Tuesday, August 26, 2008

September is Shaping Up

Siemens has announced the release of SE with Synchronous Technology and it is available for download for maintenance paying customers, with hard media set to ship at the beginning of the month. The hype will finally get put to the paces and maybe, just maybe, someone will be able to verbalize what Synchronous Technology is in terms parametric CAD users can comprehend.

Alibre is poised to release v11 sometime in September as well. You can get a sneak peak of it at
http://www.alibre.com/promos/online/new_v11.asp
Several improvements have been leaked, so I'll highlight my favorite three.
  • The repository is being replaced by the Alibre Vault, based on M-Files technology.
  • Many user requested enhancements.
  • Faster performance on larger assembly models and 2D drafting.
Some other improvements that are also in the public domain is the fact that Alibre has moved away from Microsoft Virtual Java. That in itself is a huge change, and one I'm glad to have finally happened. Hopefully the change to the base code allows for more 3rd parties to add onto Alibre. For example, one Alibre user has already updated his Open Office Connect add-on to work with v11. That's great for all of us home users that use Open Office instead of the Microsoft suite.

Rumor has it that assembly and drawing performance is nearing that of the competition. Alibre still doesn't handle large assemblies well (5000 to 100,000 parts), or complex drawings, but at least 500 part assemblies are usable. I don't know of too many people who have more than 500 parts with a (sub)assembly anyway. Drawings are still a bit of an effort to make MIL-Spec ready, but it can be done.

One announcement that I'm very dissappointed in is the removal of Team Design. This collaboration technology is what made Alibre unique and worth the investment even by companies entrenched in another CAD package. Now, Alibre is just another MCAD package except that it lacks certain functionality and usability of the more mature products. Tack on the fact that Alibre's prices are steadily increasing, although still much cheaper than the competition, and I find myself with a CAD package that may not be worth maintaining. By the time I bolt-on all the add-ons and 3rd party programs to get the complete functionality I require - and learn those programs - I spend nearly as much money and a lot more time maintaining proficiency than if I just spend more for a CAD package that has those items built in and utilizing a common interface.

Call me an enginerd, but this is going to be an exciting month. Keep an eye out for the Alibre Design v11 Design Contest. The last one had some gorgeous renderings submitted; I can only imagine what this season will bring.
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