It’s about the application…not the format

I've been thinking for a few days about how to respond to Martyn Day's article on 3D web-based viewing technology. 

I'm sensitive to the probable charge that we're simply pissed off (in the US sense, not the UK meaning of pissed, which is more fun, especially if you get to drink a few with Mr. Day) that Seemage wasn't mentioned. 

While I could quibble with this or that point, after thinking about it for a couple of days, I've come to the conclusion that while the article is accurate and fair (except we aren't included!), it inadvertently perpetuates a kind of myopia that persists in the CAD world, much to its detriment inside major corporations.

The question isn't, "which file format wins?" or "can CAD vendors agree on a really interchangeable portable format?"

The real question is, "what is the best technology to transform 3D design data into the corporate-wide asset it truly should be?"

At the risk of oversimplification, let's compare 3D product information to the company employee database. Payroll uses it for compensation. Management uses it for evaluations. Auditors use it for forensics. And on and on. But nobody questions that it's a corporate asset, regardless of the fact that many of these departments may have different views and "file formats" for accessing it.

But can anyone say that the "open file format winner" will leverage 3D design data in sales? In marketing? In training? In online parts catalogs for ecommerce? All over a company in many different ways?

In other words, the debate shouldn't be about who can monetize a file format, but who can deliver the technology to truly leverage what has become a mega corporate asset: 3D design information. It's not the file format that matters, it's the ability to get people to use the data itself.

There's nothing wrong with looking at file formats. But they are essentially irrelevant to businesspeople (as opposed to CAD aficionados). It's a problem with the CAD mindset…the mindset in which the battles royale are between DWF and PDF, between this vendor and that.

As long as we are arguing among ourselves instead of putting technology on non-CAD users' desks, we are keeping the reputation of CAD intact: it's too expensive, too hard and too heavily guarded by the product people.

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