The Business of CAD   >   Issue #987   >   July 30, 2018

Graebert Makes Kudo Pervasive

by Ralph Grabowski with Cedric Desbordes
(This issue is online at
CAD vendors have taken two approaches to browserCAD. A small number enthusiastically embraces it, while a larger number is limiting their involvement to online collaboration. It is, after all, a lot easier to display a file than it is to edit it online. 

Graebert Gmbh of Germany is on the enthusiastic-embracing side. ARES Kudo is browserCAD that's been five years in the making as a free viewer and a CAD editor. (See figure 1.)

Figure 1: Editing functions in Kudo

BrowserCAD systems display drawings in Web browsers and allow users to edit them interactively, while saving files and executing other tasks on remote servers. BrowserCAD is not so unusual anymore, and so the challenge becomes making Kudo stand out. 

To do so, Graebert developed a three-pronged approach to gain market penetration. CEO Wilfried Graebert, CTO Robert Graebert, and sales and marketing executive Cedric Desbordes joined me on GoToMeeting to describe the latest steps in their strategy.

Prong 1: Connect to Any Cloud Storage Service

Whereas some browserCAD systems read and save files only on the CAD vendor's proprietary online storage site (a private instance of Amazon AWS Web service, usually), Graebert connects Kudo with nearly all services.

"This is a key difference from Autodesk, as Autodesk requires files to be stored on their servers, resulting in a less flexible workflow," said Mr Desbordes. Once you set up an account with the likes of Dropbox and Google Drive, you can use Kudo to search for (using wildcards, if necessary) and open files across all the cloud storage services to which you are connected:
  • Box
  • Dropbox
  • Google Drive
  • Microsoft OneDrive
  • Microsoft OneDrive for Business
  • Onshape (available only to Onshape users)
  • Trimble Connect (available only to Trimble customers)
  • WebDAV protocol (to connect to storage services like Amazon and private servers)
Box and OneDrive are required by large accounts. Google Drive and Dropbox very popular among small- and medium-size companies. Onshape and Trimble Connect reach specific CAD ecosystems. WebDAV is required for private cloud storage.

Box. "We never thought we would be building viewers; we see viewers as a light version of Kudo," said Robert Graebert. Box has no viewer for DWG, which is not what I would have expected. So Graebert wrote a plug-in that opens DWG files from Box in the view-only version of Kudo. It's available on the official Box Apps page free to all, even non-Graebert customers -- as is Autodesk's DWG viewer. Graebert will release the same for Google Drive.

(Box makes it awkward to preview files: click the ... button next to a DWG or DXF file. From the menu, choose Integrations, and then select the name of the viewer, such as "ARES Kudo.")

Dropbox. Autodesk coordinated with Dropbox to add a DWG viewer. 

Google Drive. "We find that Google Drive is the most popular solution among small and medium businesses, probably helped by the [15GB of] free storage and the influence of Gmail + Google Docs," said Mr Desbordes.

Microsoft OneDrive for Business. This is a different service from the ordinary OneDrive found on Windows 10. It integrates with Sharepoint, and so on. But more importantly, large businesses use OneDrive for Business a lot, so naturally Graebert added it. 

Onshape. See discussion below.

Trimble Connect. Trimble's viewer converts DWG to PDF before displaying it, which I find inelegant.

WebDAV. Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning is important to link Kudo to private storage and Amazon. Graebert is certified by Amazon Web Services (AWS) as an Advanced Technology Partner. "With AWS we have now the ability to offer ARES Kudo for enterprise customers on dedicated servers," said Mr Desbordes. The private cloud is required by large companies to maintain security for their intellectual property.

Integrating iCloud is not possible, as Apple is peculiar in not providing an API [application programming interface] for accessing files stored on iCloud by online apps, such as Kudo. iOS apps, such as ARES Touch, can.

No cloud storage plug-ins are needed to install and use Kudo with online files, unlike desktop versions of online storage services. A useful touch added recently to the file manager are thumbnail previews. (See figure 2.)

Figure 2: The Kudo file manager spans all connected cloud storage services

Prong 2: Integration with OEMs

Making OEM deals is in Graebert's DNA, and so making OEM [a.k.a. private brand label] versions of Kudo and creating collaborations with other cloud-based solutions is no surprise. It may be its saving grace: "We realize that evangelizing our traditional users takes time, but on the other hand Kudo is helping Graebert penetrate new markets. It gives us a competitive advantage to attract large accounts who see the cloud as a great method to circulate technical information in a secure way," said Mr Desbordes.

The most famous OEM is Onshape Drawings, which is a version of Kudo that Graebert wrote for Onshape. Graebert found, however, that Onshape users were exporting drawings from Onshape in DWG format to edit them offline in order to access commands not found in Onshape Drawings. (The commands provided by Onshape Drawings are specific to drawing generation.) 

Exporting files creates a problem, unhappily, in that files are no longer synchronized with the version(s) maintained by Onshape. Graebert fixed this. Now when Onshape users click on a DWG file, they are offered the option to view it in ARES Kudo. They can go a step further to edit the DWG file in Kudo with all available commands, although this requires the annual subscription from Graebert. (See more at 

When you edit a DWG file with Kudo under this arrangement, changes to the drawing are saved to Onshape's storage. This arrangement works also with ARES Commander on the desktop and with Touch on tablets, as each has an integrated file manager that handles files stored online. Graebert’s annual subscription includes all three programs.

Prong 3: Browser-Tablet-Desktop Integration

Kudo is sold together with ARES Commander and ARES Touch at $250/year. Graebert calls this their "Trinity" strategy, because it gives you a power-convenience trade-off: CAD will always be fastest and most powerful when running on the desktop, but it is more convenient to use on tablets and Web browsers. The single-license Trinity lets you use Commander on your primary design workstations, employ Touch on mobile devices (tablets, primarily), and deploy Kudo on any other device (without an install) by opening the Web browser to

"Kudo has now enough commands to really work online, far more than competitor AutoCAD Web," said Mr Desbordes. Not only that, but "in March, Autodesk announced that AutoCAD Web is to be included in a same offer with AutoCAD and AutoCAD Mobile. From our perspective, this came as a validation for the Trinity strategy that Graebert introduced," added Mr Desbordes.

Both Touch and Commander integrate the Kudo online file manager to access and edit files stored on cloud storage services. No surprise, but Kudo generates view-only links for others to view files using the view-only version of Kudo. The linked file only displays the latest version of files to avoid versioning problems.

Accessing Kudo

You can try out the version of Kudo for 30 days from, after creating an account.

Formerly, you could only buy Kudo from Graebert directly or its resellers, but now you can purchase Kudo from the app stores hosted by Apple and Google, and soon from Amazon AWS Marketplace and Microsoft Store. 

Well, indirectly. In the mobile app stores you actually pay for and download ARES Touch, but then get Kudo and Commander "free." The fee from the online app stores is, however, charged monthly at $29/month. This works out to $348 a year, so you save $100 by buying direct from Graebert or its resellers.

Once it becomes available, AWS customers will access Kudo at enterprise pricing. With a certain volume of AWS and marketplace usage, you get a discount on what you pay Amazon for both. You pay Amazon a single bill for AWS usage and all marketplace apps.

"AWS users are already cloud-friendly, and so they are more likely to need a cloud-based DWG editor. We want to go after these communities where cloud is already an important criteria for selecting products, such as in Box and AWS," said Robert Graebert.

User Interface Changes

Kudo is no Commander. Nevertheless, Graebert keeps adding to the user interface and including all commands that are possible to include in a Kudo-style program. "We are adding commands progressively as we look at what people use every day. We started with command-line features, which are the easiest to implement [in a Web browser]; progressively, more difficult commands were added, such as ones that involve dragging entities. Third-party technologies, such as ACIS 3D modeling, are the last major block of features missing," said Robert Graebert.

The UI has a toolbar (with a selection of commands), menu (with all commands), palettes (as in desktop CAD), and a command bar (!) -- because so many people are used to typing in commands and options. The command line expands automatically while the user is inside it. The Properties panel changes the properties of selected entities, as well as the working layer, and so on. See figure 3.

Figure 3: Kudo showing its user interface for editing files

Printing is still a pain, as Kudois forced to go through the Web browser's print preview, which is not the richest printing environment.

We can expect to learn more info in November at the Graebert Annual Meeting in Berlin, which I plan to attend.




ARES Kudo is the only online CAD solution
offering a full set of 2D features to read, create, modify, and
share DWG and DXF drawings.

Nothing to install. It runs in your Web browser and your files follow you on any device. ARES Kudo is integrated with cloud storage services like Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, Box, OneDrive, OneDrive for Business -- and industry-specific solutions such as Onshape and Trimble Connect. 

Visit to learn more
and activate your own free trial at

The Rest of the News

Some of the most recent posts on my WorldCAD Access blog:
- - -
There seem to be 2 kinds of CAD vendor today:
  • Those content to coast with minimal updates to ensure cash keeps flowing in
  • Those who throw in the kitchen sink each year (in the positive sense), like the 99-page What's New guide from Top Systems:

Top Systems released version 16 of its T-FLEX CAD MCAD system with
  • redesigned sketching
  • new variational parametric tools
  • parts and sub-assemblies created in the context of an assembly
  • integrated T-FLEX Electrical 
New in sheetmetal:
  • Corner, Normal Cutout, Gusset, and Hem operations
  • semi-transparent dynamic preview
  • improved manipulators

Also, new functions were added to TopSystems's modules:
  • T-FLEX Analysis
  • T-FLEX Dynamics
  • T-FLEX Nesting
The new T-FLEX VR module views the model in virtual reality.
- - -
Onshape raises prices twice:
  • Monthly rentals are no longer available (was $100/month in the past)
  • Yearly rental cost starts at $1,500/year (works out to $125/month)
- - - 
Autodesk acquired Assemble Systems for its SaaS [software as a service] to query and connect BIM data to bid management, estimating, scheduling, site management and finance. It will be integrated with BIM 360. I'd have thought Autodesk already had something like this, but I guess not.
- - -
Visual Technology Services says they have the the world's first off-the-shelf commercial software for adding panoramic images to PDF: take a spherical image JPG with a 360 camera and turn it into an interactive PDF. Register for a 30-day trial through
- - -
"Generative design turns the traditional design-then-analyze paradigm on its head, disrupting common design workflows." CIMdata offers a one-hour Webinar about "Topology Optimization: Changing the Face of CAD" on Aug 9 @ 11:00am EDT.
Register at 
- - -

Dual-kernel CAD systems are rare, with IronCAD being the only one I know of (it runs ACIS and ParaSolid). Now NanoSoft wants to be the second (ACIS and C3D), as shown by this slide from a C3D Labs conference earlier this year.
More details will be revealed at the Open Design Developer Conference 2018 conference in September.
- - -
If you hate subscriptions, then add PTC to your list of CAD vendors to avoid. Monica Schnitger reports that the 4th-place CAD vendor joins 3rd-place Autodesk in changing to become a software rental company as of Jan 1, next year.
- - -
CCE has a new release of its ODX [open data exchange] libraries for 3D CAD interoperability:
  • Added PTC Creo 5.0
  • Added Inventor 2019
  • PMI enhanced in SolidWorks-write
  •  PMI improved in JT
  • Attributes and persistent ID
Learn more at 
- - -
"The British government says the [new Tempest] fighter should be ready for service by 2035." And here I thought CAD and PLM made design and manufacturing agile. At least that's what the marketing departments are forever telling me.
- - -
Using its OpenPDM technology, PROSTEP is connecting PTC's IoT platform ThingWorx to several other PLM systems:
  • Dassault's 3DEXPERIENCE 
  • Siemens PLM's Teamcenter
  • SAP's PLM
- - -
Randall S. Newton (@RSNatWork on Twitter): The Internet of Things (IoT) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) create complications around one very specific idea: Who owns the data? Check out my new article for Digital Engineering Magazine:

UPFRONT.EZINE (@upFronteZine): This is the same problem that has dogged BIM, with no solution to date.
- - -
The real reasons countries raise tariffs on imports:
  • It's a legislation-free way to raise taxes.
  • It's a way to increase taxes both on citizens who pay income tax, and those who do not, such as the poor and tourists.
  • It lets deficit-determined bureaucracies increase revenues patriotically.
- - -
For late-breaking CAD news, follow upFront.eZine on Twitter at @upfrontezine.

Letters to the Editor

Re: Al Dean explains why Autodesk running generative design in the cloud is wrong

I've always noticed that people can waste 10x as much as they spend before anyone notices. It's more difficult to see waste than cash spent. The important point here is people see spending and will make choices based on it. With a "pay to play" business model, people will pay when they "need to" but not when they "should" or "could". 

This is the benefit of perpetual licensing. It's like a physical asset that you have: as long as it's there, people will make use of it rather than let it sit idle. "As long as we have it, let's use it, it'll only cost time". 

With rental services, they are only used when needed, because any other use not only costs time, but additional for access. This is essentially why experimentation and access is limited. 

Perpetual licenses, like physical assets, are typically cost-justified with a purpose in mind. Any additional use beyond the cost justification is added value potential. In a rental economy, this added value is removed. 
    - Darren Young 
- - -

Why would computing in the cloud restrict experimentation? If you can get a fast calculation, you can only experiment more. 

And have you seen
    - Orlando Sardaro 

The editor replies: Autodesk restricts use of design generation to (a) people who subscribe to Fusion 360 and (b) those who pay extra for tokens. This means very few have access to it.

Even though it runs on the cloud, Autodesk's design generation is generally unavailable, and so few people can experiment with it. Even then, every run costs tokens, which discourages experimentation.

We first wrote about SolidThinking in 2009. See

Mr Sardaro responds: I agree, Ralph! Paying per-calculation makes one cautious. I too like solutions better that just make you pay per-period or perpetual. And yes solidThinking Inspire has been around for a while (actually Altair has been busy developing this technology since the '80s) but is now available in the cloud. 
- - -

Generative design is precisely the kind of instant-on-demand facility that's maybe returning to the desktop according to this from

"Not that Gartner is often right, but they feel that cloud computing is as much of the future as, oh, let's say the Pony Express, to be replaced by edge computing: 

"Around 10% of enterprise-generated data is created and processed outside a By 2022, Gartner predicts this figure will reach 50 percent. 

"The market for so-called micro-modular data centers is growing rapidly" because customers can "run enterprise-grade IT in close proximity to their operational technology (OT) environments, machines and equipment to enable low-latency, secure, and reliable digital processes."

Roll on distributed, in all its forms! 
    - Tom Foster (via WorldCAD Access)

Re: Et Tu, Autodesk?

Love your term for Autodesk as a 'software rental company'. Software subscriptions do not seem to be hurting Adobe, even though I’m still a mutinous user of CS6 and Lightroom 6.14.
    - Jeff Hall
    Design Science

The editor responds: That's because their subscriptions are cheap, with important software like PhotoShop being $10 a month. 

Mr Hall responsd: They make it up in volume! To the tune of $billions.
- - -

Thank you again for a fantastic article! 'Et tu Autodesk' was great. That, and other recent stories, only reinforce my belief that for most businesses, shareholders are way more important than customers or employees. There are always exceptions, but it remains as one of the weakest points in the capitalist model.
    - David Stein

The editor replies: It was the invention of shareholders that allowed corporations to flourish, because the shareholders took the risk of investing in a company as a group, but also shared in the profits, if any. However, greed infects everyone, and so ideals get perverted.

Mr Stein responds: True. MTV was invented to showcase “music” and the surrounding culture. Initial ideas often get hijacked and rolled off a cliff by the best intentions.
- - -

The link to the Norwegian Consumer site is broken for me. The link had some junk text on the end. The link should be

Find it a bit odd that [a CAD vendor] is changing to meet GDPR requirements now gives the user the choice to login using Facebook, Google, or LinkedIn.
    - Jason Bourhill 
    CAD Concepts, New Zealand

The editor replies: Maybe the CAD vendor uses the Evil Three to take care of the GDPR standards automatically. I refuse to use them as logins to other sites, so this might prove problematic for me in the future. Fascinating that the CAD vendoer sees it as a solution, but maybe they get to collect info on users this way.

Mr Bourhill responds: In the Land of Google where the Shadows lie.
One Login to rule them all, One Login to find them,
One Login to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Google where the Shadows lie.

Re: This One Flaw Dooms the Aurga (Updated)

If your [Nikon] D3100 is same era as the D60 I'm using, Live View sadly doesn't exist on the camera itself, so there's not a hope of Live View on Aurga or any other app. For instance, not on PC-based Digicam Control which I use. So not Aurga's fault. 
    - Tom Foster (via WorldCAD Access)
    Tom Foster Architecture
- - -
I think the blog entry is spot-on. It may not be the fault of the Aurga engineers that some functionality is not exposed by the camera manufacturer to the device, but Aurga launched a Kickstarter, with people pledging money on the basis that that functionality would be present.

There are no happy stories emerging from the Kickstarter campaign right now, because Aurga is not meeting the expectations of those who have pledged money for the device. I think Aurga was not clear about the state of software development nor that the device would have limitations according to the user's camera. I had one of the early-bird pledges for the device and I'm very glad that I canceled my pledge. 
     - Paul Andrews (via WorldCAD Access)


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Notable Quotable

"For the 'smartest guys in the room', Google often seems to be the last to know what’s going on in its own front room."
    - Andrew Orlowski. The Register


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