Okay, so we are here at the "Square" conference center, which has a giant glass cube at its entrance.(LEDAS co-founder David Levin posted a photo of the pre-conference coffe klatsh at his blog: http://levindavid.blogspot.com/2011/10/arnold-van-der-weide-president-of-open.html)
Bricsys CEO Erik de Keyser started off the conference with an amusing video providing a timeline of Bricsys the company, and world events. Now he's filling in some of the details, including of the early years where annaul financial results were "a black zero" -- no losses but no profits, either.
He describes the origin of the split with ITC. An obligation a ITC member is to contribute code improvements. Bricsys contributed a bunch, but the ITC apparently did not want to merge the code. This meant two code streams, IntelliCAD and Bricscad. Bricsys did not want to have the split, and in 2006 decided to rewrite the code to make Bricsys independent of ITC.
Erik de Keyser is the CEO of Bricsys
APIs on Bricscad
Use of the name "AutoCAD" will be kept to a minimum; instead, they refer to "the standard." We are now getting an overview of the APIs that will be in Bricscad V12. Some 50-60% of developers still use LISP, so it is very important. They integrated the new LISP engine from Torsten Moses, a programmer so good that Autodesk actually sued him at one point.
Bricscad V12 supports LISP with 30-40% faster performance, has VL (Visual LISP), VLA, VLX, and VLR, and will be supported on Linux -- completely, even the COM-based VLA, etc functions (with the exception of OS-specific functions). The only difference: LISP on Linux is faster than Windows, because Linux itself is faster than Windows.
DCL now works on Linux, because it is based on WxWidgets. A bonus is that dialog boxes are resizeable, unlike the Autodesk version. Now talking about supporting the API libraries from Open Design Alliance, known as the Tiega libraries: OdDb and OdGe.
They have 15 developers working full time on BRX, supporting around 8,000 functions. Through ACIS they support Bmodeler, and hidden-line removal. They are adding support for bRep models and object property manager, which is especially useful for custom entities. For Linux, duplicate MFC objects so that code does not need to be rewritten. MFC dialogs will have to be replaced by WxWidgets for Linux.
"It is not a wonder that BRX works well on Linux, because the CAD code is the same," added Torsten. "The really exciting point is wondering, 'Can one do the same code on Linux?'" Because other Linux programmers don't care about Windows, so it was exciting to find that the code is portable -- other than the bits of MFC not emulated. All done by 5-6 programmers over a few months -- something no other Linux system has done. As for emulating MFC, "Who knows, maybe." Clearly Torsten sees that as a challenge.
Not only is the BRX API free, but Bricsys provides assistance to third-party developers wishing to port their applications. They also provide 'open object detection,' which tells you which ObjectARX objects are not closed.
When it comes to .Net, Bricscad v11 implemented a first step, in supporting the database. Working with ODA, they have now also implemented all of the ODA's functions. Now in V12 beta, they are implementing all the remaining calls, not covered by ODA, such as selection sets and filtering. Other functions available cover bReps, point monitoring, and overrulingAPI calls.
Also in V12, support for ObjectDBX, and there is a special Linux version that runs on Virtual Box.
ADS/SDS is deprecated. It still exists, because there are still some applications still use it. All ADS functions are avilable in BRX. "There are probably few programs in the market with so many APIs," concluded Mr Batselier.
Someone is wondering about DOSlib support for Linux. This is an issue for Robert McNeel & Assoc, who owns it, but they have not committed, and so Bricsys hopes to be involved in the porting. "We have to do it, to be sure," added Torsten.
Sounds like the Linux version of V12 will ship in a month.
German BIM Application Demo: CTB Acad-Bau
This app is introduced by Erik stating that when they first tried running it on Bricscad, it was pretty depressing. But this just gave the company the impetus to improve the APIs and other aspects so that it now runs well. I'll be interested to see just how well it works.
The AEC software is meant for architects and civil engineers, an object-oriented CAD package. We are getting an overview of just how difficult it is to model a window in a wall. Now gthe demo: the screen is split by default, so that you see the 2D and 3D views at the same time, and you can work in either mode.
This Poland-based third-party developer has a 2dD Mechanical for AutoCAD and Bricscad, including a parametric parts library. They also have Architectural design, HVAC & Piping, and Electrical for parametric design. Available in 22 languages. 36,000 licensees. e400 per module, or e800 for all four.
BOA Support System
Since third-party apps run on Bricscad, bugs experienced by customers might be due to Bricscad or to the third-party add-on. For this reason, Bricsys realized it would make sense to allow third-party vendors to integrate with BOA, the name for the end-user support system.
Both Bricsys and third-party tech support use the same Web-based system. If the problem appears to be with the add-on, the support is sent on to the third-party person. This system went live last Monday.
Sprinkler, Heating, and Other Designs
These add-ons by Fluid Desk are for designing sprinkler systems, ventilation, chilling and heating systems, and managing multi-floor projects. They were written in VLISP. Its name is FDBES, and runs on AutoCAD. 2,000 installed seats; primary market is in Poland and eastern Europe. They are porting it to Bricscad, which they report on here. The core element, FLM, is free, and is a parametric library manager.
On porting to Bricscad: apps are written in ARX in C++ in AutoCAD, with heavy use of reactors and custom objects. (1) compile with BRX, (2) send output to Bricscd, (3) look for missing SDK items, (4) repeat. Found 500 missing BRX fucntions in February 2009; by June 2010, only 45 missing, the rest written by Bricsys programmers. Released beta in February 2011, and now in September everything is working in Bricscad.
Bricsys Corporate Report
And we're back from lunch. Bricsys is in the corporate world (as opposed to selling to individuals). "The process before you get accepted by the corporate world, there is a lot of testing; the sales takes a long time," reports CEO de Keyser.
Royal Boskalis (largest dredging company in the world) was the first corprate client in 2003, when they were interested in using IntelliCAD as a drawing viewer; they ended up equiping every seat with a copy. Naturally, large corporations don't pay the retail list price, since they buy so many copies. The Bricsys policy on corporate pricing is known as "RyanAir pricing": the price is whatever the value is to the customer.
Even in automotive sites that use Catia, not every user at every supplier can have a seat of Catia. So companies like Bosch use Bricscad to communicate with their suppliers.
DWG and the Cloud
"Is .dwg the standard in the corporate world?" Asked Mr de Keyser. "Definately, he answered. He showed a slide of CAD companies vs file formats. 32 use DWG or DXF, a distant second is PDF. Others like Catia or SolidWorks are, of course, of very limited use in other CAD systems.
Imagine a brand new CAD system with its own file format. "Is the biggest problem technical, or marketing," he asked. "Marketing," was his answer. [As a practical example, consider SpaceClaim.]
Will .dwg need to be replaced? The replacement would have a tremendous hurdle, said Mr de Keyser. There are 3,600 companies who have applications that use .dwg. We see that happening to an extent on CAD apps running on smartphones, he notes, where new formats are required.
"It's about the data. We need systems that can handle the data on the cloud." He wants to show us how data stored in CAD format in the cloud works with apps. They already have Vondle, a cloud-based data management systems. We are to learn more about this later this afternoon.
Now we're getting a demo of how Bricscad and Vondle can exchange data with each other, either in real-time or on-demand. In short, you can have Bricscad export data to Vondle and/or tables in drawings. All drive each other, for instance, Vondle updating fields in tables in the drawing.
[Disclosure: Bricsys provided me with airfare, accomodation, and some meals.]