Concept of Virtual Design Technology

One day engineering tools will become CAD-independent.

This is a repost of my article from August of 2014.


What’s usually happening while implementing CAD, PDM or PLM technology?
After implementation users usually trying to find the way how can they deal with workflow. In CAD they’re trying to create model, or even “paint” it. If even they create model through parameterizing, they’re just “playing” with the expensive toy.

Problem formalizing

Let’s draw an analogy of working process to playing chess, or proving of the math theorem. The big task of winning, or theorem proving divides on bunch of hierarch-spitted common tasks. In chess – this is chess etudes, which are masterly linking into game, in math – the conveyor of lemmas, that provides the solution. Etudes and lemmas – are “best practices”, “jazz standards” of knowledge field, which they are representing.

Currently almost all of domains are isolated each from other by vendors, software, geo-locations, companies and even departments.

Why can’t we share each other our knowledge and achievements? Surely there’re certain business secrets, but what about basic knowledge, like: physic, chemistry, math, standards (DIN, ISO, JIS, etc.), electrics, mechanics and others? A numerous work hours are spending daily to reproduce already solved problems; we’re stuck in basics instead developing something really good. End-users in Germany are spoiling their time on created already designed piping models for Inventor while there’re already created ones in Canada for Solidworks or Plant 3D. Vendors are developing different HVAC tools for AutoCAD, then for Revit, ArchiCAD – but all they are having the same functionality. But if you can calculate the ducts size depending on consumers in one app – you can’t do this in other, and even you can’t enhance it to do this.

Statement of a problem

In computer-aided design there are next matters of fact:

  1. Almost every design task have been every solved and have common solution, that’s not depends on platform.
  2. Computer aided design is aimed on reducing user’s interaction.
  3. End-user really waits from vendor solving of all routing tasks, or just out-of-the-box best practices.
  4. If there’s no out-of-the-box, they’re ready to buy a pack of them.
  5. Parametric models have no interoperability within different CAD systems: Inventor Content Center components, Inventor iLogic, Revit families, Plant 3D specs, AutoCAD MEP, etc. So user has to define parametric model for each application separately.
  6. As in previous statement, for each CAD designed separate modeling environment and wizards: Routed systems (Cable & Harness routing and Tube & Pipe routing) and frame generator in Inventor, cabling and HVAC tools for Revit, AutoCAD MEP, Plant 3D. Each content center model has to be designed with CAD-specific connector, and user could edit certain system just in that CAD it had been designed.
  7. No CAD or PDM/PLM can provide fully-implemented system approach. At now we’re mainly playing with tools instead solving tasks. We can’t see the forest behind the trees.


Let’s outline several directions of solving raised issues.

  1. Creating catalogue of best-practices blocks: components, operations, standards, rules, wizards, user interfaces.
  2. They should be widely applicable: in different apps of one vendor, for different vendors’ software, on desktop or in the cloud.
  3. The main repository is always up-to date, end-users can get new functions like an anti-virus updates.
  4. The best practices are described on common language, which could be interpreted by add-on over CAD/PDM system, any part of PLM solution – the analog of Virtual Studio Technology (VST) in audio software.

Here are some obvious benefits of technology:

  1. Benefits of end-users
    1. Standardized workflows for different tasks and regions (MFG, AEC).
    2. No more from the ground development.
  2. Benefits of vendors
    1. Providing more conformity tools enhances user’s sympathy.
    2. Development of platform-independent VDT’s (Virtual Design Technology) reduces costs on software development.
  3. Benefits of distributors
    1. Increasing of sales via big implementations and subscriptions.
  4. Benefits of resellers
    1. Resellers receive great ability to create more complex and flexible monetizing plans.
  5. Benefits of system integrators/implementers
    1. Implementers should no more to develop implementations from scratch.
    2. This is better than pre-defined implementations because customization is more flexible.
  6. Benefits of third-party developers
    1. Third party-developers will cover much wide target auditory – not just one vendor.

Actual delivering of technology to end-users is shown above.

Hosting of VDT at engineering systems

Hosting of VDT at engineering systems

Workflow diagram is also shown:

VDT workflow

VDT workflow


Why it this technology inevitable? In evolution the symbiosis is the most winning stratagem for all parties, and must survivors are seeking this. The main goal of any vendor should be in satisfying end-user’s requirements – not in upgrading theirs solution. If vendor doesn’t meet this – he’ll become an out-sider.

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