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The Interview - Page 4

AFR: Anthony Frausto-Robledo, Founder & Editor, Architosh

SF: Sean Flaherty, CTO, Nemetschek, North America

SF: In all previous versions of the Mac operating system you had to send both QuickDraw and Postscript. In OS X, you just send the PDF file. PDF contains the Postscript code.

AFR: What about PDF on Windows for VectorWorks?

SF: This is a platform flavor difference, native PDF [in OS X]. Carbon is going to emulate the QuickDraw calls. VectorWorks will still be issuing QuickDraw calls but Quartz will make the emulated calls to PDF internally. Windows users won't get this for free. We can have a programmer sit down for a while and write a PDF exporter [for Windows], but it is not a trivial task.

AFR: So for VectorWorks Windows PDF will not be an export file option?

SF: Yes, not initially at least. There will be more differences between the platforms. In Windows you will have WMF file format and raster PICT files, which is generated from the QuickTime library. You won't have WMF on the Mac, but you will have vector-based PICT. It's through QuickTime that you get raster-based PICT for Windows.

AFR: What about other popular Web and animation file formats...any support of those coming up? For example, Flash or Adobe's SVG file format?

SF: The web formats we're going to support initially will be vector-based formats that allow people to quickly share drawings and markups on the web, such as DWF. Autocad support is important to us. DWF [made by Autodesk] may be the answer. DWF is a possibility for the next release. The file format is popular on the Web and with the 'project web sites' [extranets] out there serving the building industry.

Another format we could support is Cinema4D, which preserves textures. It is also part of our larger product family now with Nemetschek.

AFR: Speaking of 3D, will OpenGL be the only supported API for 3D on VectorWorks, or will you give Mac users QuickDraw 3D as well?

SF: The next version of VectorWorks will only use OpenGL for both Mac and Windows users. Apple is no longer supporting QuickDraw 3D in Mac OS X.

AFR: Is it possible to still support QuickDraw 3D alongside OpenGL using the work of the Quesa Group?

SF: We haven't looked into that. If there is a groundswell of support for that implementation we may need to investigate continued support for QuickDraw 3D. It may be possible, but at this point we are only supporting OpenGL.

AFR: Going forward, is OpenGL possibly threatened on Windows?

SF: Absolutely. Ever since the collapse of the 'Fahrenheit Project'. The fact is Microsoft controls the Windows rendering engine on their operating systems. I'm not sure what caused the collapse of this project between SGI and Microsoft. I do know that many of the OpenGL team members at SGI are ex-Apple QuickDraw 3D team members. Maybe that had something to do with it.

We have licensed Lightworks rendering technology and the SMLib, which are both cross-platform technology. For VectorWorks 8.5, driven by Apple dropping support for QD3D [in favor of OpenGL], we made a major effect to modularize our rendering pipeline so that we could support new renderers quickly. Whether OpenGL or Direct3D or some other emerging system becomes the standard, we can support it relatively quickly now. A new rendering engine is a few months of work, rather than a complete re-engineering of our pipeline.

AFR: I believe part of the collapse of Fahrenheit was that Microsoft didn't like SGI supporting OpenGL on the Linux operating system, as Linux is a serious threat to Windows. I believe that was the story circulating in the industry.

SF: I'm not sure. Fahrenheit would have been a big advantage for the end user because it would have standardized video cards even more and lowered their cost. That's good for the consumer.

AFR: It seems to me that OpenGL is pretty safe in the technical 3D and advanced CAD market. It's been around for many years, its been the standard. I don't see that changing anytime soon.

SF: I agree. I think the only wildcard here is games. It's 3D games that have brought some of these abilities to the video card market.

AFR: In summary what we have going forward with 3D in VectorWorks is OpenGL on both platforms. Let's talk about animation. Will VectorWorks continue to use QuickTime as its multimedia technology?






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