Out on the internets, in the fertile lands of the engineering blogosphere, a really fascinating debate has emerged about application granularity versus integration, specifically related to the Computer Aided Design (CAD) and Product Lifecycle Management (PLM). Are they diametrically opposed or are they complimentary? Initially sparked by Chad Jackson’s intriguing concept for a truly integrated MCAD/ECAD application which was then subsequently subjected to Oleg Shilovitsky’s unfailing eidetic memory, igniting debate over prior videos on integration and granularity. Chad’s thoughtful response explored the concept that integration can coexist simultaneously with granularity, and Oleg followed up with a second article, PLM Tools, Bundles, and Platforms. It’s all good stuff; having just caught up on this myself you’re now reading this as a consequence. Or maybe you’re doing it all backwards and started here. Either way, let’s talk granularity in the year 10,191.
Last time we basked in the hypothetical bliss of CADtopia, imagining a Computer Aided Design (CAD) landscape devoid of today’s interoperability nightmare (and conveniently supervised by Jodie Foster). In that mental exercise, we were reminded that these bitter and largely inconvenient CAD realities persist due to seemingly insurmountable market forces. Whether it’s standardization efforts that can’t possibly keep pace with the explosion of modeling technologies and platforms, or vendors naturally resisting truly transparent interoperability on account of their own survival, we remain entrenched in old problems. It’s enough to make you seriously consider bolting some crudely designed exo-suit in to the back of your skull and going all Jason Bourne over everything in protest of interoperability injustice. Why can’t we all be citizens of CADtopia? So the question still remains, if the market cannot decide to change for reasons of self-preservation, can it possibly be coerced?
CADtopia must be a really nice place. All that endless storage, all those panoramic holographic displays, and not even a passing thought about CAD interoperability. Jodie Foster is probably on staff to ensure that all geometry and product structure information is passed along via a ubiquitous standard format. She remains ever watchful of unauthorized IGES use, or perhaps illegals translating data from one proprietary format to another. Violations result in revocation of citizenship, or in the case of illegals, the issue is efficiently resolved with armed robots, irritable mercenaries, or space missiles. Everything runs smoothly in CADtopia, and no one wastes any time re-examining translation chains or healing geometry. Then suddenly we wake up… Only to face the bitter reality: the persistent ridiculousness that is CAD interoperability today. CADtopia is but a dream.