More tiresome news for file-format fans

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Sounding triumphant last week UGS announced that it has “published a reference” for the JT file format.

I don’t mean to sound too underwhelmed, since I do think on-disk storage formats have some appeal to mega-geeks who like to manually inspect disk-sector contents. (-: But this is hardly the major event UGS would like it to be for two reasons.

First, what users care about is information. And they care about their design. That is, users want to share the results of their efforts and they want to make sure they aren’t adopting an orphan file format.

In other words, the format the bits are in doesn’t matter as long as the information is accessible and the IP that went into the design is available for the long-term. We often say on this blog that the CAD industry has been way too involved in file format wars and that with today’s translation and import capabilities, it’s time to stop caring so much about file formats. Today, those file formats — and the nuclear battles they’ve spawned — are becoming increasingly irrelevant and distracting from the real issues of productivity and reuse.

Second, UGS didn’t open source the JT file format. Whether or not you agree with my first assertion (that file formats really don’t matter any more), you surely cannot believe that UGS is “…paving the way for a common 3D language for the global manufacturing industry…” with a proprietary file format.

If a technology either wants to be or has already become de facto today, it must be open-source. Look at what Sun did with Java. After years of prodding, it finally put the language into the open-source community.

Unless and until 3D file formats are open-source and royalty free, we’ll continue to need importers and translators.

One comment to More tiresome news for file-format fans

  • […] Now, Alex over at 3DMojo thinks this is much ado about nothing. He raises two issues: …users want the share the results of their efforts and they want to make sure they aren’t adopting an orphan file format. In other words, the format the bits are in doesn’t matter as long as the information is accessible and the IP that went into the design is available for the long-term. […]

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