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The Interview - Final Page

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

SF: Sean Flaherty, CTO, Nemetschek, North America

SF: Absolutely! We are completely behind QuickTime. We think this is wonderful technology that is well done by Apple. Also, they really service Windows users well too... and they have had much success with QuickTime on the Web.

AFR: Will VectorWorks begin to support QuickTime VR?

SF: We will probably do VRML before QuickTimeVR. There is debate here. And then there is the whole 3D streaming issue on the Web, like Metacreations' new 3D streaming technology.

AFR: What about general 2D animation?

SF: We are going to stay clear of the general animation market. This is a real specialty area. We would like to have a close link to some other format that supports textures. Cinema4D has great animation abilities, including video editing and doing high-quality presentations. Cinema4D is a possibility because it's supported well on both platforms and because they are in the Nemetschek product family.

AFR: I would like to talk about the acquisition of Biplab Sarkar from Parametric Technologies Corporation. Can we talk about his role with 3D?

SF: Sure. He is going to be managing our 3D and geometry teams, managing all of our core 3D technology. In his previous job at PTC, his mission was to build a solid modeling product. That's sort of his job here: to help us produce a product that provides 90% of the functionality of ProEngineer or SolidWorks for about one third of the price.

This will have an ancillary benefit to architects as well. As more architects want to tackle more cutting edge design work, to be able to create buildings with non-rectangular forms like Frank Gehry's work, for example.

AFR: Well! that is good news. Especially to architecture students. I can tell you from experience because I teach studio at an architecture school. Most students want to do Frank Gehry like work with their school projects and it affects their decisions with choosing CAD and rendering software.

SF: That's right, that's why form-Z is so popular. Sarkar will be able to help us with this. He knows the technology and he knows a lot of the key players in the industry. Did you know that ACIS was acquired?

AFR: Yes, by Dassault, I believe.

SF: There's going to be a kernel war out there and it will be only a matter of time before these kernels become proprietary to some application. That's why our decision to go with SMLib was a good one.

Solids Modeling Solutions (SMS) seems to stand apart from the ACIS vs. Parasolids competition with reasonable and open licensing policies. They're actually a distributed group of developers and mathematicians who have pulled together a number of different packages into a comprehensive library of tools. They don't appear to be moving in any way to become an actual competitor.

AFR: I think we have covered a lot of terrain here. Before we close I just want to ask you a general question about Apple. Do you think that Apple today, with Mac OS X, is in a better position to serve the technical market than it was a few years ago?

SF: Apple definitely is. The Mac is a kind of aging architecture. OS X changes all that; it is far more robust and powerful. And technical applications will have a big interest in moving back to the platform.

I think OS X is a brilliant move. They have created something very visually appealing, but yet it has this 'state-of-the-art' technical foundation. The sexy interface is something that will appeal to the traditional Mac crowd—designers who pride themselves on producing good graphic designs ten hours a day—while also improving the quality of their software experience. These users don't want to look at an ugly interface when there is something better out there.

It was smart of Apple to not just reproduce the Platinum look with a new foundation, I don't think [that] would be enough to get users to switch back from Windows. Despite the fact that it may mean some change to how [current] Mac users work, Apple has once again made an OS that will create new evangelists rather than just users.

AFR: And what about some of the programmer folks at Nemetschek. Are they interested?

SF: We have die-hard Windows people here who are really interested in adopting Aqua. A new look wrapped around a solid UNIX core is too much for some programmers to resist.

AFR: That's exciting to hear. I'm anxious to see these technical apps in Aqua. What does VectorWorks 9 look like in OS X? Is it really nice?

SF: We are not that far yet. That's the last part. We start with the basic architecture and do interface issues later. Ask me again in the Fall.

AFR: Sure.

Sean, thanks for talking to us today about VectorWorks and Mac OS X. You've provided a lot of interesting technical information, I'm excited to learn more. And I'm sure VectorWorks users are excited about the future of VectorWorks with version 9 coming up.

SF: Again, thanks for having us.

So that concludes a rather lengthy but very interesting read on how one of the leading CAD developers in the world is preparing for OS X. For our new in-depth technical series on Macintosh OS X click here.

I hope you have enjoyed this interview and look forward to more like it in the future. -- AFR








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