The AEC Lens
Jeffrey Rowe has over 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the design … More »
Bricsys Insights: ACAD to BCAD
May 1st, 2017 by Jeff Rowe
I spent this week in the beautiful city of Ghent, Belgium for a series of company and product overviews at Bricsys at an event the company called Bricsys Insights.
For me, this was an introduction to and company and product line I had heard about, but didn’t have much knowledge about. This week that all changed for the better.
As a company, Bricsys has taken on several iterations over the years since it was founded in 2002, and has emerged today as a real player in the CAD markets for both architectural and mechanical design applications. The company currently has 130-140 employees, the majority being developers, so it is efficiently run and product focused.
The company’s flagship product, BricsCAD is offered at three different functional tiers and price points for perpetual licenses — Classic (focused primarily on 2D design, $550); Pro (adds 3D modeling, access to all programming tools and third party applications, $680); and Platinum (adds advanced features such as 3D constraints, assembly modeling, and access to optional BIM and Sheet Metal modules, $1,020). Regardless of tier, an additional $200 provides priority support and one major upgrade. Bricsys claims to have more than 1,200 third-party apps running on top of the BricsCAD core product for mechanical design, architecture, GIS, etc., as well as customers in 80 countries.
BricsCAD is based on the Teigha kernel that provides it with a high level of compatibility with Autodesk’s .dwg file format.
The .dwg file format became the de facto standard for CAD because Autodesk was successful in making AutoCAD the most popular CAD software. In addition, a large community of developers built thousands of commercial applications on top of AutoCAD, adding a wealth of vertical knowledge and expertise to the platform.
This was only possible through a series of Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) that were made available by Autodesk for this developer community. Deciding to offer an alternative but equivalent platform, Bricsys set out to develop BricsCAD and enable every AutoCAD-based application to be ported to it without rewriting the code.
The Teigha binaries enabled Bricsys to develop a powerful alternative DWG-based CAD software and offer a real choice to users and application developers.
Bricscad offers the complete core functionality of a .dwg-based CAD software for the end-user and has all of the APIs required to enable the porting of existing .dwg-based applications using the same source code.
Erik De Keyser, Chief Executive Officer of Bricsys said, “Any product requiring DWG compatibility will need Teigha, the software development platform for CAD and other technical graphics applications. At Bricsys we would have to rewrite our software if we did not have Teigha. Between one third and one half of BricsCAD is based on it. If we did not have access to the Teigha platform then we would constantly be rewriting the DWG files and formats. It would be a crazy situation.”
Bricsys can underprice its main competitor because it keeps overheads low and focuses its efforts on technical innovation and business efficiency.
To address MCAD challenges, Bricsys started to get serious about 3D in 2011, and does things differently with an approach that combines history-based and direct modeling. This approach lets designers be designers, not programmers, with the assistance of BricsCAD’s unique Design Intent Tool Palette.
In coming weeks, once I get the software installed, I’ll provide detailed looks at BricsCAD Platinum (the high-end core product), BricsCAD Sheet Metal, and BricsCAD BIM (for architectural building information modeling).
Based on price and compatibility alone, I want to experience myself if users of ACAD (AutoCAD) could truly transform their current workflows with BCAD (BricsCAD).
Great week with great people as hosts providing a lot of information on its products that I wasn’t too familiar with, but look forward to exploring more in the future.
Disclosure: Bricsys paid for travel, hotel accommodations, and some meals for the event.
Consumer Products Continue To Take Hit As Autodesk Sells Pixlr
Just about six years ago, Autodesk announced that it had completed the acquisition of Pixlr, a popular free online and social image creating, collecting, editing, and sharing service. This week the company announced that Pixlr had been sold to 123RF for an undisclosed amount.
The Pixlr service was started in Sweden in 2008 and provided accessible tools for non-professionals to create, edit, and share images online and socially via platforms like Facebook. At the time, the Pixlr acquisition enhanced Autodesk’s ability to provide image editing for its consumer products, such as the SketchBook product line.
Pixlr has become one of the most popular photo editors, especially for mobile purposes. As a matter of fact, I use it at least weekly for the production of this blog
Why Autodesk is selling Pixlr now is not entirely clear, but may be due to the fact that it still requires Adobe Flash technology to work, and since the Carl Bass departure, the company seems to have less patience for so-called consumer products, such as Pixlr, 123D Design, and others. Hopefully, 123RF acquired Pixlr because it is interested in updating it.
123RF is part of Imagine Group, a company that is seeking to create an ecosystem of creative products to compete with Adobe. A tall task, to say the least.
With this latest sell-off, Autodesk is departing from its free or low cost design “consumer” products for the common man espoused by Carl Bass. Well, it was nice while it lasted.
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