Thursday April 24, 2014

News from the 3D Collaboration and Interoperability Congress

There are only two well-known annual events addressing CAD interoperability in the United States, and only one—the Collaboration and Interoperability Congress (3DCIC)—is open to all comers. It’s a bit surprising, considering how deeply rooted and expensive CAD interoperability problems are.

At 3DCIC, which I’ve attended over the last few days, on the order of 100 people, including vendors and users of CAD and PLM software, came together in Denver, to have frank discussions of the issues they face in interoperability, and the ways they’re dealing with those issues.

What is surprising is the lack of rancor in the discussions. Probably the harshest comment throughout the entire conference, was one that I made (which, people who know me might have predicted), when I pointed out to a panel representing Siemens PLM, Dassault Systems, PTC, and Autodesk that their companies are too hard to work with when it comes to their customers getting the answers they need to get their work done better. None of them seemed to take my comment as anything more than what it was—an observation that they could all do better in serving their customers.

One of the consistent threads throughout 3DCIC has been the move towards, and benefits of, model based development (MBD), and the model based enterprise (MBE.)  The two concepts, MBD and MBE, are closely related, and the terms are pretty much used interchangeably.  In its simplest form, MBD is about doing away with 2D drawings.  I’ll be writing more about the subject shortly, as I go through my notes from the congress.

Another strong thread has been 3D PDF.  I think the real charm of 3D PDF is that anybody who has a recent version of the Adobe Acrobat Reader on their computer (and that’s most people) can view these files.  No extra software required to use it.  That’s of great value to organizations, such as the US Department of Defense, where employees are not allowed to install new software (including viewers) on their computer.

I’m now attending a meeting of the 3D PDF Consortium, which was scheduled after the end of 3DCIC..  It was scheduled to have ab0ut 15 attendees;  It’s a full room, with 47 people, including a bunch of folks who are involved in creating ISO standards.

I’ll be writing more about 3D PDF in the near future, but here’s a quick summary about why 3D PDF is important, and a good choice as a neutral format:

  • Universal access: Through Acrobat Reader.
  • Compound document,: 3D, 2D, text, image, audio, and video.
  • Infrastructure availability: Existing systems already support PDF.
  • True neutrality: Protects investment.
  • Superior value: No other platform presents as much opportunity, for such little risk.