Growing Up The Clones

In a comment to my earlier post, a reader lamented on the lack of large drawing support and shading in Bricscad and other AutoCAD clones. He wrote:

“What I would really like to see in [Bricscad] V10 is better performance with large drawings or dwgs with large 3D models. Also, I’ve always found the shading lacking in all the Intellicad versions. Flat shading doesn’t cut it anymore. Come on it’s almost 2010 people! I think these two factors would help their adoption by Autocad users.”

In my opinion, the key to getting the clones to be closer to AutoCAD in features, or make them better, is for their developers to make intelligent “make or buy” decisions. For example, in the case of shading they can use a third party rendering engine like the Redsdk from Redway3D (IMSI/Design just did). But if they do they then need to shell out royalties which then will make them increase the price of their product in order to make the same kind of profit. If they don’t then they need to cook up the technologies themselves. And we know that these companies are not rendering specialists.

Over the years, I have heard users of AutoCAD clones complain about just about every feature of their software, always comparing it with the corresponding feature of AutoCAD. However, I don’t believe I ever heared anyone complain about 3D boolean operations. The reason is that feature uses the ACIS modeling kernel which is licensed from Spatial. You usually find 3D modeling capability in the Professional versions of the clones and the increased price is largely due to the royalties that need to paid to Spatial. If the clones did not used ACIS or any other robust (and hence expensive) third party modeling kernel, they would need to write one on their own and we know that none of them are experts at modeling kernels.

In fact, I think it would not be a terrible idea to give the Professional versions of the clones a major facelift. If I were a developer of an AutoCAD clone, I would leave the Standard version as it is but go around shopping for the best technologies, wire them in the Professional version and price it at $2000, if possible. Even then it would be about half the price of AutoCAD but probably come pretty close to it. Secondly, I would take a couple of my brightest programmers and direct them never ever to look at AutoCAD again. Their sole job would be to come up with new stuff while making customer requests a major source for new ideas. Playing catchup is definitely not the best way to gain market share.

In a press release announcing Bricscad V10, CEO Erik de Keyser said:

“Bricscad V10 shows that Bricsys is not just a slavishly follower for DWG CAD but has the intention for innovation while continuing our strong support for the DWG legacy investments of the CAD community.”

Erik was talking about eBridge, the connection between Bricscad and Vondle, their project management system. According to the press release  eBridge allows teams of Bricscad users to collaborate more closely by giving them features like “file versioning, file history, sharing files with others, control on access rights, the fastest online viewer with annotations history, workflow processing and much more“. Bricscad and Vondle were completely different products and now they have been connected thereby adding value to both.

When I was at the Bricsys office in Gent, Belgium, this April, I asked Erik whether he had plans to offer his customers something more than what AutoCAD offerred. “You bet“, came the reply.

As an aside, I also noticed that Bricsys has stopped using the word “AutoCAD” in their marketing. They use “DWG CAD” instead.

  • LOL that was fast! 😉

    I agree with most of what you said. It appears Redsdk is available on Linux too, *wink-wink* Mr. De Keyser! BTW, is the ACIS kernel available on Linux too? I haven’t found the info on Spacial’s site. I remember that Bricscad V6 for Linux was the standard version only, without 3D modeling. It would be a shame if the upcoming V10 Linux version was not available with 3D modeling…

    Then again, the Linux version is a big gamble. Are Linux users going to adopt it, and will enough Windows users make the switch to make it worthwile, remains to be seen.

  • Norm C.

    LOL that was fast! 😉

    I agree with most of what you said. It appears Redsdk is available on Linux too, *wink-wink* Mr. De Keyser! BTW, is the ACIS kernel available on Linux too? I haven’t found the info on Spacial’s site. I remember that Bricscad V6 for Linux was the standard version only, without 3D modeling. It would be a shame if the upcoming V10 Linux version was not available with 3D modeling…

    Then again, the Linux version is a big gamble. Are Linux users going to adopt it, and will enough Windows users make the switch to make it worthwile, remains to be seen.

  • AFAIK, ACIS is available for Windows only.

    I agree with you on Linux.

  • AFAIK, ACIS is available for Windows only.

    I agree with you on Linux.

  • Anonymous

    If they use C++ I think spatial could compile ACIS easily in Linux and they probably already have. It is good idea to test libraries with gnu compilers.

  • Anonymous

    If they use C++ I think spatial could compile ACIS easily in Linux and they probably already have. It is good idea to test libraries with gnu compilers.

  • erik de keyser

    ACIS will be available on Bricscad V10 for LINUX
    About rendering,…keep watching us.
    And you can see now a movie about eBridge to Vondle at http://www.bricsys.com/en_INTL/bricscad/index.jsp under ‘eBridge to Vondle’ click “Watch the demo”.
    Enjoy

  • erik de keyser

    ACIS will be available on Bricscad V10 for LINUX
    About rendering,…keep watching us.
    And you can see now a movie about eBridge to Vondle at http://www.bricsys.com/en_INTL/bricscad/index.jsp under ‘eBridge to Vondle’ click “Watch the demo”.
    Enjoy

  • Erik,

    That’s great news.

  • Erik,

    That’s great news.

  • Great! Ralph mentioned the possibility of a public beta for the Linux version. If that’s the case, I’ll certainly volunteer.

    BTW thanks for adding the missing “t” to my quote Deelip. 😛

  • Norm C.

    Great! Ralph mentioned the possibility of a public beta for the Linux version. If that’s the case, I’ll certainly volunteer.

    BTW thanks for adding the missing “t” to my quote Deelip. 😛

  • Just a quick clarification regarding ACIS.

    ACIS is available for the following operating systems:

    Microsoft Windows
    Red Hat Enterprise Linux
    IBM AIX
    Apple Macintosh

  • Just a quick clarification regarding ACIS.

    ACIS is available for the following operating systems:

    Microsoft Windows
    Red Hat Enterprise Linux
    IBM AIX
    Apple Macintosh

  • IntelliCAD is way underpriced. The continual price cutting is a race to the bottom, and makes the ITC members financially inviable.

    I spent several years telling IMSI to stop selling TurboCAD for $29 (or even free). Now it is priced closer to $1000 and their verticals are over $1000. That’s what IntelliCAD vendors need to so.

    A professional doesn’t mind paying a proper price for his tools, and he wants the toolmaker to stick around to honor the warranty.

  • IntelliCAD is way underpriced. The continual price cutting is a race to the bottom, and makes the ITC members financially inviable.

    I spent several years telling IMSI to stop selling TurboCAD for $29 (or even free). Now it is priced closer to $1000 and their verticals are over $1000. That’s what IntelliCAD vendors need to so.

    A professional doesn’t mind paying a proper price for his tools, and he wants the toolmaker to stick around to honor the warranty.

  • ralphg: “The continual price cutting is a race to the bottom, and makes the ITC members financially inviable.”

    I could not agree more. It looks like the ITC members have completely lost focus of the fact that their primary rival is Autodesk. They are busy fighting each other instead. Perfect example of “United we stand divided we fall.” Or in this case, “divided we throw each other down”.

  • ralphg: “The continual price cutting is a race to the bottom, and makes the ITC members financially inviable.”

    I could not agree more. It looks like the ITC members have completely lost focus of the fact that their primary rival is Autodesk. They are busy fighting each other instead. Perfect example of “United we stand divided we fall.” Or in this case, “divided we throw each other down”.