[Fwd] OpenDWG Alliance Formed to Make CAD Files Widely Accessible

From: Yakov Horenstein (yakov@planet.it)
Date: Wed Feb 11 1998 - 17:17:25 EET

OpenDWG Alliance Formed to Make CAD Files Widely Accessible
(PR Newswire; 02/10/98)

CAD Vendors, Users Unite to Share Expertise on the DWG File Format

SEATTLE, Feb. 10 /PRNewswire/ Today, 14 companies Baystate Technologies
Inc., DATACAD LLC, Diehl Graphsoft Inc., Eagle Point Software Inc., IMSI,
Informative Graphics Corp., Inso Corp. (Nasdaq: INSO), Intergraph Corp
(Nasdaq: INGR)., Ketiv Technologies, Nemetschek AG, Parametric Technology
Corporation (Nasdaq: PMTC), Robert McNeel & Associates, SolidWorks Corp.
and Visio Corp. (Nasdaq: VSIO) together announced that they have formed the
OpenDWG(TM) Alliance, an association of vendors and users committed to the
promotion of Autodesk's DWG drawing file format as an open industry
standard for the exchange of computer aided design (CAD) drawings. To
advance widespread access to DWG data, the OpenDWG Alliance has also made
publicly available the DWG software technology recently acquired by Visio
from MarComp Inc.

The OpenDWG Toolkit C-language programming libraries that provide read and
write access to DWG files will be available for download Feb. 11 at
http://www.opendwg.org/ and is being offered at no cost to the public for
noncommercial use. The toolkit is intended to assist vendors and users in
accessing and utilizing the information contained within the billions of
CAD drawings that have been created by AutoCAD, Autodesk's flagship CAD
product, as well as by other products that support the DWG file format. The
OpenDWG Alliance continues to recruit software vendors and CAD users to
jointly share and disseminate knowledge about the composition of DWG, to
date a proprietary undocumented format that encapsulates valuable CAD data
created by governments, corporations and users worldwide.

"The OpenDWG Alliance is committed to publicly sharing the knowledge its
members possess about the DWG format in order to provide millions of CAD
users with better technology and better access to their own data," said Ted
Johnson, executive vice president of Visio and interim president of the
OpenDWG Alliance. "Visio is making its own valuable property, the MarComp
technology, available to the public to help users unlock their drawing data
with whatever software tools they choose to use. Further, we hope to
educate the CAD user community about the level of reliable data exchange
possible within the industry."

"We have always believed that customers should have a choice in which CAD
platform they use," said Rod Blum, CEO of Eagle Point Software, an
independent third-party developer for AutoCAD and other CAD platforms and a
founding member of the OpenDWG Alliance. "That choice should be based upon
the features, functionality and price of the platform, and should not be
artificially restricted by the format of the data file. The OpenDWG
Alliance will eliminate this restriction."

"Although my company uses AutoCAD to generate its high-quality maps, the
products we sell are maps, not DWG files," said Suzie Young, president of
Rockford Map Publishers, an Illinois-based vendor of land-ownership maps
developed for counties across the United States. "The libraries offered by
the OpenDWG Alliance will help us develop the software we need to
continually update and enhance the information contained within our DWG
archives. Rockford Map Publishers will support the OpenDWG Alliance because
it will help us leverage the valuable intellectual property we've created
and permit us to distribute it in whatever format we choose."

The Critical State of DWG
Autodesk's DWG file format is the CAD industry's most popular format for
storing and exchanging CAD drawings. It is estimated that billions of
drawings exist in this format around the world. The DWG file format has
been used to store the designs of publicly funded roads and bridges, and
U.S. government contracts often explicitly require that design data be
stored in DWG. Generally, accessing this data safely and reliably has only
been possible via Autodesk products because Autodesk has declined to
publish the specification for the DWG format or to make libraries widely
available to read and write the latest version of the format, Release 14.

Until today, there have been few easy, inexpensive ways to extract this
data and integrate it into either commercial or user-developed software
tools, such as document management systems, version control utilities, and
database applications. This effectively locks up the valuable data
contained within the DWG file for uses other than for those covered by an
Autodesk product. Further, although customers frequently demand that
non-Autodesk vendors support reading and writing the ubiquitous DWG file,
these companies have been left to their own individual resources to
translate the format, with mixed results. This process can lead to lost or
corrupted DWG data, which is unacceptable to CAD users.

OpenDWG Alliance Brings DWG Out of the CAD Closet The OpenDWG Alliance is
offering to the CAD community, for little or no cost, the most complete
third-party DWG access software available. Formerly sold by MarComp as its
AUTODIRECT product, the OpenDWG Toolkit is now incorporated in CADKEY from
Baystate Technologies; MiniCAD 7 from Diehl Graphsoft; TurboCAD and
TurboCAD Pro from IMSI; APLOT, Imagineer Technical and other products by
Intergraph; Myriad from Informative Graphics; and Visio Technical 5.0 from
Visio Corp. These libraries are considered by numerous CAD industry
analysts to be the most thorough and accurate third-party reconstruction of
the DWG file format commercially available, supporting DWG file versions
from AutoCAD Release 2.5 (first shipped in 1986) to the latest version,
Release 14.

Further, the OpenDWG Alliance plans to review and incorporate into OpenDWG
the file format research compiled independently by alliance members that
are not currently using MarComp technology, guaranteeing that the many
versions of the DWG file format AutoCAD has employed over the years are all
fully documented and supported.

"Because the OpenDWG Alliance doesn't currently include Autodesk and
doesn't have access to AutoCAD's source code or internal file format
specifications, it is important for all the OpenDWG Alliance members to
double- check each other's research into the DWG file," said Mark Smith,
product manager, plotting products at Intergraph, a founding member of the
OpenDWG Alliance. "Intergraph's customers frequently operate within the DWG
environment, and we're confident that the OpenDWG Alliance will help ensure
cross-tool interoperability so our users can utilize their DWG data within
the unique, sophisticated CAD tools that Intergraph offers."

"The founding members of OpenDWG Alliance represent a formidable
compilation of software engineering and CAD knowledge," said Asa Trainer,
product line manager, interface products at Parametric Technology, a
founding member of the OpenDWG Alliance. "Our collective DWG expertise,
along with the technical contributions to be made by future members of the
OpenDWG Alliance, will take the mystery and fear out of DWG and open up a
vast amount of legacy drawing information that can be leveraged in future
product development created with Pro/ENGINEER's design automation

"We provide AutoCAD support to over 12,000 sites, representing millions of
DWG files," said Robert McNeel, president of Robert McNeel & Associates, a
founding member of the OpenDWG Alliance and developer of Rhino, NURBS
modeling software for Microsoft Windows. "Our customers rely on us for a
wide variety of tools that use their valuable DWG data. With all the
prominent CADD developers united behind the OpenDWG Alliance, our customers
are assured of the long-term viability of DWG and its continued dominance
as the format of choice for drawing data storage."

OpenDWG Alliance Structure and Membership Information The OpenDWG Alliance
has been structured as a nonprofit Washington state corporation. MarComp
Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Visio Corp., has granted OpenDWG
Alliance Inc. a nonexclusive, royalty-free, perpetual license to its
AUTODIRECT toolkit. A board of directors, consisting of a representative
from each of the founding members, oversees the alliance's activities. The
alliance also offers varying levels of participation: the Sustaining level,
reflecting members that intend to use the OpenDWG libraries within a
commercial software product, and Associate members, those that intend to
use the technology for corporate or noncommercial purposes. The alliance
has been initially funded by donations from the founding members, and will
be supported in the future through continued founding member donations and
through membership fees paid by founding and sustaining members. Associate
membership, available to the public for internal corporate or private use,
is offered at no cost.

The OpenDWG Alliance will use its Web site, http://www.opendwg.org/, as the
sole mechanism through which it will solicit membership in the alliance,
distribute the OpenDWG technology and host ongoing discussions about the
technical issues surrounding DWG. Online sign up to participate in the
OpenDWG Alliance is available immediately, with access to the downloadable
OpenDWG software tools available Feb. 11.

More information on the OpenDWG Alliance can be retrieved from the OpenDWG
Alliance Web site at http://www.opendwg.org/. The mailing address of the
OpenDWG Alliance is OpenDWG Alliance, 1420 Fifth Ave., 22nd Floor, Seattle,
WA 98101; telephone 206-224-5655, fax 206-224-2880.

NOTE: OpenDWG is a trademark of OpenDWG Alliance in the United States
and/or other countries. All other trademarks, trade names or company names
referenced herein are used for identification only and are the property of
their respective owners.

SOURCE Visio Corporation
CONTACT: alliance information, Ted Johnson of OpenDWG Alliance Inc.,
206-224-5655, or tedjvisio.com; or press information, Rob Curran of
Waggener Edstrom, 425-637-9097, or robcwagged.com, for Visio/ /Web site:
http://www.opendwg.org/ (VSIO)


Yakov Horenstein
Milano, Italy

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