Neil Peterson, the CTO of the ODA, spoke about some of the past work done by the ODA and updated us with the current development status of the ODA platform.
Neil was the first employee of the ODA and was hired 10 years ago. He gave a brief roundup of the OpenDWG Toolkit and Viewkit, the ODA components in 1999, and what their limitations were.
In 2000 the ODA expanded their two man development team and developed an early C++ platform to fix the problems of the C based Toolkit and Viewkit. They basically rewrote the components from ground up. They added a rendering framework and import/export modules, the first one being DWF and then added other interfaces like SVG and PDF. They then added ActiveX support and more recently added support for .NET which has brought it a whole new set of members. Subsequently, members requested rendering support for ACIS solid models since they didn’t want to license the full blown ACIS modeling kernel just to display 3D solid models in DWG files. The ODA wrote an in-house ACIS Rendering and Conversion module for that purpose.
“Support for Custom Objects has been the reason for the success of our DWGdirect SDK“, Neil said. He rubbished Autodesk’s claim that their “Trusted” DWG files were better than the ones coming out from DWGdirect. “I have been in this business long enough to know better”, he said. “I haven’t seen anything that proves a word they say. This is mature technology and is in use by members for a number of years.”
As part of the image change, the ODA is looking for new names for DWGdirect, DGNdirect and other technologies, all of which will go to constitute the ODA platform. Neil also mentioned that the ODA has developed in-house ACIS support for rendering, read/write/convert. Members that need full solid modeling support, can license the ACIS modeling kernel from Spatial and use ODA’s Spatial ACIS Integration feature. The ODA has also developed in-house Parasolid rendering support to render solid data in DGN files as well.
Neil spent some time explaining the DRX SDK, a subset of the DWGdirect SDK. He mentioned that custom objects can also be created using the free DRX SDK.
Neil admitted that documentation has been weak and that they were changing that. The ODA now has a dedicated team for documentation. He urged the members to download the new DWGDirectX Developer’s Guide document and give feedback.
The ODA is in the process of putting up my OpenCAD book on its web site as a Wiki, so that users can contribute to it. I think this is a wonderful idea. For example, if a user sees a bug they can go ahead and fix it. If they have a better way of doing something they can go ahead and edit it. I believe that the Wiki will serve as an excellent resource for new as well as existing users.
Neil mentioned that the ODA’s customer base has been changing since 1999, where most customers wanted to write DWG utility, rendering or import/export applications. Today people are using the ODA libraries to build vertical applications, full CAD systems and even web based applications.