Translation from MCAD files
In addition to the new Communicator features described earlier, the V17 release adds these functions.
You can now specify alternate paths for all supported CAD formats. This lets Communicator find standard parts that might be associated with assemblies being imported.
When parts are designated as “hidden” in the original CAD files, you can now decide whether to import them or ignore them, depending on your preference. Not importing hidden parts makes the resulting file smaller.
When an assembly has components that are nested (both locally and externally), the entire structure is now exported to STEP files. This allows other CAD systems to display the BricsCAD product structure of imported models.
Building Information Modeling
This partial list of new BIM features in BricsCAD V17 is provided by Bricsys. They are in alphabetical order, followed by improved functions. For the full list, look at https://www.bricsys.com/common/releasenotes.jsp?i=4471
A SITE WITH MANY BUILDINGS AND STORIES
To give you greater flexibility in developing BIM designs, a single drawing file now contains a “site,” which can have multiple “buildings,” with each building holding one or more “stories.” The default drawing holds one building with three stories. You specify properties for the new site, building, and story elements.
The new bimPatch command allows you to specify a rectangular area on a block that you previously generated with the bimSectionUpdate command. When you use bimSectionUpdate to regenerate the section, BricsCAD checks if the geometry bounded by the patch has changed. If it is unchanged, then the patch is preserved; if changes occurred, then BricsCAD outlines the patch boundary in red.
The new bimRoom command offers you two ways to specify rooms. One is to click a point in the drawing, from which BricsCAD finds the area enclosed by walls and then places a room marker; the dynamic UCS defines the bottom plane of the room. The room marker is a block consisting of a hatch pattern and data attributes that specify the name, number and area. In the second method, you select a 3D solid, which defines the room in 3D with area and height.
The new Structure panel allows you to examine BIM models organized by spatial containment: it lists building elements by Building, Story, BIM type, and then by composition. You can easily modify the organization as any property, including IFC properties, can be used as to group and sort the elements.
IMPROVED: DRAWING GENERATION
The types of section views are expanded to generate full, half, offset, and aligned sections. When placing a section view, you can specify the depth of the section to limit how much detail is shown, as well as use leaders and rectangular frames to label and highlight detail views. When you dimension generated drawings, they are updated automatically after you change the source 3D model.
The bimSection command has a new option named Detail that creates volume sections. To define the volume box, it prompts you for three corner points and uses the dynamic UCS as the base of the box; the base plane is also the section plane. When you hover the cursor over a bimSection element, you select bimSection from the Quad to create a detail section box that’s based in the same plane as the hovered bimSection.
This partial list of new sheet metal functions in BricsCAD V17 is provided by Bricsys. The new commands are in alphabetical order, followed by improved functions. For the full list, look at https://www.bricsys.com/common/releasenotes.jsp?i=4471
BricsCAD V17 adds parametric form features to the sheet metal module. “Form features” mimic the process when a forming tool deforms a piece of sheet metal. After the form is applied (using the new Form Features tab of the Tool Palettes panel), you can edit it directly and parametrically through the Properties bar.
The library contains most commonly used form features, such as bridge, louver, and emboss. You can import form features from other systems, and define your own custom forms. When you import geometry from other CAD systems, you can search for similar form features, and then replaced them with ones from your libraries.
The smFlangeBend command lets you bend an existing flange along a line, obeying the k-factor for given bend radius. The “k-factor” determines how much of the material’s thickness compresses and how much stretches during the bending process. When you import geometry, BricsCAD recognizes incorrectly-made bends and automatically repairs them.
IMPROVED: LOFTED BENDS
Lofted bends gain a feature validation function, which lets you ensure that the bend will work correctly.
Bricsys Technology Russia
Alright, we are back after the mid-morning lunch (at 12:15? Well, that's how Europe rolls) with info about direct modeling in BricsCAD.
The Bricsys vision for MCAD (mechanical CAD design) is...
Compared to other MCAD systems, Bricsys says they are...
What's new in Direct Modeling in BricsCAD V17
See the earlier blog entry (below) for information about what else is new in direct modeling in V17. See our Twitter stream @upfrontezine and #bricsys2016 for more photos and new functions.
Component Based Features
New feature in BricsCAD V17 allows custom parameterized symbol libraries for BIM and sheet metal design. For example, drag a louver part from library into a sheet metal part. Material is kept on special layers, one for subtracted volumes (like holes), another for added volumes (like the added louver). 3D constraints control the feature, and unneeded parameters can be hidden.
Here's the crucial part: when you drag a 3D part into a BricsCAD drawing, it automatically merges with the existing 3D model. Once in there, you can tweak its parameters (constraints) to resize it, and the model updates in real time. Generated 2D drawings are updated in real time, as well (although there is a setting to turn off real-time updates, if preferred).
Generated Drawing Views
Generated drawings have been in BricsCAD for a couple of releases, and so they get some more updates in V17. (Generated drawings are 2D views made from 3D models semi-automatically and then updated automatically). The new AutoVpFitting variable preserves scale, size, view center, and viewport size. Selected entities can be removed from views. Partial section views can be created. Detail views can be attached by leaders to the parent view. Section views move along with parent view automatically, as the parent view is moved about the sheet. Can change detail boundaries from rectangular to circular to other shapes. Drawings can be attached with dimensions; these also are associative, so when the 3D model is changed, the dimension in the drawings are updated automatically.
Now here's a feature that AutoCAD used to have, but then abandoned years ago: material properties. This is where you assign a material to a part (like steel) and analysis reflects the mass. BricsCAD V17 has a materials database for MCAD and BIM models which add physical properties to 3D parts. The material is reflected in 2D drawings and sections as appropriate hatch patterns (see figure below). Impressively, materials can be imported from other CAD systems, should their drawings contain such information -- such as from Solidworks, Pro/E, and Inventor.
If a part does not have a material, it can inherit material properties from other parts; indeed, "inherit" is the default. Properties include density, specific heat, and thermal conductivity. More can be added. Naturally, the properties are reported in BOMs (bills of material). LISP gets a new function to inquire the material data: bmListGet.
AI, the buzzword
Artificial intelligence algorithms go back to the 1950s. In fact, LISP was written originally to assist with AI, but then adapted by Autodesk for AutoCAD's first native programing language. What does BricsCAD plan?
AI takes lots of examples from which to pick a best option, whether in chess playing or driving cars. Fifty years later, the technology is available to actually use AI practically. Where does AI fit into CAD? It is...
Bricsys took steps 1.5 years ago to start, and now have the following functions:
You don't have to start over with BIM. Bricsys says, "Take existing geometry and turn it into a BIM model." So they use AI to detect which are floors (storey numbers), internal and external walls, slabs, and so on. See figure below. Also, window alternatives, connection alternatives, and so on.
New and Improved for 2D drawing and 3D modeling
This is a partial list of the new features in BricsCAD V17 provided by Bricsys. It lists new features in alphabetical order, followed by improved functions. For the full list, look at https://www.bricsys.com/common/releasenotes.jsp?i=4471
3D DRAWING COMPARE
The new 3dCompare command opens two drawing files and then reports the differences in 3D solids and 3D surfaces using color coding. This lets you quickly see the changes made to otherwise identical-looking drawings. The differences are represented as separate entities displayed in two viewports – red entities for additions, green for subtractions.
3DCompare dialog box
Simultaneous 3D navigation in both viewports lets you get a closer look at what has changed. You have the option of leaving blocks and frozen layers out of the checking process. When you have the Communicator add-on, you can check differences in 3D models from other CAD systems, making BricsCAD a universal CAD model checker.
The new AniPath command creates movies by rendering views from a point or along a path. This lets you create movies to show collaborators and clients your building designs and other 3D projects. In creating the movie, you have options like specifying the frame rate and resolution, the overall duration, the visual style, and the movie’s file format.
Dialog box for Anipath settings
Materials in BricsCAD now support physical properties. This means that when you analyze 3D models with commands such as bmMassProp and bmBom, the correct mass is returned no matter how many different materials make up the models. You can use materials provided with BricsCAD, or else define your own. Component materials correctly generate their hatch patterns when shown in section views.
The optional Communicator add-on imports materials with physical properties, should they be assigned to the parts in imported products. When you export sheet metal models, materials are included in DXF and OSM files.
DIMENSION STYLE FAMILIES
The new dimension-style families feature consists of a parent style with one or more child styles. This is a handy way for you to make subtle modifications to just parts of dimension styles. For instance, child styles let you make linear and angular dimensions look different from one another. To create a child style, right-click a parent style in the Dimension Styles explorer, and then select the New Child Style option from the context menu.
Starting a new child style
When you have more than one panel docked to the side of the screen, you can have them share the same space, with each panel getting its own tab. This increases the drawing area, yet gives you all the information you need with a single click.
The Layers and Content Browser are new dockable panels. Whereas before the Layer explorer had to be dismissed, now layer names and their settings are always available to you through the Layer panel while drawing and editing. The Content Browser dockable panel displays DWG and DXF content in a tree-like view from folders that you specify.
Layers in a dockable panel
The new PlaceView command is for when you work with sheet sets. It places named views in layouts.
The new dmTwist command lets you twist 3D solids, surfaces, and regions around an axis by an angle that you specify. This makes it easy to create spiral objects, such as drills and augers in MCAD and cockscrews shapes in BIM.
IMPROVED: 3D CONSTRAINTS
BricsCAD V17 introduces the cone half-angle constraint, which constrains the size and angle of cone shapes. You can now apply 3D constraints to 2D entities, such as lines, xlines, rays, circles, and arcs. New measuring modes are available for circles, cylinders and spheres. The arguments of 3D constraints are now displayed and selected through the Mechanical Browser.
IMPROVED: GETTING STARTED
When you start BricsCAD V17, the redesigned Getting Started dialog lets you easily select from user profiles and work spaces, open existing drawings, start new drawings, and access educational resources, like video tutorials.
New interface for the Getting Started dialog box
When you use the dmMove command on edges, BricsCAD now forces adjacent faces to rotate, instead of moving them along with the edges. This lets you create, with a single click, complex roof-like forms from imprinted edges.
IMPROVED: PARAMETRIC COMPONENTS
Parametric components now define 3D solid features to be created on insertion. This lets you place user-defined features, such as parametric holes, form features, and ribs. BricsCAD does this by applying Boolean operations to the target 3D solid. You can change the visibility each component through the new Exposed property for parameters. Parameters take units, which lets you insert metric components into imperial documents and vice versa.
The dmThicken command now works with more than just surfaces. You can use it to create tube-shaped objects from 2D curves like lines and circles, with just a couple of clicks.
BMW Welt (World)
OK, we're just setting up here at the BMW Welt conference center adjacent to the Munich Olympic Park, getting ready for the start of the Bricsys International Conference 2016, full day. We had a pre-conference day yesterday, with an overview of some of the new technology we'll be seeing in detail today. I covered the pre-conference yesterday through my Twitter stream @upfrontezine and the Twitter tag #bricsys2016
Bricsys ceo on stage at the BIC 2016 conference
Bricsys ceo Erik deKeyser begins his keynote by talking about the user-hostile path Autodesk is leading customers down. Its software can be used for a year, and then customers don't know which software will still be available, what the pricing will be. AutoCAD development has nearly stalled for several years, with just a few new functions annually.
Now he turns to the current technology trends, listing them and indicating where Bricsys stands on them. For example, Bricsys is exploring how far they can automate turning point clouds into solids, something we can expect to see next year. AI is, he says, something BricsCAD already has to a certain extent; he is not explicit, but I think he is referring to the direct modeling in BricsCAD. The cloud is provided through their Chapoo product. LOD in AEC is levels of detail, and apparently governments are pushing for more regulation and higher LODs; while Autodesk and Nemetschek dominate in BIM, there is no .dwg-based solution. An Onshape-like collaborative CAD system is "important" and something Bricsys is monitoring. IFC is a prerequisite in BIM and Bricsys last week received IFC certification; working on COBie and BCF certification -- want to from point clouds to BIM.
"Is all this possible in DWG," he asks. Autodesk, he asserts, went another direction. There are far more users in AEC/BIM of DWG than Revit.
In MCAD, Bricsys plans to continuously improve 2D and 3D integration, manage geometry + model data + material data, they have a bi-di translator between DWG and most MCAD formats, but they are still working on partnering with CAM vendors. He sees their mechanical modeler as important for BIM modeling.
His view is that .dwg can offer:
Open Design Alliance
Now we are hearing from the Open Design Alliance. It is an overview of all the news we reported from Prague last month, the major news being the Revit API replicated through "Teigha BIM." The reason for the independent API is that there is no way to work with Revit RVT and RFA files except from inside Revit -- or exporting as IFC files, which is not desirable as parametric information is lost. Note that the entire API is not yet ready, the full development will take a few more years. Currently they can read Revit files, display many entities; later, creating and writing is to come.
What's New in BricsCAD V17?
See separate blog posts above that detail what's new in the next release of BricsCAD. The full list is 17 pages long!
[Disclosure: Bricsys provided me with airfare, accommodation, and some meals.]
#graebert16 on Twitter
OK, we are back at the Graebert Annual meeting in Berlin, but we've moved from the funky 25 Hours hotel to Graebert Gmbh's head office elsewhere in Berlin.
We're starting with Graebert sales and marketing executive Cedric Desbordes telling us how Graebert strives for uniqueness.
"Many alternatives are fighting for a portion of the low-cost alternative-to-AutoCAD market. If you are aiming at price, then you are looking at only a portion of the market. AutoCAD LT, for example, is only US$360 per year. The problem is that when you tell a potential customer that it is just like AutoCAD but cheaper, then the customer spends his time looking to see what he is getting for less -- what is missing.
"Innovation is key to being a leader, because followers are one or two years behind. Resellers tell us that we need to have all the features others have, but this means we would be behind, because we have to wait to see what the others are doing. So, we take a head start on new technologies even before larger competitors. Another benefit is that Graebert doesn't have the financial needs of a big company, like Autodesk. It even has different style of marketing.
"But Graebert needs to tell its story that customers might otherwise miss."
New dashboard interface displayed when ARES 2017 launches
This is why Graebert emphasizes the trinity approach with the similar software running on desktop/laptops (Linux, MacOS, and Windows), on smartphones/tablets (Android and iOS), and in Web browsers (HTML5 browsers). Plus, they have one license for running the software on all platforms, with portable licenses that allow use on various desktop/laptop computers. The license is checked once every 30 days. A new customer portal lets users adjust license needs.
Finally, Mr Desbordes told us, his company does not attempt to produce a clone of AutoCAD, but rather a CAD package that includes productive tools . Some of its unique functions are these:
The company has several people working on marketing through videos, social media, Web sites, and is launching a new blog.
Graebert Annual Meeting 2016
The Graebert CAD conference is this year at the 25 Hours hotel, located in the Bikini building, in Berlin Germany. Here is the view from the restaurant at the top floor. The "bikini" name comes from the building being built after WWII, when Americans set up sewing jobs for the post-war population. Some 700 sewing machines, which sewed, among other things, bikinis. Berliners are, if nothing else, wrly and sarcastically humorous.
This is the end of Day 1. The conference continues tomorrow at the Graebert head office elsewhere in Berlin. I'll be writing more about what was revealed today in a future issue of upFront.eZine e-newsletter. To subscribe to the e-newsletter, send 'subscribe upfront' to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Bob Miner, Onshape R&D
"Agile" is the keyword at Onword these days. But "Traditional CAD and PDM work against agile design," says Mr Miner. That's due to downloads, updates, license codes, different versions of software and design files -- all working against being fast to market. One solution from a competitor, he says, doesn't work as well as having drawing control in the CAD program itself.
The Onshape idea is to do everything in the 3D CAD package:
Mr Miner says there are three requirements for agile CAD:
Drawings is the 2D drawing component in Onshape that runs in a tab. It went into beta a year ago and was formally released last December. New code is released every 3-4 weeks, so 18 updates in the last year.
Wilfred Graebert, CEO
There 25,000 architects in England with five CAD packages chasing them, but a million construction sites. Wilfred Graebert did not want to go for a Revit challenger in a tiny market, but go for the million potential customers with his mobile software.
His strategy is to have a full CAD system on ARES Touch for mobile devices. It is, however, a split market: one the one side, it is a price-sensitive market that tends towards $0; but on the other hand the specialized market is not price-sensitive.
For example, kitchen designers who output for example 800 kitchens a month, where ARES charges euro99 per month -- what Onshape charges. Right now, Graebert specializes in the kitchen market for Germany and Austria. But "from kitchens to bathrooms is not very far; from bathrooms to interior design is not so far," he says.
"We want to take our customers along from desktop to cloud, and not do it instantly, because that costs a lot of money," he says. "Some of our competitors are struggling and going very slow."
Enhancements on mobile currently can be dramatic, whereas on the desktop it is small these days, like a few percent improvement each year.
On Android and iOS
Graebert got an early start in mobile, originally writing a CAD program for Windows CE devices back in 2000. Now it is porting the functions of its ARES desktop program to Android and iOS devices.
More details on subs:
ARES Touch for mobile has three modes:
To encourage free users to pay for the full version, all the commands of the full version are shown but are shown grayed out.
Note that ARES Touch for mobile has many of the APIs found in the desktop, such as LISP, a major failing of Autodesk's mobile apps. Here is a screen grab of the UI of the iOS device. Note that 3D can only be viewed, not edited.
Klaus Vossen, sr product manager from Corel Corp
Dassault may have been the first to license ARES Commander for desktop, Corel was the first to license the mobile version, ARES Touch. Corel licensed ARES five years ago, because its CorelDraw and Corel Designer users need a way to edit CAD drawings.
So, CorelCAD has links to cleanly exchange drawings with the two non-CAD packages. For example, CAD drawings are used in marketing material, technical illustrations, and photo editing. It is extensible through VSTA and LISP.
The mobile version has 25,000 users, and some users ended up buying the desktop version. No surprise, but CorelCAD 2017 is based on ARES 2017, and will be shipped on October 18 -- a month ahead of Graebert!
Second only to AutoCAD
Solidworks has been working with Graebert for six years now, adapting ARES for its own needs under the name of Draftsight. The initial effort was to provide a 2D editor that works directly with DWG files. Over the years, they added functions, some of which are passed back to Graebert for use in ARES -- the two engage in technology transfers.
Draftsight now has 1.3 million active users in 440,000 companies, second in market share behind Autodesk. Except that this growth occurred in just six years. (Elsewhere I heard that there have been nine million downloads of Draftsight, which is available in a free version.) Draftsight is free but there is a paid version that provides a lot more functions.
New in Draftsight 2017:
More features will be announced in the weeks to come.
Andre Neumann, development lead
Here is a list of what's new in the latest release of ARES Command for the desktop:
New attribute editor dialog box in ARES
Using a test suite of 106 drawings ranging from 1MB to 80MB, they...
XTra tools are LISP-based tools and this year are available to Mac and Linux (instead of just Windows):
ARES Commander 2016 ships in November, with three service packs to follow in each quarter (Q1, Q2, Q3)