Egyptian Pyramid Scheme

Deelip Menezes asks what got me started on lamenting the sad state of the CAD industry in my previous post. Good question.

It all started with a Fox News story about a French architect’s claim to have solved the “Pyramid Secret”:,2933,262981,00.html. The article links to Dassault Systemes’ web site: My snake oil alarm went off when I saw the site. I’ll admit I didn’t read it, but it looks like a slick marketing ploy. I was irritated that I fell for it. It reminded me of how insideous and incestuous this industry has become, now reaching out to mainstream media in search of new victims.


In some ways the CAD software industry is a lot like the fashion industry. The movers and shakers are trying to establish new fads that are just recycled from older fads, while guiding the unwashed masses into adopting new trends that have been carefully molded to ensure perpetuation of the system. Meanwhile the up and comers try desperately to get a share of the action, while an entire industry of hangers-on tries to eke out a living from the scraps left behind by the big players.

It’s a tired old symphony played on the world stage, with pretty much the same players today as twenty years ago. The same seamstresses making the same old faux fluff, dressing it up a bit, draping it over a new model, and parading it down the same old runways.

Bah! I’m going outside, maybe that’ll cheer me up.

This Just In: Microsoft Patents Photons

No, Microsoft didn’t really try to patent photons, but check out the the ironic twists described in this account of a recent US Supreme Court hearing. Here’s a summary (exaggerated a bit for effect):
1. Microsoft argues that software is not patentable, therefore it is not guilty of patent infringement.
2. The US Government argues on Microsoft’s behalf that software is patentable, but photons are not.

DWFx: The Emperor’s New Clothes?

I pointed out in a previous post that while the press release headlines pronounced that Vista will support DWF natively, the fine print says otherwise. What Vista does support natively is Microsoft’s new XPS (XML Paper Specification) format. Autodesk has since clarified that they are working on a new DWF format called DWFx that is, essentially, a DWF in XPS format.

A quick test verified my suspicions that XPS files produced by the Microsoft XPS Document Writer are much larger than comparable DWF files. The jury is still out on DWFx file sizes, but a recent post on Scott Sheppard’s blog ( has buried within it a telling comparison point between DWF and DWFx.

The chart uses a neat gambit by comparing both DWF and DWFx file sizes to the completely different DWG format, but the math cognoscenti among you will notice that “typically 1/20 the size of the DWG” for DWF and “typically 1/10 the size of the DWG” for DWFx translates into “DWFx files are twice as large as DWF”. There is no information on file generation times, another metric worth monitoring.

Autodesk has been pretty generous lately, first giving away Design Review, now perhaps gearing up for an exclusive two-for-the-price-of-one deal on DWFx. I haven’t heard too many customers requesting larger file sizes, though.