Open Source An Alternative CAD Source?
[ Back ]   [ More News ]   [ Home ]
Open Source An Alternative CAD Source?

I don’t attend nearly as many software conferences as I used to, because frankly, there just aren’t as many as there used to be. With travel expenses keenly in mind, I’ve also become very selective of the conferences I do choose to attend. I’ve been increasingly curious about some alternatives to traditional proprietary software, so I had been looking for a comprehensive venue to learn about the open source software movement and community. In other words, one-stop shopping for a rudimentary education on open source, and luckily, I found it.

I just returned from attending the O’Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) 2009 in San Jose, CA. I honestly didn’t know what to expect when I got there, but by the time I left I was very impressed by what has been accomplished so far, as well as the ambitious plans for the future by this very smart, socially aware, and fascinating community. I came dressed in business casual attire, and immediately realized I was over-dressed. However, I was encouraged to hang out with the folks in T-shirts, and vice versa. Feeling a bit uneasy when I arrived to this new world, I was immediately and continually welcomed into the fold as the week went by, and was actually encouraged to ask questions (I can say that none of my many questions were dismissed as dumb or uninformed). I was there to learn and I learned a lot.

One of the messages that I particularly enjoyed was the fact that even in this terrible economy, open source software is about working not with just technology, but people, and the open source software sector is growing. Open source software is not driven by corporate budgets, but by people fulfilling a need and software freedom. I also learned that the currency of open source is not necessarily money, but rather, beer and T-shirts. Open source software (OSS) projects are built and maintained by a network of volunteer developers and other team members that help with documentation, marketing, etc. While much of the software may be free or very low cost (depending on the licensing arrangement), there are also independent implementation, customization, and support consultants who are paid for their services.

I learned that there are four basic tenets to open source software:

I really felt that this was a refreshing change and difference when compared to most closed, proprietary software.

When I thought about it, the list of open source software applications is actually quite long. Some of the major open source applications you may have heard about include MySQL, Apache Server, Wordpress, Mozilla Firefox, Joomla, Wordpress, Drupal, just to name a few.

I found it interesting to hear that all of the members of the European Union (EU) are required to use open source Linux-based software exclusively, and this includes everything from operating systems to office applications. There is also a move afoot here in this country to attempt to do a similar thing. A couple of the major programs are Government 2.0, that hopes to leverage Web 2.0 federated social networks in government, and Open Source for America, that advocates greater acceptance of open source software and efforts.

Open source Linux actually fostered the emergence of a couple of computer categories – the netbook, including the one laptop per child (OLPC) program where a good percentage are sold with Linux as the operating system.

As part of shaking things up looking ahead to the future, I sat in on a presentation that discussed what user interfaces might look and feel like in 2020. The presenter, Robin Rowe (no relation) opened his presentation with the question, “How much longer will we be WIMPs? (windows, icons, menus, and pointers)?” He felt that within 10 years, next-generation user interfaces would be comprised of the following capabilities:

He also said that unlike the past, defense UI applications are not transitioning to commercial applications at nearly the previous rate. As a matter of fact, most are coming out of academic research labs and Hollywood, although he felt that commercial applications were at least a decade behind what is going on in the labs.

There were a surprising number of vendors in the exhibit hall, including Microsoft. They included several of the Linux distribution organizations, such as Ubuntu, FreeBSD, and openSUSE. There were also some open source companies exhibiting that we have all become familiar with (whether or not we associate them with the open source movement), including Google, Open Office, Intel, Amazon, Facebook, and Novell. However, there were no CAD vendors, per se, at the conference. I asked myself, “Why not?”

As it turns out, there are quite a few open source CAD efforts taking place. While they yet don’t exactly rival the efforts or capabilities of, say, Siemens or Dassault Systemes, there are several applications out there and available running under Linux, Windows, and Mac operating systems. Some of the 2D and 3D CAD and CAD-related open source applications include Blender, CADEMIA, Open CASCADE, PythonCAD, Free-CAD,Cadvas, BRL-CAD, QCad, and Archimedes. There are also several open source CAM and CAE applications available, as well. There is even a specialized engineering-oriented distribution of Linux called CAE Linux.

Graphics capabilities (2D and 3D) are improving rapidly under the Linux banner, assisted in part by the Graphics Execution Manager (GEM), that efficiently manages graphics memory in graphics chipsets. GEM was developed by Intel, starting in May 2008, as a minimalist, easy-to-use alternative to the TTM (Translation Table Maps).

Will the general MCAD vendor community jump on the open source bandwagon? I tend to doubt it, but I am sure that most of the players are watching closely to what transpires as the open source movement continues to grow and evolve. Who knows how the economy, social networking, and the next generation of software users might shape the MCAD software market and how it does business. Open source as a potential future alternative CAD source? It’s already happening.

If you’re interested in the open source software community, I highly recommend that you attend OSCON 2010, tentatively scheduled for July 2010 in Portland, Oregon. I highly recommend that you take advantage of this great opportunity to learn what open source is all about.

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.

Autodesk Debuts Clean Tech Partner Program
At the recent Clean Tech Open (CTO) Renewable Energy Symposium, Autodesk introduced the Autodesk Clean Tech Partner Program. The program awards "seed" grants consisting of free bundles of Autodesk software to early-stage, clean technology companies working to solve some of the world's most pressing environmental challenges. "We understand the significant role design plays in creating a sustainable future," said Lynelle Cameron, director of sustainability for Autodesk. "The Autodesk Clean Tech Partner Program is designed to accelerate innovation and leadership in the clean tech market. As part of our ongoing commitment to global sustainability, Autodesk will be working together with emerging clean tech companies to help bring their ideas to market faster and more cost-effectively." Recipients of the Autodesk Clean Tech software grant will receive a collection of Autodesk's top applications:

Each grant has a retail value of up to U.S. $150,000, and will include up to five full commercial licenses of each application.

SpaceClaim Showcases Multi-Touch for 3D Engineering Design
SpaceClaim announced the company will enable engineers and industrial designers to leverage Windows Touch to create and edit solid models. SpaceClaim marked the news by releasing a video that demonstrates how multi-touch with SpaceClaim 3D Direct Modeling solutions will impact design and engineering. Recently, SpaceClaim announced that the company was chosen by Microsoft as one of a few select Independent Software Vendors (ISV's) in support of the launch of Windows 7, and by N-trig to support DuoSense dual-mode technology, that allows multi-touch in conjunction with a stylus. Multi-touch -- enabling on-screen objects to be manipulated using multiple fingers -- is becoming mainstream through the launch of Windows 7 from Microsoft. While multi-touch is expected to become common on PC hardware, SpaceClaim is ensuring that 3D design will be one of the earliest and most compelling uses of the technology. SpaceClaim will support any multi-touch hardware that uses Windows 7, including those from 3M, N-trig, HP, Dell, and Lenovo. Windows Touch provides SpaceClaim customers with the most flexibility by augmenting the mouse and keyboard as a new way to interact with solid models.

Hexagon Metrology Initiates Litigation Against Metris and Mitutoyo
Hexagon Metrology has filed a patent infringement suit in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts alleging that Metris N.V. and its U.S. subsidiary Metris U.S.A., Inc., and Mitutoyo Corporation and its U.S. subsidiary Mitutoyo America Corp., have infringed U.S. Patent No. 5,829,148 by importing into the U.S. and offering to sell infringing portable arms. “Hexagon Metrology welcomes fair competition,” says William Gruber, President of Hexagon Metrology, “but we will not stand by if competitors use our protected technology, which our customers recognize and rely upon and which has given us a leading position in the metrology industry.” The suit seeks to prevent Metris and Mitutoyo from importing, offering for sale or using the infringing portable arms in the U.S. Hexagon Metrology sells articulated arms in the U.S. under the brand name ROMER.


Porsche Selects a PROSTEP Solution
Porsche AG has selected PROSTEP’s OpenDXM GlobalX as its central data exchange platform. Quality and reliability are basic requirements at Porsche, not only for its end products but also on the path leading to these products, namely during product development. What the company was looking for was a modern data exchange solution that could satisfy these requirements in addition to a variety of other requirements. An in-depth test phase and final benchmarking involving a number of different portal providers indicated that PROSTEP was best able to meet Porsche’s demanding specifications with its OpenDXM GlobalX data exchange platform. This Internet-based solution enables the secure, stable and standardized exchange of files of any size and type. In addition, the extensive rights management facility offered by OpenDXM GlobalX allows the access rights to data to be defined for individual groups of people as necessary and, of course, the solutions is also easy for users to work with. Other requirements dictated that the data exchange solution should be scalable and that it be possible to integrate the solution in the existing infrastructure without investing too much time and effort so that, for example, single sign-on authentication is possible. Another requirement involved easy integration in existing backend systems.

NVIDIA Quadro Processors Propel 3D Design to New Heights for AutoCAD 2010 Users
NVIDIA Corp. announced that the NVIDIA Quadro line of professional solutions is now optimized for Autodesk AutoCAD 2010. Coupling graphics capabilities with specially built AutoCAD performance drivers, Quadro processors enable design professionals to create and interact with more complex 3D product designs. Starting at under $100, NVIDIA Quadro solutions offer AutoCAD users maximum productivity at every price point. In addition to maximizing productivity, the benefits of combining Quadro solutions with AutoCAD 2010 include:

NVIDIA’s new performance drivers for AutoCAD 2010 are free and available for download from NVIDIA’s Web site:

Jeffrey Rowe is the editor of MCADCaféand MCAD Weekly Review. He can be reached at Email Contact or 408.850.9230.


This Week

Lead Story

Open Source An Alternative CAD Source?

Product and Company News

Advanced Off-line Inspection Software Speeds Up Manufacturing and Assembly for Aerospace Giant

Solido Signs Business Partnership Agreement With ENSER Corporation of the US

Unite the power of Parametric with the ease of Direct modeling. Free Download - Inventor Fusion Technology

KOMPAS-3D now available in Polish and Chinese

CAD Schroer Enhances MPDS4 With HOOPS From Tech Soft 3D

Vero Launches VISI 17

Norton Motorcycles Ltd selects PTC’s Product Development System from INNEO Solutions Ltd

SpaceClaim Awarded Major OEM Contract by Flow International Corporation

SolidVision Announces Partnership with Solido to Bring the Most Affordable 3D Prototyping to Engineering and 3D Design Markets

Lattice Technology Releases Lattice3D Reporter Version 3.0

KC Samyang Water Systems Selects Siemens PLM Software to Support Growth

Extensible CAD Announces InspectionXpert for AutoCAD and InspectionXpert for Solid Edge

Delta Marine Steers Ships in the Right Direction Using ANSYS Engineering Simulation

Autodesk Helps Bring Automotive Design Data from CAD to Ad

PTC and Scalextric announce the winner of the Scalextic4Schools Initiative

Autodesk Recognizes Mid-West CAD as Reseller of the Quarter for Q1 FY2010

StudioGPU MachStudio Pro Adds Support for Google SketchUp Pro and Rhino Software

Catalog Data Solutions customer exceeds 48,000 CAD downloads

Formtek, Inc. Implements an Alfresco Open Source ECM Solution for Dorfman Pacific

Sajan Joins PTC PartnerAdvantage Program

WorkNC takes the problem out of programming at Expert Tooling & Automation

Pointwise Interns Win With Muffin Mesh

Native AcuSolve Interface Added to Latest Pointwise Release

Great Potential for 2D Design and Budget Savings

Lattice Technology Releases Updated XVL Converter Products

MecSoft’s New VisualMILL for SolidWorks Shifts Paradigm of Integrated CAM for SolidWorks

New 3D Printer Reduces Time to Market for Engineering and Design Firms

New Functionalities for think3’s ThinkDesign 2009.1

Theorem delivers more cost saving power in new TPM V3

Industrial Experts Reveal the Secrets of Successful Simulation

Zhejiang Fuchunjiang Hydropower Equipment Co., Ltd Selects Siemens PLM Software's Integrated Solution to Turbocharge Competitive Position

mental images Unveils Reality Server 2.3 Software

ModernTech Mechanical Application Engineers Earn SolidWorks Certifications

Tata Technologies Launches i SUPPORT IT – Four-tiered Solution for PLM and Engineering Professionals

TransMagic Products Offered By Digital Design Solutions

Stratasys Conference Call to Discuss Second Quarter Financial Results

AREVA Names ANSYS Certified Supplier

Sescoi and CDTA bring digital moldmaking to Algerian manufacturers

Delcam CRISPIN releases new shoe upper design software

Related MCAD News

First Boeing 747-8 Freighter Takes Shape

EDA Consortium Reports Industry Revenue Down in First Quarter 2009

American Aerospace Heroes Converge on Dayton for Apollo Anniversary

Sun Microsystems Reports Preliminary Results for Q4 FY 2009

Ball Aerospace Wins National Air and Space Intelligence Center Contract

Boeing Reports Second-Quarter Financial Results

Concepts NREC Signs Global Machine Tool Partnership with Hermle

AMT President Urges Congress to Assist Small Manufacturers

Omnify Software Helps Medical Device Customers Automate Training Processes

3PAR Introduces Cloud-Agile Program Aimed at Enterprise Cloud Computing Leaders

Trelleborg Sealing Solutions Launches a New Low-Temperature FKM Sealing Compound Specifically for Aerospace Engine Applications

SAE Automotive Resources Institute to End Services by Close of 2009

Rotoblock (RTBC) Targets Hi-Tech Manufacturing in China

Industry Events

CIMdata Inc. Announces Its Next PLM Certificate Program

V.i. Labs to Discuss Anti-Piracy Techniques at the Design Automation Conference

3D Systems Announces Conference Call and Webcast to Discuss Second-Quarter and Six-Months 2009 Results

46th Design Automation Conference Goes Green at Moscone This Week

SpaceClaim and HyperShot Webinar

Delcam to launch new FeatureCAM at EMO

ModernTech Mechanical Announces August Webinar Series

46th Design Automation Conference to Feature Special Plenary Panel on Green Technology

Free Webcast – Learn How Portable 3D Scanners Save Time, Across More Applications

ANSYS CEO to Present at Oppenheimer Annual Communications, Technology & Internet Conference

Discover a Better Way to Teach Design with 3D Printing

Industrial Experts reveal the secrets of simulation in design Free Webinar

Protecting IP in Nuclear & Energy Organizations Webcast

Corporate Newsletters

Alibre News July 2009

MecSoft Quarterly - July 2009

Explore SpaceClaim Engineer 2009

July e-dynamics: all the latest news from CD-adapco




For more discussions, follow this link …