Each week, I’m going to start posting a comment from one of you wonderful readers that take the time to comment in the posts. I see a lot of discussion being missed, and that is just sad, don’t ya think? Here’s the first one.

In a previous article on OpenGL and Direct3D, a commenter named Mike made a really good point about the open source state of CAD and API standards. I agree with him, but there’s a lot more to it than software being tied to an OS and getting it all for free. Think of what companies like Google are doing.

Do we need open standard for 3D CAD?
Here’s what Mike thinks. What’s your opinion?

While I don’t doubt the validity the argument for Direct3D (who can’t argue that money talks). This is strangely contrary to industry moment at the moment towards open source and portable solutions nearly universally.

Portable platform independent standards are coming about in nearly all other sectors of software allowing users to store information in the ‘cloud’ and developers to create platform independent web and desktop apps allowing users to take their information anywhere on anything they want.

Strangely enough CAD and 3D modeling developers have become the lame duck; following at a very protracted pace to the rest of the industry to embrace open standards (we still don’t have an open source answer for DWG; which Autodesk controls ruthlessly).

Honestly I view this as very bad for the industry as a whole. As users continue to switch in droves to alternative Operating Systems (Mac OSX, Linux, even a few UNIX) and methods of communication and work (smart phones, light laptops without the horsepower to run many things) fleeing the junk that is Vista, and Windows Mobile they will increasingly demand open standards so that they can access their own information anywhere and on anything.

To illustrate the point, PC World (perhaps the most widely accepted ‘geek’ magazine by non-geeks) had an article this month about switching to Linux for small business to avoid the Vista and the ever increasing fees associated with Microsoft per-seat licensing for servers.

As pointed out several places Direct3D is mainly used on computer games, for which there has been a declining demand on the actual PC. Portable (Nintendo DS) and console (Wii, PS3, XBox) games tend to, and have been, the path to big money in gaming for a long time. Much of the software development for these systems and for Direct 3D and OpenGL has been to support advanced quick-render, shader, and VR developments. While this does benefit CAD rendering with more realistic and quick rendering it does not focus on primary ‘primitive’ object modeling and parametric approaches rapidly gaining steam in the industry. Workstation graphics cards are tuned in this regard and call for a more expensive workstations
as it is; despite using Direct 3D or OpenGL.

Any way you slice it it seems that the CAD industry is just needs to pull their heads out of their own rear-ends and see what is happening all around.

I’m in support of OpenGL but it would be equally beneficial if Microsoft just opened up it’s Direct 3D and Direct X implementations.
Originally posted as a comment by Mike on SolidSmack using Disqus.


Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.