Over the past year Dassault Systèmes has been announcing
and/or releasing a web-based family of design and visualization
tools and services under the brand name 3DVIA. Using lightweight
3D data formats and web services architecture when possible,
3DVIA seeks to provide an entry point for 3D CAD that has much
less overhead than Dassault’s existing product lines. The
ambitious goal is to expand the use of 3D content beyond
Dassault’s existing markets in design, engineering, and
manufacturing, thus fulfilling the company’s long-stated goal of
"3D for everyone."
Some announced products or services in the 3DVIA brand
portfolio aim at new users in existing engineering markets. The
most obvious example is the former Seemage, renamed 3DVIA
Composer, which brings 3D content into product documentation and
reads a variety of 3D data formats. Other announced and/or
shipping products in the 3DVIA line are:
3DVIA.com is an online hub for users of the various
3DVIA products. Dassault is pitching it as an online “community”
for all who work with 3D content.
3DVIA Shape is a free web-based 3D modeling
application designed for ease of use. Models created in 3DVIA
Shape can be published directly to 3DVIA.com for sharing, or
used in various other 3DVIA products.
3DVIA MP is an authoring tool for 3D game production
on multiple platforms including PC, Microsoft Xbox 360, Sony
Playstation 3, and online.
Virtools is billed as a comprehensive development
platform for “creating a wide range of addictive games, virtual
reality simulations and marketing/multimedia applications.”
A Closer Look at 3DVIA Shape
Included in 3DVIA is Shape, a low-end 3D design program. The
program has a very simple interface. Despite its simplicity --
or rather, because of it -- 3DVIA Shape is a powerful design
tool. Instead of focusing upon all the nuances and subtleties
that a traditional CAD program enables, 3DVIA Shape has none of
these features or advanced functions to distract from the
original intent of creating and exploring a conceptual design.
3DVIA Shape beta looks and feels much like Google SketchUp
While you would not build a product directly off any of the
models in 3DVIA Shape, evaluating conceptual design alternatives
quickly is of value -- just what the doctor ordered in an age of
quick turnaround, refinement, and go-to-market pressure.