The Future of DRX

I have been making a decent amount of noise on this blog about ObjectARX, DRX, ObjectDRX, BRX, IRX and the like. Today at SYCODE we actually went ahead and did something about it. Today we released 20 data exchange DRX plug-ins for Bricscad.

For the past year, I have been keeping a close eye on Bricsys, a member of the IntelliCAD Technology Consortium. They seem to be moving much faster than most ITC members in terms of adding features to their flavor of IntelliCAD. This is because they have been doing parallel development of their own, something which most of the ITC members I met at the IntelliCAD World Meeting in Athens told me was a foolish thing to do. It appears that Bricsys were not that foolish after all. From what I see Bricscad is almost where the new IntelliCAD 7 is going to be a year from now.

SYCODE already offers plug-ins for IntelliCAD 6, the current version which by the ITC’s own admission is quite buggy. These plug-ins are the old style SDS DLL’s and are a nightmare to develop and maintain. Clearly the future is DRX – the technology developed by the Open Design Alliance which is the backbone of the new IntelliCAD 7 and other AutoCAD clones. Initially we had planned to freeze DRX development till IntelliCAD 7 was released. But seeing how far Bricsys has progressed with Bricscad, we decided to take the leap and begin DRX development with Bricscad V9. In fact, these 20 DRX plug-ins work with Bricscad V8 as well because V8 was the version that Bricsys initially added DRX support.

Another ITC member, ZWSOFT from China, also “allegedly” supports DRX in their flavor of IntelliCAD called ZWCAD. See my previous post about ObjectDRX. The problem with ZWSOFT’s implementation of DRX is that they have taken the source of the DRX SDK from the ODA and recompiled it for use in their product. This is precisely how the ITC members messed up IntelliCAD. Third party developer’s like ourselves ended up creating different SDS plug-in DLL’s, one for each flavor of IntelliCAD. This drove us crazy to a point that we decided to stop further development on IntelliCAD 6 itself. I hope history does not repeat itself with DRX. I definately do not want to see different flavors of the DRX SDK floating around. In my opinion, this is exactly what will happen if someone with vision does not step in and show some leadership.

And by someone I am referring to the ODA, more specifically its president Arnold Van Der Weide, a person who headed the ITC not too long ago. In his keynote address at the IntelliCAD World Meeting in Athens, Arnold regretted giving a free hand to ITC members during his tenure as president and let them do what they wanted with the IntelliCAD source. It would be sad if he allowed the ODA to go down the same road.

But I have hope. ZWSOFT’s previous version of ZWCAD, a version called 2008i, came with the entire DRX SDK, complete with ODA copyright notices and all. I have no idea how the ODA allowed that to happen. However, their current 2009 version no longer comes with the DRX SDK. At least the trial I downloaded did not have it. I am not sure whether anything transpired between the ODA and ZWSOFT. But if it did, then it is a good sign.

I believe that there must be only one source for the DRX SDK and it should be the ODA. If any ODA member wishes to take the DRX source and screw around with it, they should not be allowed to call it DRX anymore. I am not sure whether that will prevent them from creating their flavor of DRX anyways, but at least third party developers will be able to tell their customers that their plug-ins will work with authentic DRX enabled applications only.

I am not talking crazy here. Take Bricsys for example. The 20 DRX plug-ins that we released today were built using the free DRX SDK supplied by the ODA. They load and run perfectly in Bricscad V8 and V9. I don’t care if Bricsys used the original DRX source code or a modified version, as long as Bricscad loads and run our DRX plug-ins built using the ODA’s free DRX SDK. And to make my point, Bricsys decided to make an ARX source compatible SDK. They could have simply gone ahead and modified the original DRX source code. Instead they came up with a a new SDK and called it BRX, which I believe simply wraps around the original DRX SDK.

I urge the ODA to institute a certification program wherein plug-in developers can get their DRX plug-ins certified directly by the ODA. And this is precisely what I am going to gun for at the ODA World Conference in April in the Netherlands. Even if it means that I have to corner Arnold in an elevator and mind ram him for an hour.

I believe that the future is DRX, but I wonder what is the future of DRX.