View Full Version : ViaCad history ?

01-03-2014, 02:42 PM
The history of ViaCad from what I can tell. (long)

I thought with the advent of this new forum for Viacad, I would put together what I know about the background of it with hopes of hearing more from others who may have information. While some tend to require the "Brand Name" products in order to survive, I've found that quite often, the lesser known, and more often than not, less expensive programs actually have MORE technology in them than those rigid old, slow to change brand names. Viacad is one of those less expensive programs that carries quite a big bang.

Back somewhere around the mid '90's, I worked for a company where we would use Autocad LT. Having the need for another program and comparing functionality available at that time, we gave Ashlar a shot and were pleasantly surprised. In fact so surprised, that it became our go to program because frankly, they had function that was far and beyond anyone else. If you wanted to take twice as long to draw something, we would use Autocad,,,,

Being the poor shlub I was at the time (well, still am actually), I could not afford Ashlar programs for myself as I became interested in building CNC machines. So, I had toyed with as many freebie programs (very few existed), and low budget programs with utter frustration, especially after using Ashlar. I found an advertisement in a magazine for a new product called Ashlar Drawing Board. Ashlar decided to release a 2d version that supposedly had a few things cut back in it, but still with all of the fantastic drawing tools I was familiar with for $150. I was in heaven (while at home)! It was lite, quick, comfortable to use and had great DXF translating capability to get it in and out of Cam programs.

Drawing board was an old 16 bit program as they all were back then, limited to 9 digit file names also as they all were then. But they had drawing technologies that were light years ahead of the competition. Its really only the last 5 years that we have seen companies begin to apply "smart guidelines", something Ashlar had 20 years ago. How you draw without them is any ones guess if you ask me, and even now, so many companies do not employ such great tools. And I also remember how they had a very minimal tool bar.... only a few buttons were necessary because most of the tools were completely multifunctional tools when used with defined keys. One trim tool could extend, trim corner or trim to a line rather than have 3 buttons with 3 tools. This way, you could perform all sorts of trim operations without ever having to grab a different tool.

Well, obviously, Drawing board was just a "leader"... attempting to lead people to Ashlars more expensive and relatively new 3d offerings. Interestingly, Drawing Board ran on windows OS all the way from Win 3.1 thru to Win7 as I have had it installed on all of them over the years. I should see what Win 8 does with it... I just didn't bother because NOTHING else older I have tried does......

So, time when on, the 32 bit world opened many doors and I had to hunt for something new again, to which I got hooked on another cheap program, Autosketch. Truth be told for what I had to draw, Autosketch was TONS better and faster to use than Autocad LT, and also had things in it that LT did not. WHY, I never understood, but it did allow me to realize that you can spend lots and lots of money and not get more than the less expensive offerings. So, Sketch became my new friend.

Time came again when I wanted to have a look around and see what real value was out there. By now, I have bought into Bobcad a few times, VectorCad/Cam, Casmate, Signlab, Rhino, Moi, Alibre, VCarve, Aspire..... sheez, theres more....

But I found another little article somewhere about Viacad's underlying development had been LEASED BY ASHLAR all these years.... Well, there was no waiting time before I bought Viacad to have a look and I was happy to find that much of what I had become familiar with so many years ago was indeed inside this program. And all for a budget price !

So, now we have this fellow named Tim Olson as the man behind this development. I'm not sure if he was behind it all along, or how "punch" came along or how and or why Borderbund is connected. I do know that I sent an email to him directly once and got a reply from him. I have my share of questions and observations...

Is this a one man show ?
Who is the development team ?
Why is the OE forum locked down from public browsing ? More would perhaps be interested if they could SEE the discussions.
Why have so many variables to tend to which makes development more haphazard ? (This version, that version, the pro version, a window dressing version, etc.)
Finally, can we get v9 to run on my Windows 8 piece of crap PC so I can BUY the next version ?
(I've got v6 on one PC, v7 on another, Pro on another, 8 on another.... I just want v9 to run on my newest laptop so I can retire some of these old ones !)

Its a nice little program for what I do with it. Well, WELL worth the money.... heck, worth more than a lot of other programs I've bought into over the years.

Anyone else know anything about this lesser known Gem ?

01-04-2014, 11:42 PM
i dont know the history, but can you point out what tools in the program (screen pic with circles or arrows) are the features in Pro that are not in the $99 version. why is there a $149 jump in price between the $99 2d/3d version and the $249 Pro.

01-05-2014, 12:59 PM
The best thing you can do is look at their own comparison page found here: Compare ViaCAD | CAD Design | Architectural Software | Drawing Software | PunchCAD.com (http://www.punchcad.com/c-30-compare-viacad.aspx)

I believe the biggest differences are found in skin and surfacing tools, with Pro having more to offer. The other thing is rendering tools, but from what I see, those who spend a lot of their time rendering their work to pretty pictures end up using 3rd party rendering software anyhow... at least those serious about it.

My earlier statements about not buying pro as a newbie was simply that pro seems to trail behind some new features that get added to the non-pro, and that upgrades for this companies offerings are overwhelmingly reasonable compared to anybody else out there.

I do my share of CNC work, and frankly, some new fagidity I make seldom if ever needs a photorealistic mountain in the background for it to work as I intended it to if you know what I mean.

01-05-2014, 01:21 PM
Whether you choose pro or not, its cheaper to buy 2d/3d first for $99 and upgrade to pro for $129 than to just buy pro. For that reason, Id just get 2d/3d until you know you need more.

02-12-2014, 05:10 PM
I'm intimately familiar with the history of ViaCAD:)

The roots of ViaCAD started in 1994. In 1994 I left Lockheed's CAD team to start a company (CADSoft Solutions Inc) to put together a surface/solid modeler on PC/Mac using similar methods we developed internally for aircraft design.

The first product released by CSI was CADD PRO in 1996, build 104. I loved the Drafting Assistant from Ashlar, licensed it, and extended into using 3D surfaces/solids snaps. Ashlar liked CADD Pro, and licensed back the software who then sold under a variety of Ashlar product names. CSI was later acquired by Punch! Software who renamed the CADD Pro product as ViaCAD. Punch was acquired by Encore Software who now contracts out the development to Evolution Software.

I've been involved with the development since the beginning and find it a lot of fun. Today I'm working on ViaCAD build 1108, which is a continuation of the CADD Pro numbering system and code stream. In addition to ViaCAD, I also do Shark, TurboCAD Mac, AeroPack, PinDot Design System and a soon to be announced package for converting facets into precise NURBs/solids.

Tim Olson
Evolution Software

02-12-2014, 05:47 PM
thanks Tim for that quick history.

i myself just got off the phone with Punch support. they were able to answer my questions.

no v9 for 64bit Windoze any time soon? have you seen anyone run the MAC (aka Linux) version in say a MAC VM inside Oracle VirtualBox on 64bit Windoze-7?

any ETA on the next build of ViaCAD v9 Pro?

02-12-2014, 09:56 PM
>>i myself just got off the phone with Punch support. they were able to answer my questions.

Excellent. Tech support is in daily contact with me regarding things they can't answer or outstanding issues.

>>no v9 for 64bit Windoze any time soon?

I'm working on a 64 bit version of Shark 9 for Windows but have not gotten it stabilized yet. Encore has us providing ViaCAD at 32 bit and Shark at 64 bit.

>>have you seen anyone run the MAC (aka Linux) version in say a MAC VM inside Oracle VirtualBox on 64bit Windoze-7?

No have not heard anyone using that config. If you talked to Todd in tech support, he would be the guy who would know.

>>any ETA on the next build of ViaCAD v9 Pro?

I'm sending off ViaCAD 2D, 2D3D, and Pro build 1108 tonight to Encore's QA team. They test it on a variety of configurations, add their license manager, and release. It may be 1-2 weeks before they bless it and release. Full release notes for 1108 code stream below (some stuff like the solid works translator is in the 1108 codestream but only available in shark work in progress build)


1108 Release Notes:

--Added display of detailed log file if import (STEP/IGES) fails
--Added support for SolidWorks Import for Shark FX (sldprt, sldasm)
--Added support for Parasolids import for Shark FX (x_t, x_b)
--New Add Loop command with right click on quad mesh
--Modifying a subdivided mesh now shows the subd mesh and control mesh
--Modifying group elements via deep select with gripper and arrow tool now works.
--Added option to feature tree that turns on/off data only members for mesh booleans using transparency.
--Mesh booleans are now associative
--Added cone points as logicuror snap points.
--Corrected a spacemouse activation issue on Mac esd and mas builds
--Issue with wall drop downs options on PC preventing popup from showing.
--Windows updated to ACIS R24 SP1
--Zoom extents crash on DWG import on Windows
--Click the delete key on a mesh will delete the selected facet(s) when in deep select tool.
--Vertical distance was not getting converted to metric in polar array tools
--Corrected issue with splines on surfaces, esp 2 point splines
--Updates to points connected and repair profile logic
--Corrected an issue with mirror undo of an unassociative acis part.
--Mac was not collapsing dialogs to the right correctly.
--Undo on an extrude mesh face was not removing the extra side facets.
--Corrected crash importing iges files and event clashing
--Corrected iges import issue with the Heal option
--Corrected an issue with polar arrays and vertical distance with the translate only option checked.
--Previews are no longer stretched on mac
--Added secondary file recognition for advanced photo render dialog box.
--Corrected issue printing to pdf fill patterns on MAC.
--Added more info to "could not save data file" message
--BOM updates for cut lists.
--Changed the BOM Qty field to display as integer instead of a floating point using the Export command
--Corrected an issue where the STL binary header contained a different facet count.
--Bom QTY field needed a tolerance to avoid garbage in 15-16 digit locations.

02-12-2014, 11:32 PM
the MAC VM option seems easily doable, something i am exploring.

as for compiles, if you have MAC then maybe a RH/CentOS or Fedora or Ubuntu package?
see Punch! Cad Forums (http://forum.punchcad.com/showthread.php?t=4996)