CAD Central

31 Jul, 2008 By: Kenneth Wong

Oracle Enters Adobe Territory; From Alibre to Altadyn (or As the CAD World Turns); Crank Out Inventions; Rugged Survivor Returns to Duty;Robotics Enthusiasts Wanted; Autodesk Student Community Grows

Oracle Enters Adobe Territory

In July, just as Adobe began shipping Acrobat 9 to its customers, Oracle released AutoVue 19.3. The product began life as a viewing and markup tool at Cimmetry Systems in the late 1980s. It became part of Agile's product lifecycle management (PLM) products when Agile acquired Cimmetry in 2005. Last year, it ended up in Oracle's portfolio when Oracle bought Agile.

 Originally from Cimmetry Systems, AutoVue software is now rebranded as Oracle AutoVue 19.3, an enterprise visualization product. The upgraded viewing and markup tool now targets the same market that Adobe targets with its Acrobat family.
Originally from Cimmetry Systems, AutoVue software is now rebranded as Oracle AutoVue 19.3, an enterprise visualization product. The upgraded viewing and markup tool now targets the same market that Adobe targets with its Acrobat family.

Setting its sights beyond engineering, Oracle is pitching Auto-Vue as an enterprise visualization solution. Its technological domain has been expanded to include not just CAD files but also multimedia files — video clips, for example — and Microsoft Office documents. For the first time, in fact, AutoVue supports Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) format, widely accepted in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry. With features to help manage and track the documents sent offsite to suppliers and contractors, AutoVue is poised to facilitate collaborative review sessions, electronic approvals, and remote bidding. This brings Oracle into a head-on competition with Adobe, which has been evolving its Acrobat product line to become the de facto document-exchange platform for manufacturers. (For more, read "Cimmetry's AutoVue Returns under Oracle's Hood,"

From Alibre to Altadyn (or As the CAD World Turns)

Greg Milliken, the man who'd been shepherding Alibre Software as its CEO, recently took a new post as vice-president of marketing at Altadyn. The French company develops and markets what it describes as "the only plug-in-less, browser-based 3D virtual world creation" product.

Milliken lost no time in reconnecting with the CAD community. In his first week on the job, he began promoting Altadyn's JAVA-based 3D scene creator 3Dxplorer ( to the CAD press. The application lets users create scenes in an online authoring application or import 3D world geometry produced in Autodesk 3ds Max or Google SketchUp. Sets can be customized by using furniture and household items available in 3Dxplorer's authoring tool and by uploading JPEG images to represent backgrounds and decorative artwork.

After you publish a scene, you can direct others to a Web site to view the content. A 3D scene player is automatically downloaded to the visitor's computer. Both the authoring application and the player are free, but Altadyn charges membership fees to the Web site operators based on the volume of calls the published scene receives.

At Alibre Software, founder and chairman of the board J. Paul Grayson steps in to fill the CEO post vacated by Milliken.

Crank Out Inventions

The problem with invention is its unpredictability. You don't know when or where the next big idea will come from. So can a piece of software help you — or your company — codify inventiveness? Goldfire Innovator from Invention Machine ( won't spit out breakthrough ideas at the push of a button, but it probably can help you manage the work needed to translate an "Aha!" moment to a marketable product. The application comes with tools to:

  • 1. define and identify problems and opportunities
  • 2. apply proven methods (such as the theory of inventive problem solving, root cause analysis, failure mode, and effects analysis) to your workflows
  • 3. gather relevant technical and business data from internal and external sources
  • 4. examine patent activities in related fields
  • 5. monitor evolving market trends and track competitive directions.

Driven by Invention Machine's semantic knowledge engine, Goldfire Innovator dips into indexed databases from the company's own repository, public sources, and even competitors' Web sites. The query interface supports natural language input and automatic translation.

PTC Windchill users can reuse existing CAD and PLM (product lifecycle management) data using the PTC Windchill Connector. The latest incarnation of the software, Goldfire Innovator v4.6, marks the debut of risk-analysis features. The company reports, "This function proactively focuses on physical, chemical, and biological hazards and can help identify alternative materials and components that are eco-friendly and meet federal guidelines."

Rugged Survivor Returns to Duty

Have you ever wondered what would happen to a computer mounted on the dashboard of a car that's involved in a crash? Officer Cari Lurdrosky from Cleveland Police Department's Mobile Support Unit could tell you. Recently, one of her unit's vehicles equipped with a rugged PC from Xplore Technologies ( was in a head-on collision. All the parties involved survived, but "the entire dashboard was actually ripped out of the car, and there was literally no section of the car that was undamaged," according to Xplore. When Lurdrosky recovered the mobile data computer (with a piece of the dashboard still attached), she fired it up. Surprisingly, it was still operating. She pressed the machine back into service the next day. Cleveland PD verifies that the same computer is still in operation today.

Xplore Technologies iX104C3 is housed in a chassis engineered to meet military standards.
Xplore Technologies iX104C3 is housed in a chassis engineered to meet military standards.

Xplore Technologies specializes in providing rugged mobile computers. Its product lines — iX104CPLUS, IX104C3, and IX104C2 — are equipped with Intel Pentium M chips, 512-MB DDR RAM, 40-GB hard disks, and 10.4" XGA transmissive LCD screens. And they are RoHS compliant. Housed in magnesium chassis, internal frames, and a patented mechanism, they're designed to withstand drops, shock, dust, rain, and extreme temperatures typical in outdoor mobile environments. They've been tested to meet U.S. military standards, according to the product brochure.

Robotics Enthusiasts Wanted

In June, SolidWorks launched the SolidWorks Robotic University (SRU,, a free, online robotics academy for prospective, beginning, and experienced robotics enthusiasts. Middle school, high school, and college students who regularly participated in BattleBots, FIRST, RoboCup, and other robotic challenges flocked to the site.

A peek inside the community reveals blog posts, forum discussions, photos of teams and robots from previous events, lists of upcoming events, and tutorial videos. Teams, such as the Mukwonago BEARS and Team 1717 of the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy from previous FIRST competitions, already have staked out spaces for their home pages.

Adam, a student from Northeastern University, posted the following discussion forum item: "I downloaded the Vex Advance Gear Pack files for SolidWorks from the Vex Web site. Unfortunately, the bevel gear has errors. . . . I fixed the part using the repair faces feature. I still would like to know what was wrong with the part." Marie Planchard, SolidWorks' director of worldwide education markets, came to the rescue. "Right-click Import Diagonistics on one of the features named Import 6 (this is the one with a warning flag) in the Feature Manager. In the Import Diagonistics box, scroll down and select the button Attempt to Heal All," she wrote. She also attached a new file with healed geometry.

Currently, SRU is home to 437 members from 11 countries.

Autodesk Student Community Grows

In late 2006, Autodesk launched a global student community portal in India, Asia's outsourcing Nirvana. Soon, more than 1,100 universities across 54 countries became part of the online community. This month, Autodesk notified the press that the portal has attracted 300,000 students and faculty members from around the world. At the same time, the number of copies of Autodesk design and engineering software downloaded from this portal reached 550,000. According to Autodesk's statistics, "Autodesk Inventor software is the most frequently downloaded software program by students, followed closely by Autodesk Civil 3D and Revit Architecture."

Furthermore, the company revealed, "About 90% of the registrants are from the Americas, Europe, Middle East and India, and Africa. Less than 10% are from Asia Pacific (APAC), but with the launch of the Chinese student community, we expect the number of registrations in APAC to increase significantly over the next six months."

Paul Mailhot, Autodesk's senior director of worldwide education programs, explained, "The products are offered as 13-month education licenses. When they expire, you need to revisit the community to get a new serial number." He verified that the download section received the greatest number visits, followed by the job postings and internships and then the discussion forums.

About the Author: Kenneth Wong

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