Introducing DoubleCAD XT Pro
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Introducing DoubleCAD XT Pro

Welcome to AECWeekly! I will be in San Francisco at Bentley Systems’ sponsored SmartGeometry 2009 Conference the week of March 25-April 1. See more about the conference in the Announcements section of this newsletter.

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Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News
Introducing DoubleCAD XT Pro
By Susan Smith

In Las Vegas last year, IMSI/Design gave journalists and a few others a sneak preview of what was to come: their free DoubleCAD XT product, an AutoCAD LT “work-alike” product that provides some features such as self-healing walls, self-aligning blocks, modern handle-based editing, snap prioritization, brush editor, and smart dimensions. Just released is the company’s DoubleCAD XT Pro, which has all that and much more, at the very low price point of $695.

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Architectural layout
Targeting the AutoCAD LT market, DoubleCAD XT Pro is said to be “very compatible with those users’ DWG content,” and will make round tripping of DWG files complete without any loss of data. In addition to the features of DoubleCAD XT, DoubleCAD XT Pro has a drafting palette, constraints, and parametric programming of the parts. It interfaces very well with SketchUp. Bob Mayer, chief operating officer, said they feel that the economic downturn may work in their favor for releasing a product that accomplishes virtually the same thing as AutoCAD LT at a lower price point.

In spite of company optimism, the question remains whether or not users will switch to the less expensive product instead of upgrading to the latest version of AutoCAD LT.

Since its inception in 1988, IMSI has created retail CAD products TurboCAD, DesignCAD, and IDX Renditioner, which have had a strong following.

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Brian Carter, senior director, CAD Division, said that they have made the interface onscreen for those already familiar with AutoCAD. Because so many AutoCAD customers are more familiar with the classic layout than with Autodesk’s new ribbon interface, DoubleCAD XT Pro is designed with that classic layout. “We’re trying to take advantage of muscle memory. People are used to using their mouse in a particular way and find a tool a certain way, this makes it easier for them to use,” said Carter. “From our own research it seems like the majority of people still prefer to use this interface, and secondly, programmatically speaking it would have taken much longer to replicate that sort (ribbon) of interface.”

In the area of commands, DoubleCAD XT Pro also has dynamic input that allow users to use virtual snaps. “We’ve tried to make it more readable, so standard options for the tool are on the first line,” said Carter. “Those are going to be the options you’d have when your drawing. The second are polyline properties that would be available from your local menu, so to change how the tool is acting, it makes it little easier to find out what you will need as a subcommand. On the local menu you also have local toolbars that are acting depending on the tool you select. This one changes depending upon which tool you’re currently in mode, and will allow you to pick a similar more appropriate tool. It also gives you views, that are fully customizable, in fact the entire interface is fully customizable, and it’s easy to customize.”

IMSI is a founding member of the Open Design Alliance (ODA) which gives them access to the most current alternative access to DWG. Carter said it will be a number of months before anyone is talking about DWG 2010 compatibility because the ODA itself doesn’t start working on a compatible filter until Autodesk releases their latest version, which will be in a couple of weeks.

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As a demonstration Carter used a file that ships with AutoCAD 2008 as a sample file. It opens very quickly, no data lost, no broken lines, no disorientation, it’s a clean back and forth file handling in DoubleCAD XT Pro. Carter said they are always looking for some kind of data exchange error, and always are patching those fixes. “The one thing we can’t do is deal with is the RealDWG which flags any application other than AutoCAD with a warning message, saying this file was not created in a copy of AutoCAD . It doesn’t mean it’s not going to be compatible.”

According to IMSI’s research, the product for most CAD users is the 2D drawing, even though there is great interest in 3D. Carter said that if users take architectural tools from XT Pro into AutoCAD Architecture, they will be able to use architectural objects right away. “We think this is important because a lot of architectural preliminary work is done by draftsmen knocking out a basic design floor plan before you ever get to the full modeling and architectural stuff,” said Carter. “This provides an access point at your conceptual predesign phase so you can get going immediately. All of these objects we’re creating and looking at in 2D are actually also 3D objects that will be represented as such in a 3D drawing program like AutoCAD Architecture. More specifically they have the place holder for the 3D data.”

Users can view 3D models in the application, designed that way for conceptual design. “We’re hitting another side of the conceptual design part where a lot of people are just doing 2D drafting and they don’t need a 3D modeling application. It’s a nice complement to the SketchUp side.”

Mayer noted that they have “very extensive SketchUp support.” A model of Thoreau’s cabin in an SKP file was shown.

“With an SKP file, we respect not only bringing in all the physical geometry, we also bring in all of the layers,” said Mayer. “Every component in SketchUp becomes a block in DoubleCAD and it’s possible to create nested, associative sections (i.e., cross-sections) that maintain your entire management structure from the go. We also bring in all the views, we do one more step -- we assign each view in paperspaces (paper layout) phase so that immediately it drops the view into the space, whether it’s perspective or not perspective it’s retained, and even whether it’s hidden line or not, it’s retained. From this point on you have a number of small drawings so you can start dimensioning and annotating immediately for print out, etc. Or you can modify the paper layout as needed through the block. All of these are block elements that were created in the original walls in the SketchUp model.”

Carter also said users can use 3D models. In XT Pro, there are tools to move from conceptual design to the drafting and detailing of the model. “The Drafting Palette allows you to select any 3D object and immediately begin creating drafting sections for it.” With a model a user takes a cross section, horizontal section or diagonal view of the model and does elevations of the model. XT Pro creates associative 2D sections based on standard views or sectional planes of 3D surface or ACIS solid models, including XREFs. XT Pro also has a full constraint engine, like the one in AutoCAD 2010. The constraint engine is not in AutoCAD LT, however.

Sectional views are fully associative with the actual model, so that as the user dynamically changes them the views will change. “If the model was an x-ref, and you changed it in SketchUp and you updated here, you still have that full update occur,” explained Carter. “The person could be working in SketchUp and still working on the conceptual design and you can have a user already working on the drafting and detailing. Any file format we import can also be an x-ref without exception. That includes raster images, and all the 3D and 3D vector formats that we support, which includes our overall interoperability with file formats in the design world.”

Carter said that a “lot of people” who are TurboCAD users are also AutoCAD users, and many DesignCAD users are AutoCAD users. Those users have been instrumental in helping to define the 2D drafting and detailing in DoubleCAD XT Pro.

The parametric 2D constraints in XT Pro are defined either as existing symbols created by users or as scripts that the user who owns the application can create. “Basically it allows you to generate 2D or 3D parts that are fully parametric. The scripting system works in two ways – you can hand off a part to a person, which is stored in your symbols library, and they can do anything they want with it within the parameters you define. Or you can hand them the script and they can use the script or modify it. That allows people who create objects, windows, doors, or other furniture models in 2D or 3D to take control of what they design and pass them around or sell them and in the case of other people , freely distribute the scripts for modification as necessary,” said Carter.

“We just developed a parametric symbol for the adhesives industry. They had a specification that they wanted for people who are creating drawings involving gluing. There are a number of different parameters that go into adhering one material to another so we created a parametric part based on that specification that allows you to define the type of adhesive, the type of bonding process. As a result of that, a number of adhesive manufacturers such as 3M are interested in having more customized parametrics where we can actually can append manufacture-specific information to the parametric parts. It’s a very functional system and we intend to continue extending it and make it easier for people to do parametric.”

Carter said the scripting language is analogous to “any other scripting language out there,” actually it’s very easy to pick up quickly. It’s a geometry defining language, which defines essentially and basically applying force to an object. XT Pro supports a number of standards, CAD and graphics formats both on the export and import side, including .DWG (AutoCAD R14 [1997] to 2009), .SKP, .SAT, .3DS, .OBJ, and .IGS, and more.

Carter said DoubleCAD XT Pro is fully able to integrate into integrated project delivery workflows.

The free DoubleCAD XT has generated some interest in the Blender community, which is also a free product. In one month 4,000 copies of XT have been downloaded.

Visit DoubleCAD XT Pro Forums to hear what others have to say.

Top News of the Week

Bentley Systems, Incorporated announced the key speakers and session topics for SmartGeometry 2009. The speakers at this eight-day, five-event, one-of-a-kind program come from leading architecture, engineering, and research organizations around the world. Sponsored by Bentley and hosted by the SmartGeometry Group, the program runs March 25 through April 1 in San Francisco and focuses on new developments in computational and parametric design for the architectural, engineering, and construction community. The session topics address new issues arising from generative technology and the underlying architectural goals and present visions for engineering, energy, innovation, and design. The agenda is detailed at [The editor will be attending this conference]

Meridian Systems announced that Norbert W. Young, Jr., FAIA and president of McGraw-Hill Construction, will be the featured keynote speaker at Meridian’s 2009 User Conference. Meridian’s annual customer gathering will take place May 4-6, 2009 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Complete conference details are available at: Meridian Systems User Conference.

Trimble announced it has acquired privately-held QuickPen International based in Englewood, Colo. QuickPen is a leading provider of Building Information Modeling (BIM) software for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC), mechanical construction and plumbing industries. Financial terms were not disclosed.
QuickPen provides estimating, Computer Aided Design (CAD), fabrication and asset tracking software for the mechanical and HVAC construction trades. The company's state-of-the-art 3D CAD software produces detailed HVAC ductwork and piping models that can be rapidly fabricated. In addition, QuickPen's asset management program allows contractors to manage their significant investment in tools and equipment. The acquisition of QuickPen enables Trimble to provide complete "BIM to field" solutions for mechanical and HVAC contractors to automate project estimating, detailing, layout and construction.

Acquisitions, Agreements, Alliances

Central Consulting Group, a Premier Deltek Business Partner, and Sepialine Inc., a provider of cost recovery software and a Deltek ISV Partner, announced that they have entered into a partnership to address the integration of Vision, Deltek's project-based financial management solution, with the expense management and tracking capabilities of Sepialine's Argos Cost Recovery System software. As a result of the agreement, CCG will represent Sepialine solutions and will provide integration and customization services to customers seeking to implement advanced cost recovery and expense management. CCG and Sepialine will also engage in joint marketing programs to CCG, Sepialine and Deltek customers. CCG and Sepialine will be available to discuss and present integration capabilities at Deltek Insight 09, the annual Deltek user conference to be held May 12-15 in Orlando, FL.

Enviance, provider of Internet-based, on-demand systems for the management and automation of environmental, health, and safety (EHS) compliance activities and greenhouse gas (GHG) tracking and emissions reduction, and CH2M HILL, a global full-service engineering, procurement, construction, and operations firm, have entered into a formal partnership to provide CH2M HILL and many of its clients with a real-time, online system for environmental, health and safety compliance tracking, management and reporting.

Furthering their mutual dedication to providing the most innovative software tools to increase productivity and lower costs, Textura Corporation and CMiC have formed a business alliance that means the on-line invoicing and payment processing that Textura provides will be embedded seamlessly into the CMiC enterprise software system.

GRAITEC, a worldwide developer for analysis and detailing software announces a new distribution agreement with EDS Asia Sdn Bhd (EDSA), a CAD company in South East Asia. The partnership agreement signed between the two companies entitles EDSA to promote, distribute and support the Advance Suite product line in Malaysia and Thailand.

Meridian Systems announced a new Independent Software Vendor (ISV) relationship with NoteVault, Inc., a provider of voice-based mobile reporting for general contractors and facilities management companies. As an authorized Meridian ISV, NoteVault brings voice-based mobile reporting services to Meridian customers and partners, further enhancing the capabilities of Prolog construction project management software.


At its annual channel partner conference, One Team Conference (OTC), Autodesk, Inc. inducted 30 Value Added Resellers (VARs) and Value Added Distributors (VADs) into the Autodesk Platinum Club 2009. These companies demonstrated strong sales performance and commitment to customer service in fiscal year 2009.

Autodesk and Permasteelisa S.p.A. will combine the use of both Autodesk architectural and manufacturing 3D design software and services throughout the global Permasteelisa curtain wall creation process. By integrating this combination of Autodesk technologies into its design and business system, Permasteelisa, a leading operator in design, construction and installation of architectural envelopes, can improve its ability to react to customer demand, as well as focus on increased quality of product and service.

Autodesk announced a new series, “The TeknoChronicles of Z” produced by Autodesk Films. The trailer is just a few minutes long.

The TeknoChronicles of Z is a comedy series about superheroes, AutoCAD, and working for the man. You’ll note that the superhero image, among others, was completely manufactured by the tools found in AutoCAD 2010 software.

This will be a 10-part series which will launch on March 24 on the new AutoCAD Community Web site. In early April, Autodesk will send you details about a design competition in which Autodesk will accept 3D designs for one of the key character’s new lair (that’s villain speak for his or her new pad).

The Munich Regional Court in Germany approved an agreement that settles a lawsuit initiated by Autodesk, Inc. against Torsten Moses for copyright infringement of its flagship product, AutoCAD. It is now established that Moses' LT Extender application, which interacts with and modifies AutoCAD LT, infringed Autodesk copyrights. Moses has agreed to pay damages to Autodesk and to cease producing and/or distributing the application worldwide.

Autodesk announced it has designated Vancouver as the third pilot city of its Digital Cities initiative. A Digital City provides a way for the public, city government, construction and business communities to combine mapping, building, civil engineering, and utility information into an accurate city model that can be used to simulate the future impact of decisions at a city-wide scale. Autodesk previously announced two other pilot cities in its Digital Cities program: Salzburg, Austria and Incheon, Korea.

The first annual sustainable design-trend watch survey jointly commissioned by the American Society Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and Autodesk found that two-thirds of respondents have worked on designing sustainable products.

Research from engineering and enterprise IT applications market research and analysis firm, Cambashi, predicts future growth in global expenditure on software for technical applications. Spending on technical applications software includes AEC (architecture, engineering & construction), geospatial (GIS) and manufacturing (CAD/CAM/CAE and PDM/PLM) applications.


Quantapoint, provider of laser scanning technology and services that help companies achieve Zero-Defect Projects, announced that Tad Balinger has been named as Vice-President of Sales. Tad will play a key leadership role in Quantapoint’s strategic growth initiative by initially focusing on high growth potential markets. To this end, he will be on special assignment in West Africa to further expand Quantapoint’s leadership in this region. Following this, Tad will be located in Quantapoint’s Houston office and will concentrate on growing established client relationships as well as developing new relationships.

On March 10, 2009, Mark A. Bertelsen informed the Board of Directors (the "Board") of Autodesk, Inc. that after 17 years of service he will retire from the Board at the end of his current term at the Autodesk 2009 annual meeting of stockholders, anticipated to be held on June 11, 2009.

New Products

Bentley Systems, Incorporated announced the immediate availability in the United States and Canada of Bentley’s Energy Performance Series, the first robust software for building energy design, analysis, and simulation. Bentley’s Energy Performance Series, which includes Bentley Tas Simulator V8i, Hevacomp Simulator V8i, and Hevacomp Mechanical Designer V8i, has been proven in the very demanding U.K. market for the design and construction of high performance “green” buildings, including the iconic 30 St Mary Axe, Heron Tower, Terminal 5 Heathrow, 122 Leadenhall Street, and CityPoint, London.

Oce, an international leader in digital document management and delivery solutions, announces the new Oce CS4236 wide format color scanner. It is the first Oce wide format color scanner in its price range with an optical resolution of 1200 x 1200 dpi. This easy-to-use scanning device enables users in small firms and organizations to effortlessly capture the finest details in documents and drawings.

BLUERIDGE Analytics, Inc. unveiled its latest Web-based CAD land development software product, SITEOPS Design SP. Land developers, architects, and civil engineers can use SITEOPS Design SP to conduct rapid site selection assessments and conceptual layouts, determining whether a building and parking are feasible on a single pad site.

Intergraph introduced SmartPlant for Life Sciences, a solution to help cut the cost of construction and qualification/commissioning activities for new pharmaceutical production facilities and reconfigurations, and to reduce maintenance and validation activities.

Nemetschek North America announced that MAXON Computer has updated their plug-in for Vectorworks 2009 and CINEMA 4D R11. This plug-in supports direct file exchange for high-end visualization and allows Vectorworks users to transfer their models to CINEMA 4D for convincing visualizations and animations. It is even possible to make changes to the model after the visualization process has started, as the auto-update feature in CINEMA 4D keeps track of all changes made.

A competitive discount on software will be offered to anyone looking to migrate from FM desktop to the faciliCAD product line. Product description: faciliCAD Is Facility Management Made Easy! faciliCAD facility management software targets both small and large facilities looking for and inexpensive and user friendly CAFM (Computer Aided Facility Management) application.

The Abvent Group, editor and publisher of Artlantis, announced the release of Artlantis 2.1. The new version’s focus on speed ensures that Artlantis will maintain a leading role among the fastest rendering applications available on the market today. Artlantis users can download the new version free of charge. Artlantis 2.0 download.

To help contractors maintain profitability during these unpredictable times, Sage has released Sage Timberline Office Version 9.6 and new Advanced Assembly Estimating Databases designed to simplify customers' work flow.

Around the Web

Bold Plans Prove That a City’s Future Needn’t Be Set in Concrete by Nicolai Ouroussoff, The New York Times (registration required) March 15, 2009 -- City officials here have yet to announce the winning design for the Slussen project, which aims to replace a tangle of traffic circles, bridges, underpasses and boat locks in the heart of this city. The five proposals in the competition, on view at, offer a snapshot of contemporary urban planning ideas.

Final beta is available for JTB FlexReport 5 (JTB World Blog)



AutoCAD Map 3D
Date: March 24 - 26, 2009
Place: Seiler Instrument Belton (Kansas City) Office
918 N. Scott Ave Belton, Kansas, MO 64012 USA

This course is designed to enable new users to learn in-depth features and functions of AutoCAD Map 3D software and how to create, mange and analyze mapping data.

Webcast: Civil 3D Implementation Strategies
Date: March 26 - April 7, 2009
Place: USA

Review the key steps to having a successful implementation or update for AutoCAD Civil 3D. Product demonstration will not be part of this webcast.

SPAR 2009
Date: March 30 - April 1, 2009
Place: Hyatt Regency Denver
Denver, CO USA

Spar Point Research LLC is a research firm founded in 2003 by Tom Greaves and Bruce Jenkins. We investigate new technologies that improve the productivity, quality and safety of work process for creating, modifying and managing engineered products and constructed assets.

Lean Process For Capital Projects & Facilities Management
Date: March 30 - 31, 2009
Place: St. Petersburg

A breakthrough transformation in the facilities industry is underway. It is the implementation of Lean to dramatically cut spending, streamline workflow processes, reduce energy use, and use less space, less time, and less manpower. This is the new management frontier in the facility asset arena for lowering the cost of both constructing and operating facilities.

Residential Design and Construction
Date: April 1 - 2, 2009
Place: Seaport World Trade Center
Boston, MA USA

Residential Design and Construction (RDC) focuses on the entire residential design and construction process. It is the only event in the country for residential architects, interior designers, construction professionals, specifiers, and consultants. The result has been record-breaking attendance and exhibitor participation since its debut three years ago. Through a variety of exhibits, workshops and events, RDC provides the residential design and construction industry with access to the wealth of new technologies, products and services that have emerged in this industry over the past decade.

2nd Annual Carlson User Conference
Date: April 5 - 7, 2009
Place: Lexington Convention Center
Lexington, KY USA

Come learn and grow with Carlson Software at its 'Break New Ground' 2009 User Conference. Be project ready with all new classes to show how Carlson Software saves both time and money as it goes from Concept to Completion, plus classes split into beginner and advanced.

COFES 2009
Date: April 16 - 19, 2009
Place: The Scottsdale Plaza Resort
Scottsdale, AZ USA

COFES is the engineering software industry's only annual think tank event which brings executives from design, engineering, architectural, development and technology companies together to understand the role engineering technology will play in the future survival and success of your business.