Informative Graphics and the ODA – hi-fi at its best
The discerning listener and viewer
For an authentic experience with rich detail you need hi-fidelity reproduction, whether listening or viewing. Whilst music enthusiasts want a cohesive whole they also enjoy picking out specific instruments, melodies and harmonies and it’s no different for CAD users. They expect a reliable view of a document or drawing; they also need to be able to pinpoint specific details within the design. The Open Design Alliance enables Informative Graphics to give its customers both big picture context and fine granularity.
Informative Graphics Corporation
Informative Graphics Corporation (IGC) helps organizations share information securely by providing high quality viewing, annotation, redaction and content publishing software. Founded in 1990 the company was the result of an idea to build an application that could view multiple file formats and still run in minimal DOS memory. MYRIAD was the company's first product and the name of the rendition platform technology on which it resided.
IGC was responding to the need for non-CAD users such as purchasing and finance personnel to view and comment on CAD data and drawings via a simple interface. Now thousands of public and private sector organisations in the US and overseas enhance collaboration, speed business processes and maintain the confidentiality of sensitive information with IGC’s products. These include Brava!® and Redact-It®, renowned for their cost-saving value, ease-of-use and scalability.
Globally dispersed teams use IGC products for processes such as review and approval cycles , where project files are routed through multiple reviewers for comments. “No delays, no printing costs, no shipping fees and better communication – that is what our customers need and expect,” says Christine Musil, IGC’s Marketing Director. “They can save thousands of dollars, increase compliance, reduce errors and speed up the development process.”
The challenge of achieving accuracy
The CAD sector has remained a large market for IGC. “The CAD community, and more importantly the downstream consumers of CAD information, are an important segment of our target users,” says CEO and co-founder Gary Heath. “Brava is a broad product line and we have versions of Brava that are 100 % targeted toward the AutoCAD and MicroStation eco-system, particularly for review and approval processes.”
One of the biggest challenges for IGC used to be keeping current with the various CAD formats. “For a viewer, accuracy and fidelity are key,” continues Christine. “But we also need our developers working on new features and other application development.”
Opening up core graphics technology
IGC recognized the need for access to core graphics technology and became a founding member of the ODA, joining the organization at its inception when it first had a vision of format interoperability via open standards. Anon-profit, membership-based association of software companies, software developers and users, the ODA enables the exchange of information, such as CAD data, through open industry-standard formats. It continues to develop the standards for such formats.
ODA membership provided IGC with software libraries of extraordinary quality. These software libraries, developed by the Open Design Alliance, allowed IGC to easily develop sophisticated applications capable of both reading and writing the DWGdirect and DGNdirect CAD file formats. Both file formats are used within IGC products.
ODA membership enables speed and effectiveness
IGC provides its customers with viewing technology tailored to their particular requirements and uses the ODA’s Teigha platform (Teigha for .dwg files and Teigha for .dgn files) to open .DWG and .DGN drawings in its applications. As Gary explains, “Native viewing of these formats provides the ultimate user experience with full support for all aspects of the format - more than what is possible in a generic publishing format like PDF which has to comply with typical office formats and also had to address other functions such as scanning. The rich content within a CAD file becomes accessible in our viewer.”
Opening the door to creativity and innovation
Christine Musil again: “Our membership in the ODA means that we can focus more of our development effort on innovation and feature development. So we use ODA to do the format ‘heavy lifting,’ giving us more time to solve other customer needs.” IGC’s mission is to deliver the highest level of fidelity. “The ODA provides excellent fidelity, which helps us achieve higher quality products as a result of our membership,” she continues. “Being able to trust ODA really helps. We know that we can deliver to big name companies like Bechtel and Chevron.”
Gary adds: “The amount of time saved by working with ODA is man years, especially in light of the on-going effort to support changes to the file formats and add new concepts. This enables us to keep up with our large partners and deliver better fidelity than our competitors. As a neutral third party, ODA provides a framework, a platform that enables data sharing and collaboration among a variety of vendors, fostering great creativity in a market segment that thrives on innovation. Companies like IGC that are looking for an edge, find it by providing a better way to do something useful and cool. Membership of the ODA allows us to build on the ODA platform and further specialize in our domain of expertise in a way that would not otherwise be possible.”
The Open Design Alliance is a non-profit consortium of over 2,000 software developers and users in 40 countries committed to promoting open, industry-standard formats for the exchange of CAD data and CAD legacy data. Teigha™, the software development platform, provides software developers with the tools to create a wide range of technical graphics applications, including custom data access and editing utilities, visualization tools, and even full-scale CAD systems. Teigha also supports the use of both .dwg and .dgn files, with import and export capabilities to other file formats. The Open Design Alliance maintains and publishes the Open Design Specification for .dwg files.