October 29, 2007
DataCAD 12 Released
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Industry News

DataCAD 12 Released

by Susan Smith

DataCAD has recently come out with a new release of its flagship 2D/3D CAD product, DataCAD 12. The product is used by small to mid-sized architectural and homebuilder firms. Mark Madura, CEO of DataCAD LLC, said that generally, “the person behind the screen is the person writing the check for the software.”

Founded in 1996, DataCAD LLC has focused on providing professional level architectural design, photo-realistic rendering and construction document creation in its flagship product. Of the numerous enhancements requested by users, Madura said that what users most wanted to see in the product was the ability to make changes more easily and not have to do as much work to achieve those changes. “Most of our customers are cranking out production drawings, so the output of 2D construction drawings are critical to them.” Up until version 12, 2D and 3D have co-existed in the product, but now they are much more closely related in the new version. “If you draft a wall and plan,
then you insert doors and windows, and then go to 3D you get the 2D representation,” explained Madura. “If you bring that up in DataCAD’s object viewer you get the materials, whether it’s shingle, brick glass, etc. so you can render that. Most importantly, when it comes to the construction documents, you can take that same exact information and just plot it in plan and it plots directly with your walls in the right lineweights and so forth.”

Madura said users haven’t been able to get all three representations automatically out of the same information in the past. They’ve had to either do a hidden line removal, trace over it or basically duplicate information.

The Smart Entities Flexible Visual Building Model takes the user beyond drawing traditional walls and windows to being able to use new wall, window and door types, offering some advantages of a BIM.

“Any of these can be defined by the user for the number of lines and walls and materials, the size of the windows, width and thickness of the trims, door knob type, etc. so all those can be saved as types and used over and over,” Madura said. “They’re parametric in the sense that when you make a change to the width, all the other elements of the window will update automatically. All these types are stored in simple text files, they’re open, not binary or encrypted. The users can manipulate them through the program interface but they can also use more powerful text editors to globally search for a place.”

“In concert with that, we’ve introduced some more powerful search and replace capabilities. You can search through the database for a particular type of wall, door or window and replace that with another wall, door or window type,” Madura pointed out.

DataCAD is not based on DWG, but rather has a proprietary drawing format, which is an AEC extension. DataCAD does support DWG up through 2008 and are members of the Open Design Alliance.

One of the expectations of the BIM is the virtual building model, being able to represent your project in 3D. With DataCAD’s smart walls, doors and windows, the user can make modifications, extract information about type, width, and height. What BIM encompasses is ever expanding, and includes building lifecycle management or energy analysis and other processes that DataCAD does not include.

“For us I think the next logical step is to give the user access bidirectionally through a database in addition to the graphical user interface which is another aspect of BIM,” Madura said. “You can access the data in a tabular way or a spreadsheet type interface, so that you can look at a spreadsheet list of all the doors and windows, change their width at their end, and have that update graphically in the software.”

Right now the user can do that to a limited extent through the dialogs, etc. Madura noted, but the raw database is not currently exposed for it to be manipulated in the opposite direction.

“As far as bringing the data through the entire process, a lot of our customers are using products like SketchUp for preliminary design, but a lot of them are just using DataCAD’s built in 3D tools to mass out the structure or prototype something or import from DWG files,” Madura explained. “Then they’ll take that information and continue to work with it, refining it to more production drawing status, or create 3D renderings from it.”

A technique employed by DataCAD customers is the Master Drawing File technique where they have one drawing that encompasses the entire project, but practically speaking, it’s not efficient to edit in such a large file. So they use a lot of little files that are referenced into a larger file that’s treated as the master file.

DataCAD also offers a lot of redundancy and backup. Every time a change is made to the drawing and saved, and the user exits, that drawing is archived as a version. They can specify as many versions as they want and determine where they get stored.

The file format changed for the first time in over a decade with DataCAD 11. The product moved to double precision database and with the entity headers changed. This and many more features laid the groundwork for DataCAD 12, according to Madura.

Madura said that most people can get up and running on DataCAD in a matter of weeks. “DataCAD is geared toward professional architects, so if you’re not familiar with construction documents or architecture, it’s probably going to be more difficult for you than someone who is,” he said. “We try to make the software easy to use and responsive, but we’re not trying to make it an off the shelf product that a weekend warrior like a homeowner can pick up and go with. The sacrifice in control would be too great.

A full license of DataCAD is $1295; as an upgrade or for each additional license the cost is $495.


Open Design Alliance (ODA), a non-profit industry consortium committed to promoting the open exchange of CAD data now and in the future, and
Tech Soft 3D (TS3D), the leading provider of core graphics components to the engineering software industry, announced a partnership whereby TS3D has integrated the ODA's DGNdirect libraries with the HOOPS graphics component.

Vela Systems, a developer of mobile software that streamlines field administration for the AEC (Architecture-Engineering-Construction) industry, announced three new distributor agreements for its Vela Software Suite, which will continue Vela's rapid expansion into the Southeast, the Midwest, the Southwest, New England, the Mid-Atlantic states, and the Caribbean. The three contracts were signed with Plano, Texas-based Innovative Management Systems (IMS), Miami-based Miami Micro Data, and Detroit-based PMA Consultants.


Correction from Update on AutoVue, October 01, 2007:

Cimmetry Systems opened its doors in 1988, not 1998.

The solution is available as a desktop or web application.

Jeff Singer, team leader of the Solutions Group said that the desktop edition can be installed on computers by the users themselves. Cimmetry has developed its own integrations called VueLinks, with several backend systems like MatrixOne, SAP, SharePoint, and makes available a Software Development Kit, which allows organizations to build their own integrations. Actually, an installation on the server side is needed, that's it. With AutoVue Web Edition, users can then access, view and review documents from their Web browser.

Adobe and the Acrobat User Community recently kicked off the first-ever Acrobat 3D PDF contest. The contest runs from mid-October through Jan. 31, 2008 and will showcase the best of 3D PDF in the areas of collaboration, visualization & CAD data interoperability, as well as technical publishing. It is open to CAD and CAE developers, AEC designers, industrial designers, 3D modelers, and CAD technical publishers.

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