A Vision of Mobile CAD
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A Vision of Mobile CAD


  • Autodesk Q4 Financials
  • DWF and JT
About this Issue….
A weekly 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.

Welcome to AECWeekly! In the world of as-built there are numerous solutions out there that promise cost/time reduction in terms of generating as-built drawings and floor plans. There are laser scanning options that have become very popular but are still costly. Yet in the realm of laser, there is another solution out there that also offers CAD mobility and wireless connectivity: GiveMePower's PowerCAD SiteMaster. Take a look at SiteMaster in this week's Industry News.

Also, for the first time in its history, Autodesk's revenues are over $1 billion. Read about their Q4 financials.

To send contributions to those who were affected by the Indian Ocean Tsunami, take a look at this site: Network for Good: Help Support Disaster Relief in Southeast Asia

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, New Products, Awards, Wins, and Upcoming Events.

AECWeekly welcomes letters and feedback from readers, so let us know what you think. Send your comments to me at Managing Editor

Best wishes,
Susan Smith, Managing Editor


Industry News

A Vision of Mobile CAD
By Susan Smith

In the world of as-built there are numerous solutions out there that promise cost/time reduction in terms of generating as-built drawings and floor plans. There are laser scanning options that have become very popular but are still costly. Yet in the realm of laser, there is another solution out there that also offers CAD mobility and wireless connectivity:

GiveMePower's PowerCAD SiteMaster, which seems to be the only program of its kind that can instantly create industry-standard "real time" as-built drawings and floor plans in the field using a portable laser measurement device wirelessly connected to either a Windows laptop /XP tablet computer or handheld Windows Pocket PC or cell phone.

Some customers estimate at minimum 40% cost/time reduction per job immediately or up to 10 times instant productivity gain. What SiteMaster is, is a new mobile and wireless field solution which “automates the creation of wireless, laser-generated as-built floor plans, area estimates, and building inspections for architects, appraisers, contractors, engineers, estimators, facility managers, installers”-in short, anybody who constructs, reconstructs or manages buildings of any kind.

How does it work? From the keypad of a portable laser like the Bluetooth® wireless Leica DISTO Plus, you can simply Point, Shoot, Enter and instantly PowerCAD SiteMaster wirelessly creates “intelligent” outer walls, inner walls, openings, areas, symbols and other site details that appear exactly as measured on your Bluetooth enabled Laptop, Tablet, Pocket or Handheld PC. Inspection details, such as digital photos and hands-free audio VoiceNOTES can be inserted at any time, ensuring everything that exists on site at the time of your visit is included. When you're finished measuring, your precisely measured plan is complete, saved in industry-standard format and ready for instant sending via email or wireless data transfer.

According to Bill Walton, president and CEO of GiveMePower, “we are the only full-fledged CAD system that runs across all Windows computing platforms. Our brand name is PowerCAD and we have a number of different solutions for users of all skill levels. SiteMaster is a flagship product dedicated specifically to simplifying the lives of construction and building management professionals.”

The company is the result of the coming together of industry veterans who formulated a vision of “CAD anywhere” computing on any device including a new generation of mobile PCs. From a building design and management perspective, the founder of CADsoft, Tim Nye (who sold the company to Rand Corp.) came on board to help address the AutoCAD compatibility side of things. One of the developers of Microsoft Mail came on board to address mass-market appeal, and a senior Lucent project manager added expertise on wireless and connectivity issues. “Our whole vision was to look at the CAD industry at large - and how we could get field and office personnel transparently connecting from any location.” At the time (four years ago), mobile computing was in its infant stages but definitely a force to be reckoned with in the coming future.

The key to what GiveMePower is doing - is “anytime, anywhere and anyone design, viewing and digital blueprinting.” “We're very strong into the wireless connectivity for workforce collaboration and the solutions we have right out of the starting gate are offering at least double or often up to 10-15 times productivity gains right now,” claimed Walton. “By ensuring transparent compatibility with all popular desktop systems, people are able to instantly benefit without having to alter their existing systems and processes.”

Although the company has sensibly hitched their wagon to the Microsoft star, all GiveMePower solutions run independently on any Windows device, utilizing the web and wireless interconnectivity as an extension thereof. “This is important so people are not dependent on 100% uptime connectivity on a job site. Sounds minor but having continuous, uninterrupted operation that is not dependent on a wireless connection was one of the most difficult parts of what we've done,” Walton noted.

SiteMaster has been designed to be easy to operate, but sophisticated enough to produce finished, architecturally rich floor plans, not just basic field sketches. Instead of using a tape measure you are using a laser shooting device from Leica, Hilti or Bosch that you simply “point and shoot” to measure. This allows you to gather everything you need and get key data even without a direct line of sight.

“A series of interactive video tutorials are available so people can easily train themselves to know what these different lasers are there for and how they work,” said Walton. Portable lasers represent a fast-growing industry with Leica's DISTO division reaching nearly $50 million in sales last year. “Leica was excited with the possibility of true mobile CAD computing--not just viewing and not something that was internet dependent,” Walton specified. “As a result, we now have an alliance where SiteMaster provides the missing link to a field-to-finish solution using Leica's market-leading lasers.” Having a device collecting data is one thing, the next step is putting that data into something that can process it such as SiteMaster.

An example of the use of SiteMaster is its deployment for a parkade reconstruction upgrade at Cartier, the world renowned French watchmaker and jeweler. SKY Parks, an English designer of multi-story car parks, was asked to upgrade their automated car park. It was discovered that over time, the pads they had built for each car to rest on began to sag. So CAD Limited, a UK based consultant, used SiteMaster in conjunction with Leica DISTO and Bosch laser measuring tools and an Orange mobile PDA using Bluetooth, to finish the entire survey for the retrofit in just two and a half days. The results were passed into Nemetschek's AllPlan software. Within a day, they had produced a client VRML walkthrough.

According to Walton, GiveMePower is one of the only companies who use the new and latest object-oriented drawing exchange libraries from the Open Design Alliance, a non-profit group dedicated to providing user-transparent interoperability between competing CAD systems. This means SiteMaster is compatible with AutoCAD and other leading systems, with direct reading and writing of AutoCAD DWG and DXF files from R12 to the latest R2005, and DWF export just a click away. “For CAD exchange, we're sticking primarily with DWG and DXF at this point, with DWF for lightweight, web-ready transfer. Results can also be produced in PDF and other popular formats such as TIF and BMP for printing or importing into Microsoft Office and other Windows applications,” explained Walton.



Autodesk Q4 Financials
Autodesk exceeded its financial projections this fourth fiscal quarter ending January 31, 2005, with net revenues of $356 million, a 21 percent increase over $295 million reported in the fourth quarter of the prior year.

Chris Bradshaw, Vice President, Infrastructure Solutions Division, reported that this quarter Autodesk has “Over 1.2 billion in revenue for the entire company, so it's the first time Autodesk has been over $1 billion. In ISD you can see very impressive growth numbers, we're seeing fantastic growth in our new seats (as are other divisions) for both Map as well as our Civil products, including Civil 3D which is exceeding our expectations with just ¼ of sales under our belt.”

    ISD full-year revenue is up 22%
  • Map 3D increased new seat revenue 20% from Q3
  • Civil 3D launched to enthusiastic reception
  • Civil Sales in China Grew 38% y/y vs. FY '04
    § 448 new seats of Civil 3D sold
    § Second most of any country after U.S.
From the press release : “Fourth quarter net income increased to $66 million on a GAAP basis, compared to $58 million in the prior year. GAAP EPS was $0.26 per diluted share compared to $0.24 in the prior year. Fourth quarter GAAP net income included a $12 million pre-tax restructuring charge. In the fourth quarter of the prior year, GAAP net income included a tax benefit of $7 million and a $3 million pre-tax restructuring charge. Excluding these items, pro-forma net income for the fourth quarter was $75 million, compared to $53 million in the prior year. Pro-forma EPS per diluted share was $0.30 in the fourth quarter, and $0.22 in the fourth quarter of the prior year.”

"Autodesk executed flawlessly again this quarter," said Carol Bartz, Autodesk chairman and CEO. "We had an outstanding year, exceeding all of our financial projections. Our results demonstrate that our strategies are working, our product portfolio is strong, and our customers are satisfied."

“Autodesk's performance was driven by strong growth in revenues from new seats and subscriptions, increasing penetration of its 3D products, and continued improvement in productivity and efficiency.”

DWF and JT

I spoke with Amar Hanspal this week about the recent strategic alliance between Autodesk and UGS to jointly create interoperability between UGS' JT and Autodesk's DWF (Design Web Format), two open and very widely used formats for sharing published information. Although UGS develops PLM solutions for the manufacturing industry, it's interesting to note the alliance in the context of AEC because as Hanspal puts it, “we see DWF as a platform for sharing information. We are looking for partners that will extend DWF - our partnership with UGS is just an extension of that idea. Likewise we are looking for partners in GIS and building and other verticals to help us solve other tasks.”

As part of the alliance, Autodesk will become a member of UGS' JT Open Program, a global initiative to support JT, while UGS will join the Autodesk Developer Network and become a DWF Developer partner.

A couple of years ago Autodesk worked with UGS when they were part of EDS and had an agreement with them on exchanging geometry, according to Hanspal. Over the years, they've been investing in JT and Autodesk invested in DWF, because in each case it became evident that geometry doesn't work for easy lightweight consumption of information down the supply chain. “We ended up with these lightweight published formats at the same customer site. The customer getting both a JT and a DWF file would say, “I wish I just had one way to view both things!”

“Currently our plan is to read each other's file format,” said Anspal. “Autodesk's applications will read JT and UGS's application will read DWF, and view, mark them up, and use them in their PLM applications.

What about the next releases of Autodesk Inventor and UGS' product? Will UGS incorporate DWF into their PLM product suite and Autodesk incorporate JT into Inventor? Anspal said that UGS has a viewer, that will likely read DWF. “We will evaluate on our side whether our free viewer will read JT. Inventor is definitely targeted to read JT.”

DWF and JT are “reasonably similar,” but JT has a couple of capabilities such as lightweight boundary representation for doing some surface calculations, that DWF does not have. It is more manufacturing specific, whereas DWF is more multi-purpose and spans many verticals and disciplines, as many as Autodesk offers in the way of solutions. “Both are container formats so they can contain multiple streams of information. They're both 3D and 2D, they both have relationships with metadata or rich data,” explained Hanspal.

Interoperability efforts will “tap UGS' PLM XML schema, will not disrupt existing users' investment in design data. To that end, UGS will support the exchange of DWF format in all its PLM applications by expanding upon JT and PLM XML. In a like manner, Autodesk will support the exchange of JT in its applications with a complementary expansion of DWF-based tools,” according to the press release.


Appointments

Computer Associates International, Inc. announced that Eric-yves Mahe has been named vice president, CA Asia North Operations, effective immediately. In his new role, Eric will be responsible for CA's operations in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan and report directly to John Ruthven, senior vice president and general manager, CA Asia Pacific operations, based in Beijing, China.


Announcements

NavisWorks Ltd., developers of interactive viewing technology and the leading 3D computer aided design review solution announced the successful inclusion of extensive laser scan file format support in NavisWorks JetStream. The introduction of file readers for data from multiple laser scanner manufacturers in the latest NavisWorks release enables the 3D virtual world to be combined seamlessly with an existing 3D structure to deliver a host of benefits and opportunities.

Author Donald Totter will demonstrate DataCAD projects from his book, Architectural Design Presentations Using DataCAD, at the 93rd ACSA (Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture) Annual Meeting. Mr. Totter will be showcasing his newest textbook in the Tech Ed Concepts (TEC) booth at the ACSA Annual Meeting; Intercontinental Hotel, Chicago, IL; March 3-6, 2005.

Graphisoft, Inc. has kicked off its nationwide seminar series aimed at educating the architecture community on the benefits of ArchiCAD's design/modeling capabilities. Graphisoft's ArchiCAD has been developed, from its inception, based on the principles of Building Information Modeling -- what Graphisoft still prefers to refer to as "Virtual Building(TM) modeling." The seminars will be held February 23 through March 23. To register for a seminar please visit Graphisoftus events .


New Products

PLP Digital Systems, digital reprographics solutions provider, announced the release of PlotWorks version 5.5.1. The latest generation of PLP's reprographics software includes new features that improve performance, output quality and interoperability - including native support for the DWF file format from Autodesk, Inc. The Autodesk DWF file format is the standard in the engineering and design industry for sharing complex design data.

BOXX Technologies introduces the BOXX 4300 series of workstations featuring the Intel® Pentium® 4 processor Extreme Edition with HT technology and EM64T 64-bit memory extensions.

AutoDWG recently released a new product FlashDWG; it is a DWG to Flash Converter. By converting dwg to flash, you can share and publish AutoCAD DWG files on the web. FlashDWG is a DWG Viewer without need of a DWG Viewer; no additional programs or plug-ins are necessary. The following is two samples file created by FlashDWG:
Demo 1
Demo 2

NewTek, Inc. announced the release of the seventh edition of NewTek's free Texture Collection. As with previous editions, this new set includes fifty high-resolution textures available for free download at NewTek.com. The total number of free textures available from NewTek is now at 350. The seventh edition of the texture collection contains images in the categories Asphalt, Landscape, Metal, Rocks, and Soil. As with the preceding sixth set, most images in this latest set are at even higher pixel resolutions than NewTek's first five sets. NewTek's Texture Collection, Seventh Edition, is available for free download at: Freestuff.

LightWork Design announced the release of LightWorks 7.5. This newest release builds upon the product's success within the industry by adding some significant new features, including LightWorks Real-time, radiosity, new GUI components, new shaders in the Architectural and Industrial toolboxes, and cross-platform plug-in shaders.


Awards

ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, has named Vinton G. Cerf and Robert E. Kahn the winners of the 2004 A.M. Turing Award, considered the "Nobel Prize of Computing," for pioneering work on the design and implementation of the Internet's basic communications protocols. The Turing Award, first awarded in 1966, and named for British mathematician Alan M. Turing, carries a $100,000 prize, with financial support provided by Intel Corporation. Cerf and Kahn developed TCP/IP, a format and procedure for transmitting data that enables computers in diverse environments to communicate with each other. This computer networking protocol, widely used in information technology for a variety of applications, allows networks to be joined into a network of networks now known as the Internet.


Wins

Meridian Systems, an enterprise solution provider for optimizing the plan, build and operate phases of real estate, construction and other infrastructure programs, and HNTB Corporation, announce that HNTB has selected Proliance, Meridian's infrastructure lifecycle management (ILM) solution, to deliver comprehensive services to the transportation and municipal markets for bridge, highway, aviation, rail and water infrastructure.


Around the Web

Is a PC landfill tax inevitable? By Declan McCullagh, February 21, 2005, CNET News.com--Rep. Mike Thompson, a California Democrat, delights in warning the public about what he calls the looming dangers of landfill-clogging electronic gadgetry.

Upcoming Events

Alias’ MotionBuilder and Maya “Rated ‘P’ for PLAY” Tour
Date: March 1, 2005
Place: 71 East Wacker Drive
Hotel 71 Chicago
Gallery A (5th Flr), Chicago, IL 60601 USA
Come see the leading tools in the industry for your gaming pipeline. Alias MotionBuilder and Maya are two products that can work seamlessly together or completely independently within your current or next gen. pipeline. Streamline your workflow or have the flexibility to transfer assets between other 3D packages. Alias is pleased to offer one stop shopping for your game environment. Stay for one session or hang out with us for the evening.

 

Alias’ MotionBuilder and Maya “Rated ‘P’ for PLAY” Tour
Date: March 3, 2005
Place: 12450 Beatrice St., Ste. 203
House of Moves, Los Angeles, CA 90066 USA
Come see the leading tools in the industry for your gaming pipeline. Alias MotionBuilder and Maya are two products that can work seamlessly together or completely independently within your current or next gen. pipeline. Streamline your workflow or have the flexibility to transfer assets between other 3D packages. Alias is pleased to offer one stop shopping for your game environment. Stay for one session or hang out with us for the evening.

 

Smart Cards in eGovernment 2005
Date: March 9 - 11, 2005
Place: Renaissance Hotel
999 9 th Street, NW, Washington, DC USA
This annual conference brings together the leaders from government and industry together in an interactive, open forum to discuss and debate the important business and technical issues involving government adoption of smart cards. This year’s conference will offer a pre-conference educational workshop for an in-depth look at how the technology works and how it will be used by the federal government. Also, vendors and agencies will fill an exhibit hall with a showcase of much of the technology that will be used in current and future government and commercial rollouts. And once again, the conference will host the Federal Smart Card Users Group regular open meeting that is held every other month and is free to anyone who wishes to attend and hear from the government leaders about how their agency’s programs are advancing. Lunch will be served in the open exhibit hall for those who wish to stay after the meeting concludes and the conference program resumes. This will make for a unique conference experience and one very different from other similar conference events.

 

CeBit 2005
Date: March 10 - 16, 2005
Place: Hannover, Germany
CeBIT appeared with a significantly optimized show structure and a number of new high-class events in its supporting program.

CeBIT 2004 rounded off by an extensive program of congresses and presentations as well as numerous special events.

 

Alias’ MotionBuilder and Maya “Rated ‘P’ for PLAY” Tour
Date: March 10, 2005
Place: 747 Howard Street
Moscone West Convention Center, ROOM 2016, San Francisco, CA 94013 USA
Come see the leading tools in the industry for your gaming pipeline. Alias MotionBuilder and Maya are two products that can work seamlessly together or completely independently within your current or next gen. pipeline. Streamline your workflow or have the flexibility to transfer assets between other 3D packages. Alias is pleased to offer one stop shopping for your game environment. Stay for one session or hang out with us for the evening.

 

Nebraska User Group Spring 2005 Conference & Workshops
Date: March 22 - 23, 2005
Place: 8800 "0" Street
Lincoln, NE 68520 USA
The Second Nebraska MicroStation/GEOPAK User Group Conference.

 


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