31 Mar, 2007 By: Kenneth Wong

Behind the scenes in the world of CAD.


In addition to clips of animals doing silly tricks on the video-sharing Web site YouTube (, you can find self-paced CAD tutorials. Random searches by product names reveal, among others, "Drawing Threads in Autodesk Inventor" and "Autodesk Inventor: 3D Sketch and Sweep" from CADLearning; "Autodesk Vault and Autodesk Product-Stream Integration" from member kalfred; "SolidWorks Tutorials Lesson 1 (Part 1–5)" and "How to Design a Boat Hull in SolidWorks" from CADjunky; "Giant Top Spin Model (created in Solid Edge)" from member thedoorsfan-71; and "Pro/ENGINEER Intent References" from member proewildfire.

A YouTube post that describes how to design a boat s hull.
A YouTube post that describes how to design a boat s hull.

For now, most of these clips appear to be content created by users and online tutorial publishers. One of the regular posters, CADjunky (, is actually SolidWorks. "How to Design a Boat Hull" is a clip narrated by SolidWorks' Mark Biasotti, and may be a harbinger to other vendor-initiated clips. The search for CATIA yields not only "Catia V5 Mechanical Puzzle High resolution, Disassembly" but also "Catia e Mamma Remix V3." I'm fairly confident the last item didn't come from Dassault Systemes, though.

Half Empty . . . or Half Full?

If you're in Asia, you can visit SolidWorks' Innovation Hubs, located in Singapore and Shanghai. The facilities are equipped with HP workstations and rapid prototyping systems. They also feature CAD/CAM/FEA products from SolidWorks and its partners.

"Many engineers in Asia may not have access to the new design technology that has already been launched in North America and Europe," said SolidWorks' Asia Pacific VP Ved Narayan. "Through this Innovation Hub we can provide a hands-on environment where anyone can learn the latest design technology; where ideas can thrive, and innovation can take place."

At the hubs, you can try software and hardware, much of which isn't commercially available in the Asia Pacific market.


If you are an entrepreneur looking for subcontractors or partners for CAD work, you may look forward to a well-prepared workforce. If you're looking to solicit business from these regions, however, you may find yourself competing with people who're just as CAD-savvy as you are—and just as innovative.

Enterprise GIS

Service-oriented architecture (SOA) is a term usually associated with enterprise applications such as SAP and Oracle, but it's making its way into the geospatial realm, and specifically into ESRI's vocabulary. The company describes ArcGIS 9.2, released in February, as "a powerful developer technology designed to support SOA systems. SOA focuses on an approach that supports heterogeneous, loosely coupled services."

What does it mean for the average GIS user? "You won't see that many interface changes [in GIS software]," said Dave Wrazien from ESRI. "There may be a couple of additional menu items here or there, such as Add a Web Service or Add a GIS Server. In the geospatial context, we're talking about visualization capabilities, such as 2D mapping or 3D mapping; spatial data management functions; or replication functions."

Truth is, GIS users are already using some of these services, even though they don't usually refer to them as such. "Address finders, location finders, things like those," Wrazien said, are traditional geospatial Web services. One of the practices SOA-enabled GIS will promote, Wrazien speculated, is the integration of business intelligence and geospatial data for improved efficiency.

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

About the Author: Kenneth Wong

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