Friday, July 20, 2012

It's time for CAD Apps Store

It's time for CAD Apps Store
The "next generation" whatever, is connected to the cloud.  And while new start-up companies such as Sunglass promising to change the CAD world, Autodesk has already begun to sell various types of cloud services and  has launched a free mechanical simulations (until the end of the year) service and Solidworks is working on new  cloud-based technology system.

Cloud technology goes well with all the smart mobile devices surrounding us today. One of the biggest advantages of mobile smart devices is the collection of various applications and the contents concentrated under application stores such as the Apple Apps store and the Google Play. Complementary applications are not foreign or new to the CAD world. In  some of the programs, the weight of complement applications is particularly strong and has a tremendous competitive advantage. Absolute control of the Autocad software in the areas of architecture and construction in the last two decades is not as many tend to believe, because it was easy copy it in the past. Autocad was the first to give developers a convenient and open development environment and therefore complementary applications offered to hundreds of different organizations and companies who have chosen to host  CAD software with a custom environment and applications were having problems later on move or look over to another program.
When SolidWorks came out to the market in 96, influenced by the success of Autodesk with the developers community, it encouraged companies to develop applications to the software environment while providing a powerful API environment and support for developers. SolidWorks prefer the idea  of "one window solution" , when the application  run from the CAD system and act as an integral part of the software without having to leave the program window. The combination of Cosmos software for analysis (Nowadays called simulations) in SolidWorks was brilliant and gave access to more users to the capabilities of finite elements analysis. With modern computing, the model of one software, single window is perceived as outdated and not particularly useful for simulation or any other application that requires a long runtime. With the existing system at SolidWorks today, when the user performs a simple simulation or a render, he loses the ability to use the computer duration of the simulation that take sometimes hours or even a day. The modern hardware environment that allows running multiple applications simultaneously on number of cores, cannot be expressed in the form of "one software, single window. "
Computer technology that exists today is adequate to access a collection of` small applications designed to improve existing tasks running from a single software and autonomous software that require larger computer resources while maintaining the association link between the programs.
Distribution mechanism of complementary applications today (there are hundreds of such to each leading programs), is problematic and as a result they are not accessible to most users. Appliances developers find it difficult to reach customers and lack of convenient distribution platform for applications such as apps store leaves the developer two options, to distribute alone or use one of the major CAD providers dealer network. 
There are distributors or resellers to most of CAD software in every country and region. Distributors are committed to the goals determined by the software companies. Distributor's sales persons are people with the best recognition of the market, the customers, their needs and problems. But, those sales persons are obliged to meet the target requirements of the software vendor. In order to sell a complement product, the salesperson has to spare time to sell software that is not "counted" by the main CAD supplier goals and the amount of resources required for the complement product transaction is often much greater than required to sell the familiar and common CAD software a that the complement should ride on them .

 SolidWorks Corporation, recognizing the benefit they can get by complementary applications, established years ago a partner program that gave rating to application based on the integration to the SolidWorks CAD software. In addition, the company has established and maintained a search platform for applications from its website but, as more companies and applications to join the site it had become less effective. The users cannot download or buy from the website neither can experience and explore those applications. They have to browse the developer  website to understand the essence of the application or what the company has to offer. When the developing company does not have a quick and easy mechanism to reach potential customers and when it must rely on sub-distributors who take over half the proceeds from any sale as commission, prices of the applications are kept very high and in the same time customers also lack a convenient environment for upgrading and recommendations application as is common in Android or iOS.

Model of Android apps stores and Apple's mobile environment is much better. CAD vendors were exposed to the above model when they started to deliver applications to the mobile environment. Dassault was the first one came out four years ago with 3DVIA viewing software of the Iphone environment. Dassault, who chose to ignore the Android environment, try to create a similar Apps store environment to the CAD market but, failed to bring it to the many applications that it distributes.

Business environment based on smart phones cloud solutions and tablets, is developing rapidly and the availability of applications that are cheap and easy to manage is enormous. Apple was the first to learn how to generate revenue from providing the platform for app makers. Cellular companies, like RIM and Nokia how failed to offer good enough Apps Store, are becoming irrelevant very quickly.
Autodesk Company, with the Apps Store Exchange, is the first CAD provider to bring a modern Apps store environment that integrates the mobile application environment with distribution platform for CAD applications in one brilliant site with direct access from the CAD software, ready to the new era of CAD software in the cloud.  With the Apps Store Exchange you select the application and it easily installed.. As happens with mobile applications, convenient interface invites you to explore the existing applications and look for interesting products and capabilities. Autodesk, that claim to over 10,000,0000 users around world, can expect that the Apps Store Exchange catch quickly and will be a role model for the other CAD vendors. This is good news to all CAD users. More accessible to more applications will ensure better solutions, and just like what happened with Apple and Android market, a more sane prices for the applications.

Gal Raz