For the past several years there’s been a lot of chatter throughout the MCAD industry about the significance, or rather, insignificance of one of the main software components – geometric modeling kernels. In other words, do they really matter anymore? I contend that they definitely do still matter.
While it is true that few users really care about the origin of the modeling kernel in their CAD tool, software component kernels are good for the following reasons:
- They are developed, supported, and maintained by an expert source that focuses on improving specific aspects of the kernels/components.
- They allow relatively small software organizations to develop applications relatively economically and lets them focus on what they do best on the application side.
- They are updated and released on a regular schedule so software developer customers can time their application releases accordingly and regularly, knowing that improvements have been made to the kernel.
Of course, a counter argument could be made regarding software components, but most of software component software development and end user customers I have spoken with over the years have generally been pleased with the arrangement and results.
At the beginning of December, we saw a news item stating that some technical institutions in Russia were collaborating and investing ~$22 million over three years to build a “national” 3D solid modeling kernel. According to the news release, “Parasolid is indicated ‘as a functional prototype’ for the project.” What this means for the CAD industry as a whole remains to be seen, and I’m not convinced that a “national” 3D solid modeling kernel is necessarily a good thing, but the effort illustrates that component software is still viable today and into the future.
3D software components are the legacy of several component vendors, with components that include ACIS, CGM, Parasolid, eDrawings, and many others. These components and their developers will continue business for a long time to come. As they were in the past, software components will remain significant and relevant into the future for the MCAD industry.