Just AppleStored ASCON’s 3D Machinator Game is Ahead of Angry Birds and Cut the Rope

I am not a great fan of computer/smartphone games however I found it very impressive to see ASCON’s iOS Machinator at AppleStore. For me, it was additionally interesting because couple weeks ago I published (in Russian) an article  about the company’s several new projects – at that time being somewhat secret. Now, one of those projects (previously called CORVETTE) has been unveiled under the name Machinator.

Surprisingly enough, I could not find something in English about Machinator. Really strange considering the fact that currently the game is ahead of famous Angry Birds or Cut the Rope in the local charts. So below I've quickly illustrated the game from the description of AppStore. Just for the sake of justice :)

“Remember, when you were little: you would pour Lego pieces on the floor and become overwhelmed? There were so many! But piece by piece, by trial and error you got results!”

 “Machinator is the favorite passtime for adults and kids - join us!”
“- Choose a model to assemble from the store (both free and paid models are available)
- Use your brains and assemble it
- Assemble it faster than anyone else and let everyone know about it
- Share your results with friends
- Check out the Model Store - there is sure to be something new there, something You will enjoy.”

The fresh move of ASCON was immediately interconnected in my mind with the news about mobile version of RGK – the Russian Geometric Kernel. Is it the Russian mobile revolution in engineering software?

RGK Geometric Kernel – Now on a Mobile Platform

You probably know already about RGK - the Russian Geometric Kernel: there are quite a lot of publications, here is one of them.  

Recently, the team announced availability of a mobile RGK version basically intended for demo purposes.  The outline of htis Android OS based project has just been published as an article at isicad.net; here is one of its pictures with a caption "Even the most demanding users already can evaluate the functionalities of RGK Mobile in its working environment: the process of comparing a digital model with a real fabricated physical sample": 


Global CAM Market and LEDAS

A few days ago, LEDAS issued a press-release which announced that in the last financial year the company attracted ever more software development from global CAM market. It looks like the interest of the CAM market in LEDAS is not accidental: at least this can be somehow confirmed by a quote of Alexey Ershov, CEO LEDAS:

Unlike the CAD market in which a few dominant vendors earn billions of dollars a year, the CAM arena is spread among dozens of mid-size and hundreds of small companies providing niche solutions. This is due to the variety in capabilities of machines from many hardware vendors, and so this diversity requires development of an assortment of software, each one narrowly specialized. Machining companies put on the market brand new manufacturing devices and are often primarily focused on the hardware. Only later do they see that advanced software is needed to unleash the full potential of their hardware. These companies find it is easier to contract software development services from a company like LEDAS than to write it in-house. LEDAS has proven experience in this field, and so is highly qualified and more cost effective than for hardware firms to set up their own software development divisions, and then hire and train new employees within this area of specialization.

The LEDAS experience in providing services for the CAM domain is illustrated by a list of some relevant programming projects completed successfully by the company (more details and references can be received by request to info@ledas.com):
  • Automated nest destruction and nest processing for composites and sheet metal,
  • Distributed manufacturing order processing and material lifecycle management for composites and sheet metal,
  • Motion simulation, and collision control for mold design,
  • Path calculator for laser welding and engraving,
  • Cylindrical feature processing for milling and drilling,
  • Automated unloading of sheet material parts,
  • Automatic migration of new GUIs for complex CAM systems.

As part of his upcoming September tour to meet several European customers of LEDAS, Alexey Ershov will attend a number of CAM-related exhibitions:
-  18, Wednesday, Stuttgart, Composites Europe,
-  19, Thursday, Essen, SCHWEISSEN & SCHNEIDEN,
-  20, Friday, EMO Hannover


isicad.ru N109 has pictured the roles of Ken Versprille and Evan Yares in launching Russian products to the global CAD market

The Russian web portal isicad.ru yesterday  released its monthly N109 with a cover page associated with the beginning of the next academic year and with one of the key news of August. The editorial board decided that the key news was the intention of Evan Yares (as announced for example by Ralph Grabowski) to help Russian CAD company Nanosoft to launch its nanoCAD product to the US market.  And of course isicad could not forget Ken Versprille's consulting for ASCON aimed to launch the company's original geometric kernel C3D in the US market. (By the way, there is my Russian blog post "Legendary US veterans strive to help Russian CAD companies to enter the global market").

It is worth noting that COFES Russia 2013 was very important for initiating and further development of such alliances. See Ken and Evan at the event in Petergof, May 30: 
Well, here is at last the above mentioned cover of isicad.ru N109:
Below you can see some other cover pages. Note that publications and advertizing at isicad.ru is the best way to deliver your message (if any) to the Russian market of engineering software.  


Vladimir Malukh (1966 - 2013)

I regret to inform you of the death of Vladimir Malukh (1966 - 2013), one of the most recognized experts in engineering software of the Russian market, the author of the unique monograph "Introduction to CAD", and of about 200 papers at isicad.ru and isicad.net, and many other publications. 

Vladimir was one of the key members of the LEDAS and isicad teams. 

See Vladimir’s biography in English and more detailed and undated biography in Russian (with  a full list of Vladimir's isicad publications).


Just published: two parts of a long paper "The Russian 3D-kernel"

You may have already heard about RGK - the project financed by the Russian government - aimed at building a geometric 3D-kernel. Until yesterday, all publications on RGK were in a meta-style, like for example a press-release  "RGK Russian Geometric Kernel Celebrates First Full-Featured Version" or my paper "Geometric Kernels and Irremovability of Presidents from Office".

Recently, the project (initiated in 2011) has come to the stage when the system became   operational and is under intensive integrated testing.  This enabled writing and publishing a rather detailed technological and technical overview of the achieved results.

The paper published yesterday and written in Russian consists of two parts. The first part  describes architecture, advantages, and facilities of integration the kernels with applications.  The second part presents functionality and the instruments to support building of standardized MCAD applications. The text of about twenty five A4 pages includes 14 pictures and three video clips. See couple examples below.  

isicad will definitely publish a slightly shortened English version before beginning of COFES Russia 2013, i.e. before May, 30.  

Sequence of Boolean operations. Left: Two initial bodies. Middle: result of the first subtraction. Right: final result:

The results of "Sweep" generator:

Kinematics of the mechanism is simulated with the Constraint Solver integrated in RGK:


Who are More Interested in the Future of Engineering Software (in Russia): Russians or Foreigners?

My isicad.ru editorial of April (in Russian) was mainly about forthcoming COFES Russia 2013 in Petergof near St.Petersburg. The paper was illustrated by a cover page of our isicad.ru issue No.105 whose headline says “Let’s Fly to St.Petersburg:
(Here you can see an animated version of this picture - a small video clip presenting a way from COFES 2013 Arizona to COFES Russia Petergof.)  My editorial presented some recently registered participants of COFES Russia. By today, more than one third of the registered participants are from US and Western Europe. Although in recent years, the Russian market has made a considerable progress in integrating into the global market and in recognizing the value of strategic analysis one can sometimes get impression that people in Russia are comparatively less interested in market and technology trends and believe that their today’s business decisions and current pragmatics are much more important. Moreover, sometimes it seems that global vendors and analysts are more interested in the future of the Russian market than the national actors.

Here is a translation of a fragment from my editorial.

… Not trying to offend Russian participants, I believe that a strong growth of the number of participants from other countries is the most interesting. However overused is the phrase “it reflects an increasing interest towards the Russian market”, it has never been more just. I started describing the reasons underlying the interest of foreigners to the Russian market of engineering software and then I realized that almost the same reasons determine the potential of a symmetric interest of representatives of the Russian market in the global market. Before giving some grounds for the mutual interest, let me explain that in many cases I include in “our” market not only Russian suppliers and developers but also all members of staff of the offices of foreign companies in Russia: regardless of any strict corporate discipline imposed from above, the realities of our market and creativity of our fellow countrymen produce a unique experience which undoubtedly can be useful for the global market:
•         Some foreign vendors see here a new potential for expanding its customer base; some Russian companies can find new active business-partners, while others factor in possibility of emerging new competitors
•         Nearly all representatives of media and analytical agencies observe in Russia a source of a significantly new information and data for further analysis; while Russian companies can make a name for themselves on the global market practically for free and in a rather efficient manner
•         Those interested in technological ideas know that such ideas are always thick in the Russian air, although by no means always they are made use of here; and dissatisfied Russian developers of new products obtain additional chances to find proper business partners
•         High-level qualification and (to put it mildly) competitive ability of Russian developers, mathematicians and engineers have never been questioned
•         All vendors’ experience of working on the Russian market (not least of all – foreign vendors) - in many cases is creative and unique
•         In spite of a questionable state of the investment climate in Russia many investors are ready to put in the capital in high-tech Russian companies and teams
•         Foreign experts are prepared to operate as consultants for ambitious and solvent Russian companies specializing in engineering software...

The list can be continued and extended, but, in my opinion, such concreteness is not necessary. I am convinced that if one has a common taste and a need to acquire new information, as well as some communication skills, after two or three days of sharing time with a hundred of profound, very different, and to a considerable extent new people in a properly organized environment, such a person will inevitably learn a lot of useful things. Even if one does not admit (or even repulses), does not realize or does not fully realize this usefulness, I believe that it always and without exceptions, sooner or later, sprouts out in the brain of any skeptic, or, at the very least, by transit, reaches his/her colleagues. 

However, private business sets its tasks independently and even – up to a certain moment – determines the criteria of its success. If someone already isn’t poor and positions one’s company at the corporate web-site almost as a global leader and feels quite comfortable, why one should risk peace of mind and face embarrassing circumstances, exposing a particular solution for the scrutiny by ultra-qualified experts and immersing in potential or explicit competitiveness, etc.? It may seem that my words have some elements of a1rrogant sniping. Well, no; since business it not just earning money. It is also a creative self-expression, which can take very diverse forms and scale, and for which there cannot be single quality criteria...However, different persons set very different goals for themselves...

So, which of the re-emerging names of participants attract the most of my (subjective) attention?

Evan Yares was one of the brightest participants of isicad-2004 multi-vendor Forum in Novosibirsk. After that isicad.ru published a lot of papers by Evan, and I very much appreciate his participation in COFES Russia 2013 and look forward to his analyst briefing “The Future of Data Management and Search”. 

Bricsys sends four participants (including CEO Erik de Keyser) which definitely reflects growing interest of the company to the Russian market.

Linda Lokay, Vice President Marketing and Business Development at DS Spatial Corp, comes to Petergof together with Frederic Jacqmin, Director of Sales, EMEA, DS Spatial. Perhaps Linda wishes to check whether the Russian kernels C3D and RGK can compete with ACIS and CGM or/and whether Spatial can find in Russia some new technology ideas or/and innovative human resources… 

I was always surprised by relationships between SolidWorks Corp., DS, and Russian market. To my mind, SW could sell in Russia several times more copies and services than they do it now. Maybe Boris Shoov, Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corporation, Partners & Alliances, Technology Director comes to investigate situation? Unfortunately, DS itself will not be presented at COFES Russia while Siemens PLM sends three persons: top managers of the Russian office plus David Mitchell, Vice-President, Teamcenter CTO.
It is worth mentioning participation of the owners and top managers from Gräbert Company:  Wilfried Gräbert, CEO и Robert Gräbert, CTO.

One of the keynote talks will be done by Yurii Udaltsov, Director of Innovation Department and member of the Board of Rosnano – the leading Russian enterprise known by vast investments in Nano-technology and other high-tech industries. In his presentation “Investing in Technologies for Innovation” Yurii  will discuss Rusnano’s experience in material-based high-tech investment and role of IT technologies as enabler of high-tech innovations. In addition to a discussion of relevant and interesting Rusnano projects, the keynote will focus on areas of interest from the point of view of integration into global innovation process, as well as developments in Russia as a potential source of engineering, IT and R&D source for innovation start-ups.


G.Depardieu and B.Charles (as Asterix and Obelix) are Against

Just released isicad.ru No.104 of March, 2013 has a cover page presenting Mr.G.Depardieu and Mr. B.Charles who both seem to have  some troubles with a recent tax policy in France. The headline below says: “Asterix and Obelix are Against”. 
As for Mr. Charles, it is about his recent interview to Le Monde also retold and commented at isicad.ru.

My editorial of March is entitled "CAD and Artificial Intelligence".
After giving a link to a regular isicad monthly overview "Global CAD will Grow ThroughRussia", I present a COFES update: nine persons from Russia go to Arizona; 33 participants from of outside of Russia have by today registered for COFES Russia 2013 scheduled for the end of May.  

The main topic related to AI was inspired by a speculative paper "Industrial Artificial Intelligence Has Been Built in Russia" recently submitted to isicad.ru and rejected by our editorial board. Based on my long experience of working in internationally recognized Soviet and Russian AI research institutions, I explained the difference between interpretation of "computer intelligence" by common people and comparatively modest achievements in expert systems, automatic understanding of natural language, speech and image recognition and so on. By the way, note that in Russian language "intelligence" is something far beyond logical inference, reasoning and such things, it is something which is expected to be able to feel, to have intuition - i.e. in Russia, the words "artificial intelligence" are commonly understood strongly anthropomorphic...  

I can hardly translate my almost belletristic Russian text... Well, one remark I made is that as science and technology will probably be developing more and more intelligent systems, we cannot exclude that average level of the mankind intelligence will continue to be falling down; and in the long run, the Turing test may become meaningless...       


Nine participants from Russian ASCON, Fidesys, LEDAS, and TopSystems will attend COFES 2013 in Arizona

The number of COFES participants from Russia and CIS is constantly increasing. Vladimir Malukh from LEDAS-isicad was the first Russian expert who in 2009 visited COFES when the event was hardly known in Russia and the CIS; see Vladimir's isicad paper "COFES – Wish you were here".  

Awareness of COFES drastically increased in Russia and the CIS when in fall 2010 Cyon Research together with LEDAS organized a COFES-isicad event in Moscow with a keynote and general active participation of Brad Holtz.  

In 2011, a list of COFES participants included five persons from Russian companies: three - from ASCON, one - from a multi-vendor reseller Consistent Software, and Dmitry Ushakov, who at that time was LEDAS CEO; see Dmitry's isicad paper "Get back! (Personal Impressions from COFES-2011)".

Active participation of ASCON in 2011 was not casual. The company is the largest Russian CAD and PLM vendor with a well-developed MCAD KOMPAS 3D and intensively extending PLM set; it successfully competes with Autodesk in the Russian & CIS market. In 2010-2011 ASCON began to internationalize its marketing and partnership activity as well as to invest into development of SaaS, mobility, and other hot trends. It is at COFES 2011 where the managers of ASCON established close partnerships for example with Lightwork: see my interview with Clive Davies: “ASCON is proving to be the ideal partner for Lightwork Design“.  This direction of ASCON’s development continued quite successfully which is illustrated, for example, in some isicad-papers such as «ASCON Releases DEXMA as a Competitor to PLM 360» , «ASCON’s Mobilezation: My impressions from the “White Nights” Forum», and other.

In 2012, ASCON again sent its three managers to COFES, and now – in 2013, CEO Maxim Bogdanov will attend Arizona for the third time, now accompanied by Sergey Evsikov, Vice-President, Sales (left) and Alexander Golikov, Founder (right):

Currently, ASCON feels like a mature international actor. The company is providing technical assistance to COFES Russia 2013  to be held in St. Petersburg six weeks after the event in Arizona. Today, ASCON is emphasizing its openly distributed original geometric kernel C3D  – the foundation of KOMPAS 3D, its above mentioned cloud PLM DEXMA, and its traditional-style large PLM+ERP environment.      

In 2012, COFES invited six persons from Russia and the CIS. Along with the people from ASCON, there were Dmitry Kondakov from IRISOFT (a large Russian VAR of PTC and some other vendors), Alexander Bausk from Ukrainian Nuclear Structures Research Lab, and Alexey Ershov, LEDAS CEO – see his isicad paper ”Arizona Dream: A detailed informal report on COFES-2012”.

Now about COFES 2013 which starts approximately in 4 weeks. You can meet there a record number of persons from Russia (seven). Two guys from ASCON were already mentioned above.

Another participant is Vladimir A. Levin,  ScD, professor, Moscow State University, department of Mechanics and Mathematics, Computational Mechanics. 

Vladimir’s main field of interest is developing mathematical models of strength analysis of bodies under finite strains. Total number of publications: over 235, including 4 monographs. Vladimir is the founder and the head of Fidesys – a start-up which positions itself as a provider of a new generation CAE system for strengthen analysis and associated problems. 

After my blogpost was published, Anatoly Vershinin, Fidesys CTO, joined Vladimir in his visit to Arizona. 

There will be three persons from Top Systems: CEO Sergey Kuraksin, CTO Sergey Kozlov, and Sergey Bikulov, executive director (from left to right):.
Top Systems's set of traditional CAD+PLM+ERP solutions is quite well developed and  recognized in the Russia / CIS market. The key product of Top Systems, its MCAD called T-FLEX, is characterized as one of the most developed parametric system in the world market: see a detailed paper by S.Kuraksin and S.Kozlov “The Power of T-FLEX CAD Parametric Modeling”: Part I and Part II. Interestingly a paper which compared  T-FLEX and SolidWorks (the comparison made by a Top Systems’ partner in Poland) has become and until now is the most visited isicad publication since launching the portal.

It is important to mention that Top Systems is actively involved (both in management and development ) into the building of a new geometric 3D modeler RGK within a big project funded by the Russian Government and being implemented by a distributed team from several development centers of Russia. I believe that today, by visiting COFES, Top Systems is making an active step towards international market.

This time, LEDAS will be represented by the company’s COO Nikolay Snytnikov – PhD, who despite his young age (30) has already passed through a hard many-year school of participation in a cool outsourcing project for Dassault Systems (as a developer and manager), and currently he is a manager of the LEDAS part of RGK - the Russian Geometric Kernel. Within RGK, LEDAS is responsible for the development  of Boolean operations,  fast NURBS library,  some parallelization tasks, and other hard problems (see “LEDAS Experts: How our Company is Involved in Developing Russian Geometric Kernel” by A.Ershov and N.Snytnikov). Nikolay's background is in parallel computing so his visit to NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference 2012 resulted not only in a series of best-read isicad reportages but seems to bring useful knowledge to the RGK project. Since LEDAS does not compete with any CAD vendor, the company is a partner of both Top Systems and ASCON; the latter has used LEDAS service to integrate direct modeling facilities into KOMPAS 3D and is now relying on  LEDAS support in distribution and commercialization of the C3D kernel.   

As an internationally recognized provider of components (such as geometric solvers, direct modeling modules, and other) and highly-qualified software development services, LEDAS is well-known to the global market. After selling its IP to Bricsys in 2011, LEDAS has been  focusing on services, and recently the company shareholders have established an US business entity to better serve its clients worldwide. On the other hand, competence, skills, experience, and creativity enabled LEDAS experts to formulate a number of new project/technology ideas related to some hot topics of engineering software such as interoperability, etc. Nikolay Snytnikov is going to Arizona to strengthen some existing contacts, to seek for the new service contracts, and to look for the partners interested in joint business projects. As a member of the editorial board and a fruitful writer for isicad.ru, Nilolay will also send us his reports from the Arizona event.


isicad.ru - 5-year statistics of the most popular Russian CAD/PLM portal

isicad.ru and its modest English version isicad.net were founded by the LEDAS team after the first isicad multi-vendor forum held in Novosibirsk in 2004. The isicad.ru statistics was initiated five years ago, here is a screenshot from Google (click to enlarge):
Also about five years ago, we started to publish monthly reviews, to distribute monthly pdf-collections of the best articles, and to assign them with cover pages which reflected key events of a month. Here are all of them, here - a dozen of the latest (click to enlarge):



What were the most important developments/events FOR the Russian market of engineering software in 2012?

This survey was organized by isicad-Facebook; it included several initial options and a possibility to add those preferred by the followers.

The obvious current winner is “ASCON entered the global market with its geometric kernelC3D”; the second is “The First Russian Autodesk University”, the next are “Release of Nanocad 4/4.5 with open API” and “Start of the Project on the RGK - Russian Geometric Kernel ”… - you can easily catch almost all the others from the key words at the screenshot below.  

Note that those who voted are mostly people of the expert level.

Current results of the survey were today analyzed by Dmitry Ushakov in his paper at isicad.ru. Interestingly, some people decided that an isicad-paper “On comparison of SolidWorks and TFLEX” is itself a noticeable event of 2012; as you can see from a chart in Dmitry’s paper, this comparison at isicad.ru was uniquely visited 14 000 times (and resulted in 1000+ comments).

 C3D, RGK, and some other products and projects mentioned in the isicad survey will be presented at COFES Russia 2013 (May 30 – June 1, Petergof-St.Petersburg ).