If you have been keeping track of this blog, I guess by now you have already figured that we are going ahead all guns blazing with our DRX development. Some of you may be wondering why we did not use the easier and faster approach of simply recompiling our existing AutoCAD plug-ins with the ObjectARX source compatible BRX SDK offered by Bricsys. That way we could arrive at Bricscad plug-ins in minutes, instead of taking weeks to rewrite them from scratch using the DRX SDK.
We have our reasons. Firstly, we would have to do it anyways to support IntelliCAD 7 when it is finally released. Same goes for other DWGdirect hosted applications which we are currently investigating. But most importantly, we used the DRX approach because we are seriously contemplating developing our own DWGdirect hosted applications. Don’t worry, we are not going to develop another AutoCAD clone. There are far too many of them already. We have a few standalone applications that we are thinking of rewriting using the DWGdirect SDK. In doing so, the same DRX plug-ins that were are developing for Bricscad will be able to load and run in our standalone products as well.
Ralph Grabowski’s recent comment about the ODA being the most important organization in the CAD world makes a lot of sense to me. I have always maintained that the ODA does not only offer libraries to read and write DWG files. They offer much more. They offer components that can be used by CAD software developers to write full blown professional applications, complete with plug-in architecture, visualization and the works.
Imagine a day when ODA members start building (or rebuilding) their products using the DWGdirect SDK and professional third party developers like me, in-house programmers, freelance programmers, students or just about anyone with programming knowledge use the free DRX SDK to build DRX plug-ins that work in all these DWGdirect hosted applications. It will be more like an ecosystem wherein intellectual property is shared across boundaries and put to best use without having to reinvent the wheel.
At SYCODE we develop plug-ins for more than a dozen CAD systems. The development process and code varies wildly with the CAD systems. Consider this. We have SketchUp SKP file import plug-ins for eleven CAD systems and if you look at the code, they are all completely different from each other. It would be great if we were able to write one plug-in that would work in all eleven CAD systems. Of course, that is not possible because there is no one standard CAD platform that CAD software vendors use. But the DWGdirect SDK is something that comes close to such an ideal situation. Smaller companies like mine that do not have the time, money and resources to develop their own CAD platform can use the DWGdirect platform as a base to build their products. Companies with in-house programming staff that develop custom software solutions for themselves, can do the same. They can build a bunch of DWGdirect hosted applications for various tasks and then build DRX plug-ins to extend them and share them across the company or even outside the company.
Maybe I am talking crap. But then, maybe I am not.