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Alternative to Innovative—Notes From 2017 Annual Graebert Meeting

Graebert continues to expand and capitalize on the legacy of DWG CAD, advancing its positions—especially with respect to its Trinity of CAD strategy while introducing new focused ARES-branded products and services.

The annual Graebert meeting in Berlin is an important update for the Apple CAD community. Graebert originally began their CAD (DWG) tools in the late twentieth century and released ARES in 2010 supporting Windows, Mac, and Linux to over 14 countries. ARES is the OEM framework for multiple CAD programs that are available to the Apple community including CorelCAD, DraftSight, and Onshape. ARES Commander was originally created (and the internally branded Graebert CAD solution) as an alternative to Autodesk’s AutoCAD and an original Open Design Alliance (ODA) community member continuing to support the Teigha platform.

01 – The 2017 Graebert Annual Meeting was held in the DZ Bank building by Frank Gehry.

This October’s meeting was held in the AXICA Conference Center designed by Frank Gehry and completed in 2001. This context was intentional as part of the story of a small upstart company with new ideas and one that is now reflecting and ready for the next steps forward. The dynamic vision which Graebert sees its place as an innovative leader in the CAD industry today was evident in this choice of venue.

02 – Inside the Frank Gehry designed conference facilities in Berlin, Germany.

03 – Another view of from within the atrium looking at classic Gehry-esque form-making.

Grabert organized this year’s conference to show its new, refreshed, and upcoming products. Graebert also invited its partners and customers to show their work and tell their stories using Graebert CAD products in various ways. Two of the principle announcements were about the new versions of ARES Commander (2018), its flagship desktop application and ARES Kudo, the cloud-based CAD solution from Graebert, both of which were reported on at the time of the conference.

MORE: ARES Kudo Cloud-Based CAD—Now Released and Growing

Wilfried Graebert started off the conference with a recap of the company’s year that included growth across the organization. It was noted that the market doubled in Japan for Graebert and that 3 of the top 5 contractors were using Graebert products. India was also a rapidly growing market segment with Graebert responding with road shows happening still this year across India in New Dehli, Bangalore, and Mumbai. Wilfried noted internal staffing growth in India to support this work as well as a new floor for the home office in Berlin to support more Graebert growth.

Besides the announcements of ARES Commander and Kudo, other Graebert announcements included updates on ARES Touch, the company’s mobile solution. Rather than an annual release, the mobile ecosystem has a different pace for updates around 6-8 weeks which Graebert is evolving ARES Touch around. These coordinated yet different platforms also provide Graebert with another way to work with customers. The “Trinity of CAD” platform approach allows a flexible platform that is less dependent on controlled simultaneous releases; it is partial to a company’s internal software strategies such as MDM (mobile device management), where the company may choose to stay with a version until a point at which the company needs to migrate to a new version.

ARES Map and Mechanical were also presented and shown as custom variations of ARES—vertically extending Graebert as a tool builder in the mechanical field and areas utilizing GIS. In both applications, specific industry tools and workflows are tailored on top of core ARES CAD tools to provide user-centric assets such as mechanical resources, engineering standards, mechanical block libraries, GIS data management and GIS feature highlighting.

04 – ARES Sketch is an all-new tool as part of the Trinity of CAD system by Graebert.

Graebert Sitemaster was presented by Felix Graebert similarly as a continuation of ARES and CAD into a specific domain with a customized industry workflow benefiting the user. One of the most important announcements with Sitemaster was the expansion to iOS and Android in the first quarter of 2018. This expands from the original Windows mobile platform where Sitemaster started. This adds to the “Trinity of CAD” offering in a couple of ways: (1) the advances in Sitemaster with distance laser input and touch drawing conventions add to ARES Touch and (2) ARES Kudo provides cloud support and file exchange to Sitemaster. Graebert’s “Trinity of CAD” gets stronger from this product and the product becomes another industry solution for the “Trinity of CAD” strategy.

05 – Another view of ARES Sketch which will run on Windows.

While 3D has not been a central focus for Graebert, this year, it was also apparent that it is not ignoring this part of its capabilities either. Graebert announced it is supporting a rendering plugin from Unicorn Render ($149EU/YR). This physics-based rendering engine links to the CAD file and can update the rendering in both a quick and full rendering mode. This plugin supports HDRI lighting with CPU/GPU rendering and can output photorealistic renderings, animations, and 360º virtual reality panoramas. This plugin offered a lightweight user interface for ease-of-use for ARES Commander users and was announced as available for OEM versions of ARES in both the quick and full versions.

As a final announcement with many details yet to be finalized, Robert Graebert demonstrated a new tool called ARES Sketch. (images 04 – 05) ARES SKetch can simply be described as a lightweight CAD solution with ARES MAP (GIS) features. This new tool looks to be solving a property assessment opportunity in the United States. The streamlined user interface aims to solve a mobile CAD authoring problem for non-CAD users where the metadata assessors need are easily present as CAD object properties preset into assessment industry formats.

While ARES Sketch seemed unassuming and a quick announcement, it spoke volumes to the strategy Graebert is carrying forward as a company: “We are confident we have a competitive, high-performing CAD solution – one that is stable and easy to deploy (and be repackaged) across platforms (and industries),” said Cedric Desbordes, of Graebert.

06 – Toolmaker Vectoflow utilizes Graebert’s ARES technology as part of an impressive automated workflow.

Graebert partners and customers contributed to this theme presenting their work with unique requirements that Graebert was able to provide. There was a presentation from toolmaker Vectoflow where Graebert drawing was part of an impressive automated workflow for additive SLS metal tool products that gave Vectoflow 10 minute design changes to a product across 5 concurrent models (!) and 4 integral drawing views in Onshape. This triangulation for Graebert providing Onshape with the drawing engine that Vectoflow can leverage to automate its business processes is a win for all included and especially Vectoflow who created a new business based on knowledge and technologies providing powerful customized workflows.

Pentair (further described in my next article coming up), CAFM provider Kessler Solutions (Facilities Management OEM), and Auxitec (3D Piping OEM) also shared their Graebert solutions and successes. This format where Graebert was not center stage again spoke to a partnering conference theme that came across strongly. Importantly, it is not just a theme for a conference but the very real reflection of the German CAD software company’s expanding OEM ecosystem and partnering network.

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