The x-cad.net Web site received its desired 100,000 registrations before the self-imposed deadline of 1 August. (We can't be sure that 100,000+ signed up. From comments left on this blog, some people spammed the x-cad site with multiple registrations.) About a week earlier, Alibre announced it was behind the mystery Web site, and that the software is named "Design Xpress." A couple of its features include:
* Create and edit assemblies with up to 25 parts; larger assemblies can be opened for viewing only.
* Create 2D drawings with standard orthographic views; drawings are fully associative.
The first 100,000 who signed up get a version of the software that included these two extra features:
* Advanced part modeling - shelling, 3D sketch, reference surfaces, and so on.
* 3D import/export of STEP, SAT (ACIS), and IGES; 3D export of STL; 2D import/export of DXF and DWG.
That's the good news. The bad news is that this free software isn't quite so free. It requires a full-time Internet connection so that Google ads can be displayed. When the connection goes missing, the software shuts down after saving your work. If you don't have the connection (such as dial-up users and those on the road), you either can't use the software, or have to pay Alibre US$49.
The limit on 25 parts is designed to encourage you to upgrade to Alibre's more expensive software. The first-100,000 bonus features are available to others at an extra cost. Also, the download ends 31 August.
I had thought Alibre would use the 100,000 customers as a resource for optional support and targetted upgrades.