Note from the President – August 2018

By Bruce Carlson • August 30th, 2018
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IntelliCAD, Carlson iCAD, Dynamic CAD and Dual .DWG and .DGN CAD

Bruce Carlson, president of Carlson Software, founded the independent company in 1983.

There is a lot happening at Carlson Software on the CAD front. Virtually all of our office software, including the flagship Carlson Survey, Carlson Civil, Takeoff and the Carlson Mining modules, work on both AutoCAD® and IntelliCAD. These are similar platforms. The beauty of IntelliCAD is that it is developed by a consortium of companies and internal IntelliCAD staff who can all contribute to its source code. Carlson Software is a leading “external” contributor to IntelliCAD. If we need the CAD to do something, we can write the commands directly. In effect, we have our own internal CAD platform.

The history of IntelliCAD deserves mention. David C. Arnold was the founder of DCA, a civil engineering software company that developed on top of AutoCAD. DCA was based in Henniker, NH. In the 1990’s, DCA changed its name to Softdesk and went public on the Nasdaq. Mr. Arnold noticed that in any sales transaction, often the majority of the sales revenue was going to Autodesk for the CAD portion, even though it was his application software that “made” the sale. He was determined to develop his own CAD solution and capture more of the total revenue. So Softdesk had a skunkworks CAD project underway that was “discovered” when Autodesk purchased Softdesk in 1996. The Federal Trade Commission recognized that this would monopolize too much of the CAD technology in one company, namely Autodesk, and they removed this CAD from the acquisition. The programmers and managers who had developed it eventually created the IntelliCAD Technology Consortium (ITC) where it found a new home. IntelliCAD is now a worthy competitor to AutoCAD. Anyone who can run AutoCAD can run IntelliCAD.

Members of the ITC can package up application software that works on top of IntelliCAD. So when you purchase Carlson Survey or the Carlson Civil Suite on IntelliCAD, you get the CAD at no cost to you as a user. That provides incredible value. IntelliCAD has virtually all the commands of AutoCAD, except some of the very advanced features like editing “Dynamic Blocks”. One by one, those rare features still not in IntelliCAD are being systematically added with each new release. The current IntelliCAD base platform is Release 9.

Here in 2018, Carlson Software for the first time released a pure CAD solution based on IntelliCAD, known as Carlson iCAD. This CAD is priced at only $495 and adds in some of the drafting-related commands of Carlson Survey. It also adds in some of the well-known power features from Carlson such as Extend by Distance, Join Nearest, 3D Offset and our vast list of polyline utilities. It is a direct answer to AutoCAD LT without the limitations of that product and allows drafters to produce plats and drawings at very low cost. And since there is no subscription cost, a one-time purchase of iCAD can provide value for years, with annualized costs trending to zero.

Carlson has achieved a technological breakthrough with the new concept of “Dynamic CAD”. Because we can program straight to IntelliCAD, we’ve figured out how to make our Precision 3D Topo and Hydro products plot in CAD as you work in 3D in an entirely separate program. Design in Precision 3D, and minimize “P3D” and see your output already drawn and labeled in CAD! You’ve not seen anything like this before, I assure you. If you have a dual screen setup, just look over to the CAD to see your 3D design efforts plotting real-time! Delete a pipe in the 3D design and it goes away in CAD. What is particularly impressive is that you can focus on design, while the plotting in CAD is actually reading your pre-stored annotation styles and adding the finishing touches for your deliverables.

Here is an example. The prerequisite is to set the surface TIN used in Precision 3D “current”, which is accomplished using the Surface Manager command:

Then launch DynamicCAD (by menu or at the command line). This goes straight to Precision 3D and recalls the TIN file. Design your culvert pipes or storm sewer systems in P3D. Fully annotated linework occurs real-time back in CAD, right down to presentation of the headwalls on culvert pipes if the headwall option is used in P3D. Each pipe profile is also drawn in its own Paper Space layout. Everything is drawn to CAD real-time as you design, tapping the “.pvl” file for plan view label settings and the “.pfs” file that governs profile settings.

In the above example, transparency is turned on within P3D to reveal the entire pipe length beneath the asphalt road. DynamicCAD with Precision 3D is a feature of soon-to-be-released Carlson 2019.

There is still another breakthrough in the new IntelliCAD. Tapping the work of the Open Design Alliance, Carlson Software has made Carlson 2019 on IntelliCAD both .dwg and .dgn compatible. You can now load Microstation .dgn files and without any conversion, work in .dgn mode and do advanced commands such as Road Network. This means that Microstation “shops”, organizations that are dedicated to Microstation like Departments of Transportation and the many consultants who serve them, can use Carlson 2019 to update drawings, do remedial CAD work and even do road designs from scratch. While Autodesk lives in .dwg and Bentley Microstation lives in .dgn, while these worlds remain so distinct and separate, Carlson 2019 on IntelliCAD, set to release this September, finally bridges both worlds in one package.

At Carlson Software, we are dedicated to providing more value and technology power to our customers.

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