CAD Manager's Newsletter #118

10 Nov, 2004 By: Robert Green

CAD Document Management, Part VI

In the past five issues of the CAD Manager's Newsletter (click here for archives), I've presented an overview of EDM (electronic document management) by outlining the general expectations for EDM systems and presenting brief product summaries of commercially available EDM systems. If you haven't had a chance to read these previous issues, I recommend you do so now so you'll have proper context for this issue.

In this edition, I conclude my overview on document management by providing a few more product summaries.

Adept by Synergis Technologies
Synergis Technologies has come a long way in local area network-based document management since its original NFM product line. The Adept product is designed to work on corporate networks in local- or wide-area configurations via clever use of standard database components that are optimized to work relatively well even in low-bandwidth conditions. Adept has stayed away from a high-end relational database engine and Web server architecture largely because it already functions well over wide-area networks. Although you can't categorize Adept as an enterprise-level system, it does comfortably support 50-plus users and more than 100,000 documents, with the client's wide-area network speed being the only real limitation to how well the software runs.

Synergis has focused intently on the core CAD market, with particularly strong integration for Autodesk products such as AutoCAD and Inventor. The company is also making a strong move toward the SolidWorks add-on market. Adept can certainly manage other types of documents — Word, Excel, and so on — but it serves the CAD market best. In particular, Adept's viewing module offers extremely thorough viewing support of 3D CAD geometry.

Wide-Area CAD: Real-Time WAN Collaboration Live Web Seminar
Join Riverbed Technology and Cadalyst for a free, live Web seminar on December 8 at 10 a.m. PST. You'll learn first-hand about real-time sharing of CAD/CAM files across your WAN. Dissolve the geographic boundaries separating project teams! Registration closes December 6.
System setup takes place using a utility that lets you determine the user interface, browsing structures, and data field-to-file properties (or CAD attributes) integration so you can import data directly from drawings into the document management database when you import files. You can further enhance the system using Visual Basic, if desired, but you do have to dig to get into the proprietary API (application programming interface).

If you're looking for a slick, Microsoft.NET-style, Internet-based collaborative environment that supports Oracle or SQL Server, Adept is not for you. If you want solid CAD file support, basic database functionality, and decent performance over low-bandwidth networks, Synergis Adept is worth a look.

Pricing: $995 per seat with quantity discounts for larger installations
Support: $179 per seat for annual software subscription
Web site:

Live Web Seminar

Named the AIA Arizona 2004 Architectural Firm of the Year, The Orcutt/Winslow Partnership has completed more than 1,800 projects worth billions in construction revenue. OWP's use of Graphisoft ArchiCAD software has long been an important factor in the firm's ability to build strong relationships with clients.

Cadalyst and Graphisoft will sponsor a live Web seminar on November 16 at 1 p.m. EDT where OWP Partner Paul Winslow, FAIA, will present examples of his firm's work, including a junior high school, a medical office building, and a historic renovation. Click here to sign up.

Buzzsaw by Autodesk
Buzzsaw is principally an Internet-hosted service for the AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) market. It's a viable tool for sharing project documents with a distributed working team, using e-mail notification to keep everyone in the loop. A simple Web interface that looks very much like Windows File Explorer lets you browse for files within various projects stored in the Buzzsaw system.

Buzzsaw stores drawings and data on a Web site hosted and maintained by Autodesk, which means the customer doesn't have to worry about firewalls, routing, or Web servers. As you log into the Buzzsaw site, your browser-based client software updates automatically via download, and your permissions within the system are granted as a function of your logon account. A subset of administrative users is responsible for uploading product drawings and data to the Web site so users who have view-only access to files -- such as vendors, purchasing staff, construction workers, and so forth -- can view and use the data.

Buzzsaw now comes in standard and professional versions. The latter offers enhanced documentation reporting and file management. If you're looking for a management system that provides basic architectural file sharing and control via the Internet without requiring that you maintain your own Web server and security infrastructure, Buzzsaw is worth a look.

Pricing: Based on Web server space consumed, number of projects being stored, and version of Buzzsaw being deployed. See Web site for detailed pricing information — use the How to Buy link.
Web site:

SmarTeam by SMARTEAM Corp.
SmarTeam is more a collection of integrated products than a single out-of-the-box, CAD-oriented product. SmarTeam was introduced as the first EDM system to integrate with SolidWorks in the U.S. market, and thus gained attention as SolidWorks became more popular. In fact, the fit was so good that SmarTeam is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Dassault Syst