IMSI/Design and the ODA: power, performance and mobility
A building plan in the palm of your hand
CAD has come a long way. It’s no longer confined to the drawing office. At last, architects, engineers and project managers can now quickly and conveniently look at large scale 3D plans on an iPhone™ or iPad™ as they walk around a busy construction site. All this has been made possible by TurboViewer™, a family of free applications from IMSI/Design that includes the first iPhone and iPad viewer for native 3D DWG™ files.
TurboViewer is the first in a series of next generation applications designed specifically for the AEC (Architecture, Engineering and Construction) sector. It is exactly this sort of innovation that users have come to expect from IMSI®/Design which develops TurboCAD®, the number one best-selling CAD in retail outlets. The Open Design Alliance (ODA) plays a key part in all this, enabling the company to focus on what it does best – creating new functionality for a wide range of users.
The global leader in retail CAD, with over 2 million CAD products sold since 1988, IMSI/Design’s range also includes DoubleCAD™, DesignCAD™, TurboFLOORPLAN™ and Renditioner. These deliver power and ease at an affordable price. “We think of most of our users as prosumers,” comments Bob Mayer, Chief Operating Officer. “They are professionals seeking value for money, particularly those who opt for TurboCAD.” With its comprehensive interface this appeals to traditional users such as those working in AEC, CAM and specialist engineering. It is also perfect for multi-disciplinary users such as jewellery and woodworking professionals, garden and interior designers, and those passionate hobbyists that make up a significant percentage of IMSI/Design’s customer base.
Bob explains that TurboCAD is most often compared to AutoCAD. “We try to take advantage of this comparison by actually extending DWG compatibility beyond AutoCAD’s capability, with support of intelligent architectural object types such as walls, windows and doors, something that only more expensive products like AutoCAD Architecture and Architectural Desktop support.”
The need for a level playing field
When IMSI/Design launched TurboCAD in 1990, it was the one of the only companies marketing and selling CAD software at consumer level prices of $100 or less. “We began writing our own DXG and DWG files,” Bob says. “DWG is the accepted standard in CADCAM and to be competitive as a company we had to ensure complete compatibility which meant that we were continually upgrading our files to keep in line with the industry. Over the years this became increasingly cumbersome and time consuming. We found that we were focusing on compatibility issues rather than on functionality and innovation with the core application. It gradually became clear that we needed to work with other companies to pool resources and share the expense of hiring dedicated engineers with the appropriate expertise.” It was this decision to cooperate with others that led IMSI/Design to become one of the founding members of the ODA in the late 1990s.
Sharing the development cost
Membership of the ODA enables CAD companies to share the cost of developing code and to Bob this is a measurable business advantage. “We have been receiving a range of library files from ODA since1998. This is so much more efficient than creating them for ourselves. We integrate the files with our own development environment so that we maintain our individuality and can continue to create plug-ins for AutoCAD. We have not yet taken full advantage of Open DGN files, however we will be doing so once we have completed further work on our own platform.”
According to Bob, DWG compatibility is one of the most important issues for IMSI/Design products. “Our customers demand it, so we have to provide it. Our involvement with the ODA is therefore an opportunity cost to the business. It means we can focus on extending and enhancing our code and we can do it more quickly.”
Responding to changes in technology
The ODA itself is evolving and establishing new relationships. “We have already taken advantage of technology that the ODA has licensed to allow us to read in a pdf file containing vector data and use it as a layer that can be traced to incorporate mapping details into designs and plans. This capability is now included in our professional product.”
IMSI/Design is dedicated to keeping its customers happy, especially as it relates to DWG compatibility. That is where the ODA comes in. “By using the Teigha libraries, we have been able to focus all our effort on customers. We can trust the ODA to deliver DWG basics while we concentrate on developing new and innovative products on both existing and emerging CAD platforms.”