Interview with Arnold van der Weide – Part 1

During COFES 2010 I sat down with Arnold van der Weide, the President of the OpenDesign Alliance, and discussed a range of topics. I am going to split the interview into parts. Here is the first one:

Deelip: What made you leave the ITC and join the ODA? Actually I am more interested in knowing what you have been up to ever since you became President of the ODA.

Arnold: The reason I decided to leave the ITC and join the ODA was because there was an embezzlement at the ODA. That happened over three years and position of the President became vacant. I offered myself for the post. I had served as President of the ITC and was looking for something new. But I had a number of requirements. For example, I had to be neutral. So my contract states that I cannot work for any member of the ODA. When I took over as President there was no quality assurance…

Deelip: Hold a sec. Are you saying that there was no quality assurance at all?

Arnold: There was no formal quality assurance. So yeah, the developers were doing some testing. But it was not structured. They were no builds being created and tested on a regular basis. So one of the first things I did was to set up a complete QA system, which has turned out to be quite big now. It comprises of two racks of servers that do nothing but create builds and test them day in and day out. So now we catch mistakes made by developers quite early. At that time we had about twelve developers. Now we have over twenty…

Deelip: And they are all based in Russia?

Arnold: Yes. We have one CTO who sits in Florida. We also have one lady who handle our office here in Phoenix. In fact, we even have two people in Russia doing the documentation and they are very good.

So business-wise we streamlined the organization and saved a lot of money. Pretty soon we realized that we were marketing the wrong thing. True, we reverse engineer DWG. But after 2003 we were doing DGN also and that was never mentioned. The whole focus was on that one thing called DWG. So if you really look at the technology that the ODA was developing at that time, it turned out that there was so much more than just DWG. But it was never mentioned. So then we took a decision to create a DGN component based on the DWGdirect framework. That resulted in building a standard platform that could support other file formats as well.

The thing is we spend two man years every three years reverse engineering DWG. In the same time we spend about 60 man years developing the platform. I remember the discussion that you and I had at Athens where you were pestering me about why the ODA was talking only about DWG when we had so much more. Actually, you did not need to convince me. I had already started to reorganize things at the ODA and begin the branding of the ODA platform.

Part 2 >>