Re: Confused

From: Priit Kull (
Date: Fri Apr 30 1999 - 16:07:07 EEST

Steve Pollack wrote

>CAD is hard. It is made for
>engineers. Slowly, CAD is evolving to where the creative people can use it.

My mother worked as a hand typesetter for 40 years. She put together books
in tin in mirror image by hand. When the typesetting machines came she still
retained the job since the primitive machines could not do the tables and
complex formulas etc. She earned many honours for the excellent lifetime
work and she retired before the computers took over the industrry
completely. When I did my first more or less serious programming work back
in 1988 I wrote an semiautomatic injection mould design program. It included
a descriptive part with the overview of the state of the art in the
industry. I used Ventura Publisher to lay out the pages together with
scanned images and a 9pin Epson printer to print it out. On the todays
standards the result was poor, but in those days it was top class. I showed
the results to my mother. She was silent for a long time, turned the pages,
checked for hyphenation, line justification, widow/orphan control, running
header and page numbering, heading consistency etc. At last she told that a
well layed out paragraph should not contain spaces between the words in a
way that form a line which optically splits the paragraph into pieces. That
was the only remark she could give, but her eyes were sad. A punk with no
education or training in typesetting could adequately repeat the work of a
person with lifetime experience with the help of the modern technology.

The point is the CAD is doing something similar to the engineering
prophession. The for now simple basic 2D CAD took out the pain of
calculating the geometry for the sake of geometry. Man still has to
calculate the design for functionality and strength etc., even here
computers take over. We can just draw the geometry and be sure that the
coordinates of a point could be measured from the drawing not calculated
from long erraneous chains. The hassle of dimensioning the drawing correctly
still remained. Constraint based design and solid modeling has a promise to
free the creative person from this not so simple task. And so on. One day
hopefully my son will walk up to me and show me an adequately designed
something that he has created effortlessly while solving some other problem
and I will not look sad.

CAD is not hard because it is made for engineers. It is hard because it
could be very hard to describe something definitively. It could be as hard
as it is hard to describe something undefinitively like a good novel where
the single words, each having a meaning, form something which has something
else as meaning, a life of its own, a changeing feeling and new
understanding. Engineers come into picture only because they have the
centuries long experience of describeing something definitively and nobody
knew how to do it in a better way with the existing tools. It will change.
The man will be freed from mundane task of tedious groundwork and the
creativity will be unleashed. I for one would be glad to throw out of window
all my handbooks and standard element catalogues and concentrate on creating
something, which is basicly the only justification of being a human beeing,
to state: "Let there be light!"

It is a dangerous thing though, not everybody will measure up. When I was
tinkering with my first PC with pirated AutoCAD 1.18 the head of the design
department asked me why I am waisting my time. I explained that he could
look at the computer as an amplifier of inteligence. If you have something
to amplify the effect will be tremendous, if not, it will be plain clear to

Priit Kull

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