What’s “New” in IntelliCAD 6.6?

On Monday I received a weird press release from the IntelliCAD Technology Consortium announcing the release of IntelliCAD 6.6. Weird because CMS, an ITC member, released CMS IntelliCAD 6.6 way back in November 2008, almost a year ago. I was interested to know why the ITC was announcing the release of a product that they had already been shipping for a year. So I put the question to Robert McGill, the President of the ITC. This is how he explained it:

As you are aware, the ITC is quite a different organization than the typical CAD company and enjoys the unique dynamics of open source. Making a new release available to the end user also depends on the individual ITC member. When a company like SolidWorks or Autodesk or Bentley puts together a new release, they bake it and push it to the dealers who take the old version “off the shelves” and start selling the new version. By contrast, within the ITC, it is more of a pull than a push. The members pull a new release into their internal release process, tweak the source, add features, integrate third party modules, etc, then bake it and release it to their dealers. Hence, the time between the ITC making a release available to the members, and the members making it available to their end users varies from member to member. The recent press 6.6 press release followed the integration of 6.6 into member products because the goal was to highlight the benefits seen by members and their end users, and that has to come from the members themselves.

So I guess the ITC announces a new release only after all their members have started offering it to their customers. The rationale behind this is to avoid putting its members in an awkward position when asked by their customers why they are still being offered an older version. I am not sure how effective this is, especially since the ITC itself helps members announce new versions much before they do. For example, they issued a press release on 1st September announcing that 4M (an ITC member) was offerring their architectural solution on IntelliCAD 6.6. And this four month old press release on the ITC web site shows a box shot of CMS IntelliCAD 6.6.

Its a good thing that the ITC does not use the year in its versioning system. Otherwise going by the logic that the ITC and Autodesk use, we would have IntelliCAD 2008 and AutoCAD 2010 released in the year 2009.