Issue #1,049   |  The Business Side of CAD |  April 6, 2020
This issue online at

This issue is sponsored by Bricsys

Updates on Coronavirus Support

A number of CAD vendors added and clarified their support for customers working from home. See the Letters to the Editor section, below.


From Things to Life

3 Reasons Dassault
Is Changing Focus

by David Levin with Francis Bernard

The LEDAS team has partnered closely with Dassault Systèmes for many years in software development. From 1996 to 1999, we worked together in the area of academic research, and then from 2000 to 2011 we developed several key modules for Catia and Solidworks for Dassault.

I was fortunate during this time to maintain personal relationships with several Dassault founders and managers, including Francis Bernard, a co-founder of the company. He was the inventor of Catia, and held the position of CEO with the launch of Dassault Systèmes in 1981, until 1995. Mr Bernard retired from Dassault in 2006. Now, he is the board president at CapHorn Invest, executive adviser with Knowmore and several other companies.

I will always be a fan of Dassault Systèmes and cannot be indifferent to its impressive development history.

(The February cover of shows a centaur that combines a thing with a human as an illustration of the recent extension of the Dassault's business.)
- - -
Dassault Systèmes recently announced that its 3Dexperience platform will be applied not only to things but also to life. However, the updated version of the company's well-known roadmap shows a running man (the virtual twin experience of humans) seemingly leaving behind not just PLM [product lifecycle management] but also 3Dexperience. (See figure 1.) This seems to me to be the most significant corporate news in CAD for the first half of 2020.

Figure 1: Dassault's illustration of its history and future

I want to outline for you some of the motivations for this change in direction by Dassault Systèmes. (Mr Bernard kindly provided comments on each of my points.)

Market Demand

I feel we cannot expect to see further expansion to the classical applications of CAD and its direct neighbors (CAM, CAE, and so), and so we should instead expect new breadth to come with developments in modern, non-classical software.

One possible direction for non-classical development is its enhancement by AI [artificial intelligence] or something that behaves like AI. As yet, it is still far from being applied to real industrial use-cases, but I feel the direction towards AI is inevitable and so should be supported by businesses, beginning with experimental projects.

Another direction for the fruitful (and profitable) evolution of engineering software could be an extension to non-traditional markets, such as construction, medicine/healthcare, and more generally to things that are directly connected to us humans.

Francis Bernard: "Yes, it appears as if solutions for industry have reached a level at which it no longer needs significant improvement. Speaking frankly, however, I doubt it. It reminds me of an executive I met in 1983 to whom I gave a Catia demonstration. At the time, it had only black and white wireframe visualization, yet he told me: “This is quite impressive. Do you think that there will be future evolutions of your system?”

"We will see the implementation of AI (as you note), massive collaboration improvements with the cloud, and many other things that we cannot imagine today. In the world of technology, the future cannot be defined beyond more than ten years. For example, in 1992, the top technology specialists did not mention Internet in their analyses of the future [even though it already existed at the time]. And, as you say, there are still several domains that are not yet properly addressed, like the construction industry.

"Regarding the medical market, I believe that we cannot address it the same way as we did in industry. For me, it is a completely new domain, with a limited synergy with industry. Yes, perhaps the 3Dexperience platform can be a base, just as any IT [information technology] hardware and the cloud can be, but the applications to be developed are totally new, and they address a domain with a very specific culture, organization, and methods."

Differentiation from Competitors

When it comes to the huge potential market in construction, the MCAD billionaire-leaders are acting sluggishly. The exception is Autodesk, which would probably be not as impressive a leader without its AEC/BIM [architectural] offerings.

PTC tries to differentiate itself by promoting IoT [Internet of things] and becoming the owner of Onshape. Siemens Digital Industries Software takes its own path, because it is part of the huge Siemens corporation.

Many CAD companies, including LEDAS, today deal with the healthcare sector but in a fragmented and nonsystematic way. Dassault, by contrast, has been involved in the healthcare domain for years already, and is doing so more or less systematically. (See figure 2.) This strategic direction of Dassault was confirmed by its recent acquisition of Medidata for $5.8 billion, the biggest acquisition in the history of the company, amounting to approximately one-sixth of its capitalization. So why not combine a human-oriented sector with the company’s current 3Dexperience system to reach the next strategic step?

Figure 2: Bernard Charlès at 3DEXPERIENCE World talking about the step Dassault Systèmes is making from things to life

Francis Bernard: "I agree with your comments, except that with the medical domain, it is not a differentiation, it is a new business. Competition will come from players other than those in the PLM business."

Optimizing the Company’s History and Course

Market demand and market-driven differentiation are sufficient for Dassault to make its mark on the next stage of its growth by adding the virtual human to its roadmap. It is, nevertheless, interesting for me to add another dimension, the personal motivations of Dassault's leaders.

Everyone can agree that the role of a successful CEO in a multi-billion corporation cannot be underestimated. Bernard Charlès, who has led Dassault since 1995 and through whom the company multiplied its revenue, is definitely an outstanding manager. But Dassault is lucky to have a leader who is not satisfied at being merely outstanding.

Mr Charlès is a very ambitious person who, along with his remarkable career, would love to live in an alternative timeline in which he would also be known as the founder of Dassault, the inventor of Catia (which today brings Dassault about 25% of its revenue) and Solidworks (more than 20%), the man who made Dassault a leading provider of 3D for global automotive and aircraft industries, the leader who from scratch developed his enterprise to the level of world-famous CAD company to its first billion.

Sometimes ambition can better explain controversial actions, such as the attempted transformation of Solidworks through what some even call “the death of this CAD program.” At the same time, ambition can become a great source of personal energy and a key driver of success. 

Despite the market not being very accepting of 3Dexperience, Mr Charlès is now extending the future of Dassault with the next great leap into biology. As the legendary milestones of the founding and initial take-off of Dassault are slowly hidden in a remote fog of the past, the whole history of the company, step-by-step, begins to look like the current CEO’s biography.

Francis Bernard: "First of all, it is important to know that the history of Dassault Systèmes began in the early 1970s at Dassault Aviation, some ten years before the establishment of Dassault Systèmes. In a paper I wrote two years ago, I described the history of Dassault Aviation and Systèmes through my own eyes. (See figure 3.)

Figure 3: Francis Bernard and a member of his Catia team demonstrate CAD to Dassault Aviation founder Marcel Dassault in 1980.

"Of course, Bernard Charlès played a major role, especially after 1995, in continuing to grow the business. I agree that if Bernard Charlès succeeds in the new medical domain, then he will have written a truly significant and personal step in the company history."
- - -
I appreciate the deliberate and systematic development made by Dassault towards the humanitarian field. Such a direction could possibly become a primary focus in the future for almost all industries and so strategically become very pragmatic from the business point of view.

[Reprinted from isicad with permission by LEDAS.]

Sponsor: Okino Graphics

== Converting 3D CAD & DCC to Virtual/ Augmented Reality ==
With the explosive growth of VR/AR, the ultra-massive 3D datasets produced by CAD and DCC programs need efficient conversion to the popular Unity and Unreal development platforms. Okino of Toronto is the long-time provider of the PolyTrans|CAD translator, which easily handles the interactive datasets required by VR and AR for Microsoft HoloLens, HTC VIVE, Oculus Rift, Meta, and other VR headsets.
PolyTrans provides you with
  • Massive dataset handling
  • Node compression
  • Adaptive CAD tessellation
  • Intelligent polygon reduction 
Popular CAD data sources include SolidWorks, ProE/Creo, Inventor, AutoCAD, Revit, Navisworks, DGN, IGES, STEP, Parasolid, and JT. DCC data sources are Cinema-4D, 3ds Max, Maya, FBX/Collada, and many more.

Perfected over three decades, we know 3D data translation intimately, providing you with highly personalized solutions, education, and communication. Contact CTO Robert Lansdale at

Letters to the Editor

Updates from CAD Vendors

Bricsys published their response to coronavirus here: As well, they offer free, renewable, one-year licenses to students.
- - -
Ansys creates "relaxed licenses" so customers can temporarily access Ansys software form home, as well as test their product designs remotely on the cloud.
- - -
PROSTEP offers their data exchange software "for free, forever with no strings attached." Register first to find out more at
- - -
Here's a link to Link to 3D Systems' download for 3D printing face shields: The files are in STL, DXF, and .3dprint formats.
- - -

Re: Work From Home

All Tekla licenses can already be accessed remotely. For information and to read our articles that support accessing licenses from home click here: General information on support from Trimble during coronavirus:

For example, we have widened our Tekla Model Sharing free trial to be available globally and amount of trial licenses from 5 to10 so that our Tekla users can use it for free 90 days for their business (the earlier trial was available only for selected countries and normally trial license can't be used for business purposes)

We didn't send out a press release about this topic but we communicated this directly with our Tekla users and customers through our customer channels. 
    - Anne Niemeijer, manager global pr
- - -
One note of clarification. One should never borrow a Solidworks license using VPN. This can cause problems later trying to return it. As quoted from the blog post, “Borrowing should be performed in the office connected to your network and NEVER over a VPN connection.”

Thank you as always for your timely reporting.
    Mike DeKoning

The editor replies: Thank you for the clarification. Mr DeKonig has more tips at his blog
- - -
For a complete view of all Siemens Digital Industries areas of support and action for our customers and partners - feel free to reference this dedicated blog site:
    - Jeff Zobrist, vp of global solution partner sales
- - -
It is probably because Siemens has so many “home pages” that our software-specific response to the pandemic might have been missed in your web searching, but this page went up last week, and is posted to the front page of, which is our new homepage. This outlines some of the steps we’re taking to make our products available for those at home, as well as other steps we’re taking to try and help respond to COVID-19.
    - Noah Cole, director of global communications
    Siemens Digital Industries Software

The editor replies: Thank you for providing the updated link.
- - -
Just went through today's upFront, and what a pile of information for times like theses for your readers. You really saddled at the right time at the right job, how did you foresee it?
    - Herb Grabowski

The editor replies: A reader had asked if I was going to write about it: "Can we look forward to an issue about CAD remote access from home?" I in turn asked him if he had any examples, which he provided, and so that became the start of the article in last week's upFront.eZine.
- - -
Things that will become clearer with time:
  • Will new strains of Covid-19 develop?
  • Will an infection with Covid-19 provide temporary or permanent protection against a re-infection?
  • Are there any long-term side effects of Covid-19 among infected people?
  • Will the pandemic explode in third-world countries?
  • Will constant close contact with Covid-19 patients decimate the medical profession?
  • Will politicians heed the advice of epidemiologists, or will they make impulsive decisions based of what their gut tells them?
  • Will politicians prepare for the next epidemic?
After this will come Covid-20, Covid-21, Covid-22, and so on -- or else select one or more from the list of uncurable diseases:

If you really want to dig deeper into data analysis, then take a series of statistics and GIS courses at your local college. After you've mastered the basics, you can take advanced GIS courses on data modeling and hypothesis testing, as described by and
    - Don Beaton

The editor replies: GIS is a crucial tool in tracking virus outbursts that I am not hearing being spoken of. 

Re: Running Generic CADD in 2013

Another GCADD disciple here. I've been successfully in using it under DOSBOX in 64-bit Linux for years (Fedora and Debian). Nothing in the icon-clicking world comes close to being able to do everything with two- or three-character commands that can be scripted! 

I grew up in a drafting family with my dad playing with going from a T-square to Generic CADD on his original IBM XT but he never quite got the knack for it. I did though. Unfortunately, I don't use it frequently enough to immediately remember how to regain my host mouse. D'oh!
    - Rob P (via WorldCAD Access)

The editor replies: For those interested in what CAD under DOS was like, I still have available my 1992 book "Learn Generic CADD 6 in a Day" as an ebook at ($14.60).

Re: When the cursor gets erratic

Thanks for this solution, which worked for me. For over two years now I had my Logitech M510 mouse parked after it start suddenly drifting to the corner and could only move up and down on two different laptops and a desktop. I could not figure out what the problem was, spent a few hours cleaning it, removing parts, changing drivers without any improvement, I was on the verge of scraping it. 
    -  Mead (via WorldCAD Access)

The editor replies: As my tip on the blog explains, Logitech's nano-size receiver is so close to the computer's body that it picks up interfering radio signals. Moving it away from the computer with a USB extender fixes the problem in most cases.

Thank You, Readers

Thank you to readers who donate towards the operation of upFront.eZine. To support upFront.eZine through PayPal, then the suggested amounts are these: Should not operate in your country, then please use and the account of

Or mail a cheque (US$ or CDN$ only, please) to upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd., 34486 Donlyn Avenue, Abbotsford BC, V2S 4W7, Canada.


upFront.eZine is published most Mondays. This newsletter is read by 5,000 subscribers in 70 countries. Your comments are welcome at; deadline for submissions is every Saturday morning. Letters sent to the editor are subject to publication. Read our back issues at

Editor: Ralph Grabowski 
Copy editor: Heather MacKenzie

Advertising starts at US$680 per two weeks. Wanted ads by the unemployed are free. Other rates available. To request a copy of our media kit, download your copy of the PDF from upFront-Media-Kit.pdf. Article reprint fee: $420. Contact for advertising.
  • To subscribe, send the message 'subscribe upfront' to
  • To change your address, send both your old and new email addresses to 
  • To unsubscribe, see instructions below.
Copyright © 2020 upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd., All rights reserved. 

Legal. All trademarks belong to their respective holders. "upFront.eZine," "The Business of CAD," and "WorldCAD Access" are trademarks of upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. Letters to the editor may be edited for clarity and brevity. Translations and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd.

By accessing this newsletter in any manner, you agree to settle disputes by arbitration within the city limits of Abbortsford, British Columbia, Canada with an arbitrator selected by upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd.