31 May, 2007 By: Kenneth Wong

Behind the scenes in the world of CAD

Flirting with SaaS

For the most part, CAD vendors still market their bread-and-butter design tools under traditional licensing, but some are testing the water with the SaaS (software as a service) model. Available through the Autodesk Labs software preview site, Project Freewheel lets users view and print DWF files online without additional software installation.

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Autodesk's rival SolidWorks offers Drawings Now and COSMOSXpress Now at SolidWorks Labs. The first allows you to share DWG, DXF or native SolidWorks drawing files online. The second lets you conduct structural analysis on CAD files, also online.

Recently, SolidWorks' parent company, Dassault Systemes, dipped into the same pool with ENOVIA 3D Live, an Internet-based product for visualizing and navigating lifecycle-data repositories. The product will be available for subscription at approximately $40 per user per month.

Vista versus XP

Sensing the need for clarification of Windows Vista's support for OpenGL hardware acceleration, the OpenGL ARB (Architecture Review Board) unveiled a series of charts comparing XP and Vista. According to the figures released ("Windows Vista and OpenGL-the Facts," The OpenGL Pipeline Newsletter, Volume 003), the graphics in professional OpenGL applications like 3ds Max, CATIA, Pro/ENGINEER and SolidWorks running under Windows Vista are up to par with those under Windows XP. In the case of Unigraphics NX, the software did slightly better under Vista.

Reluctant Lifecycle Chief

Earlier this year, Autodesk CEO Carl Bass revealed his misgivings about the PLM market before an assembly of international reporters. "What's my anti-PLM?" he asked rhetorically. "No company that I know wakes up in the morning and says, 'I have a PLM problem.'" Despite his skepticism, Bass might find himself among the PLM industry leaders. In the 2006 PLM market report from Daratech released April 25, 2007, Autodesk ranks third in PLM software and services sales. Listed behind Dassault Systemes (first) and UGS (second), Autodesk is neck-and-neck with PTC (fourth).

Voice of a User

With crowded security checkpoints and frequent flight delays wrecking havoc in air travel, who would elect to go to a user conference? Christopher Thaxton, L-3 Communications' product data and information administrator, would. He was one of the attendees at the 2007 UGS Connection Americas gathering in Long Beach, California. "I wanted to strengthen my connections with those I have met or worked with before from various companies, including UGS," he explained. "Building and maintaining a strong social business network of my peers in this industry is a vital part of doing business long term." Perhaps, even with the instantaneous communications provided by e-mail and WebEx meetings, the human connection remains an irreplaceable part of networking.

Innovate3D Addendum

Last month, under "Talent's Closer than You Think," Cadalyst stated that "Innovate3D relies on low-cost Indian labor to deliver its services." The sentence was truncated, resulting in an incomplete description. In clarification, although Innovate3D's CEO Tara is himself Indian and very much a part of the talent pool, the company recruits designers from all geographic regions. "Physical location is not so important. Our people make use of phones, e-mail and IM to stay connected," he said.

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

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About the Author: Kenneth Wong

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