Bricscad V10, the latest version of the AutoCAD clone developed by Belgian CAD software developer Bricsys cannot read AutoCAD 2010 DWG files. As a result it cannot do a lot of things that AutoCAD 2010 can do. Why? Because it is based on DWGdirect version 2.6. Just to give you an idea how old version 2.6 is, I used that version of DWGdirect in my book “OpenCAD – A Step by Step Guide to Developing a Professional CAD Application” which I wrote a year ago. And back then DWGdirect 2.6 was already almost a year old.
Subsequently, the ODA went ahead and released DWGdirect 2.7 (which Graebert is using for their ARES CAD engine) and then added DWG 2010 support in DWGdirect 3.0. The current version of the DWGdirect is 3.2 and the ODA is obviously working on 3.3. So as you can see, there is a huge difference in the capabilities of the platform that the ODA currently offers its members and that which the members have currently deployed in their software. Why is that? Because the ODA simply supplies a foundation over which members like Bricsys, Graebert, ITC, etc. build their CAD systems. Think of it as a modeling kernel in a MCAD system. The user interface, graphics and everything else needs to be developed around it. As you can imagine, that is a huge task.
When an ODA member takes a version of DWGdirect from the ODA, enhances the source code and starts to plug its stuff all around it, many things break, many things do not work as expected and many things need to be tweaked. After all that is said and done, a lot of time, money and energy has been spent, sadly not in enhancing the product, but rather just to ensure that the member’s changes to the ODA code work properly with the new version of DWGdirect. And that is a huge problem.
Bricsys CEO Erik de Keyser and CTO Luc de Batseilier discussed this problem with me at length when I visited Bricsys in Belgium after the ODA World Conference at Leiden in Holland. Also at Leiden, the ODA President Arnold van der Weide was trying to convince Erik and Luc to give the enhancements Bricsys made to DWGdirect back to the ODA so that his programmers could incorporate those enhancements back into the original DWGdirect code. The upside of doing so was that Bricsys would not have to reinvent the wheel the next time they took a new version of DWGdirect from the ODA because their stuff would already have been plugged into the latest version of DWGdirect. The downside is that since the ODA members compete with each other, competitors like Grabert and the ITC would also get the enhancements added by Bricsys programmers.
Ultimately, I guess Bricsys found that the pros weigh more than the cons because today the ODA and Bricsys announced that they would cooperate to enhance the ODA platform (see press release). Going forward, the programmers at Bricsys will be free to concentrate on adding new functionality to Bricscad as opposed to spending their time and energy making old things work. On the other hand, the ODA programmers will not be bogged down by unnecessary support calls from Bricsys. Bottom line, the ODA platform as a whole will be strengthened and the non-AutoCAD DWG community will benefit from this cooperation.
Arnold plans on getting other ODA members to follow Bricsys’ footsteps. I wish him luck. After all, strength lies in unity.