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Jeff Rowe
Jeff Rowe
Jeffrey Rowe has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the … More »

GstarCAD8 Product Launch – A 2013 Asian Odyssey

May 13th, 2013 by Jeff Rowe

A trip to Asia is always an intriguing opportunity, and I took advantage of an invitation from GstarCAD to witness the launch of its new CAD application — GstarCAD8.

Getting to Beijing, China can be a challenge, not just the travel time (18+ hours total), but also the logistics of getting it done. A Chinese Business Visa is required for getting into the country for any “business” purpose, including a product launch.
As product launches go, though, this one was particularly unique and made the long journey worthwhile. But first, a little company background for those who may not be familiar with GstarCAD.

Company History
Founded in 1992, Suzhou Gstarsoft Co., Ltd is a provider of 2D/3D CAD software for the AEC, mechanical, manufacturing, electrical, GIS, survey and mapping, and civil industries. With its 20-year history, GstarCAD is primarily dedicated to providing .dwg-compatible CAD software.

According to company statistics, the market share rate of GstarCAD platform and extended application software puts it in first place in terms of legitimate CAD seats in the Chinese market. GstarCAD claims a customer base of more than 200,000 architects, engineers, and designers from more than 70 countries.

GstarCAD’s design software, is available in 13 language versions, including Chinese, English, Japanese, Russian, Korean, German, French, Spanish, Hebrew and others.

Suzhou Gstarsoft has a marketing center in Beijing and seven branch sales and after-sales support offices located in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Suzhou, and Wuhan. It also has a worldwide CAD software development and distribution network.
Not shy about its reputation, in China, GstarCAD says its corporate identity is synonymous with credibility, innovation, and performance.

A brief timeline of GstarCAD follows:
1992 – Company founded, starts with electrical design for AutoCAD
2000 – Piping and HVAC design tools for AutoCAD
2000 – China encourages software development in specific industries
2003 – GstarCAD launches its first independent CAD products for electrical, civil, AEC, and HVAC design
2006 – Expands into manufacturing, mechanical, and structural design. Support for AutoCAD interoperability. 80,000 users. Supplies comprehensive CAD platform
2007 – Develops international strategy in its various vertical markets.
2008 – Start to sell software into Fortune 500 companies
2009 – Begins to evolve into international software company
2009 – GstarCAD receives CMMI L3 certification
2010 – GstarCAD receives award by UNESCO
2011 – Country-wide, intellectual property (IP) protection becomes as important as domestic software development
2011 – Develops ability to manage CAD drawings anywhere; enables viewing and editing drawings directly on a mobile device- with cloud – Gstarcad MC (Mobile Client)
2011 – GstarCAD receives award by WIPO
2012 – Company moves to new facility
2012 – GstarCAD Web developed
2013 – GstarCAD8 launched

Manufacturing and mechanical design is still regarded as an untapped market for GstarCAD, so this will be a major growth opportunity and direction. GstarCAD’s open API interface allows third parties to develop software applications, but the company itself has plans for developing applications for BIM and manufacturing in the foreseeable future.

While desktop applications remain the most important GstarCAD presently, cloud-based design applications will become more important over time, much as they will with virtually all competitors.

Until GstarCAD8, the company based its flagship products on IntelliCAD, but that has changed and all geometric engine development for the latest release was done in-house by its own developers.

GstarCAD8 Product Launch Event
Like most other CAD product introductions, there were plenty of lights and loud music as a prelude to the product launch festivities. Really, it was like a game show complete with an emcee who got the crowd worked up before and during the introductions of GstarCAD executives, several of whom gave short talks about the new product and star of the show – GstarCAD8.

First on the stage was Lu Xiang, GstarCAD’s President. He said that GstarCAD8 was three years in development, and the company resisted a lot of temptation to over-extend itself with this release. The goal this time around was to focus on independent R&D and a high-quality finished product.

GstarCAD’s President, Lu Xiang

Unbelievably, he said that some initial employees committed in 1992 on staying with the company for 50 years. The company is now 20 years in, and work has been planned out for the next 30 years with a long-term plan that includes staffing a worldwide team, supporting more mobile platforms, and to have over a million users worldwide. A shorter term goal is exploiting the cloud. His personal goal is to make China not only the center of global manufacturing, but to also be the center of software development, including CAD.

Next up was Yu Cike, Director of National Copyright Department, who voiced his concern about copyright and IP protection for GstarCAD. I took this to mean a concern about software piracy, a universal problem. He said that legal copies of software are essential for maintaining pace of innovation, and a good ecology for the software industry is absolutely required because three million people are engaged in design in China. He promised that he will work with other countries to ensure integrity of the software industry and IP protection. These were surprising statements and I’ll be interested to see if this effort actually works beyond words.

Wang Ziniu, Secretary General of China Exploration & Design Association, echoed what others had said regarding the quality of domestic CAD products that is improving, as well as their acceptance in the world market. He said his Association is paying greater attention to information technology, including software development and IP rights. Serving the design industry is vitally important for the future of software industry as a whole. He said real software requirements must be met, and domestic development must increase so China doesn’t depend/rely so much on foreign development, sales environment, and brands.

He wants the Association to promote self-development of software, which is an increasingly urgent issue for China. Although there is still a long way to go, domestic software competency has improved with regard to IP strategy, high quality, low cost, and becoming more competitive in the world CAD market (starting with 2D platforms).

He realizes that his Association must promote harmonious development for fair competition and price, with IP security, while supporting domestic software enterprises and activities by making more investment in the future of high-quality software, not necessarily just commoditization.

Liang Jiang, Vice President of Gstarsoft, introduced the company’s newest platform product – GstarCAD8. He started by saying that CAD software development began in earnest in China in the early 1990s. Early on, Chinese CAD developers realized they lagged the competition by years, so they began the playing the game of “catch up.”

GstarCAD8 is the result of three years of development by hundreds of developers. GstarCAD sets itself apart from the competition by realizing that their CAD platform must perform by itself, but also allow for easy vertical market development by third parties through its open API.
Improvements in GstarCAD8 were due in large part to its structure that influences stability greatly with interdependencies. The structure is analogous to a modular honeycomb, where it is easier to detect and resolve problems with the software during development, while improving working efficiency through parallel dispatching technology and optimized with advances in multicore hardware

Some of GstarCAD8’s core technology improvements include:

  •  Smart graphic partition
  •  Categorized memory storage management
  •  Self-adaptive data model
  •  3-5 times faster graphic display
  •  Decreased memory usage by 40-60%
  •  Reads .dwg 2013 file format

Let’s take a little closer look at the improvements found in GstarCAD8.

GstarCAD Executives at the Conclusion of the GstarCAD8 Launch

Until this release GstarCAD was based on IntelliCAD using the Open Design Alliance DWG libraries to read and write AutoCAD’s DWG file format.
GstarCAD positions itself as an alternative to other well-known CAD packages on the market (guess which one), and provides TeighaDWG file compatibility, as well as an interface that in many ways is similar to AutoCAD.

Keep in mind that GstarCAD8 is primarily a 2D tool. Yes, it does have some 3D capabilities, but they are very basic, so consider 2D design the strength of GstarCAD8.

GstarCAD8 offers a non-switching user interface that is easier for users to switch between different ribbon/classic interfaces instead of having to restart the program. Users can change views, visual styles, viewports and other settings. The UI also has a familiar Command Line for those who are inclined to use it.

In GstarCAD8, you can invoke the most compatible commands in your preferred way; from menu, ribbon, toolbars, or command line. Additionally, there are more comprehensive options within dialog boxes that make learning the software easier for new users.
There are two interfaces in GstarCAD8 – 2D Drafting and Classic. You can switch between the two interfaces anytime with one click. Also, the default functional zone can be customized via tool bar menu according to users’ preference.

GstarCAD8 improved its multiple viewport. In order to save more work space, every viewport doesn’t show the title bar as it did in previous versions. In addition, one viewport can be subdivided to display more views.

GstarCAD8 has adopted Unicode to write and compile programming and is able to open drawings that contain multi-language texts or without the system default language, in order to satisfy across-languages, text conversion, and processing requirements.
GstarCAD8 offers more standard industry file formats than previous versions. For example, export (*.dwfx, *.stl, *.eps, *.dxx), import (*.sat, *.3ds, *.wmf), and publish 3D PDF and 3D DWF.

The Basic GstarCAD8 User Interface

Compared to the previous version of GstarCAD, one of the major the innovations of GstarCAD8 is its core architecture and associated performance improvements. This platform makes its graphic speed and user operation 3-5 times faster while memory usage is around 40%-50% less than previous GstarCAD versions. The performance, stability and compatibility are all improved, because of the new core architecture.

With the new smart graphic partition, only the object data displayed in the workspace is handled in the background. Users can realize basic or complex operations on large drawings faster because the software only takes the graphic data from objects displayed at the workspace frame. Now the software handles less graphic data with lower memory usage to ensure faster performance.

The technology of Categorized Memory Storage Management and Self-adaptive Data Model can reduce memory usage 40% than previous versions. Users can realize basic or complex operations on huge drawing faster than before.

The LISP rewriting performance is 5 to 10 times faster as well as porting APIs; the graphic display speed comes in action when highlighting objects, zoom in/out, pan and endless operations either basic or complex. According to the company, the increased graphic speed is due to the new technologies inside of GstarCAD8. The company’s stated future goal is to make GstarCAD8 “the fastest 2D CAD in the world.”

Improved compatibility between GstarCAD and third-party developed software also has been implemented. A number of GRX parameters have been added into GstarCAD8 to easily transition ARX to GstarCAD8. Plug-ins of LSP/FAS/VLX can be directly run on GstarCAD8.

Gstarsoft is starting to move away from strictly a traditional single-machine design process to a more collaborative one across different computing platforms. The company has found that this is an excellent opportunity for cloud computing and a browse environment. This new design environment is why Gstarsoft has released versions of its software for mobile devices called GstarCAD MC (Mobile Client) that runs under iOS and Android. GstarCAD’s GRX API provides software written for AutoCAD’s ARX API that can run on either without changes to the code.

GstarCAD MC is targeted for mobile devices with inherent small memory, so the company had to optimize the software, as well as deal with compatibility issues for different languages and devices. GstarCAD MC enables viewing and editing CAD drawings (DWG, OCF, and DXF files) directly on a mobile device after transferring them. In other words, CAD drawings can be managed anywhere with GstarCAD MC.

GstarCAD8 integrates with GstarCAD MC and GstarCAD WEB. Now, .dwg files can be input into GstarCAD MC, that enables designers to browse, edit and share .dwg files. GstarCAD WEB is a cloud application of GstarCAD development, where creating and editing .dwg files can be accomplished via web browser without CAD software. It will be integrated with GstarCAD’s Documentation System to become a coordinated CAD system based on cloud storage and mobile Internet.

The Standing Vice President of Gstarsoft, Liang Haixia said, “GstarCAD8 is a milestone in GstarCAD’s history, it is also a major accomplishment of our 20 years’ of research and development. Gstarsoft expects the release of GstarCAD8 as a starting point to raise our position in world design markets and to provide more powerful support for the construction and manufacturing industries.”

Architectural Module: CADprofi Architectural

For AEC beyond GstarCAD8, CADprofi Architectural is a third-party optional parametric CAD application specifically for AEC design work. The Architectural module can be used to create construction plans, cross-sections, and elevation views. The application facilitates drawing composite walls, architectural dimensioning, and quickly creating drawings.

The module comes with a comprehensive library of windows, doors, furniture, and other furnishing objects.

CADprofi has been developed mainly as a tool used in 2D and isometric drawings. The library of objects from many industry manufacturers also facilitates AEC design. The software is equipped with an array of functions supporting users at every level of design work; from autonumbering and description system to BOM generation to exporting data into many file formats for further editing.

Drawings created in CADprofi are fully compatible with .dwg and .dxf formats and can be edited in any CAD application.

Representative GstarCAD Customers

Final Thoughts
To date, the majority of GstarCAD’s sales have been into the AEC market, and for good reason, it’s a good tool for basic 2D design, still the lifeblood of AEC design.

The launch of GstarCAD8 is a real milestone for the company, and continuing economic reform in China has benefitted the company greatly. GstarCAD8 improves the company’s CAD platform for the immediate future, and provides more options for the company down the road.
Is there room for another 2D CAD product? Based on price (less than $800) and the fact that not everyone has declared 2D dead (including me), GstarCAD8 may have a chance for at least modest success in this hemisphere.

The company has big plans, and as it says, the 8 in Gstarcad8 sideways is infinity, meaning its future is unlimited. That’s a lofty claim, but the company does look poised for seizing some major opportunities.

For more information about GstarCAD8, visit

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Categories: AEC, architecture, Cloud, engineering

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