FC February 2006  


February 12, 2006

A Briton...

Just found reference to this blog on what appears to be the official blog of the salesforce.com AppExchange developer network, in which I am referenced as "A Briton"... :)

Posted by ndoughty at 11:13 PM | Comments (0)

CAD Interoperability and IFC Adoption

I have previously mentioned the International Alliance for Interoperability (IAI) and their Industry Foundation Classes (IFC) schema in these pages. As I said then Asite are members of the IAI-UK chapter and we have done proof-of-concept work with the IAI in the past. I am a believer in the potential of this schema to change for the better the working practices of the design and engineering industries.

I followed an AECNews story through to the Graphisoft press releases behind it. Graphisoft is a CAD developer / vendor with a variety of solutions - headlined by Archicad which is a leader in the 3D modelling / "virtual-building" space. Archicad was an early adopter of the IFC schema, having first implemented an interface in 2000 if memory serves. This story is basically about Archicad's integration with a couple of structural tools, Tekla Structures/Staad Pro and ETABS. The ETABS integration is bi-directional input/output using IFC 2x2, whereas the integration with Tekla Structures uses an unspecified "xml-based API". I am guessing this is because Tekla does not support IFC ?

While I am looking around I can also see from the Computers and Structures website (the developers of ETABS) that they have an integration with Autodesk Revit Structure using the CSIxRevit Structure format rather than IFC - which I surmise was the choice of Autodesk.

All of this leads me to a question for which I cannot readily find an answer: is there a list somewhere of all of the products out there which support IFC data exchange?

Thinking that the IAI website would be a logical place to look - i did indeed find a link to this website, which appears to be hosted by a German education institution (not reading German I have some trouble divining all of the detail). This is clearly an attempt to do the job but it has a last update of January 30th, 2003 and so is three years out of date.

I hear a lot of anecdotal evidence of various products which have implemented interfaces for at least one version of the IFC schema and more and more you get the official publicity like the above reporting on a successful implementation. It would be great to be able to know whether two toolsets can be used together via an IFC link by referring to some publicly available central reference.

If anybody knows of something like this that I am missing please let me know. If there is nothing like this then I am of a mind to start one myself...

Posted by ndoughty at 9:05 PM | Comments (0)

February 9, 2006

Alfresco closes $8 Million investment round

Alfresco, the open source CMS company about whom I have posted on several past occasions (try here, here, or here) - has just closed a deal for new financing. The funds will be used to fund further development and to grow their operations for supporting the customer base and the developer community.

Read about it here on Yahoo! Finance.

Posted by ndoughty at 6:09 PM | Comments (0)

U.S. Law Firm starts construction industry blog

Through the magic of technorati (and because they posted about the Constructware acquisition) - I've just come across a new construction industry blog run by U.S. law firm Womble Carlyle.

"Following the construction industry and related legal topics in the United States." This is the first time I have come across a law firm which keeps a blog - and about the construction industry at that! Surely this is a sign that weblogs as a corporate communications medium have become solidly established.

This is their analysis -- "Project collaboration continues to grow in importance. Autodesk's purchase of Constructware should provide new opportunities for growth in the use of project collaboration."

Whether or not the Buzzsaw / Constructware marriage is going to provide any additional spur to take up of collaboration technologies I am not sure.. However I certainly agree that the sector is seeing a lot of growth and that there are clear opportunities for the growth to continue. There is still a significant percentage of the construction and engineering industries yet to take up collaborative working and the technologies which enable it.

Posted by ndoughty at 5:37 PM | Comments (0)

February 8, 2006

Autodesk acquires Constructware

Quick entry before I head out the door to an NCCTP meeting. Just saw on AECNews.com that Autodesk is acquiring Constructware. That is a big consolidation for the U.S. market, bringing together Constructware and Buzzsaw...

Read about it here....

Posted by ndoughty at 10:55 AM | Comments (0)

February 2, 2006


I'm not really certain how - but apparently I have been Toogled!

Posted by ndoughty at 7:02 PM | Comments (0)

Data Logistics (Part 2) - an aside prompted by SAP

SAP poised to make on-demand CRM play - No big surprise here...

The "business software delivered via ASP"-space has an interesting dynamic these days. The space has latterly become known as "on-demand" software, a term created by either IBM, salesforce.com, or BuildOnline - the jury is still out on that one... Even more recently there has emerged yet another term - "SaaS" - or Software as a Service - just in case anybody was getting the hang of things! :)

There are a limited number of emarketplace and collaboration software providers, founded around the turn of the century, that have persevered and gained strength during the dot-com bust period and the following gradual recovery. Most of these are vertically-oriented to some degree and serve specific industries or geographies.

Since probably 2003 you also see a lot of activity by the major ERP and CRM vendors trying to reach into this space from their entrenched positions within the enterprise. Sort of a "reaching-out" through the firewall trying to capture market share in the inter-enterprise supply chain management space.

There is an inherent tension here between the hubs - which take "honest broker" stances as third party marketplaces for data - and this "reaching out" via the ERP installations - which are an extension of the commercial interests of the business running the ERP. My take on the tension is that there is a economic requirement for both models. Clearly the business systems supplied by the ERP vendors have an important place and clearly they must be open and integration-capable so that business data is free to flow in and out from the supply chain in real time.

And clearly - unless there is to be an incomprehensibly huge proliferation of point-to-point integrations throughout the global supply chain - there is a requirement for hubs to direct traffic, take care of translation and transformation as required, and ensure delivery of data between trading partners. The hubs need to be independent. They should not be associated with any particular commercial interest other than taking care of the logistics of delivering data where it needs to be, when it needs to be there. The complementarity between the hubs and the ERPs comes because, more often than not, the delivery destination for these messages is SAP, or Oracle, or JDE, or Peoplesoft -- you get the drift.

Interestingly, in the last year or so you also begin to see a whole raft of new entrants coming in at the very low end of the functional scale supplying onDemand business applications. This is the result of advances in the technical environment of the web such as maturing J2EE and .NET development environments, and the advent of AJAX toolkits which make it ever easier to develop an entry into the space.

Some of these onDemand applications have been mentioned in this blog in past entries (see the "More Free Collaboration" series of posts). What these guys mostly do not have are the significant functional specifications developed by entrenched hubs over the years. But the creation of what is in effect an ecosystem of small scale challengers has a commoditising effect.

The positive of this effect is that it creates upward pressure on the existing players - meaning that those which continue to innovate rapidly will see attendant rapid growth and will displace those hubs which are only treading water. My prognostication is that the "survival of the innovators" show will be playing out in doubletime across the onDemand space in the months and years to come!

Posted by ndoughty at 3:42 PM | Comments (0)

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