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February 14, 2005
3D within PDF
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on AECcafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
Each AEC Weekly Review delivers to its readers news concerning the latest developments in the AEC industry, AEC product and company news, featured downloads, customer wins, and coming events, along with a selection of other articles that we feel you might find interesting. Brought to you by AECCafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

  • More on SmartSketch

  • 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! I spoke this week with Ray Bentley and Troy Carter of Bentley Systems about their newly released 3D within PDF. Bentley has been working closely with both Adobe and Intel to develop this capability, which is offered free inside the latest version of MicroStation. Intel's U3D is the underlying format. The 3D within PDF content is created by embedding U3D data within the PDF file. All you need to do to access these PDFs is to download Acrobat Reader 7, which is free on the Adobe website.

    Also in the industry news this week is more on Intergraph's SmartSketch product.

    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, Training, New Products, Letters from Readers, Around the Web 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

    3D within PDF

    by Susan Smith

    I spoke this week with Ray Bentley and Troy Carter of Bentley Systems about their newly released 3D within PDF. Bentley has been working closely with both Adobe and Intel to develop this capability, which is offered free inside the latest version of MicroStation. Intel's U3D is the underlying format. The 3D within PDF content is created by embedding U3D data within the PDF file. All you need to do to access these PDFs is to download Acrobat Reader 7, which is free on the Adobe website.

    “This gives us an opportunity to take the 3D data and deliver it to a new class of people, people who never worked with engineering data at all, who aren't going to work with MicroStation or even use a 3D viewer,” explained Bentley. “3D content within PDF files can be used for design proposals, assembly manuals or any kind of technical document. Everyone from designers of complex process plants to people who are putting together their bikes could benefit.. You can convey so much more information in a 3D document than you can ever get in 2D engineering drawings.” Bentley clarified this by saying that you do need 2D drawings because they have the dimensions, but there
    are also times when a 2D drawing is not sufficient.

    After downloading Acrobat Reader, I could view the Bentley demo consisting of five construction examples. The first was a building model with various links embedded in text at the left of the 3D model. You could click on east or west to see different views. You could also click on walkthrough and it would walk you through the model. You could also click on pause and stop at any location in the walkthrough, then just by putting your cursor over the image, a menu of a set of tools would come up and you could choose various options such as rotate, or illustration, or scene shaded. Rotate will make the model spin interactively. (I had to right click on my mouse in order to bring up my menu.)

    The next example was a digital terrain model with no geometry, with an aerial photo draped over it, and an aircraft, creating a realistic looking 3D image. You could click “fly” and fly along with the aircraft using this bookmark. With this feature you can see a lot more than you could do with a photograph.

    “One thing we don't have yet, but hope to include is to put links right on the 3D model. I think that will be coming,” said Bentley.

    The next example featured a helicopter that could fly around a building, displaying its various facades and also the terrain and buildings around it. “You can post this on a website and someone can bring up the model and move with the navigation tools to where their home or office is and see where the site lines are going to be, and how the proposed construction will affect them,” Bentley said. “You can't do that with a movie because it's taken from a single vantage point. With 3D within PDF you can move around even as the animation is running, you can use the tools to stop the animation and look around, and while you're doing that any other animation can continue to run,
    so it's more valuable and compact than an AVI. This model is only 3 megabytes; an AVI of this would be a lot more than that.”

    The fourth example was a roadway animation to show what an interchange was going to look like and how it would affect views from a certain neighborhood. The base of this model was created the same way as the first example, with a DTM draped with an aerial photo. In this model, a set of buildings and streetlights and other features have been added. This was a proposal for a hospital . You can click on drive and drive through the model, so you get a sense of what it's like to be there. If you stop the animation and look at some of the saved views, you can click on and get an idea of what the hospital is going to look like. You can grab the walking icon that looks like a pair of feet and see
    what it will be like to walk around the neighborhood.

    “When architects see this, a lightbulb comes on for them, they know they can ship a design to a client and the client can really understand the design proposal,” said Bentley.

    The final example was a construction document that shows how to insert a tank into a water treatment plant and how to do a more complicated animation. In the plant model where the crane is being inserted, you can click on the transparent link and make the whole model transparent. If you click on the illustration link while that's playing you can use the rotation tool and see the inside of the plant. Dimensions, text, etc. can currently be exported and viewed with the 3D models - there is an option to do that when you print.

    You can move to a particular point in the animation and restart it. There are different ways to control how fast the animation plays. Having the 3D data actually in the document allows a lot of flexibility and power in the way you can do things.

    “We began work on this four or five months ago,” Bentley explained. “and got some software from Adobe and Intel. I've worked quite closely with both of their development teams as this has come together -I don't think anyone else has done the animation, and developed as rich models as we've done. We've put quite a bit of work into getting it to work on large models. Our customers are not designing strip malls and gas stations, but instead high rise office buildings and plants. A lot of work went into making the technology scale well.”

    One customer had ten megabytes of CAD data and it all condensed down to a nice 1 megabyte PDF document that you could send.

    Prior to developing 3D within PDF, Bentley was partnering with Adobe for two or three years on creating 2D documents and bringing them directly from MicroStation into PDF. With 3D within PDF, you can combine documents that have 2D standard engineering line drawings and 3D views within a single documents. For example, you can have a sheet with dimensions and then have one view where they can rotate the model.

    “When we first announced support for creating PDF in MicroStation the things we really focused on were that you can create PDFs out of DGN or DWG very easily at the touch of the button, akin to printing or plotting,” said Bentley. “You can use the hyperlinks and bookmarks just as we have here. And it makes software management for your IT manager much simpler because they don't have to support an extra round of viewers. Most customers already have Adobe Reader on their desktop and may already have Acrobat and are using PDF to some degree.”

    The product is free to Bentley Select customers and comes with the latest version of MicroStation, which incidentally has the capability to read and write DWG files. Adobe Acrobat Reader is also free. For those cost conscious customers who need 3D viewing capability in PDF, this is a win win solution.

    More on SmartSketch

    Cheryl Lagrone, Product Manager for SmartSketch, had this to say about SmartSketch and how it works with third party applications designed for AutoCAD:

    “What we do is open the native DWG and DXF files so maybe a third party have put something in the file in addition to what AutoCAD provides, attribute information in a block, for example, and we do handle those. We don't have a toolset that would replace a third party application. As long as the third party application follows the rules for the DWG format, if you can open it in native AutoCAD without the third party, you should be able to open it SmartSketch.

    “We have several customers who are using other Intergraph products, who are going ahead now and replacing AutoCAD and any of their 2D workflows with SmartSketch. We have people requesting it because it's a lower cost solution than AutoCAD.”

    “Our main customer base is Plant. SmartSketch has some bleedover into all the other industries as well, but we don't market in those different spaces.”

    According to Lagrone, the product looks and feels like Word or Excel, and common dialogs, tools and icons are used wherever possible. It takes only a few days to learn to use, so it's useful to those users who don't need a full CAD program.


    UGS, a global provider of product lifecycle management (PLM) software and services, and Autoweb Communications, Inc., business-to- business data exchange firm for the automotive industry, announced Autoweb has adopted UGS' Teamcenter(R) software, the de facto standard for PLM, to serve as the foundation for its new visualization and collaboration service offering and its extended data exchange capabilities.
    Autodesk, Inc. announced two new members of the Autodesk(R) Building Systems alliance program: EastCoast CAD/CAM and Wendes Systems, Inc. The companies are integrating their software with Autodesk Building Systems and join Autodesk and existing alliance members Trane, GeoPraxis and Elite Software in bringing greater efficiency to building systems design. The integration of software from EastCoast CAD/CAM and Wendes Systems Inc. with Autodesk's building systems application will further enhance seamless data transfer upstream and downstream of the design process

    RealityWave Inc., developer of a technology platform for plant lifecycle information management and enterprise collaboration, announces that Unlimited Innovative Technology (UIT) will provide Systems Integration and Reselling services for RealityWave in Korea. Established in 1997, UIT distributes leading edge software and provides world class engineering services to Korean clients in the process and power industries. UIT clients include some of the largest Korean companies, such as LG, SK, Samsung, Hyundai and Daewoo.


    Intergraph Corporation leads the global plant creation and shipbuilding software markets with a 30 percent revenue-based market share for 2004, according to Daratech Inc. For the 12th consecutive year Intergraph also led the worldwide overall plant creation market with a revenue-based market share of 31 percent. Intergraph's sustained leadership position is based in part on revenue growth for new software licenses in key market areas - plant creation and shipbuilding, overall plant creation, physical plant creation and conceptual plant creation.

    GiveMePower Corporation, a provider of computer-aided design (CAD) and graphics development software for Windows(R) mobile, wireless and desktop computing, announced that Penn State University has increased productivity, noted substantial time savings, reduced errors and improved collaboration in their facilities management group using the Company's PowerCAD(R) CE mobile CAD and VoiceNOTE(TM) hands-free audio note keeping solution on Dell Axim(R) wireless handheld PCs.

    Canon U.S.A., Inc. introduced the new Canon Clustering Kit-A1 for the Color imageRUNNER C3220 - a powerful color production solution designed to support the pairing of two 32 page-per-minute(2) (ppm) Color imageRUNNER C3220(3) devices to appear as a 'virtual' single 64 ppm printer on the network.

    Discreet, the media and entertainment division of Autodesk, Inc., helped Super Bowl advertisers into the end zone during last night's broadcast. When fans weren't watching the battle between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles on the field, they watched many spots created with Discreet's industry leading visual effects, editing/finishing and 3D solutions.


    Tech Ed Concepts, Inc. (TEC, Inc.), North American Academic Distributor of 3D engineering and manufacturing software & curricular programs for educators and students, will host its 11th Annual Summer Camp during the week of June 27 - July 1, 2005 at the Center of NH Radisson Hotel in Manchester, NH.
    Detailed course descriptions and pricing for TEC Summer Camp can be obtained by contacting TEC at 1-800-338-2238 or e-mailing:
    Email Contact.

    New Products

    EngineerSupply.com announces online How-To's and Product Guides. Product Guides are for "how to shop for" and things to consider when buying products online. Product Guides such as "How to buy a Magnetic Locator", "How to buy a Paper Trimmer", and "All about BluePrint Storage" are among the guides that are provided. The Product Guides are freely available online at EngineerSupply.com and offer educational and informative points when in researching what to buy.

    Anark Corporation(R), interactive 3D visualization technology and solution provider, announced the release of Version 3.0 of its flagship product, Anark Studio(TM). Anark Studio 3.0 is a complete solution for organizations that need to develop and deliver enterprise-class 3D applications for interactive visualization, training, and communication.

    Canon U.S.A. unveiled an array of new digital color platform technologies and related software solutions - the new ColorPASS-Z7500/Z7100/Z6100 servers. Designed to expand the range of graphics document and color workflow tools, services and options for Canon CLC users, the new technology offerings further drive Canon and EFI's leadership position within the U.S. graphic arts and production markets. applications.

    Also the company introduced the new Canon Clustering Kit-A1 for the Color imageRUNNER C3220 - a color production solution designed to support the pairing of two 32 page-per-minute(2) (ppm) Color imageRUNNER C3220(3) devices to appear as a 'virtual' single 64 ppm printer on the network.

    PDF is in the news a lot this week: two companies have released products that allow various functionality such as saving annotated documents to PDF and converting PDF to many image formats. GRAHL software design has released PDF Annotator(tm), a Tablet PC program that lets you open any PDF file, add comments using the Tablet PC pen, and save the annotated documents in PDF format. Using PDF Annotator, you can highlight text, circle or cross out items, write your comments in the margins, and provide all sorts of written feedback that your business colleagues, customers, prospects, and students can read or print.

    PDF Annotator runs on the Tablet PC and similar devices, costs $29.90(US) or 24.90 Euros for a single-user license, and may be purchased securely online from http://www.GRAHL-software.com/. Multi-user licenses are available. You can download a 30-day trial version from the same web address.

    This one would be useful in my office: Verypdf.com Inc. has released PDF To Image Converter v1.3, an affordable, easy-to-use Windows application that directly converts PDF files to dozens of image formats, including TIF, TIFF, JPG, GIF, PNG, BMP, PCX, and TGA. The program can convert all elements of PDF files, including text, images, lines, arcs, ellipses, Beziers, colors, and forms. PDF To Image Converter even converts PDF files into vector format, including searchable WMF and EMF files. PDF To Image Converter v1.3 runs under Windows 98/Me/NT4/2000/XP, costs $59(US), and may be purchased securely on
    www.verypdf.com . Multi-user and site licenses are available. You can download a free, fully-functional trial version of PDF To Image Converter from the same Internet address.

    Around the Web

    As Piracy Battle Nears Supreme Court, the Messages Grow Manic -by Tom Zeller, Jr; February 7, 2005, NY Times (registration required)--With the Supreme Court scheduled next month to hear a pivotal case pitting copyright holders (represented by MGM Studios) against the makers of file-sharing software (Grokster and StreamCast Networks), some participants are putting their message machines into high gear.

    Letters from Readers

    Autodesk Product Retirement

    I'm glad you decided that "it is time to retire this subject,” but like everyone else you have missed the boat. Autodesk is not leaving its users high and dry as most of you are reporting. It has a FREE download "Batch Drawing Converter" that has the ability to save drawings back to release 13 format. This has tool has been available for quite a few years, but for some reason everyone has forgotten about it. Even without this tool Autodesk has allowed users to save their drawings as in DXF format, but again this has been overlooked.

    I'm really tired of one sided reporting. If you are really as unbiased as you want us to believe cover all the bases.


    Nick Nowitski, C.E.T.

    L.A.E. Associates

    Eds. Note: Thanks for your interest in AECWeekly. I think we have done fair reporting of the issue of AutoCAD product retirement, with this
    article stating Autodesk's position. Autodesk did not, however, mention Batch Drawing Converter in our interview so I thank you for bringing that to our attention!

    FYI, in upFrontezine.com Open DWG Alliance president Evan Yares stated that some time ago, the Alliance wrote a set of sample applications using their own libraries that are “similar in capabilities to DWGgateway. The source code for those applications is free for the asking to any
    Alliance member ." DWGgateway was profiled in last week's

    Upcoming Events

    2005 Accent on Architecture Gala

    Date: February 11, 2005

    Place: National Building Museum Washington, DC USA

    The Gala is the nation's preeminent celebration of the power of architecture to improve lives and transform communities. This year's event will feature the presentation of the AAF Keystone Award and the AIA Gold Medal, Twenty-five Year Award, and Architecture Firm Award. AAF will also report on the significant advances in the development and implementation of its national initiatives supported in part by the net proceeds from the 2005 Gala.

    Introducing to Lean Construction & Academic Forum 4th meeting
    Date: February 12 - 13, 2005

    Place: Atlanta, GA USA

    Lean production management caused a revolution in the manufacturing world. Lean theory challenged the traditional notions about how to plan and manage work - and achieved new levels of performance in return. Products were manufactured in less time, at lower costs, and with improved quality

    International Roofing Expo 2005 - [formerly NRCA's Annual Convention and Exhibit]

    Date: February 15 - 18, 2005

    Place: Orange County Convention Center Orlando, FL USA

    Join us for the one event that focuses totally on roofing. With 300+ exhibiting companies displaying their products and services within 800 idea-filled booths, the event will attract a worldwide audience of more than 8,000 commercial and residential roofing contractors, builders, replacement contractors, remodelers, building owners, facility managers, architects and designers. Included in the educational conference are 39 seminars in a multi-track program taking place over four days. The International Roofing Expo is THE must-attend event for residential and commercial roofing professionals to stay abreast of market directions, trends and cutting-edge technology. Owned and produced by
    Hanley Wood Exhibitions. Sponsored by the National Roofing Contractors' Association [NRCA].

    Kim Rogers

    Marketing Manager International

    Roofing Expo Hanley Wood Exhibitions

    email: KRogers@HanleyWood.com

    8600 Freeport Parkway, Suite 200, Irving, TX 75063 P.O. Box 612128,

    Dallas, TX 75261-2128

    Direct 972.536.6353 | Fax 972.536.6365

    IABSE Conference - 'Role of Structural Engineers towards Reducation of Poverty '

    Date: February 19 - 22, 2005

    Place: New Delhi, India

    CORP 2005 - Ideal European Regions vs. Real European Regions

    Date: February 22 - 25, 2005

    Place: Technical University of Vienna Vienna, Austria

    2005 MAIN TOPIC Decisions concerning the future - which means all decisions - should be based on a good analysis, no matter if it is the purchase of stocks, the choice of a site for a company or investments in infrastructure. Urban and regional planning deals with medium to long term developments and decisions cannot be revised at any time without bigger expenditure - it is a must to make decisions well-considered. To predict future developments different kinds of models are used. However, sometimes it happens that in spite of the best analyses and predictions the world does not behave like predicted by the underlying model. Some examples of unpredictable developments are the overcoming
    of “divided Europe” at the end of the 20th century, the development of "New Economy", physical disasters like flood waters, avalanches and so on. How can planning handle such unpredictable events? Which models and methods are used in other disciplines?

    You can find the full AECCafe event calendar here.

    To read more news, click here.

    -- Susan Smith, AECCafe.com Managing Editor.