CAD Files As Interactive Software Programs? Microsoft Wants to Hear From You Here...

This is an appeal to ask CAD users to send their comments to a Microsoft blog [1] that Microsoft has set up to ask for comments regarding support for
vector file formats in their Microsoft Expression [2] software now in beta.
You see, we are on the threshold of a new era with CAD. Seriously, software development has undergone rapid changes and it is now possible to refactor vector drawing files, i.e. CAD files, to enable the drawings themselves to become interactive software programs -- but -- CAD users must let Microsoft know that CAD users want support for vector file formats that are important to CAD users. Just imagine...
...interactive floorplans, interactive radiological diagnostic devices, exploded isometric drawings that will display specifications when a mouse is dragged over a drawing part and so on. All of this and more is possible right now as can be seen and imagined by simply viewing the current demos [3].
The catch? This will not happen for CAD users unless *you* as a CAD user load that Microsoft blog [1] in your browser and tell Microsoft that you want Microsoft to support vector file formats used by CAD applications. All you need to do is name the CAD vector file formats you want support for.
CAD users can concede this emerging era to those who draw buttons and animated monkeys or CAD users can let Microsoft know CAD users are serious professionals who do serious work beneficial to all of humanity. Let Microsoft know we need and want support for CAD vector file formats.
Imagine new jobs open to us! Imagine what our serious and creative minds have to offer!
Microsoft has asked for our input. Now let's give it to them...
<%= Clinton Gallagher URL http://clintongallagher.metromilwaukee.com /
[1] http://blogs.msdn.com/mswanson/archive/2006/01/30/519733.aspx [2] http://www.microsoft.com/products/expression/en/default.mspx [3] http://blogs.msdn.com/expression/articles/516697.aspx
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clintonG wrote:

Or you could just use an application that supports these features today and not wait for Microsoft to build thir own.
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Could you explain what you meant? I don't think you understand yet. Microsoft is not building the software applications that would be of interest to the AEC-FM markets as if they were going to compete with Autodesk or whomever.
The Microsoft Expression Suite is a suite of design and development applications that will generate the markup language and other programming language interfaces that will allow us to build our own applications using our own drawn and modeled assets. This is a rare opportunity and a hallmark of the emerging era of socialized business model. Microsoft is interested in building community consensus regarding our desired support for file formats.
Now is not the time to pontificate, we can do that later. Now is the time to simply let them know that professionals in the AEC-FMmarkets do serious work and can -- if empowed with supportive software applications -- make a serious impact on humanity if the file formats we use are supported. There's also some very meaningful opportunities for new jobs and new markets in this context. Think BIM.
<%= Clinton Gallagher

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clintonG wrote:

A flat binary format will do just fine. The internals of the formats used by the current development environments are proprietary and I don't think they're interested in handing their IP over to Microsoft.
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<snip />

How do you think little pooh-butt vendors who support viewing DWG achieve that objective?
The proprietary file format is rapidly becoming a non-issue. Primarily as I've recently learned and had confirmed by several lawyers that data structures can not be copyrighted, the example given in the manner by which word processing applications can read one another's file formats.
The present and the near future is XML. In most cases, the binary file format has become a liability.
We can discuss this all day long, the objective though AFIC is to let Microsoft know those who use CAD are interested in using their drawing assets with Microsoft software applications.
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clintonG wrote:

Does this apply to VFAT?
Its not just a matter of proprietary vs published formats. Its object oriented design 101. Data should be encapsulated and only accessible through class methods. That way, when one wants to add features to the class, one can modify the internal data structures without breaking existing apps.

XML data is stored and transmitted in a binary format. The OS and/or communications protocols know nothing more about the file formats than they are an unstructured series of bytes.

Then you're working the problem backwards. Microsoft should be offering their data structures to CAD applications developers with documentation on how to integrate these 'assets' into their products.
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I wouldn't know about VFAT. There may be fine points of law that would determine that decision. All I know is I sought legal counsel to copyright DTD's I had written using namespaces I wanted to protect and learned what I stated about file formats.
In the case of Autodesk's proprietary DWG file format this could explain why they frequently change the format so as to subvert any use of the format by others.
As for working backwards that is often the best way to solve a problem but I don't see your rationale as pertinent. Microsoft has in fact been submitting their recent languages and APIs to ECMA putting them into the public domain with few if any restrictions.
We haven't even discussed XAML which as I understand already has been submitted or will be sumitted to ECMA and it is XAML that has me all hopped up.
Have you looked at any of the Expression Suite yet? Expression Graphical Designer? Interactive Designer? They emit XMAL which can be wired up to function as the UI to applications.
I'd assume there are at least a dozen or more serious electrical engineering applications that could benefit from an interactive representation of circuits, power management and so on and I also "see" many opportunities for new employment possibilities. A new era of CAD as I've put it.
Mark my word, I have this "vision thing" and XAML is going to be "discovered" by those working with Building Information Modeling (BIM) which is finally coming into its own in AEC-FM applications having proven itself when applied to energy management.
So the way I see this its not Microsoft that is the problem in my world view. It is Autodesk and other CAD vendors. I know the Autodesk issues all too well and little to nothing of other CAD vendors.
I got you figured out though. You're a LAMP camp dude and just jealous ;-)
<%= Clinton Gallagher
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clintonG wrote:

[snip]
Uh, no. The DWG format is available to developers. Importing and exporting DWG formats is possible. But it has also been a huge problem for Autodesk. Any time one gives third party developers access to their internal data formats, they lock it in, so to speak. It becomes difficult to add new features (which require modification of the internal formats) without breaking third party applications.
The 'proprietary data format as market leverage' tactic is used only by a few of the most paranoid vendors. But, if you really believe this, then you're request for CAD application developers could be viewed as enticing those developers who have NDA agreements with Autodesk (and others) to violate those agreements by sharing that data.

About 15 years old, actually.
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I just want Microsoft to support importing DWG,DXF,EPS file formats which can be saved or exported from AutoCAD/ADT so I can build interative floor plans, interactive machinery and other virtrual representations. Its lonely being the only guy with the vision thing.
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clintonG wrote:

Like I said before, this is old technology. Why don't you check out some of the existing utilities available for Autocad that do this stuff?
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Like what? DWF? I'm 53 Paul. I was there on day one. Starting on the day the original developer and founder John Walker was run out of the company everything Autodesk has developed -- and I mean everything that is not "drafting" -- is crippleware. They sold over 20 releases of AutoCAD before they would even support a hyperlink in AutoCAD and once they did they crippled that too.
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