- Architosh Staff ([email protected])
- 4 August 2001
Future Nemetschek Product Direction
In this second part of our extensive interview with Sean Flaherty,
CTO of Nemetschek North America, we delve into the future of the
company a bit with new products yet to be announced, new strategies,
the Web and thoughts about different technologies and their implications
for CAD industry.
For news on the future of VectorWorks on Mac OS X, please see Part
1 of this two part interview special.
Sean Flaherty, CTO of Nemetschek North America
Anthony Frausto-Robledo, Editor of Architosh.com
What's Next with VectorWorks in 9.5?
AFR When are you planning the next major release of VectorWorks?
SF Version 9.5?
AFR Yes. When is your next big feature planned? What does
your window look like there?
SF Uh,, (laughter). That's a tough question there. I think
it may be too early to say.
AFR Ya, I may be getting ahead of you.
|"Last year it seemed
like every third booth was some sort of online collaboration
site. And they were all gone this year." -- Sean
SF We have been running around as a company and trying to
figure that out. We have traditionally done 18 month releases and
VectorWorks 9 was a 27 month release. And that is too long. It is
really hard to say. We are going back and reevaluating what is the
best way to get the latest technology in our customers' hands.
I think the CAD market is an interesting one because basically
companies standardize on it as a platform like they do with an operating
system. And changing the platform too often can be very disruptive.
But at the same time there is a large push to continue to support
new technologies. So for us we have these two forces pulling the
schedule both ways.
So I think we will have a better idea later in the Fall about what
are window really is.
AFR Can I ask you a few questions about your Web strategy?
AFR You know you have Autocad out there -- very aggressive
on the Web side, they just bought Buzzsaw.com,
and so forth. Where is Nemetschek going with the Internet?
SF Well, it is good that you say Nemetschek there because
this is going to be a group strategy from us...coming from Nemetschek
AG. They have a web portal comparable to Buzzsaw called MyBau.com,
which is primarily used in the European market, which for us is
30-40% of our business. In fact, we split the world by about 30%
for Europe, 30% for Japan, and 30% for the United States and Canada
together, and the other ten percent is split between companies like
South America....and we have a growing user base in Australia too.
So for us this will help to have strategy there. I think the whole
CAD community got really side tracked onto the project management
sites.... [Web sites].
SF...that made all the news. And it's interesting...did
you attend AEC?
AFR No, but I followed some of the announcements.
SF It's interesting because the shear absence of booths
was remarkable. Last year it seemed like every third booth was some
sort of online collaboration site. And they were all gone this year.
And it was really only the diehard Buzzsaw's and Bricsnet's that
are the ones that survived.
The direction we are looking for as a corporation is really first
about 'how to get information up on the Web...and visible and viewable'.
We haveand this will appear on our Web site in the next month
or soa viewer version of VectorWorks. [Editor's
note: at the time this went up to the server Nemetschek had announced
its new VW
AFR So you can view files on the Web?
SF Right. You can open up, look at files, zoom around, and
then print them.
AFR That's good news.
SF Yes, so this is good. So that is certainly going to be
a big advantage because certainly any service bureau can download
the viewer app and they will have a full plot ready version of VectorWorks.
You know anytime you go to DWG or any translation process there
is always [some] loss. So we want to be able to have people post
and pass around VectorWorks files directly. And to have a viewer
means that you can go to some third-party, which isn't necessarily
a VectorWorks user, and they can access the file. In fact, what
a lot of our customers often need is when they are sending some
VectorWorks files as DWG's to some Autocad user, that that user
can use the viewer to open the VectorWorks file directly and compare
it to the DWG export and verify that they got everything they needed.
So that is certainly going to take us forward there. I think the
direction we are headedand we are probably about five years
awayis some Web-based component spec where Pella and Anderson
can not just put up DWG representations of their windows but can
actually have a component that you can click on a Web page and drop
it into your CAD application.
There is a whole host of specs running around right now. And if
you search on architecture and XML you will find a lot of information.
I think that is where people are headed.
I think long term the people who can actually get manufacturers
to put things up on the Web will actually have a real competitive
advantage. And that's what we are working with NAG
on right nowespecially with the MyBau.com projects and a lot
of the manufactures thereis to use their Web based component
As far as further Web technologies I'm not sure I see a lot that
are specific to CAD.
AFR What about 3D and things like Macromedia's newly announced
Shockwave 3D format, things like that?
SF The streaming 3Ds?
AFR Yes, the newest streaming 3D technologies...like the
Shockwave 3D format that people like Maya, Lightwave, Amapi and
others are all getting very excited about?
SF I don't know. To be honest, I don't know if I have a
strong opinion about that.
SF It's somethingyou knowwhere VRML was all
the rage about six or seven years ago...and it's not really done
The formats like Shockwave are nice when you need to share small
3D drawings with somebody. But I am just not convinced that if you
are working on a large 3D version of a house that you want to see
it in a small, 'quickie' streamed 3D format.
I think when you are collaborating with someone on something you
are going to want to have a full CAD system there to work with it.
I think the redlining features you have with DWF are much more appealing
to our customers.
AFR And so, what about your 3D technologies. If not to streaming
format where are you taking them?
SF With VectorWorks 9 we rev'd our 3D engine. And we continue
to rev our rendering technologies. Those are where we want to attack
the 3D market. To take VectorWorks up to be the industry leading
architectural modeling and rendering package.
AFR Sean, I think we need to wrap up now but I want to thank
you for talking to Architosh about VectorWorks, its future and Mac
OS X in our earlier part 1 interview.
And all the detailed discussion on development issues related to
OS X was wonderful and insightful. This conversation sheds a lot
of light on what it is really like to move an applicationespecially
one as large as yoursover to Apple's next-generational operating
SF You are welcome. Thank you for the opportunity. And we
look forward to sharing more news about our company with Architosh
in the future.
So that concludes our final part of a two-part
exclusive interview with Nemetschek North America's (formerly
Diehl Grahphisoft) Sean Flaherty, Chief Technology Officer. This
is the second big interview with Sean and he has provided us, again,
with much interesting insight into the Mac community and the heart
of Apple as a company.
I hope you have enjoyed this interview and look forward to more
like it in the future. -- AFR.
If you have any questions or comments for us about our features
and interviews, or if you would like to be interviewed, please
just send us a note.