May 22, 2006
IntelliCAD 6.2 Update
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Welcome to AECWeekly! In a conversation this week with David Lorenzo, development director of the IntelliCAD Technology Consortium (ITC), I learned about the latest
release of the IntelliCAD platform. Read about it this week in the Industry News.

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Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

IntelliCAD 6.2 Update

by Susan Smith

In a conversation this week with David Lorenzo, development director of the
IntelliCAD Technology Consortium (ITC), I learned about the latest
update to the IntelliCAD platform. But first, a little background on the origins of IntelliCAD.

IntelliCAD has been around for quite awhile. In order to write about the new features, I must go back to the origins of the Consortium. I'll provide a brief summary of the interesting history here, but
Ralph Grabowski's "An Outside Look in at IntelliCAD" will give you a much more detailed story.

The name of the software was taken from a programming firm that was formed in the early 1990s. The firm IntelliCAD created the AutoCAD Data Extension (ADE) which they sold to Autodesk, later to become part of Autodesk Map, which exists within Map and some features of IntelliCAD. According to Autodesk, ADE is used to read and write data from DWG files and provides the multi-user DWG capabilities that are a core function of Map 3D.

A company called Softdesk that built applications on top of AutoCAD using ObjectARx, bought IntelliCAD, then Autodesk bought Softdesk for $90 million. Shortly after the purchase, Autodesk spun off Softdesk as Boomerang Technologies. Visio purchased Boomerang and IntelliCAD, then purchased MarComp to gain its DWG read/write libraries.

The OpenDWG Alliance (renamed the Open Design Alliance (ODA)) was formed by Visio at this time as a name under which Visio could release the DWG libraries for free.

Visio had burst onto the market with their AutoCAD-clone product priced at 10 percent that of AutoCAD - disruptive technology if ever there was such a thing. Yet it did not sell all that well. They ended up offering IntelliCAD 98 for free. Visio formed the ITC to take care of the code, yet the ITC found that some components of the code needed to be compensated in the form of royalty payments, which rendered the entire software package not free.

During this time Visio was sold to Microsoft, and various companies including SolidWorks, CADopia, Bricscad NV and Progesoft, bought IntelliCAD source code and continue to use it today. These companies are referred to by ITC as “members.”

According to David Lorenzo, the IntelliCAD source code is available for license by these Commercial Members of the ITC. These members are also responsible for end-user sales and support of the IntelliCAD base technology. Only those listed on the member pages have a license to distribute their versions of IntelliCAD or products using the IntelliCAD base technology. They may have other resellers who sell their products.

Since there is such a close link between the ITC and the ODA, what is the relationship between those two companies today? “The ITC is a Founding member of the ODA. The ODA is not an official member of the ITC but they work very closely with us, we probably provide more feedback on the DWGdirect libraries than any other ODA member,” explained Lorenzo.

“Some of our members are also members of the ODA. For example, a member will become an IntelliCAD member so that they can resell IntelliCAD, but they may want to create other products outside of IntelliCAD that read and write DWG or DGN files. Although the ITC licenses the ODA libraries for IntelliCAD it does not allow IntelliCAD members to utilize the ODA libraries to create products outside of IntelliCAD - this would break our license with the ODA. So you may be asking yourself why don't more people license the ODA tools and build their own CAD engine rather than license IntelliCAD? We'll, it's impossible for a member to maintain (much less create) a product like IntelliCAD for
$20,000 a year.

As a founding member of the ODA our internal development team has access to the ODA source code for DWGdirect, but we cannot provide access to this source code to our members - again, this breaks our license agreement with the ODA, you must be a founding member of the ODA to have access to source code. Generally this is not a problem because our members do not license IntelliCAD to get to the ODA source, they just require the ODA DWGdirect binaries and the IntelliCAD source. Just like you can't get all the source code to the .NET library from Microsoft - it's just another library that you link in.”

IntelliCAD is open source, royalty free software. “Here is how it works… you pay a $20,000 annual fee and you get access to our portal where you can download all the IntelliCAD source code, test installations, bug database, latest status reports on recent changes, test dashboard, etc.,” said Lorenzo. “When you pay this fee you can download the source code, customize it if you wish, include value add solutions and resell as many copies of IntelliCAD as you want for a year - royalty free. The $20,000 fee goes towards IntelliCAD software maintenance, new development and administration. In addition to IntelliCAD, members can also license various components like raster
imaging, ACIS solids modeling, photo realistic rendering, VBA, etc. Members mix and match these components based on the needs required by their solution development. Currently I think we have about 45 members.”

Performance gains in the last two releases of IntelliCAD have made it possible to add to IntelliCAD 6.2 the ability to handle large files by displaying and inserting drawings with large polyface meshes. There is new support for true colors which includes more than 16 million colors, and color books for organizing collections of colors. There is also ADeko Raster, a new raster imaging solution which makes it easy for users to work with image files inside their drawings.

New features in IntelliCAD 6.2 include:
  • The COM API has also been greatly improved and added to.
  • ability to view thumbnail images while browsing drawing files
  • draw and view wipeout entities
  • attach WAV files as audio notes
  • use new extension entity snap options
  • modify commands to snap to the midpoint of specified points

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    -- Susan Smith, Managing Editor.

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