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December 20, 2006

CAD vendors Autodesk and PTC bury the hatchet

In a rare example of cooperation between two fierce rivals, Autodesk Inc and Parametric Technology Corp have announced a technology exchange agreement they said will enhance interoperability between their rival computer-aided design tools.

By CBR Staff Writer

In a move that could teach vendors in different sectors a thing or two about the benefits of so-called co-opetition, the companies said they plan to provide customers with out-of-the-box integration between their tools that, brings together two software leaders with the common goal of facilitating software interoperability for organizations with multi-CAD environments.

The firms noted that lots of companies in the manufacturing space source products from more than one vendor. Today’s manufacturers are under increased pressure to get high quality products to market faster, with increased efficiencies and lower costs to the consumer, they said. As part of this effort, many have adopted a multi-CAD strategy, either internally between departments or externally with partners and supply chains.

The interoperability agreement is aimed at making it simpler for those organizations. Specifically, PTC will be able to use Autodesk’s RealDWG software development toolkit, while PTC’s products will be interoperable with Autodesk Inventor 3D software for the manufacturing industry.

Similarly, Autodesk can use PTC’s Granite 3D modeling and interoperability kernel to provide enhanced integration with Pro/Engineer, PTC’s integrated 3D CAD/CAM/CAE software.

We understand that our customers use a mix of products in their workflow and providing them with the flexibility they need to get their jobs done is our priority, said Robert Kross, VP of manufacturing solutions at Autodesk in a statement.

PTC recognizes that manufacturers manage complex business processes which often include heterogeneous design environments, said Brian Shepherd, divisional vice president, product management at PTC.

Autodesk and PTC are among the leaders in their field, though Autodesk currently has the upper hand. Autodesk’s market cap on Nasdaq stands at close to $9.5bn while PTC is at around $2bn. Autodesk’s latest results saw sales of $457m, up 21% year on year, while PTC booked sales of $245.5m, up 26%.

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Competitors include Dassault Systemes (revenue in its latest quarter rose 29% to 276.3m euros), UGS (bought from EDS by a private equity group made up of Bain Capital, Silver Lake Partners, and Warburg Pincus in March 2004), Agile Software, SofTech, and many more, while there are also a number of open source CAD/CAM offerings emerging.

There’s also a body called the Open Design Alliance, said to be, an association of software developers and users committed to promoting open, industry-standard formats for the exchange of CAD data. It works on component software libraries that are said to enable its members to develop applications capable of reading and writing popular CAD file formats.

Those formats include DWGdirect, based on OpenDWG – an industry standard format that is itself based on the DWG format used in Autodesk’s AutoCAD – and DGNdirect, based on the OpenDGN specification published by Bentley Systems, and compatible with MicroStation.

In related news Autodesk recently won a temporary restraining order against the Open Design Alliance as it alleged that its DWGdirect libraries infringed Autodesk’s trademark for the word Autodesk itself. The Open Design Alliance discontinued its 2.1.0 libraries in favor of 2.1.1 libraries that do not include the code affected by the order.

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