Cook-Hauptman Associates, Inc.
CAD PRODUCT DIRECTIONS FOR USER PLANNING
This paper discusses the direction Computer
Aided Design (CAD) products are expected to take toward the end of this decade,
(1988-1990), with a view towards helping users plan. The discussion covers the
strategic implications of the direction of data communication, management and
structure standards. It also covers the tactical effects of emerging technologies
on CAD products' accessibility, responsiveness, flexibility, friendliness, and
The major shift in CAD is that its usage is
becoming strategic. CAD, accompanied by its computer aided cousins (CAE, CAPP, CAM,
CAQ, etc.), is leading the information revolution in engineering and manufacturing
organizations. Already it is evident that this revolution will greatly improve the
responsiveness, flexibility, precision, and control of these organizations'
operations and products. Consequently, how well this information revolution is
planned and executed will have a major effect on the competitiveness and even
the survival of users' organizations.
In the late eighties, progressive CAD engineering
and manufacturing organizations will be marked by:
At the same time, these organizations
will be strongly motivated to:
Consequently, the direction of CAD usage
will be governed by two distinct goals, the first being strategic, the
second being tactical. These goals are to:
The remainder of this paper deals with the
way in which product directions will help and hinder users' efforts to achieve
these goals. The next section, Strategic Directions, discusses the effects of
data communication, management, and structure on CAD integration. The following
section, Tactical Directions, discusses the requirements for widespread data
access, fast response times, powerful customizing, easy usage, and productive
applications necessary for full and widespread utilization of CAD technology
The key to full integration is data: data
communication protocols, data management techniques, and data structure
To meet these diverse informational
needs in the context of large user populations across a network of heterogeneous
computer systems means that there must be good protocols, techniques, and
standards for data communication, management and structure. To date, progress
is good, but even a minimal set of protocols, techniques and standards is not
widely used (perhaps because CAD technology is developing so rapidly).
The projected status of data
communication standards is very promising. The ISO-OSI (International Standards
Organization - Open Systems Interconnection) model provides a framework for the
communication of information and is specifically structured for "mixing
and matching" different protocols at different levels of functionality.
However, be forewarned that the computational cost of ISO-OSI
layering materially contributes to the reduction of (process to process) network
communications to under 10%" of network transmission capacity (e.g., 10 Megabit/second
Ethernet might only effectively transport 100-250 KiloBytes/second). As accommodations
to this computational burden, we expect the short circuiting of rigorous compliance
between successive layers within a single process to become widespread (but with
little negative consequences on users).
The prospects for data management are
very exciting as the significant advances of the past decade (relational files,
object oriented programming, and relationship specifying) are exploited to serve
the users' interface and information requirements. Relational files support freely
formed queries and provide extensibility. Object oriented programming greatly
amplifies user intent by endowing language (e.g., "insert wall") with
rich context and usage considerations with automatic reconciliation (e.g., walls
are inserted orthogonally, have standard thickness, do not encapsulate a room,
usually need power,
) thereby eliminating much "obvious"
tedium. Relationship specification (either as an entity model or in the form of Lisp or
Prolog statements) can automatically flag and/or resolve data procedures, such as
revision control or configuration management. Finally, usage of natural language as
data query language promises a de facto standard of the most universal and
acceptable kind (to casual users).
The likely prospect for a neutral CAD data file
standard in the next five years is IGES (Initial Graphics Exchange Specification).
Computer Graphics Metafile (GCM) is a promising standard primarily for the storing and
reproduction of pictures (especially for output spooling), but is not intended to act as
a neutral CAD data file (which is why it is called a metafile). This metafile and its
companion Computer Graphics Interface (CGI) facilitate the mixing and matching of output
(and input) devices attached to networks. GKS is an expensive graphics interface
standard in that it slows the most critical portion of graphic terminal processing, but
will become increasingly important in the development of applications software.
The keys to full utilization are: ready access,
responsiveness, flexibility, ease of use, and productive applications. To achieve full
utilization of CAD technology products requires that:
Evolving computer technology is accelerating products
in precisely these directions.
Widespread access is assured by the trend in
personal computer products towards high performance, high resolution, bit mapped
displays coupled by the extraordinary communications capacity growth made possible by
fiber optics communications technology. By the end of the decade, personal computers
will have tables with 8 bit planes (permitting 256 colors in any single frame), 1-10
million bytes of resident memory, and optionally, some local, removable disk storage.
Fiber optic network broadband backbones will have at least 100-1000 million bits per
second capacity, at affordable prices. Coaxial cable cluster (token ring) networks will
have a tenth or less of the fiber optic capacity; however, these coaxial cables will
not be the communications' bottleneck.
General purpose computation will be an order
of magnitude faster than today and algorithmic progress will also be notable (e.g.,
the use of adaptive step size with successive refinement and the organization of
solutions to take advantage of parallelism). Since most CAD computations are of higher
order than 1 (e.g., orders 2 to 6 might be: 2D, 3D, kinematics, holography, ray
tracing), a 10-20 fold computational speed increase might translate into only a factor
of 2 reduction in interpolation step size for the same responsiveness as today.
Customizing the processing of CAD data is the
major task facing users. Each organization has a unique set of evolving requirements
which are a result of historical accident, personal preference, and competitive c
onsiderations. Vendors are slowly coming up with the powerful data management
languages necessary to accommodate customizing by users. The product direction is
widespread and progressing steadily. The integration of dependency relationships and
the administrative process for their management and control is barely even recognized as
the major utilization requirement that it is. It is likely that, until users call for
this capability, vendors won't offer it. As mentioned earlier, the implications go to
the heart of the data structure and so CAD users should insulate themselves from the
upheaval this will cause when vendors finally address it. One tactic for users to use
is to resist the temptation of imbedding administrative requirements in applications,
but rather employ data validation applications which can be discarded when vendors
finally offer this capability.
CAD products' user interfaces are employing many
of the innovations which originated at Xerox PARC during the late seventies and which
now can be seen in Apple Computer's MacIntosh and Lisa product lines. This is in
response to the recognition that intelligent, object oriented, non-stop operation
(disallowing the use of off-line references or learning) is a vital requirement of
widespread CAD data usage by casual users (i.e., all of the business users and the
bulk of the operations users). The development of these intelligent user interfaces
is one of the few immediate applications of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in CAD that
will meet with widespread success. There is no doubt that this is the prevailing
direction, that it facilitates widespread usage, and it will be done successfully
by most vendors.
No matter how suitable the systems environment,
the users' CAD data usage and applications must yield direct benefits for CAD products
to become popular because it is human nature to use products which directly benefit
the user. Intelligent data access methods for the casual user and powerful engineering
workstations with local disk storage for the intensive user will excite these two
constituencies about CAD product usage. The four direct areas of CAD usage
will experience the following gains:
During the next five years, CAD
applications will make significant progress in the simulation and analysis
of "downstream" product activities such as product activities
such as product fabrication, assembly, testing, and, especially, kinematics.
However, since full integration is going to take users many years,
some of the synergistic "downstream" productivity enhancements will not be
dramatic and may not result in immediate gratification and increased usage.
We believe that AI will, sometime in the next
two years, experience a reduction in investment growth. However, we also believe that
AI will alter the industrialized world over the next half century.
The viewpoints expressed here are borrowed
liberally from our colleagues at Computervision and contributors to the literature
to whom we owe great thanks. A few (of the more controversial) views are our own,
and we take personal responsibility for them. These views are not necessarily the
views of Computervision.
PRESENTED AT: The 4th Int'l MICAD Conference on March 1, 1985
in Paris, France
PRESENTED AT: The 4th Int'l MICAD Conference on March 1, 1985
in Paris, France
as of November 23, 1997
Copyright © 1993 by Cook-Hauptman Associates, Inc.