How SpaceClaim Did It Differently

SpaceClaim’s appearance on the MCAD scene triggered other MCAD vendors to offer dynamic push-pull direct modeling capabilities in their software. Since then we have heard other companies claim that they had been doing this all along. True, they have been offering direct modeling much before SpaceClaim, but what they did not offer (and some still don’t) is the dynamic push-pull user interface that make SpaceClaim so easy and intuitive to use.

One can argue about the merits of having such an interface. After all if you want to create a round, you most probably already know the exact radius of the round and will key it in anyways. But seeing the round dynamically take shape as you click-drag the mouse does give you a fantastic visual feedback of how the model will be deformed and helps you dynamically analyze what-if scenarios, among many other things. Personally, I believe that if the dynamic push-pull interface does not pose serious performance issues, having it is a million times better than not having it.

However, the purpose of this post is to highlight how this push-pull interface was born and who is the mother and the father. While browsing the Spatial web site I came across this extremely interesting case study on SpaceClaim. I highly recommend you read it, even though I am going to quote a couple of sections here.

Basically, the case study explains how SpaceClaim asked Spatial to bend in different ways and how Spatial obliged. Here is a section of the case study:

SpaceClaim envisioned enabling users to be able to pull on aspects of a model and have everything else adapt, on the fly, without predefined relationships or associations between geometry. “When we talked to Spatial developers what we’d hear constantly is that we were placing demands on the kernel to do things no one had ever asked it to do before.” says Frank DeSimone, SpaceClaim Senior Director of Research and Development, and the architect of the User Interaction Model for the software.

The case study further notes:

ACIS enabled SpaceClaim to provide unique capabilities. While most direct modelers can pick on a plane and move it around with its planar neighbors, SpaceClaim can take fairly complex surfaces and change them even if connections to neighboring surfaces are less than perfect.

From what I gather from this case study, SpaceClaim appears to be the father of their dynamic push-pull direct modeling technology and Spatial appears to be the mother. Which means that if another MCAD vendor whose solution is built upon ACIS (for example Kubotek) wishes to add push-pull direct modeling capabilities to their software, they need to spend some more “quality” time with Spatial and learn some new moves themselves. Spatial has already learned its moves while working with SpaceClaim. And I believe that this case study is a sign that Spatial is “available”.

Now I know that all the peverts reading this are getting all sorts of ideas, but basically this is business and this is how companies do it. Companies partner with other companies to improve their existing technologies so that they can offer the improved technologies to other companies.

Some time ago, Randall Newton suggested that “SpaceClaim got way more press than it deserved for its new ‘natural 3D design system’“. I strongly disagree. I think they deserved all the press that they got and more. Let me explain why. I am pretty sure that I am going to draw flak by saying what I am about to, but that never stopped me in the past.  To put it very crudely MCAD vendors only father their children. The mothers are the modeling kernel vendors. The reason why MCAD software look and feel different from each other is because they have different fathers. A MCAD software is basically a very complex Graphic User Interface (GUI) wrapped around a modeling kernel. The better the GUI, the better is the product.

I believe what SpaceClaim did was really commendable. Its founders had a vision of an easy to use MCAD software and challenged the kernel developers to do things differently. Spatial took up the challenge and delivered. There is a word for that. Its called innovation and it needs to be appreciated.

SpaceClaim may have got some recognition for its innovation. However, I am not sure Spatial ever got any. For whatever its worth, I dedicate this post to Spatial and its brilliant programmers that helped make SpaceClaim happen.

  • http://www.cadcamnet.com/ Randall Newton

    That’s the trouble with writing satire … the article you mention was about hype, not technology.

  • http://www.cadcamnet.com Randall Newton

    That’s the trouble with writing satire … the article you mention was about hype, not technology.

  • Tony

    What about CAD vendors with their own kernels? Maybe the “father” part didn’t push the “mother” part enough? Think of smart phones before the iPhone — everybody was doing the same old thing.

  • Tony

    What about CAD vendors with their own kernels? Maybe the “father” part didn’t push the “mother” part enough? Think of smart phones before the iPhone — everybody was doing the same old thing.

  • http://www.kubotekusa.com/ Jason

    Interesting perspective as always.

    I would even go further back and mention Sketch Up as the father of the push/pull. At the end of the day it is all about productivity and workflow. The beauty of the CAD industry is that there are different flavors to meet differnt needs.

  • http://www.kubotekusa.com Jason

    Interesting perspective as always.

    I would even go further back and mention Sketch Up as the father of the push/pull. At the end of the day it is all about productivity and workflow. The beauty of the CAD industry is that there are different flavors to meet differnt needs.

  • Anonymous

    SpaceClaim is probably the best thought out and most enjoyable to use CAD modeler I’ve ever experienced.

    SpaceClaim makes better use of video than any CAD company I’m aware of. The only thing missing video wise from SpaceClaim is a long, extensive video tutorial, which would really give users a way to cut down the time needed to be really proficient with SpaceClaim.

    SpaceClaim has a very valuable asset in Roman Walsh who is very gifted at doing video tutorials on how to use SpaceClaim

    What SpaceClaim still doesn’t have in a CAM product that runs inside of it because from what I can tell SpaceClaim manglement doesn’t understand how important this is and that it represents a very good market for SpaceClaim.

    Unfortunately, the only real marketing success for SpaceClaim at the moment seems to be from CFD users who need to simplify models. For sure the answer isn’t using Rhino’s weak VAR network to sell SpaceClaim or using Novedge who adds no value to the end user.

    I think the answer to SpaceClaims obvious marketing problem is a built from scratch SpaceClaim VAR network who sells integrated CADCAM to machining job shops and manufacturers.

  • Anonymous

    SpaceClaim is probably the best thought out and most enjoyable to use CAD modeler I’ve ever experienced.

    SpaceClaim makes better use of video than any CAD company I’m aware of. The only thing missing video wise from SpaceClaim is a long, extensive video tutorial, which would really give users a way to cut down the time needed to be really proficient with SpaceClaim.

    SpaceClaim has a very valuable asset in Roman Walsh who is very gifted at doing video tutorials on how to use SpaceClaim

    What SpaceClaim still doesn’t have in a CAM product that runs inside of it because from what I can tell SpaceClaim manglement doesn’t understand how important this is and that it represents a very good market for SpaceClaim.

    Unfortunately, the only real marketing success for SpaceClaim at the moment seems to be from CFD users who need to simplify models. For sure the answer isn’t using Rhino’s weak VAR network to sell SpaceClaim or using Novedge who adds no value to the end user.

    I think the answer to SpaceClaims obvious marketing problem is a built from scratch SpaceClaim VAR network who sells integrated CADCAM to machining job shops and manufacturers.

  • http://www.deelip.com/ Deelip Menezes

    Anonymous,

    I get the feeling that SpaceClaim is more interested in the Design + Analysis area as opposed to the Design + Manufacturing area. Their recent alliance with ANSYS goes to show that.

    I guess you cannot jump into everything all at once. They are still a young company. I think the best way forward is to find the right partners and develop the solutions. That takes time and a lot of hard work.

  • http://www.deelip.com Deelip Menezes

    Anonymous,

    I get the feeling that SpaceClaim is more interested in the Design + Analysis area as opposed to the Design + Manufacturing area. Their recent alliance with ANSYS goes to show that.

    I guess you cannot jump into everything all at once. They are still a young company. I think the best way forward is to find the right partners and develop the solutions. That takes time and a lot of hard work.

  • Anonymous

    SpaceClaim manglement is interested in sales. For years SpaceClaim has sold very poorly because of very bad marketing. Design and Analysis is the only area SpaceClaim has been able to generate a few sales in. It’s not enough and time is running out.

  • Anonymous

    SpaceClaim manglement is interested in sales. For years SpaceClaim has sold very poorly because of very bad marketing. Design and Analysis is the only area SpaceClaim has been able to generate a few sales in. It’s not enough and time is running out.

  • http://www.evanyares.com/ Evan Yares

    Actually, SpaceClaim is more interested in Engineering than in Design. This, based on my conversation with them yesterday.

  • http://www.evanyares.com Evan Yares

    Actually, SpaceClaim is more interested in Engineering than in Design. This, based on my conversation with them yesterday.

  • Anonymous

    “This, based on my conversation with them yesterday.”

    Talk with SpaceClaim manglement in 4 weeks and you will probably get a different answer. From the get go SpaceClaim manglement has contended that they are a complimentary product that doesn’t compete with other CAD products. You would think that when Autodesk told SpaceClaim that they could not exhibit at Autodesk University that SpaceClaim manglement would have gotten the message that other CAD vendors don’t see SpaceClaim as complimentary but rather their competition… the exception is McNeel and Rhino who has no real interest in mechanical CAD. Autodesk usually gets it wrong. This time Autodesk got it right. There is no doubt SpaceClaim is their competition. SpaceClaim needs new management who is far more realistic in recognizing what SpaceClaim really is…. a great CAD product that competes directly with other CAD products.

    PTC is far more realistic with how the market CoCreate. They market CoCreate as a CAD product to companies who need to frequently make major changes in their all new designs and get to market first. PTC directly markets CoCreate against history based modelers that fight you when you want to make major changes in your new designs. A look on You Tube shows how PTC is doing everything they can to adopt the tools that SpaceClaim pioneered in the coming version of CoCreate. When it comes to marketing for direct modeling it’s PTC who’s got it right and all the other direct modeling CAD vendors who have it wrong. PTC makes it very clear it’s direct modeling vs history based modeling and when you need to choose one or the other.

  • Anonymous

    “This, based on my conversation with them yesterday.”

    Talk with SpaceClaim manglement in 4 weeks and you will probably get a different answer. From the get go SpaceClaim manglement has contended that they are a complimentary product that doesn’t compete with other CAD products. You would think that when Autodesk told SpaceClaim that they could not exhibit at Autodesk University that SpaceClaim manglement would have gotten the message that other CAD vendors don’t see SpaceClaim as complimentary but rather their competition… the exception is McNeel and Rhino who has no real interest in mechanical CAD. Autodesk usually gets it wrong. This time Autodesk got it right. There is no doubt SpaceClaim is their competition. SpaceClaim needs new management who is far more realistic in recognizing what SpaceClaim really is…. a great CAD product that competes directly with other CAD products.

    PTC is far more realistic with how the market CoCreate. They market CoCreate as a CAD product to companies who need to frequently make major changes in their all new designs and get to market first. PTC directly markets CoCreate against history based modelers that fight you when you want to make major changes in your new designs. A look on You Tube shows how PTC is doing everything they can to adopt the tools that SpaceClaim pioneered in the coming version of CoCreate. When it comes to marketing for direct modeling it’s PTC who’s got it right and all the other direct modeling CAD vendors who have it wrong. PTC makes it very clear it’s direct modeling vs history based modeling and when you need to choose one or the other.

  • http://www.e2s.com.mx/ Tomas Vargas

    If you are reading this is because I solved a complex mathematical equation, and the answer was 12.
    Spaceclaim is Solid Works son, Pro-E grandchild and Computervision grand-grand child. Spatial followed orders from his demanding customer and delivered. All my engineers no matter what speciality they have, mechatronics, mechanic, industrial, are able to use it. this had not happened with any previous system. Autocad allowed almost universal jump to 2D to millions of users, we´ll see if Spaceclaim can do it for the jump to 3D.

  • http://www.e2s.com.mx Tomas Vargas

    If you are reading this is because I solved a complex mathematical equation, and the answer was 12.
    Spaceclaim is Solid Works son, Pro-E grandchild and Computervision grand-grand child. Spatial followed orders from his demanding customer and delivered. All my engineers no matter what speciality they have, mechatronics, mechanic, industrial, are able to use it. this had not happened with any previous system. Autocad allowed almost universal jump to 2D to millions of users, we´ll see if Spaceclaim can do it for the jump to 3D.

  • http://aol.com/ SpaceisaClaim

    Spaceclaim just will not work with large files. It’s just a hype by the new kid on the block. Shit, Mike Payne was Mr. Parametrics 10 years ago and now has jumped ship and gone to the other side. KeyCreator/Cadkey kicks the ass out of spaceclaim. SC did have a copy of KC a year prior to a release just so they could copy some of the commands, but make it look a bit different. Push/pull is very cumbersome to use and SC crashed on files too large for it to handle. It’s only here because it received millions from Capital Venture’s to get going and market. It’s still virgin software and has a long way to catch up with the Big Boys in Free Form modeling…

  • http://aol.com SpaceisaClaim

    Spaceclaim just will not work with large files. It’s just a hype by the new kid on the block. Shit, Mike Payne was Mr. Parametrics 10 years ago and now has jumped ship and gone to the other side. KeyCreator/Cadkey kicks the ass out of spaceclaim. SC did have a copy of KC a year prior to a release just so they could copy some of the commands, but make it look a bit different. Push/pull is very cumbersome to use and SC crashed on files too large for it to handle. It’s only here because it received millions from Capital Venture’s to get going and market. It’s still virgin software and has a long way to catch up with the Big Boys in Free Form modeling…

  • http://www.spatial.com/ John Alpine

    Deelip – your surmising that good things happen when companies partner is absolutely correct. But there is one other point more subtle in your review, direct modeling was not really possible with the geometric kernels of the past. Just ask CoCreate who spent years enabling theirs (disclaimer here, I was CTO of CoCreate for quite a few years). History based modeling with feature regeneration really lets a kernel off the hook as geometry modifications are actually just construct operators. It is much more difficult to support geometry modify operators – ones that can remove a face and repair the solid to retain water tightness. It is this evolution in geometric kernel robustness that is really behind such an important trend and what Spatial/SpaceClaim partnered on.

    John Alpine (VP R&D, Spatial)

  • http://www.spatial.com John Alpine

    Deelip – your surmising that good things happen when companies partner is absolutely correct. But there is one other point more subtle in your review, direct modeling was not really possible with the geometric kernels of the past. Just ask CoCreate who spent years enabling theirs (disclaimer here, I was CTO of CoCreate for quite a few years). History based modeling with feature regeneration really lets a kernel off the hook as geometry modifications are actually just construct operators. It is much more difficult to support geometry modify operators – ones that can remove a face and repair the solid to retain water tightness. It is this evolution in geometric kernel robustness that is really behind such an important trend and what Spatial/SpaceClaim partnered on.

    John Alpine (VP R&D, Spatial)

  • http://www.deelip.com/ Deelip Menezes

    John,

    Its really nice to see people who are actually involved with the things that I write about here actually come out and prove/disprove my conclusions. I appreciate it.

    Most of my observations are from publicly available information which is not much. However, I am beginning to get a better sense of the wonderful technologies that you people offer as continue with my ongoing evaluating of your 3D InterOp, ACIS Exchange and VIZ Exchange components.

  • http://www.deelip.com Deelip Menezes

    John,

    Its really nice to see people who are actually involved with the things that I write about here actually come out and prove/disprove my conclusions. I appreciate it.

    Most of my observations are from publicly available information which is not much. However, I am beginning to get a better sense of the wonderful technologies that you people offer as continue with my ongoing evaluating of your 3D InterOp, ACIS Exchange and VIZ Exchange components.

  • Anonymous

    “Push/pull is very cumbersome to use”

    How so?

  • Anonymous

    “Push/pull is very cumbersome to use”

    How so?

  • Anonymous

    “Mr. Parametrics 10 years ago and now has jumped ship and gone to the other side. ”

    Some of us realize that in order to survive and prosper we must evolve rather than live in the past.

    History based modeling is a dead end because it’s much too slow for many tasks and doesn’t work well on imported parts from other systems.

  • Anonymous

    “Mr. Parametrics 10 years ago and now has jumped ship and gone to the other side. ”

    Some of us realize that in order to survive and prosper we must evolve rather than live in the past.

    History based modeling is a dead end because it’s much too slow for many tasks and doesn’t work well on imported parts from other systems.

  • MikeIPayne

    Parametric Feature Based Modeling has celebrated its 25th. birthday, and was the right technology for the computers that existed 25 years ago. Many products have been designed using it, and much has been done to overcome the fundamental limitations that are contained in that approach. AS many people who have deployed this technology have discovered, the total cost of ownership tends to be high, partially due to the skill level (and hence the salaries) of the people who operate it.
    Direct modeling is another, and different tool, which, as John Alpine has put so well, was not possible 25 years ago, and can only be effective when a) computers got faster, and b) the underlying geometry engine was expanded to be able to perform the operations that are needed for direct modeling. The understanding and cooperation of Spatial were the two key factors in the decision to select ACIS as the kernel for SpaceClaim.
    No, I did not jump ship, but rather recognized that there is no status quo in technology, and that everything must advance. In this case, to involve a wider audience in 3D a different approach was needed, and the declining number of new licenses of all Parametric Feature Based products continue to emphasize.
    It is a pity that some people do not seem to have grasped the concept that screwdrivers could be used a chisels, but the results may not be so great. And a combined (synchronous) chisel/screwdriver does not add much value (half the blade would be sharp and the other half blunt). In software parlance, I think it is called “bloatware”. Lets use the right tool for the right job.
    There is another dimension to be considered for some organizations which is long term storage and retrieval of their intellectual property. One company that makes very large flying machines has clearly recognized this problem, and stores its data (for certification purposes and others) in STEP. Should a change to that data be needed in 15 years time, that will be very hard using the favorite parametric feature based modeling system. Does anyone really think that a design stored in Pro/ENGINEER rev 1 could be retrieved today, unless they had kept their MicroVax running, and this file is not encrypted like they are today.
    Religious wars serve no useful purpose, the last one being the ACIS/Parasolid wars, which I personally ended. Both modelers works for use in a parametric feature based modeler. The press seemed to find a lot less to write about.

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