June 20, 2005
3D XML Specifications And Player Available From Dassault Systemes
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Jeff Rowe - Managing Editor

by Jeff Rowe - Contributing Editor
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Dassault Systemes announced the availability at http://www.3ds.com/3dxml of the 3D XML (Extensible Markup Language) Specifications and Player, which will enable users to view and manipulate rich 3D data in a variety of industrial, consumer, and commercial environments.

3D XML is a universal, lightweight XML-based format that enables users to share live, accurate 3D data quickly and easily. 3D XML is suited for fast and efficient communication. Fully based on standard XML, it allows any software program to read, write, and enrich 3D XML content using standard tools. This capability will facilitate broad adoption of 3D and will lower the cost of converting files from existing 3D formats. Developed in conjunction with industry leaders, it provides unique features, such as multi-representation 3D structure, and unmatched compression for complex, accurate geometry, enabling rapid file transmission and shorter load times. Dassault Systemes uses the 3D XML
format in its entire line of products: CATIA, DELMIA, ENOVIA, SMARTEAM, and SolidWorks. Moreover, all members of the CAA V5 and SolidWorks developer communities will de-facto endorse the 3D XML format and will deploy it on a wide scale to their end-users.

The 3D XML Player, also available at http://www.3ds.com/3dxml leverages the 3D XML Specifications and extends the use of 3D beyond traditional PLM applications. 3D content can now easily be incorporated into a variety of media, including but not limited to technical documentation, maintenance manuals, marketing brochures, websites, email communications, and many other everyday uses. With 3D XML, 3D becomes a true communication medium allowing users to "see what you mean."

The 3D XML Player is designed to work with a wide range of application suites, including Microsoft Office applications, on the web with the Internet Explorer browser or as a standalone application. It delivers Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office plug-ins, with 3D XML drag-and-drop capabilities.

"The 3D XML format is a cornerstone of Dassault Systemes' ambition to democratize 3D and demonstrates our commitment to openness," said Dominique Florack, executive vice president of Strategy, Research and Development at Dassault Systemes. "As 3D content is a core asset within the digital enterprise, it increasingly becomes critical for communication & collaboration. With the public release of the 3D XML Specifications, we are encouraging its wide adoption throughout all industries."

It didn't take long for Dassault to respond to an announcement that competitor UGS made a couple of weeks ago regarding its lightweight data format, JT.

This announcement is really an extension or natural progression of an announcement Dassault made last fall. 3D XML compresses highly complex data, with what the company claims, file sizes up to 99 percent smaller than those of formats prior to compression. 3D XML is based on, but leverages and extends Lattice Technology's XVL technology as part of a partnership announced last July. The technology provides rapid file transmission and shorter load times while maintaining the exact geometry of the files exchanged. Using 3D XML, users can drag and drop files into other applications such as email or office applications. The new format has potential to enhance collaboration around 3D
information to a broad range of users. The re-use of 3D information is what broadens the base of potential 3D users.

With a couple exceptions. unlike most formats, 3D XML is fully based on standard XML. Therefore, (theoretically) any software program will be able to read, write, and enrich 3D XML content using standard tools. This capability could facilitate broad adoption by other software developers (see immediately below) and lower the cost of converting files from existing 3D formats.

A couple of months ago Dassault aligned itself with Microsoft when it announced it would collaborate to support Microsoft's Extensible Application Markup Language (XAML) format in its 3D XML format. XAML is the format for "Avalon," the code name of the next presentation subsystem for the Microsoft Windows operating system. Compatibility between 3D XML and XAML is intended to enable users of various 3D applications to view, modify, and customize 3D objects in an open environment and take advantage of 3D in any XAML-based application.

It seems kind of ironic that instead of consolidating, engineering and technical data file formats continue to proliferate with no end in sight. Beyond Dassault's 3D XML and UGS. JT, there are also Tech Soft America's HSF, Autodesk's DWF, and another emerging format put forth by UGS called PLM XML. As you can see, there is certainly no dearth of file formats above and beyond the myriad native file formats emanating from MCAD systems.

All of these file formats are all well and good in their own little universes, but they really complicate things very quickly when you move beyond that universe with regard to interoperability. Ultimately, we'll be able to enjoy direct CAD translation to and from native CAD file formats, but this is still a distant dream that will be realized somewhere down the road, although when is anybody's guess.

The Week's Top 5

At MCADCafé we track many things, including the stories that have attracted the most interest from our subscribers. Below are the five news items that were the most viewed during last week.

Spatial Corp., a Dassault Systemes (Nasdaq:DASTY) (Euronext Paris: #13065, DSY.PA) company and market-leading provider of 3D components, today announced the R15 release of their 3D modeling and interoperability product lines. For ACIS, R15 includes the capability to offset surfaces with high curvature, small G1 discontinuities, geometric singularities, and illegal parameterization; extended ability to create smooth Skin and Loft surface networks; and support for Microsoft Windows XP x64 Edition. For R15, the InterOp line of translators includes updates to support translating CATIA V5 R15, CATIA V4 4.2.4, Unigraphics NX3, Pro/Engineer Wildfire 2, Solidworks 2005, Inventor 9, and Parasolid
16.1 files, and a new InterOp Connect programming interface with flexible data translation.

More than 100,000 AutoCAD software users have downloaded a free software component from SolidWorks Corp., enabling them to work with any DWG file, regardless of the AutoCAD version that produced it. The DWGgateway data translation tool enables any AutoCAD software user to open and edit any DWG file.

PTC announced that the Ukrainian-based ANTONOV Aeronautical Scientific/Technical Complex (ANTONOV ASTC) has launched its newest aircraft using PTC's solutions for PLM. The AN-148 regional jet is the first aircraft in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and among the first in the world, designed completely by means of digital technologies. The design was developed completely in a PTC software environment with more than 300 ANTONOV engineers using PTC's CADDS 5i for digital design, Windchill for product data management, and Pro/MECHANICA for mechanical analysis. ANTONOV is using PTC's applications to provide aerodynamic surface design; development of 3D assemblies and airframe
parts; design of piping and electrical systems; drawing documentation; 3D digital mockup for spatial integration and collaborative design reviews, and preparation of programs for numerically controlled manufacturing machines

Autodesk introduced Autodesk RealDWG 2006 technology for application development. Autodesk RealDWG 2006 (formerly ObjectDBX) enables third-party application providers to develop and market products that read and write AutoCAD DWG and DXF design data formats. Autodesk RealDWG 2006 is fully compatible with Autodesk's products, including AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor Series, and AutoCAD LT.

Delcam has set the target of selling more CAM software and services than PTC in 2006. The company believes that this ambitious objective is achievable based on the results of the latest survey of the industry by consulting and market research firm, CIMdata. Each year, CIMdata publishes its NC Software and Related Services Market Assessment and has recently issued its 2005 report. This shows that, in 2004, Delcam maintained its sales of $79.7 million, while PTC's sales stayed at $91.8 million. For 2005, CIMdata is predicting that Delcam will close the gap significantly on PTC. Although PTC is predicted to achieve sales of $97.8 million, Delcam is expected to achieve sales of $93.9 million.

Jeffrey Rowe is the editor and publisher of MCADCafé and MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached here or 408.850.9230.

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-- Jeff Rowe, MCADCafe.com Contributing Editor.


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