April 10, 2006
From 2D to 3D in One Click with TurboCAD
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor


by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Welcome to AECWeekly! So much has been written in recent years about the transition from 2D to 3D. It may be easy for software providers to create 3D CAD programs, but the adoption rate of 3D CAD among those who are diehard 2D CAD users has not been as impressive as most vendors would like it to be. Read about version 12 of TurboCAD, a low-cost, AutoCAD compatible architectural software that an easy way to access 3D from 2D - just one click away.


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, New Products, Around the Web and Upcoming Events.


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Susan Smith, Managing Editor



Industry News



From 2D to 3D in One Click with TurboCAD

by Susan Smith


So much has been written in recent years about the transition from 2D to 3D. It may be easy for software providers to create 3D CAD programs, but the adoption rate of 3D CAD among those who are diehard 2D CAD users has not been as impressive as most vendors would like it to be.


According to IMSI CEO, Bob Mayer, their new version of TurboCAD, version 12, offers an easy way to access 3D - with 3D being just one click away from 2D. The original user base of TurboCAD are 2D users with a very strong AEC focus, said Mayer. This version has “significant enhancements” on the AEC side, after three versions that focused on mechanical enhancements. Ultimately, Mayer said that there will be two products, one for mechanical CAD and one for architectural CAD.


This move is most likely comforting for customers, since IMSI has branched in many directions over the past years. Although they haven't left CAD behind, it has become one of many assets for a company that has included an online focus that may be sold off in time.


Meanwhile, however, in version 12, architectural objects such as walls, doors and windows have been made fully parametric. “You're able to drag and drop a number of window and door styles and shapes and sizes into your drawing and use them either in a 2D view or 3D view -- it's the same intelligent object.”


“This is just the first step we're taking toward fully parameterizing the architecture elements, so over the course of the next year you'll see things like parametric stairs,” explained Mayer. “We are doing this using Autodesk Architectural Desktop as a model. We're able to recognize ADT objects and bring those into TurboCAD.”


“Our goal is to have a product that we can offer in that professional AEC sector as opposed to the middle of the road CAD where TurboCAD has been traditionally positioned,” Mayer predicted. “We hope to have a professional architectural version with in about a year.”


This is the separate product Mayer is talking about, which will focuses entirely on architectural and will not include any of the mechanical features. IMSI will offer a professional mechanical version as well. This will allow the company to address the two distinct professional markets more directly.


Among the other architectural enhancements for version 12 are: automated point marker tools for drawing a layout and numbering your windows and doors in a drawing in an automated way. There are some additional 2D constraints that enable the drafting of certain objects to be easier to do. There are a lot of visualization enhancements as well. Version 12 supports the LightWorks archives, so you can now download or import the different material libraries that exist on Lightworks and existing flooring, rugs, wall coverings and siding. “From a visualization perspective, it makes the product more robust in terms of what types of materials you can apply to your designs. and obviously this
has more relevance in the 3D design world than in 2D plans.”


Like many AutoCAD knockoff products, TurboCAD version 12 is in DWG format and completely interoperable with any Autodesk DWG products. IMSI has enhanced PDF output so they are now supporting output via both paper space and model space. Users will have the ability to import SketchUp files in the next year.


Some integrators have said that their users have difficulty moving from AutoCAD to Architectural Desktop (ADT), which TurboCAD version 12 is patterned after. Mayer said that although IMSI borrows the metaphor and the interface from ADT, IMSI has redone the interface so that depending upon your level of expertise, you can choose either an icon driven program or a combination of text and icon. Someone new to TurboCAD can, for example, choose a novice interface which will have detailed explanations of each of the drawing tools. As they become more familiar with the product, they can move to an interface that only displays the icons themselves.


“The interface is also very customizable as far as where you want your toolbars, and what you want on your toolbars,” Mayer noted. “I think that transitioning from the mainstream CAD product to the more architectural professional product is not a big deal. We keep our architectural tools grouped in one menu anyway. You can put a toolbar anywhere on the screen and have it active.”


What has been the main deterrent to moving from 2D to 3D, according to experts, has been going from a 2D mindset to a 3D mindset. “[With TurboCAD for AEC], you can sketch everything out in a 2D mode and have 3D just by changing the isometric view. It's already in 3D - it's not that big a deal, it's one click to go from 2D to 3D. You can do just about all you need to do from a 2D perspective. From a planned view, you can lay out your drawing, put whatever objects you want on different layers, you can drop a roof on it. All the parametric windows and doors have a 2D view to them so they operate as a parametric object in a 2D view as well as in 3D. You can click on them and change the
properties of them.”


IMSI has sold nearly two million copies of the product. Mayer said there are about 50,000-75,000 active users, who are largely those who bought the lower cost versions of the product through retail as opposed to strictly professional users and architects. The company originally was geared to the consumer marketplace. Mayer pointed out that many of their users use CAD in a professional sense, and a lot of them are using TurboCAD for a second seat for use at home, as it's a low cost, AutoCAD-compatible software.


The professional TurboCAD version 12 is still priced at $895. The additional architectural package is offered for $70 extra. The architectural package includes a serial code that turns on additional architectural tools, which are window and door shapes and styles, plus a 3-CD tutorial that takes you through the execution of a full set of architectural plans and leaves you with a set of plans when you're finished designing.



Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements


Interwoven, Inc., provider of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions for business, announced that it has entered into an OEM agreement with Data Builder Inc., document management software and services provider for general contractors and building owners, under which Data Builder is leveraging Interwoven WorkSite Document Management as the foundation for a new electronic project control system (e-PCS) for the construction industry. Built leveraging Interwoven Document Management as the foundation, Data Builder e-PCS empowers general contractors to manage documents and workflow from pre-construction through post construction, delivering an optimized client experience, improving
productivity, and facilitating risk management. The OEM agreement is the latest example of an Interwoven partner leveraging the company's industry-leading document management software to deliver targeted solutions that solve specific business process challenges for vertical industries.


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