Collaboration Tools Aimed at CAD

Virtual design enhances hosted service; eRoom releases CAD data viewer.

New products from virtual Design Network Inc. and eRoom Inc. target users of CAD systems with a combination of computer-aided-design and collaboration technologies.

Virtual Design, of Portland, Ore., announced new features for its Virtual-WorkSpaces hosted collaboration service, including a three-dimensional viewer, typically used in the engineering and architecture fields. The updates include an improved user interface and synchronization with Microsoft Corp.s Outlook messaging client, including importing and exporting of contacts, e-mail and appointments.

The Web-based service provides multipoint videoconferencing, calendaring and scheduling, file sharing and markup, application sharing, and data transfer. It also provides real-time viewing of more than 260 file formats, including AutoCAD drawings, project planning documents, live and recorded training videos, and other graphic-intensive files, Virtual Design officials said.

Virtual-WorkSpaces is available now. Pricing is $250 per seat per month plus a $250 setup fee.

Separately, eRoom is also targeting CAD users with its release last week of eRoom Viewer for CAD Visualization, which is designed to help users share engineering data. eRoom, of Cambridge, Mass., is incorporating Cimmetry Systems Inc.s AutoVue technologies in the new product.

eRoom Viewer for CAD Visualization provides distributed product design teams with Web browser access to technical product data from within their eRoom digital workplaces.

Team members can view, mark up, print and share technical drawings among peers, supply chain partners and customers, helping to improve engineering design products and processes. The thin-client eRoom Viewer for CAD Visualization provides Web-based two-dimensional/3-D CAD and electronic design automation file viewing and markup of product data with support for more than 200 engineering and business file formats, eRoom officials said.

iManage Inc., of Foster City, Calif., will update its WorkSite MP collaborative content management software by years end to support CAD viewing and collaboration, officials said. WorkSite MP user Mike Altobello, technology engineer at civil engineering company Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc., is pleased to hear that.

"We have to manage a large number of [CAD] documents," said Altobello, in Watertown, Mass. "Its not so much linking them to a collaboration system that we need, but a document management system, organizing them by project numbers rather than just a folder hierarchy and being able to see them across the network."

Altobello said engineering firms like VHB rely heavily on CAD drawings and need to be able to share them not only internally but with customers.

"One of the big issues we have is handling file references," he said. "We need to be able to share documents to collaborate on them, but we also need to embed a path to other documents so that people who handle the documents can see how they relate."