February 2019 marked the beginning of a new era for DraftSight®. Dassault Systemès used the SOLIDWORKS® World 2019 conference in Dallas to recommit to DraftSight as an essential piece of its total design services portfolio going forward. There are many new features, new extensions, new third-party interest, and a new business model from Dassault Systemès driving this new era.
In this and the next few articles I write for this blog, I want to examine what all this means for both existing and potential DraftSight users. In this article I want to focus on design intent and design freedom.
If I had to boil down everything I learned about DraftSight into one key takeaway, it would be that the distribution of design intent must be accompanied by design freedom. There are millions of people who have a role in design intent, when you define “design” broadly as a graphic plan revealing look, function, or fabrication instructions. Most people who need access to designs have no need for high-end 3D CAD modeling software. But they do need the ability to review, comment, edit, and create new original drawings.
“DraftSight is the freedom to design the way you want and the capability to achieve any goal,” said Wai-Ming Chu, senior product portfolio manager for Dassault Systemès DraftSight. For those millions who need design freedom, it starts with freedom to use the technology standard, DWG files. “Distribution of design intent through DWG files is a key use of DraftSight for our customers,” Chu said.
Most technical design communications today are based in the DWG file format. The DWG file format was originally popularized by one specific vendor, but it has transcended being linked to any single piece of software. It has become post-proprietary, a term I coined in 2017 to define the rare class of software file formats which have become bigger than their proprietary roots. Other examples of post-proprietary file formats are PDF and DOC.
There are billions of DWG files in existence, and millions of professional reasons to have access to the data in these files. DraftSight is a tool to provide collaborative synergy between design/engineering teams and those who must refer to, comment on, approve, or repurpose the data.
“DraftSight is a powerful tool for synergy between 2D and 3D,” said Chu in the opening DraftSight session at SOLIDWORKS World 2019. “Our market research says this will not change anytime soon. DWG files will always be there. The question then becomes, ‘how do we make our customers successful?’”
In DraftSight 2019, that success is found in what Chu called the Four Pillars of 2D-3D communications: Digitize, Convert, Transform, Augment. Old paper drawing need to be digitized; documents in other digital formats (including old versions of DWG files) need to be converted; visual information needs to be transformed into actionable data; and existing designs need additional data such as GIS connections, photos, additional 3D elements and more. New tools and enhancements to existing features make these four pillars possible in DraftSight 2019.
DraftSight Senior User Experience Manager Marco Leizza presented a couple of new DraftSight tools that fit into the Four Pillars philosophy. Image Tracer is a tool that will convert any raster image of a floor plan, a logo, etc., into DWG file vector geometry. Leizza said there was a lot of demand for an easy way to bring logos into DraftSight. He demonstrated Image Tracer’s capabilities by loading up a photo of a Berlin landmark, the Humboldt Box, and with a few clicks to identify the face of the building, it was quickly loaded into DraftSight as editable geometry.
HomeByMe (HBM) is a popular Dassault Systemès online utility for creating basic home plans in 3D. DraftSight 2019 can import an HBM 3D model and generate fully dimensioned 2D CAD drawings. Leizza demonstrated this live; the process was almost instantaneous.
There is so much more to cover, like new programmability, the ability to use DraftSight in a browser, a variety of new connections into the Dassault Systemès 3DEXPERIENCE® platform and online community, and more. Keep watching this blog for more of my reports on DraftSight from SOLIDWORKS World 2019.