In this week's issue of upFront.eZine newsletter, readers respond to last week's article on user interfaces:
- Readers Write about User Interfaces
You can read all about the business of CAD at www.upfrontezine.com/2014/upf-838.htm.
In this week's issue of upFront.eZine newsletter, readers respond to last week's article on user interfaces:
You can read all about the business of CAD at www.upfrontezine.com/2014/upf-838.htm.
from Senic GmbH
Tobias Eichenwald wrote last week to give me an early look at his company's new controller, named Flow. Like a 3D mouse, it is designed to work with your existing 2D mouse. Unlike the 3D mice from, say, 3Dconnexion, this one has no buttons.
(Important: this input device is not available yet, and is dependent on funding from an IndieGOGO campaign that begins today.)
The puck-like device is used by rotating it and tapping on areas of the white top. It connects through Bluetooth (not available on most desktops, however), has an API, and can be customized by end users for specific applications -- 30 at last count, including Rhino and AutoCAD. It is expected to ship in June, be manufactured in Germany, with early backers paying as little as $79.
The best thing is to visit the Web page and see how it works through videos. https://www.indiegogo.com/project/preview/ec7eaad9
My daughter does photography as part of her work in the communications department of a university. She does professional photography as a side job on weekends. And she does photography as a fun hobby. Here she is at work at a local mall; photo by Wendy Delamont Lees.
by Ralph Grabowski
It was a scant two years ago that a flurry of start-ups launched 3D MCAD software that runs in Web browsers. The catalyst was HTML5 and other browser technology that allowed users to interact with 3D models in their Web browsers on any hardware. No more installs to desktops; no more being limited to Windows. Wanna run 3D CAD on an Android ultrabook or a FirefoxOS phone -- no problemo.
(Well, almost no problemo. There were a few caveats. The hardware had to be powerful enough; the Web connection speed had to be fast enough; the Internet latency had to be low enough; the Web browser had to be HTML5-compatible enough; and so on. See figure below of Sunglass running on an iPad, kind of.)
Never mind. Even CAD-unaware publications like TechCrunch heralded this New Era in 3D design. Lanuched with the financial assistance of VC firms, firms erupted with funky software names like TinkerCAD, To3D, and sunglass.io .
And then it was like 2001 all over again. The answer to step 2 of the old joke...
Step 1: Idea!
Step 2: ????
Step 3: Profits!
... is Paying Customers!
The Web sites for Sunglass.io and To3D aren't even zombies; they're gone entirely now. TinkerCAD was in the process of shutting down when Autodesk snapped it up. And as I write this, Lagoa was bought by Autodesk for $60 million. Earlier, GrabCAD was bought by Statasys, and TeamPlatform by 3D Systems.
Web-based CAD is just too funky to be useful in an efficient way to end-users.
by James E. Heppelmann
[Reprinted from Seeking Alpha]
The Internet of Things is the #1 topic of interest right now in the field of information technology, and PTC has a legitimate opportunity not only to play in this market, but to emerge as a bona fide leader.
And it isn't just an interesting adjacent market for us. I truly believe it will redefine what CAD, PLM, ALM [application lifecycle development -- used to manage computer software], and SLM [service lifecycle management -- used to manage the delivery of services] are all about. At PTC, after spending more than two decades helping customers create physical products with CAD and PLM, over the last five years we've been helping our customers expand in the smart products with ALM and to optimize their aftersales service business with SLM.
The Internet of Things is really about connecting these smart products to the Internet to create feedback loops that inform
I've invested a tremendous amount of personal energy into understanding this phenomenon, and long ago, I came to realize that the products our customers manufacture are the things on the Internet of Things and that our industry can't really do justice to the term "lifecycle management" of these things, without enabling and then leveraging these powerful feedback loops.
So the Internet of Things [IoT] is not just an interesting new business opportunity to pursue. It's also an opportunity to dramatically improve the capabilities, value proposition and differentiation of our CAD, PLM, ALM and SLM offerings.
Because we see so much opportunity to both upsell existing accounts and to penetrate new accounts, we're dedicating a segment of our sales force to pursuing new IoT opportunities in 2015. This sales segment will focus primarily on landing new logos [customers] with IoT outside our current customer base. As we land these new logos, we'll work to expand our position by introducing SLM, which is really the killer app for IoT, as well as ALM, PLM and even CAD technologies over time.
I can tell you that the ThingWorx and Axeda companies that we have acquired have both grown considerably versus their own year-ago comps [comparisons, financially], and we expect to build on this momentum at PTC. Between the various segments of the sales force (who are either lending or cross-selling IoT solutions), we expect that by the end of 2015 we'll have approximately 400 IoT accounts, which is roughly double the current level, and $40 million to $50 million of run rate IoT revenue. That will give PTC a strong claim to IoT's leadership.
Mr Heppelmann is chief executive officer and president of PTC.
The MGPR [mobile ground penetrating radar] uses a multitude of low and intermediate frequency antennas to boost the quality of data and its reliability. Double polarized antennas cover both longitudinal and transversal scans to create one of the clearest underground images available.
This week's issue of upFront.eZine newsletter feature article is an excerpt from my talk at the Bricsys International Conference 2014 in Barcelona, Spain:
You can read all about the business of CAD at www.upfrontezine.com/2014/upf-837.htm.
by Ralph Grabowski
[This article first appeared in Design Engineering magazine, and is reprinted with permission.]
Four years after Dassault Systems badly announced the successor to Solidworks (which led to a frenzy of speculation as its dedicated users debated the future of the company's mid-level CAD package), its future is secure. At the September launch of Solidworks 2015, Dassault executives reassured the assembled media that the world's #1 MCAD program would be updated and supported for another 15 years, at least.
The uncertainly affected primarily only the chattering classes, because at 2.3 million users Solidworks continues to sell briskly, keeping its position as the #1 MCAD program. Now, the bulk of these sales are to educational institutions; subtract them out and there appears to be around 650,000 commercial seats. Dassault trumpets the number as often as it can, because arch competitor Siemens PLM only occasionally provides vague guidelines for second-place Solid Edge, such as "over 500,000" commercial seats, while Autodesk stopped reporting licenses of apparent third-place Inventor years ago.
What's New in SolidWorks 2015
And so in this light, Dassault imbued Solidworks 2015 with bevy after bevy of new and enhanced functions. After all, nothing says "We're there for you" like lots and lots of enhancements from a software company. Let me highlight a few that caught my eye.
Treehouse is not so much new as reintroduced after being previewed years ago. It has a flowchart-like interface for building assemblies graphically. We build assembly structures by dragging and dropping parts and assemblies into the interface -- or by opening an existing assembly into Treehouse. After this, we can edit the parts to specify things like configurations, quantities and custom properties. The data can be linked to Solidworks Enterprise PDM.
Chain patterns are a new type of assembly. Here we pattern (array) parts along a path that can be open or closed -- think tank treads or even gantry cable guides -- in three modes: by distance, by distance linkage, or by connected linkage. Once the assembly is complete, Solidworks simulates the motion of the chains so that we can be sure it'll operate correctly.
Assemblies can be exploded radially with a single click; think of bolts exploding out of a pressure vessel.
Something we saw introduced to Solid Edge ST7 this year, Solidworks also automatically flattens 3D models to see how much material is needed. With an eye on the fashion industry into which Dassault sells specialty software, the company states specifically that this flattening can be used towards clothing, footwear, and upholstery design.
Over in the area of surfacing, surface curvature combs let us see how well surfaces connect. This is important for ensuring smooth transitions from one surface to the next.
Asymmetrical fillets means that we can specify two radii (instead of just one, as for traditional fillets), like two distances for chamfers. In this case, the resulting fillet looks like a quarter ellipse.
Patterns (arrays) no longer need to be regularly spaces: they can have variable distances defined by formulae. (I first saw this in the Russian KOMPAS MCAD program earlier this year, and so it's interesting how quickly the function appeared elsewhere.) To make variable patterns, we first create a pattern table that defines the distances, which can be pasted into Solidworks from a spreadsheet. The table defines distances between features (extrudes, revolves, fillets, domes, drafts, and so on), as well which instances to skip for non-continuous patterns. The values can be static, or calculated using mathematical functions, like sum, sine, log, pi, and square root. I can see this one function needing an entire course to learn!
To make it easier to find references in 2D drawings, sheets can be divided into zones. As a result, annotation notes, balloons, and revisions tables refer to zone numbers, which are updated automatically should parts be moved to another zone.
Other new items that caught my eye are touch-ups that probably should have been added to Solidworks years ago. These include drawing lines symmetrical to the midpoint, saving selection sets by name for reuse, customizing toolbars, drawing spline-shaped leaders, and setting word wrapping, paragraph spacing, and line spacing in paragraph text.
For more on what's new and changed in Solidworks 2015, look at http://help.solidworks.com/2015/English/WhatsNew/c_top_enhancements.htm.
Solidworks Links to MBD
Along with adding functions to Solidworks, Dassault continues on a parallel path slowly writing modules that are independent of the MCAD program, yet help out designers using Solidworks. The modules are independent because they are written with Dassault's proprietary CAD platform -- Enovia database (for the "file" system) and CGM kernel (for the modeling) -- and it is inherently incompatible with the Parasolid kernel employed by Solidworks. Being external modules allows Dassault to charge extra for each, typically $2,000 apiece with a $500/yr subscription.
The newest module is Solidworks MBD. "Model-based definition" is the idea is that 3D models should contain all the information needed to build the design, forsaking 2D entirely. Now, MBD is the hot new term that isn't as sexy like "social" or "cloud," but is much more important; well, it has the potential to be that, but only now is getting attention along with slowly getting needed traction among design firms. MBD is driven by government agencies, such as the US Military's MS-31000A specification that requires that 3D models for stuff manufactured for military use.
(Traditional 3D models contain only information that is inherent, such as the lengths of edges and volumes. Design details are left for the stacks of 2D drawings, which document 3D models through flattened views, hosts of dimensions and geometric tolerances, welding instructions and other notes, embedded bills of material and their accompanying balloons, all topped off with index sheets. This is why marketing departments make big fusses over how well their MCAD programs generate linked 2D drawings from 3D models, automatically. Because that's the way it's done, currently.)
MBD promises the jettison all the 2D generation, automation, and linking for a purely 3D deliverable that is loaded up with all the information that today is relegated to drawing sheets. But this means updating MCAD systems to embed 3D PMI (product and manufacturing information) and metadata into 3D models, information like design intent, GD&T, BOMs, material definitions, and configurations -- all this stuff that used to be external to the pure 3D model. You can see that generating self-contained 3D models requires a big switch in thinking, and a big programming job by MCAD software developers.
This is not simple transition, and so Solidworks doesn't do it. Instead, the new, separate module does it. Solidworks MBD attaches all that PMI data directly onto 3D models. Output templates generate models and data suitable for different departments, such as procurement, request for quotations, and manufacturing. And, in a tip of the hat the current practice, MBD also outputs drawings in 2D.
With Solidworks 2015, users are relieved to see their favorite MCAD system imbued with new life through an impressive set of new functions. For those firms who need it, MBD will allow them to use a mid-level MCAD system for high-end aircraft and military contracts.
This week's issue of upFront.eZine newsletter reports on the ongoing failure by Autodesk toregister DWG as a trademark in the United States:
You can read all about the business of CAD at www.upfrontezine.com/2014/upf-836.htm.
This week's issue of upFront.eZine newsletter reports on a segment of the Indian CAD scene, specifically DSTools:
You can read all about the business of CAD at www.upfrontezine.com/2014/upf-835.htm.
Gaudi, Gaudi, Gaudi
Even though I was in Barcelona four nights for a two-day conference, I got to see the city like a tourist only on my last day there. Conferences tend to be morning to late-night events, leaving little time for sightseeing. Which I why I now tack on a extra day.
I had been to the Spanish city once before, and so I know that the only way to visit the place is with your significant other. Touring it as a single is not recommended. The reason: the ramblas. These are the broad walkways that go through parts of the city and along the Mediterranean Sea. They are like freeways for people to ramble along. In the late afternoon and evening, thousands of Barceloneans take to the ramblas. To do this appropriately, you need your sweetheart on your arm.
My wife wanted to see Gaudi; I wanted to show her the ramblas. We did both.
In the morning and afternoon, we saw the famously incompleted Sagrada Família cathedral, Park Güell park, and Casa Batlló -- some of the buildings and facilities design by architect Antonio Gaudi.
In the late afternoon and evening, we went rambling.
Outdoor cafe next to Boqueria Market
Barcelona Travel Tips
For my 3.5-week trip through Europe this month, I look along my trusty three-year-old ASUS Android tablet and my brand-new Lenovo Windows 8.1 ultrabook, one of their Yoga models. The Yoga has three input devices, and none of them is just right for me:
(For the record, I found that the Lenovo handily replaces the ASUS, even though it has half the battery life, but this is overcome by the Lenovo keyboard, which is so superior.)
Finding the Right Travel Mouse
I decided I also needed a mouse, because still too often a mouse does what trackpads, pointing sticks, and touchscreens cannot. I wanted the following specs:
In Hamburg, I went to the Saturn store (Germany's BestBuy) next to the main train station (Hbf). In that five-story electronics superstore, I found just one mouse to fit my specs. And in only one color, black.
(It seems to me that this chain of store is now carrying less stock -- and fewer interesting items -- than what I experienced during my visits in years previous. Much of the computer floor is today taken up with brand-specific mini-stores, which could explain the dearth of variety. Anyhow, mini rant over.)
And so that's I ended up with Logitech's M557 mouse. It has one new feature: a Windows-logo'ed button meant to mimic the new Windows button found on on newer tablets. Fortunately, the button can be reprogrammed. Little did I know how much programming would be required.
Bringing Back the Double-Click
When I install a new mouse, the first thing I do is program Double-Click to one of the buttons. But this mouse's version of the Logitech SetPoint utility software excluded the option. Wha'? There were all kinds of operations I could bind to buttons, but not Double-Click.
Logitech had removed it. Fortunately, geeks on the interwebs figured out how to add it back in. It turns out that Setpoint reads an XML file to determine the options available to a mouse. I could return the double-click by editing the file.
(An alternative method is to install an older version of Setpoint; I did not try this option as I read that newer mice don't work with older Setpoints.)
On a Logitech forum, users began last December venting their dismay at the loss of double-click. Logitech staff were unhelpful. See http://forums.logitech.com/t5/Mice-and-Pointing-Devices/Setpoint-quot-Double-Click-quot-option-doesn-t-work-anymore/td-p/1150213.
But then in June, customer JaTeK figured out the solution. I implemented it, and it works. Here is what he wrote:
I've found workaround. In the configuration file located in the folder:
You can change assignment for the key of interest, like this:
<Button Number="3" Name="3">
<Param IconLoc="" Type=""/>
<Param Button="3" EventType="16777216" FirstRepeatDelay="0" RepeatDelay="0" Silent="0" Type="0"/>
<TriggerState Name="ButtonDownUp" HandlerSet="DoubleClick">
After that, you need reboot computer or restart SetPoint and have fun with your favorite double-click!
It works, because Logitech's programmers didn't remove the functionality, but only hid it. Thank you very much, because old version of SetPoint doesn't work properly with the new modern M557 Logitech mouse.
And this is why I have come to hate upgrades: loss of productive functionality.
Back from Europe and the 2014 Graebert Annual Meeting in Berlin and Bricsys International Conference in Barcelona, and so this week's issue of upFront.eZine newsletter reports on how the two CAD vendors are similar and different:
You can read all about the business of CAD at www.upfrontezine.com/2014/upf-834.htm.
Building information modeling
BricsCAD V15 is shipping today, and it includes the first edition of the return by Bricsys to architectural design. Recall that the company created the AEC software that was purchased in the 1990s by Bentley Systems for its architectural needs, TriForma.
Here is the excerpt from the V15 release notes that talks about the new BIM functions:
Instead of creating a set of dedicated BIM primitives like walls, slabs, columns, etc..., each with their own restricted behavior and properties, we opted for offering maximum flexibility. Any 3D solid can be used in a BIM model, whether it is created and edited by using existing BricsCAD modeling tools, new powerful BIM commands, or even imported from 3rd party software or edited by 3rd party tools.
At any stage one can decide to classify 3D solid or other entities, as Building Elements of type Wall, Slab, Column, etc... Classification can be done automatically and manually.
The automatic classification tool analyzes and classifies entire buildings in a few seconds.
IFC import/export ensures optimal cooperation with other disciplines and applications.
BIMDRAG: Main editing tool for 3D solids which resemble walls and slabs. Geometry of 3D solids is analyzed on the fly. Depending on this analysis and on which face is selected, BIMDRAG allows you to easily perform following operations, which can be toggled on the fly by pressing the CTRL key:
BIMCONNECT: accepts a selection set of 2 solids, and will try to create an L-connection between the two solids. Press Enter to accept the suggested connection or tap the CTRL key to switch to alternative connection types. This command works for walls and roof slabs, or any other set of 3D solids for which a connection can be found.
BIMINSERT: inserts a window or door (see section below on windows and doors).
About Windows and Doors. Windows and doors are native .dwg files which can be inserted in walls or slabs by the command BIMINSERT. Using dynamic UCS, a window will automatically align with the 3D solid face it is inserted on. A 3D solid in the window drawing on a layer named "BIM_SUBTRACT" will be used to automatically create an opening in the wall, keep the window in its position in the wall, and keep the opening associative with the window.
Optionally, the window drawing can contain 2D symbols. These 2D symbols will either replace the actual 3D solid section of the window, or be added with the 3D solid section, depending on their layer: symbols on a layer with prefix 'BRX_2D_' will be used to replace the geometry resulting from the actual section, symbols on a layer with prefix 'BRX_2D+_' will be added to the section result. Only those 2D entities in a plane parallel to the section plane are considered.
BIMWINDOWUPDATE: updates the opening made by a window or door in a solid, in case the definition changed in such way that the opening was not correctly updated automatically.
BIMCLASSIFY: this command allows to classify an entity to any of the elements listed below. Each type is separately available in the Quad when an applicable entity is highlighted.
About BIM Classification: At any time, any .dwg entity can be classified as a Building Element and get a name and an internal guid (a globally unique identifier). Specialized types of Building Element are:
BIMEXPORT exports the model to a .ifc file containing all 3D geometrical and BIM related data. Entities which were not classified, or were classified as Building Element, are exported as Building Element Proxy. Others are exported to the corresponding IFC element.
Clearly, it will take a while for BricsCAD BIM to catch up with the Graphisofts and Vectorworks of the world. Bricsys tells me that they plan to rapidly add BIM functions over the next several months.
The interesting aspects to this, however, is that (a) any commands found in the Windows vesion will also be available in the Linux and Mac versions when they ship; and (b) all the data is stored in DWG files, and not in proprietary formats, like RVT. This makes it the first BIM system for Linux users, and the first .dwg-based BIM system for Mac users.
You can download a 30-day demo of the V15 Windows version from http://www.bricsys.com/common/open.jsp?m=%2Fcommon%2Fdownload.jsp%3Fpl%3Dwin
A brief article (New at the top: Jeff Ray is chief executive officer at Ellucian) in The Washington Post newspaper carries a brief autobiography by Jeff Ray, the former ceo of Solidworks:
[The experience (at IBM) helped me ultimately land at a company called SolidWorks, where I was named chief executive.] The company had been wildly successful. But I felt that we were reaching the end of what the platform could do and we needed to work on the next-generation technologies. The hardest thing to change is a successful company.
It’s easy to change when you’ve been diagnosed with a challenging disease or some kind of event or crisis is forced upon you. It’s very hard to force change on people when you’re doing well. But that’s exactly the time that you should start questioning what you’re doing.
He went on to become the ceo of Ellucian.
Lichtefeld train station, Berlin
Alexander Platz funkturm, built by the former East German government
Hairdresser after hours in north Berlin
Chillin' at my cousin's home, Berlin
Aunts, uncles, and cousins from Canada and Germany get together for dinner
In the villiage of Celle
Becklingen miltary cemetary for Allied troops killed duirng a 1945 battle
"I bought a Revit course, and was surprised it was 215 courses. Then I bought a Revit MEP course, and it was another 139 courses. Visiting an architectural firm in the USA, training was the biggest hurdle. I refuse to believe that people freely accept complexity. I tried it out: you can view 250 lessons in a few days, but you have not learned Revit.
"I believe there is a better way. Our ambition is to teach BircsCAD BIM in 20 lessons. In all fairness, BricsCAD BIM does not have the features of Revit. It is our real ambition, if there must be lessons, then there can only be 20.
"If really are dynamic and if you want to be part of the BIM market, whatever the penetration of Revit is, I think we have the correct technology to ramp up. I cannot believe that if you pay every year a subscription price higher than our purchase price -- and the complexity is so much higher... We have newer technology and better technology.
"We have been working on BIM for two years. We could not do it quicker. We had to study it, we had to build what you saw today. For years, we are preaching an ecosystem; we have to join forces with you [developers] to build choices.
"There is development, marketing, sales, support... For development, we are providing the best APIs. We will sign agreements so taht you can use our source code. For marketing, we will never have the A-budget -- and I don't need to say what the A-budget is -- so we need to work togther. Sales, we have 80 distributors and 900 application developers. We must find a way to combine the sales power with the knowledge of the vertical applications, so that you can use our sales channel.
"From our side, it is our obligation to stay neutral. We will never, never, favor an aplication. This will make the ecosystem fall apart. We offer a platform for all these divisions -- development, marketing, etc. When we started this five years ago, we were dreaming, I confess. If we put all these things together, the user experience will go up. Of the 3,100 applications for AutoCAD, many can run on BricsCAD.
"We have a chance to convince to people that there is a real choice."
Slices and dices
It's getting towards the end of the Bricsys International 2014 conference, and we are being treated to a early preview of the 3D CAD viewer that's being added to Chapoo. The 3D models we are seeing are being streamed from a server from the head office in Belgium (we are in Spain).
The viewer slices the model to see inside, and it also does more than one slice plane -- live sections that can be moved around in real time. Naturaly, there are standard viewpoints, as well as perspective mode. (The programmer is giving the demo, who reports he was writing code for it while sitting in the audience during this conference.)
If you upload a STEP file to Chapoo, it is converted to DWG automatically. Unlike other viewers, like the once from GrabCAD, Chapooo doesn't need to download the entire model before we can view it. It has LOD (level of detail) so that zooming in shows more detail.
The viewer is written with Unity and compiled with Mono. They are waiting for Unity 5, which will publish to WebGL, meaning no plugin needed for Web browsers. It also publishers to mobile devices like Android and iOS.
It takes measurements, and reports areas and volumes. Can choose all similar objects, like cylinders. Can select individual faces and make them transparent -- or even delete faces (just press Del). Will be getting annotations, and annotations for sliced planes.
This technology is not yet available, but is still being developed. "This is just the core technology; we still have to add lots of things, like the mechanical structure tree and BIM-IFC information. I think we can agree the base technology is looking OK!"
Through orange juice
"We have done no investment in mobile," states Bricsys ceo Erik de Keyser categorically. "We are following it; we think it is not yet necessary. We are investing in mobile [project] management through Chapoo, which runs on mobile -- but not [investing] in CAD."
Instead, he introduces to us Orange Juice, who are developers from London England. They have a new approach to the user interface for using CAD software on mobile devices. (I am proud to say that I introduced Orange Juice last year to readers of this blog, which caught the attention of Bricsys and at least one other CAD vendor. See, for example, http://worldcadaccess.typepad.com/blog/2014/03/orange-juice-studios-cado-goes-on-kickstarter.html.)
Cofounder Attzaz Rashid tells us that Orange Juice Studios arose out of the frustration that iPads cannot be used effectively for CAD drawing creation. "There are other CAD programs in the mobile space, but I don't think they address the problem of using CAD in a touch environmen," he says.
We are seeing a live demo. The main item is the "virtual mouse" with two buttons, and is patent pending. Left button: performs the current function, such as drawing a line; second button: cancel or switch modes. Along the bottom is the context menu that changes depending on the mode selected along the top. At the right is a keypad, which appears only when needed. Options also appear near where the object is being drawn or edited. File-related functions appear from the left.
There is no limit to the canvas size, and can zoom out to the solar system -- something not possible on other mobileCAD products. File transfer is through Dropbox or email.
More to come
With BricsCAD running on the Mac (and due to be released after the Windows version of V15), we are now seeing that the same 3D modeling for architectural also working on the Mac version. (We need not remind readers that AutoCAD for Mac is feature-incomplete, even in the latest 2015 version released yesterday.) So we are seeing more of the 3D house modeling but now on the Mac.
But what about BIM -- the information that's attached to building model? During lunch, I had the chance to ask ceo Erik de Keyser about this. He agreed that today, we were mostly seeing 3D modeling in BricsCAD BIM, but that there is much more to come in the next 4-6 months. Mr de Keyser describes his version of BIM as "SketchUp for DWG users."
(As of V15, license keys are all-OS keys, so it'll work on Linux, Mac, or Windows.)
Lunch is over, and now Mr de Keyser gives his roadmap for BIM: To turn BricsCAD BIM into actual BIM, the materials database will be added to a later release. The link is through custom objects (not attributes, as I had speculated in another blog post). (More on the use of custom objects below.)
IFC export exists now; IFC import will come in another release; it is being worked on right now. "It would not make sense to write an IFC importer if nothing can be done by BricsCAD with the data," explains Mr de Keyser. BricsCAD will understand BIM data through IFCs: "BIM completeness" is the term being used here to describe BricsCAD BIM.
Mr de Keyser continues: "I am not sure BIM is being adopted because people want to adopt it; they don't love BIM. [During a break, another attendee told me that he knows people who hate using BIM, because of how it restricts their design ideas.] We want to make it better." He makes it clear that BricsCAD will also handle structural, MEP, civil, and GIS elements.
"Architects using DWG may never need SketchUp any longer," he says. Now, SketchUp is cheaper by a few hundred dollars, but works only with ignorant faces -- a serious drawback -- and not solids. So DWG and 3D solids together might make BricsCAD more appealing to architectural offices than SketchUp.
"Our goal is to complete this, and make BricsCAD a BIM platform." He hopes third-party developers to help add to the BIM capabilities. But he has this warning: we cannot wait forever, and so if necessary we will act [if third-party devs do not].
Bricsys is setting itself up to make plays all these areas:
His conclusion: "We will start where the projects start: intuitive modeling. We will work more forward faster than anyone else, as we have the interface in place."
Now someone (sorry, didn't get the name) from SimpleBim of Finland showing how the BricsCAD model looks and can have data attached to elements. "Imagine the SimpleBim functionality integrated into BricsCAD," he says.
BricsCAD model in SimpleBim software
APIs for BIM
BricsCAD has the key components needed for BIM modeling, we learn next from cto Luc De Batselier:
Parametrics has more use than just doors and windows, we are told. "We think we can use them for components, instead of dynamic blocks -- which have their own drawbacks." For example, dynamic blocks work well only in 2D, whereas parametric components in BricsCAD are true 3D.
Other key components already available in BricsCAD:
BricsCAD recognizes walls from their geometry; it also recognizes connected walls, so that walls can be moved connectedly. This is important for imported geometry, and if they are modeled in a normal way, then BricsCAD will also recognize the elements.
The technical approach: "We have deliberately design BricsCAD BIM to avoid the use of the command line as much as possible, and avoid use of settings," we are being told. "We extended the OPM API to handle BIM, and now there is a new C++ API that offers more possibilities -- and it is multi-platform (it is not tied to COM, and so is usable on Mac and Linux).
About BIM in DWG: "The word 'custom objects' was mentioned, which only is used to store extra data in DWG's dictionaries. We use only native entities in drawings, like native 3D solids and blocks. Native entities are also only used for 2D generated drawings; no hassles with proxies or whatever."
What is meant about parametrics: "It is based on our constraint technology, a technology that is going further than history-based modeling or parametric change engines. Our approach offers greater technology and freedom, although not everything is there yet -- such as cyclic conditions. We have constraints possibilities that other systems do not have, such as inequalities."
The API plan: "BIM API = BricsCAD/DWG API + extensions, and multiplatform. Already available are the modeler, Quad cursor, C++ OPM, and 2D constraints. But that is not enough. The next steps are 3D constraints-parameters-expressions, pparametric components, IFC streaming, more database connections, and collision detection."
Mr Luc De Batselier concludes, "This is a logical first step. There are things we have to focus on in the next months."