June 13, 2005
Catching up with Nemetschek
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor


by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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About this Issue….


Welcome to AECWeekly! Nemetschek has come up in the news in the past couple of weeks as the company celebrated its twentieth year of innovation and growth as a developer of CAD solutions for the AEC, entertainment, landscape design, and manufacturing industries. In addition to the 20th year celebration, Nemetschek announced that Sean Flaherty, formerly senior vice president and chief technology officer, became the company's new chief executive officer. Flaherty succeeds company founder, Richard Diehl, who is retiring after twenty years in his role as CEO.


Read about the company changes and new announcements in this week's Industry News.


AECWeekly is a news magazine featuring important industry news profiles, a summary of recently published AEC product and company news, customer wins, and coming events. Brought to you by AECCafe.


AECWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements, Announcements, Awards, Education, Appointments, New Products and Upcoming Events.


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Susan Smith, Managing Editor



Industry News



Catching up with Nemetschek

By Susan Smith




CEO Sean Flaherty
Nemetschek has come up in the news in the past couple of weeks as the company celebrated its twentieth year of innovation and growth as a developer of CAD solutions for the AEC, entertainment, landscape design, and manufacturing industries. In addition to the 20th year celebration, Nemetschek announced that Sean Flaherty, formerly senior vice president and chief technology officer, became the company's new chief executive officer. Flaherty succeeds company founder, Richard Diehl, who is retiring after twenty years in his role as CEO.


Established in 1985 by founder and chairman of the board, Richard Diehl, Nemetschek North America, formerly Diehl Graphsoft, initially focused on providing a cost effective CAD solution for the Macintosh community. Since then, the company's flagship product, VectorWorks, formerly MiniCAD, has become a strong seller for the Mac as well as Windows since it went cross platform in 1996.


In January 2000, the VectorWorks Industry Collection was born with the introduction of ARCHITECT, closely followed by LANDMARK, SPOTLIGHT, and MECHANICAL.


Flaherty has been with the company almost since its inception and was actually the second employee. Diehl plans on continuing his role as chairman of the board of Nemetschek North America.


In a conversation with Flaherty this week, I learned that the company's customers are divided in thirds among the North America, Europe and Japan/Pacific. AEC customers represent about 70 percent of Nemetschek's business right now. Interestingly, the company has a strong base in theater lighting, exhibit design and landscaping as well. “Some consider landscaping to be a part of the AEC arena, and we feel you need to be involved with the site development as well as the actual landscaping afterwards,” said Flaherty. “We see landscaping as our next big growth market. The AEC market has become very crowded and all the sales are expensive because they're all conquest sales,
because you have to displace another product.”


What changes do you expect to make as new CEO?


I don't see changes so much as implementing the plan that we have in place, because we've been very successful, especially since the construction market essentially froze for about six months after the September 11 attacks. There was a lot of trauma in the CAD industry. We were lean and targeted at the right customers during that time. We just want to build on success over last few years.


In the U.S. we've more than doubled our marketshare. I want to continue that. We need greater regional representation so we're actually in particular cities. It seems like among architects in particular, there's really a regional focus to their meetings and how they get their information on technology. In addition to the more broad based places to look for information, we also want to start targeting individual cities, and getting into their architectural culture, for example. For us that's a progression of our current strategy.


What was your latest product release?


We launched our VectorWorks 11 in April 2004. We are on an 18 month product cycle. About half way through each product cycle, we do a free feature upgrade which are our .5 releases. The flagship feature for our .5 release this year was a way to draw with freehand lines instead of hard edge lines. It's not a rendering technique, it's something that can actually work in real time both in 2D and in 3D. We're getting more requests from architects to give more of a hand drawn effect, both in floor plans and in 3D views. We're the first to really integrate it into a 2D drawing system, so you can give someone a tentative set of floor plans and have it look tentative. We hear from architects that
if you give the customer a CAD drawing that doesn't look completed or isn't a completed set of floor plans it won't be very impressive. But if you hand sketch it with that sketch effect it makes it look like a proposal. The problem with photorealism is that it forces the designer to put a lot of information in in order to make it look real, whereas if you give a hand drawn effect you can do the 3D in a lot less time because you don't have to put so much detail into it. You don't have to worry about whether the bricks are lining up correctly under the windows.


What is your key mission?


Our key mission right now is usability. Architects are telling us they see a lot of excitement especially in the 3D side. Our discussions with architects now are on how to best integrate 3D. They tell us there are a lot of capabilities they don't use right now because they don't understand how to fit them into their workflow effectively. A lot of what we focused on in 11.5 is workflow improvement to streamline the process for customers, how to visualize their 2D concepts in 3D. We use a technology called Viewports, used in other products, which allows you to look at a building in multiple views all in the same document. A customer can use the same geometry but visualize in different ways
for different purposes. We've worked on speeding things up, putting new and improved objects in. We have a smart object we call Plug-in Objects for presentations, that allow you to integrate RenderWorks and VectorWorks with photo- and non-photo realistic rendering and animation.


The usability things are often not as exciting to describe because they take improvements that reduce the number of clicks or the number of motions required by the users. We've added some new modes to our 3D rotation tool to make it easier to walk through and visualize the model.


Basically, we have been working to make the tools we have work better.


Other features included in VectorWorks 11 include:
  • Precision 3D modeling using flexible NURBS surface and solid modeling.
  • Ability to track data with built-in database and spreadsheet capabilities.
  • Free intelligent objects/symbol libraries
  • Advanced text capabilities
  • Integration with other CAD programs
  • Workgroup referencing for designing in a team environment
  • Customizable workspaces configurable with new tool palettes and menu commands, and the ability to assign and modify keyboard shortcuts for all tools and commands.


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