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TurboCADReview

IMSI Shows TurboCAD 10

reprinted by permission of Ralph Grabowski, editor

March 25, 2004

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Mauritz Botha of IMSI stopped by the offices of upFront.eZine last week to show off the just-released TurboCAD 10 (US$795). I like it when Mr. Botha visits, because he's a techie and I don't have to listen to marketing mumbo-jumbo.

Why did IMSI buy Aladdin Systems? IMSI spent the bulk of its cash reserves on this maker of Macintosh and PC utility software. "They have technology we can use in TurboCAD," explained Mr. Botha: encryption, compression, and general utilities. IMSI still has its non-CAD side.

And why did IMSI buy DesignCAD? It's for the consumer market, explained Mr. Botha. Plus the former owners have heavy emphasis on electronic learning. DesignCAD is low-end CAD for consumers; TurboCAD Designer is in the middle for "prosumers" (non-professional CAD users who take CAD seriously); and TurboCAD Professional is for professional users. The CAD side of IMSI is called the Precision Design Group.

A further distinction is that DesignCAD uses a home-grown solids modeler that isn't as capable as the ACIS used in TurboCAD. Which lead me to ask how ACIS is used. While TurboCAD has the complete ACIS R11 kernel, the problem is how to expose its features with TurboCAD's style of user interface - which means not every ACIS feature is available.

What's new in TurboCAD 10

TurboCAD 10 makes surfaces part of ACIS; they used to be defined internally. But now TurboCAD can convert solids to surfaces and back again. The surface doesn't need to envelop a volume: TurboCAD interpolates the needed surface to make the solid volume.

Mr. Botha demonstrated how the faces of solids (and surfaces) can be deformed interactively. TurboCAD has two methods: apply a uniform pressure to the face, and get a bell-shape; or define points that constrain the deformation.

TurboCAD now creates cross-sections linked to views. Several standard cross-sections are predefined; new cross-sections are defined by simply placing a line, and selecting the side to show. I particularly liked the preview window that shows the cross-section before committing.

OCR [optical character recognition] and raster-to-vector conversion are integrated, instead of being a separate module. This means that you can now place a raster image in the drawing, and then selectively convert portions to vector. There are two modes: convert everything within a selection rectangle; or convert the features nearest the cursor. You can specify "by color," so that, say, only blue features are converted to vector.

What else is new? Hidden lines are shown in 3D views. The Explorer Palette imports layers from other drawings. Real-time rendering is improved. Walls can have a different surface on each side. Select more than one control point to manipulate splines; drag a part of the spline, and TurboCAD relocated the control points. And IMSI is finding that TurboCAD's animation tool is being used as a low-cost alternative to 3ds max.

If I missed anything, you can read more at http://www.imsisoft.com/prodinfo.asp?t=1&mcid=167.

About the Author

Ralph Grabowski is an editor at upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. (previously known as XYZ Publishing, Ltd.). Ralph is the author of 60 books and several hundred articles for dozens magazines and newsletters about CAD, graphics, and the Internet.

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