And we always thought computer-aided-design software was supposed to make life easier to create new products.
Separately, of course, each package does that. But go ahead and try exchanging files between CAD solid-modeling packages offered by different companies. We dare you.
As noted in our Sept. 21 front-page story, what you'll probably open up is a Pandora's box of messy problems — from lines that leave gaps where they're supposed to intersect, to others that cross in the oddest of places. If you're unluckier, the whole file may be frozen in space like a still frame on your VCR.
What we have here is a failure to communicate among the polyglot of sophisticated CAD languages.
CAD vendors say they are working on the problem, that a common-language solution is imminent. That would be a breath of fresh air for the industry.
But what's troubling is those companies' unwillingness to share their latest software protocols with each other. Obviously, competitive issues prevent disclosure in some cases, and that's to be respected.
Yet, that approach keeps setting back the already-slow drive to find a universal CAD language. The Tower of Babel language barriers remain, even though the industry has discussed the problem for close to a decade.
Vendors need to cast aside bruised egos and find ways to work in harmony — or else, the CAD industry could watch its booming growth turn to bust. Designers already have become wary of CAD vendors' talk of change and weary of the time-consuming task of repairing file data.
The price of stubbornness could be high for the CAD industry. The toll exacted on those struggling to transfer files cleanly is becoming too onerous to ignore.