On November 22nd, Dassault Systèmes announced the 2017x release of the 3DEXPERIENCE platform. What are the main improvements and how will it impact your business? I have had a first look, and am happy to share some of the main highlights from my point of view.
The new 3DPlay viewer is now made available inside 3DSpace, which means that it is time to say goodbye to the plugin-based viewer 3DLive Examine. This is an important move, as the support for browser plugins is about to be dropped from most of the major web browsers on the market.
3DPlay provide a consistent look and feel across all apps, and allow any user of the platform to view high-quality 3D models in the web browser, and to perform basic markup and redlining, sectioning and measurements. When used inside classical ENOVIA apps, like Engineering BOM, 3DPlay now supports “cross highlighting”, to allow easy navigation from a line in the tabular BOM to the 3D-representation in the viewer (and vice-versa). 3DPlay runs entirely in the web browser, and has no dependencies to browser plugins or client-side Java.
Virtual Reality is a technology which has been hyped for more than two decades, yet the practical applications have been quite limited due to the massive hardware investments that have been necessary. Until now: During the last couple of years, a range of affordable VR-devices have been introduced in the consumer market.
To allow engineers and designers to benefit from this development, Dassault Systèmes has teamed up with HTC to support the latest generation of VR-goggles. The HTC Vive is probably the consumer VR device that provides the most lifelike experience today, offering a full HD head mounted display and precise motion tracking. As of 2017x, HTC Vive is now natively supported in CATIA 3DEXPERIENCE, allowing designers to instantly view their design in immersive VR, eliminating the need for exporting the model to specialized VR-tools or -formats.
A new rendering engine, borrowed from the high-end visualization solution 3DEXCITE, brings desktop visualization for designers to a whole new level, allowing designers to view their design in real-time with a photo realistic rendering quality which would previously only be possible through time-consuming batch rendering.
Combined with the VR capabilities mentioned above, the virtual product comes to life right on your desktop.
Behind the slightly cryptical name “Function-Driven Generative Designer”, a set of very powerful modelling, simulation and optimization capabilities are brought together to bring the automation of the design process to a new level: Starting from a functional definition (loads, movements etc.), an optimal geometrical shape is calculated, saving weight and cost while dramatically reducing the engineering time. It doesn’t feel right to call this “Computer Aided Design”,
I think it is fairer to call it “Computer-Driven Design”. In particular, when combined with the flexibility of additive manufacturing, the optimization algorithms can come up with shapes that are significantly lighter than a traditional design.
The 3DDashboard has been around for a couple of releases, allowing users to define their personalized working environment, where relevant content from across all 3DEXPERIENCE applications can be made easily accessible. Up until 2016x, the 3DDashboard was mainly targeted at presenting and visualizing information in a convenient way.
Now, with 2017x, the first real authoring apps start to appear on the 3DDashboard, allowing for a more interactive and “application like” user experience, as compared to the classic 3DSpace applications we are used to from ENOVIA.
One of the first apps to benefit from these new capabilities, is the Requirements Management Editor, where a requirements specification can be created and edited in a very efficient manner, providing a side-by-side view of the requirements structure and the document view where the requirements can be described in the rich text.
Another example is the new administration widget, which moves basic system administration and business logic definition from the Business Modeler to the 3DDashboard. This includes the definition revision schemes, number sequences and basic schema extensions (currently limited to adding new attributes).
With 2017x, it is more evident than ever that Dassault Systèmes is targeting a much broader audience for the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, far outside the traditional product development and engineering functions.
We have already witnessed the introduction of social tools like 3DSwYm and Netvibes. New in this release is the 3DDrive. A service for quick and easy sharing of files in a similar fashion to Dropbox, which is also available as a desktop app integrated to Windows Explorer (This feature is currently only available on the Cloud).
Furthermore, to facilitate the communication between all categories of users on the platform, a new feature called 3DComments, allow anyone to share their thoughts and perspectives, and to initiate discussions in the context of a product, document or 3D-model.
To complete the picture, the 3DNotifications panel keeps you informed about all notifications sent to you from any of the 3DEXPERIENCE applications, being a task assignment, a new discussion or a comment to any of your posts on 3DSwYm.
The 2017x release brings several exciting new possibilities and game-changing technologies that bring us a lot closer to the vision of actually experiencing the virtual product.
Also, 3DEXPERIENCE is now clearly positioned as a collaboration platform for the entire enterprise, available on every desktop and every device. The effort to harmonize and simplify the user experience continues at a rapid pace, and it has never been easier to get started creating, sharing and collaborating. We have an exciting journey ahead of us in 2017!