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RE: CAD Programs

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Mark,
I don't disagree with your opinions here. The time and money 
invested in AutoCad over the years has been a driving factor in 
firms maintaining the program as their system of choice.
The issue regarding DWG compatibility is an entirely different 
subject that I disagree with you. Before it's demise, Visual 
Cadd by Numera software (and then Corel Software and now IMSI 
Software) had the ability to read DWG files without the need for 
cleanup. In fact, Visual Cadd did this so well that whenever I 
received a DWG file that had a minor "glitch" associated with 
email transfers, I used VC to read the file and write it back to 
a new DWG file. AutoCad, on the other hand, refused to load or 
restore the file.
Another such example had to do with the ability to open DXF 
files. A recent problem associated with a software (engineering) 
that created DXF files for insertion into AutoCad (and other CAD 
packages) had a bug that identified a color outside the range 
allowed by AutoCad. This caused AutoCad to dump the file and 
close the program down. However, Visual Cadd, Mini-Cadd and Dr. 
Quickdwg (a viewer program) easily read the file and associated 
the color with a substitute. The software developer resolved the 
problem and users had a work-around for something that the 
$3700.00 program could not correct.
My point is that the issue of DWG compatibility is slowly 
becoming a moot point as it appears to be the standard which 
most CAD packages have adopted. Each developer may not be as 
successful as Visual Cadd for reading and writing DWG files 
while maintaining fonts (VC converts AutoCad fonts in both 
directions) colors and formatting. However, I believe that 
virtually all developers who plan to stay in the playing field 
will be improving their compatibility with AutoDesk's format.

I use AutoCad and have been registered since release 11. I would 
gladly change to another system if I could only find one that 
provided the compatibility that I described with the stability 
of the company. This is why Visual Cadd users are not left 
orphaned when and if IMSI does not release Visual Cadd 3.0. 
Their files are compatible without conversion to AutoCad and any 
program that uses DWG format.

Features are another issue. AutoCad excels at 3-D which programs 
such as Visual Cadd do not support. However, Numera, Corel and 
now IMSI, provide tools within their much cheaper programs that 
companies had to spend extra to add to AutoCad. These companies 
still need to upgrade support programs at the same time AutoCad 
upgrades releases to maintain compatibility. Granted, not all 
the time, but for the most part this is typical.
Each of the lower priced competition offers flexibility to 
customize their systems. I understand that there would be a loss 
of productivity to switch systems, but isn't this more akin to 
holding the industry ransom rather than providing choices. 
Choice: continue to pay inflated prices or put your money into 
another company and using a portion of the savings to create a 
new custom office without loss of productivity.

No, I think the real issue is one of market shares and 
stability. In my opinion, other programs such as Visual Cadd or 
whatever IMSI will end up calling it, are superior to 2D 
AutoCad. My concern is the longevity of the company, not the 
strength of the program. After using both programs, I find it 
much easier to be consistently productive with the features of 
Visual Cadd, however I am forced to stay with stay with AutoCad 
because of the potential for lack of technical support to 
correct known problems with other packages on the market. Visual 
Cadd by Numera went into hiatus without resolving some very 
pressing bugs. This left their user base high and dry until the 
carousel stops and IMSI gets off with their new product - then, 
how long will it last?

Dennis S. Wish PE