CAD Central

30 Apr, 2007 By: Kenneth Wong

ODA Moves Forward; Future City in the Heart of the Congo; Enterprise Captains Explore PLM World

ODA Moves Forward

The legal feud between Autodesk and ODA (Open Design Alliance) finally ended with a negotiated settlement. The stipulated motion and consent judgement issued dated April 2 (available at states, "The parties have reached a settlement of this action. Therefore, upon the agreement and joint request of the parties . . . The Court hereby permanently restrains and enjoins ODA . . . from simulating Autodesk's TrustedDWG technology, including but not limited to the Autodesk watermark and/or TrustedDWG code, without Autodesk's authorization; and from distributing DWGdirect libraries or other ODA software that use or incorporate or simulate Autodesk's TrustedDWG technology."

Now that the lawsuit is over, ODA will devote more of its energy and resources to the CAD world. Arnold van der Weide, chairman of the ODA board, reflected, "I'm a bit tired of hearing that all ODA does is research and reverse engineer the DWG format. Yes, we do that, but we also manage the DGNdirect libraries. We'll probably add more of these types of technologies to our portfolio." He envisions ODA becoming the clearinghouse for most, if not all, the CAD formats that must be maintained. At the latest count, the ODA has in excess of 3,500 members. It still distributes its libraries free of charge for noncommercial use.

"One of the things the board has decided to do," van der Weide revealed, "is to start offering educational licenses." The board already approved the initiative. To qualify, applicants will need to supply the name of their professor, a short description of their project and the result of the project (not for ODA's own use but for archival and promotional purposes).

"We have already installed a bug-tracking and information system and are in the process of installing an automatics QA [quality assurance] system," van der Weide added. "The aim is to give the ODA members more direct influence over the development of the libraries and also is to ensure better and more reliable software." (For a brief history of the lawsuit, read "Autodesk Goes After ODA for Trademark Infringement," Cadalyst Daily, November 29, 2006,

Future City in the Heart of the Congo

Jake Bowers and Krisha Sherburne, both age 12, and Emily Ponti, age 14, St. Thomas More Catholic School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, envisioned a self-sufficient metropolis located along the Fimi River near the equator. Block by block, they constructed their virtual city in SimCity 3000, a computer game. They named their city Mwinda, which means light in the Lingala dialect of the Republic of Congo.

The fictional city of Mwinda, Congo, designed in SimCity 3000.
The fictional city of Mwinda, Congo, designed in SimCity 3000.

"Our city went bankrupt several times, so we had to start over," said Jake. "Then, when we finally got it going, we had a lot of traffic problems." He admits that early Mwinda suffered from poor road planning. They learned from their mistakes and revived the city's collapsed economy and infrastructure. Krisha was most proud of the ingenious way they'd turned a natural phenomenon into a power source. "Lightning strikes more in the Congo than anywhere else in the world," she explained. The coolest feature in Mwinda, Krisha said, "is the lightning containment capacitors." In addition to the capacitors, Mwinda's energy sources include microbial and phosphoric acid fuel cells, solar panels, plasma gasification and the CANDU nuclear reactor. They generated more than enough energy, so the city sold the excess power to nearby regions.

The St. Thomas More team fetched the first prize in the 2007 National Engineers Week Future City Competition hosted by Bentley Systems.

Enterprise Captains Explore PLM World

Market watcher CIMdata just released more statistical insights, culled from its 2006 PLM Market Analysis Report. As expected, Dassault Systemes, PTC and UGS emerge as the PLM market revenue leaders. But a few names from the enterprise applications market elbow their way into the charts as well. SAP, a household name in the ERP (enterprise resource planning) sector, ranks second among the CPDM (collaborative product definition management) market revenue leaders, overtaking both PTC and Dassault.

Ken Amann, CIMdata's director of research, said, "SAP ranked third in 2005, second in 2004 and third in 2003" in the same chart. SAP's nemesis Oracle, however, is trailing behind at seventh in 2006, and ninth in 2005. Amann pointed out that "SAP has had a focused program for several years and just recently committed additional resources and focus to PLM, while Oracle has started and stopped several times."

Other enterprise vendors making headway into the PLM space include Industrial and Financial Systems and Infor.

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

About the Author: Kenneth Wong

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