Today was the triple headliner, meeting three companies in one day.
But before heading out, I got into a hotel lobby discussion with my keeper, Dimitry Slutsky and Monika Dietrich of Spatial in Germany.
Ms Dietrich said she finds that Russians can write English well enough, but that speaking is difficult, especially for programmers. That's because, explained Mr Slutsky, "Programmers are shy. We Russians prefer German- and American English over British English or French-accented English."
Spatial is trying to sell its products to Russian CAD vendors, but fins they are interested only in translators. Most translation is made through STEP or IGES; translating directly to brand names, like SW or Inventor, is rare, but there is some some interest now.
Everyone is looking at SpaceClaim because of their history and their founders; they are not as successful as we might thought they would be, someone noted. Just then Sergey Bikulov of TOP Systems came by: "It is better to learn from the mistakes of others," he concluded.
Somebody in the group noted that it is private Russian companies who have stopped buying in this recession; government agencies continue to buy.
They make T-Flex mcad software. (See photo above.) What particularly intrigued me was (2) their full lineup developed by just a staff of 70; and (2) their own parametrics system. By full lineup I mean they have CAD, CAM, CAE, and CAPP. The booklet that describes all available options and features is rather thick.
Their's was the first 2D parametric software, developed way back in 1992. Basically, you just draw in 2D and constraints are added automatically. Dimensions are optional, as are geometric constraints and dimensional constraints.
Mr Kozlov told me he is frustrated that foreign vendors sometimes add features that no one uses, but then customers ask if t-flex can do it. So, they added the feature just to keep up with the checklist requests. For example: rendered views in 2D drawings -- something not defined by Russian standards. They would rather spend the time on solving real problems, like good cross-section views of threaded junctions.
Then I got this silly thought: what if one day there was just one drawing that contained the parametrics for everything the world? Whoever owned the drawing ruled the world.
We had conducted most of business over dinner the night before, but agreed we needed to meet for another hour. Since the new 17th-floor offices of Autodesk CIS are on the outskirts of Moscow, Mr Slutsky guided me through the Moscow Metro system -- whose subway cars are even more crowded than the streets above.
This was 09/09/09, a day considered auspicious by Russians for the unusual nature of the triple 9. (Lots of Russian women want to get married on this day.) It was the day Nanocad launched their new software. And it was the day I visited them.
This is their concept:
- The base software is free, the AutoCAD-like Nanocad 2.
- The price of their 20 vertical products is just the maintenance cost, ranging from $200 to $450 a year.
- Next month, they release Nanocad 2 as open source.
After telling me their corporate history and demo'ing the new software, it was Q&A time. First, they asked me questions left for me by participants in their online forums. Most asked about the future of CAD. I was asked to pick the beset question: after a quick rescan, I picked #8 asked by Mikhail Ioshin:
Do you think that CAD is diminishing the creativity of engineers or rather supports it.
A similar question was discussed at yesterday's roundtable. I tend to go along with the "less" hypothesis. Then it was time for the staff of Nanocad to question me. The Q&As were video taped, and the company plans to post it on their Web site.
Following the grilling, Nanocad took me out for dinner. We ordered fish; the waiter brought the fish over for us to approve. It was coocked in the thick layer of salt, and then the cook flambe'd the fish with a flourish. He covered the fish with a cloth, and then took a hammer to the edges -- this was to remove the caked salt. Needless to say, the fish melted like butter in our mouthes.