MCAD Tech News (#255)

3 Dec, 2008

An Argument for SaaSp>

A look at on-demand project management and digital rights management services.

By Kenneth Wong

Kenneth Wong photo

By the time this newsletter arrives in your inbox, you may already be at Autodesk University (December 2-5, Las Vegas, Nevada). Footing the bill for your hotel, airfare, and admission to the conference couldn’t have been an easy decision for your boss, especially in this grim economy. He or she may have gone to great lengths to justify your expenses. So, while you’re at the conference, it’s incumbent upon you to pick up a few ideas that could help you become more productive and help your boss keep operating costs down.

In frugal times, the communal model -- sharing the cost of ownership and maintenance -- has a better chance to succeed. In software, this model exists under another name, software as a service (SaaS). The idea is simple: The vendor hosts the software on a secure server and lets the user access it via high-bandwidth Internet connection. The user pays a subscription fee, usually just a fraction of the cost of an individual license. This model helps keep IT costs down for the user, not to mention the headaches associated with troubleshooting and upgrading installed software. Whether you’re a skeptic or a believer, scouting out SaaS options should be on your agenda at AU.

Pay-As-You-Go Project Management
One SaaS vendor you’ll meet at AU is Clarizen, which offers an on-demand project management system, priced from $21.95 to $49.95 per user, per month. The product, simply called Clarizen, is now available for integration with both SolidWorks and AutoCAD. If you’re familiar with product data management (PDM) or product lifecycle management (PLM) systems, you might recognize similar components in Clarizen’s dashboard-like interface with project names, due dates, milestones, tasks, status reports, and participant setups. Read more »

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Cadalyst executive editor Kenneth Wong explores the innovative use of technology and its implications. Reach him at


MCAD Modeling Column:
Ask for What You Want

By Mike Hudspeth, IDSA

How many times have you heard someone say, "There are two kinds of people in this world"? Usually the statement is followed by something either humorous or scary. The humorous statements generally are based on some aspect of human nature that we all can recognize and laugh at. The scary statements sometimes are based on cold, hard fact, but more often they're based on cold, hard ignorance. Either way, we should be very careful with the scary statements because they are the ones that can come back to bite us.

No matter which kind of statement follows, it inevitably will be a broad generalization. But you must remember that although the statements are general (and as such inherently inaccurate), they aren't necessarily false. Take for instance these two groups: the active and the passive. One group makes things happen; the other watches things happen. Depending on the circumstances, either group might have its advantages. Which group would you like to think you're in?

Get Active
Okay, we all know that no one is perfect -- least of all companies that sell 3D modeling software. I'll go out on a limb here and tell you that no matter how good an application is, it can always be better. No matter what 3D modeling package you use, you will eventually find something wrong with it. It won't do what it's supposed to do or what you want it to do. Invariably, you will find yourself wishing it would do X, Y, or Z. What can you do? Fill out an enhancement request.  Read more »


Mark Your Calendar: MCAD Events

Improving Data Management with Autodesk Productstream
December 11, 2008
11 a.m CST
This webinar by Applied Engineering Technology will show how Autodesk Productstream can be used for file organization and search, design reuse with copy design, and design revisions and lifecycles.  Read more »

Introduction to AutoCAD Electrical 2009
December 18, 2008
10:30 a.m. CST
Applied Engineering Technology will introduce attendees to some specialized tools in AutoCAD Electrical, such as electrical schematic design, electrical circuit utilities, and PLC modules.  Read more »

Siemens PLM Connection Americas 2009
June 1-4, 2009
Nashville, Tennessee
This four-day conference is a forum for users of Siemens PLM products to exchange software knowledge in technical sessions, attend training sessions, and network one-on-one with other users and professionals.  Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on