Open JT Format Makes it an Archiving Option

1 Feb, 2006 By: Sara Ferris

When JT is published late this year, both customers and UGS will benefit

UGS called Cadalyst last week to remind us that there's more to the ProSTEP iViP Association's assessment of the JT format than a recommendation not to use it for long-term archiving. Never mind that this will no longer be an issue once UGS and the JT Open organization publish a reference to the format late this year. Chris Kelley, vice-president of Partners and Platforms for UGS, sees the ProSTEP report as third-party validation of JT's utility, and I won't argue that point. The report, Visualization Formats and Assembly Data Exchange, praises JT's capabilities for collaboration, visualization and simple analysis such as collision checking and digital mockup.

The JT Open Web site features a showcase where you can view sample models such as this one, which contains 12 parts and weighs in at 73KB.

UGS ended up with the JT format when it acquired EAI, a developer of visualization tools perhaps best known for its crime scene reconstructions, in 2000. JT is a versatile, lightweight format. To maximize the lightweight aspect, it can embody facet data only. For more demanding applications, it can retain associations to the original CAD information, assemblies, product structure, geometry, attributes and metadata.

In 2003, UGS launched the JT Open program to oversee development of the product. JT Open membership is open to developers and end users, who pay a one-time fee based on size and an annual maintenance fee. They must also pay royalties to UGS.

UGS competitors can join JT Open. Its roster features 20 ISV (independent software vendors) and partners, including PTC and Bentley. End users can also join, and those names include such manufacturing giants as Boeing, GM and Ford.

The decision to publish the format was made by the JT Open organization. Kelley says several member organizations have been looking at how to use JT as an archival format. Siemens, for example, uses JT for publishing CAE results.

Though JT started out as a format for design visualization, it has expanded to support data sharing, collaboration and now, archiving. The decision to publish the format will not affect its licensing formula. Kelley expects that most JT Open members will remain because of the value added by membership: support, input into the direction of its development, immediate access to changes in the format and so on.

Kelley says no other format has near the adoption rate or the flexibility that JT has. Virtually all CAD vendors support the format, and it's expanding into PLM applications. The JT2Go viewer, which displays JT files, is distributed freely. It includes Microsoft Office plug-ins that allow JT data to be embedded in Office documents.

UGS is thrilled at Adobe's heightened interest in 3D -- that company in late January announced its new Adobe Acrobat 3D -- and expects it to create more demand for 3D authoring and management capabilities. Kelley sees little overlap between JT and PDF, and in fact a partnership between UGS and Adobe will enable existing JT files to be used in PDF documents.

In the end, Kelley says, customers don't want format competitions among software developers. They want to pick the product that's best, not one that supports a certain data format. Customers clearly will benefit from the publishing of the JT format, and UGS expects that it will benefit as well.

For more details about data formats for exchanging manufacturing data, see the recent series in Cadalyst's MCAD Tech News.

About the Author: Sara Ferris

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