, Solid Edge, Tecnomatix and the Velocity series. According to its press office, Vista-certified versions will be available later this year. Autodesk and Dassault Systemes weren't available for comment at press time.

 Microsoft's new Vista OS might make some CAD applications run much slower.
Microsoft's new Vista OS might make some CAD applications run much slower.

Soon after Vista's launch, Tom's Hardware Guide ( posted performance comparison charts of various applications on XP and Vista. The results show some CAD applications running 85–90% slower on Vista, but that might not be a fair assessment of the new OS. Kelly Dove, NVIDIA's PR manager, pointed out, "Note that the viewperf numbers people have been referring to that show an 8–9x drop in performance was achieved on a consumer graphics card, not a professional graphics card such as NVIDIA Quadro."

Brian Harrison, director of SolidWorks Labs, a division devoted to R&D, revealed, "CAD products do run a lot slower on Vista right now. The primary reason is that drivers for hardware acceleration have not been available to the public." Brian Shepard, senior vice-president of product management at PTC, similarly noted, "Native OpenGL support in Windows Vista was a late addition by Microsoft to the OS roadmap. PTC has been working closely over the past four months with both Microsoft and NVIDIA to optimize Pro/ENGINEER performance on the new OS."

Meet Your Architect in the Virtual World

Jon and Kandy Brouchoud, architects and founders of Crescendo Design ( keep two offices. Kingfisher Farm is in a 62-acre wildlife preserve on Lake Michigan, near Jon's hometown of Manitowoc, Wisconsin. The other is in Second Life (, a 65,000-acre virtual world inhibited by 3,386,609 people worldwide. If you're a potential client, you can drop by their virtual neighborhood, inspect the model homes, learn about renewable energy and meet the architects.

"Our very first Second Life clients were living in London when they first contacted us and were planning to build a home in Wisconsin," Jon recalled. "Since it would be several months before we could meet at a real-life site, Second Life was a perfect way to engage them."

The Second Life office of Crescendo Design.
The Second Life office of Crescendo Design.

Using the sketches that clients had sent to them as a foundation, Jon and Kandy drafted a design in Architectural Desktop 2007. "Then we imported the plans and elevations into Second Life," said Jon. "Within a few hours we were literally able to occupy the home with the client. We were able to test different locations for their vineyard and orchard and even test paint colors and material types and finishes."

In November 2006, Jon shared the stage with Autodesk CEO Carl Bass at Autodesk University in Las Vegas. It was then that they took a tour of the virtual homes of Crescendo Design's real clients together.

For more information about this initiative, read "Got an Avatar With No Place to Stay? Starwood Hotels May Have Just the Answer" by Amy Rowell on Innovate Forum at

Backstage Passes to CAD R&D

How would you like to be a technology consultant? You won't get paid, but you can help shape the next release of your favorite CAD system. One place to do this is SolidWorks Labs (, a Web site that was publicly unveiled on the first day of SolidWorks World 2007. Currently, Labs features four promising applications:

  • 1. Drawings Now, which lets you share CAD drawings from a browser.
  • 2. COSMOSXpress Now, which lets you upload a design file from a browser, conduct FEA analysis and view the results online.
  • 3. ZoomIn, which features an invisible user interface system (inspired by video-game control systems).
  • 4. DWGnavigator, which lets you manage as well as search your DXF and DWG drawings.

Autodesk has its own version called Autodesk Labs ( It currently showcases a beta version of the Google Earth Extension that lets you publish AutoCAD 2007 models to Google Earth, as well as an early version of Autodesk Impression that lets you turn 2D production drawings into color illustrations.

Kenneth Wong explores innovative use of technology as a freelance writer.

About the Author: Kenneth Wong

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