For a long time Autodesk used Spatial’s ACIS modeling kernel in its products. For reasons that I will not get into here, one fine day in 2001, Autodesk announced that it would be excercising it contractual right to take the current version of ACIS for a fee and develop its own modeling kernel using it. And that it how ShapeManager was born.
The key phrase here is “current version of ACIS“, which happenned to be ACIS version 7. At that time Autodesk said that it would guarantee that its products would always be able to read and write ACIS SAT files upto version 7, but made no promises on future versions. Also at that time, the then CEO of Spatial, Mike Payne, warned that interoperability with future versions of CAD systems that use ACIS as their modeling kernel would be come a problem for Autodesk customers. And that is precisely what has happenned. Eight years down the line ACIS has reached version 20 and none of Autodesk’s products can read and write ACIS SAT and SAB files later than version 7. And it looks like they never will.
So in comes SYCODE. Today we released six neutral CAD file formats plug-ins for AutoCAD and two of them are designed to solve the exact problem that I mentioned above. SAT Import for AutoCAD and SAT Export for AutoCAD give AutoCAD the ability to read and write ACIS SAT and SAB files up to latest version of ACIS – version 20. In fact, since the plug-ins use 3D InterOp libraries from Spatial, we guarantee that our plug-ins will read and write all future versions of ACIS SAT and SAB the day Spatial releases them.
The other four data exchange plug-ins that we released today are IGES and STEP data exchange plug-ins: IGES Import for AutoCAD, IGES Export for AutoCAD, STEP Import for AutoCAD and STEP Export for AutoCAD. We already have IGES and STEP import plug-ins for AutoCAD. But there are effective to import only 2D data. 3D data is imported as wireframe curves, which is not that helpful if you want to further edit the objects using AutoCAD’s solid modeling tools. We have completely rewritten the IGES and STEP import plug-ins to leverage the robust 3D InterOp technology from Spatial. Now these plug-ins get 3D data from IGES and STEP files as 3D solids into AutoCAD where they can be further edited. The IGES and STEP export plug-ins are new products and help in completing the round trip of 3D data via the IGES and STEP routes.
On a related note, if you have been following my blog, I am “virtually attending” Autodesk University this year. For those who would like to keep track of blogs, tweets, images, etc, related to the event, all in one place, you may want to check out this Scribble Live page.