It’s the end of the year and people love lists. One for Santa, one for the Elves, one for the pagan gods of . And journalists the world over are compiling top ten lists for the festive season. Why? because it’s easy, there’s christmas parties to go to and it’s a quick way to file copy and get the hell out of the office. So, rather than a Top 10, in true Nick Hornby style, here’s our Top Five list of Top Five list of all tim.. ok. of 2009.
#1 Twitter – The Marmite of Social Media: Some of the team hate it (Martyn), some of us love it (Al and Dr. Mings), some of us remain ambivalent about it (Greg), some of us couldn’t give two shits (Stephen). But while the world is going social networking mental, it seems that 2009 is the year of twitter, the year that it jumped the shark, the year that you overheard it discussed at length in supermarket check out queues.
Some 3D vendors are using it in clever and engaging ways (Siemens – particularly with Dora Smith – @dorasmith – and Mark Burhop – @burhop – helming efforts), some are using it in an uncoordinated way that looks kind of scrappy (a quick look at the #AU2009 hashtag stream). From my own personal perspective, I find it fascinating. You can engage with people in a completely open manner, find out what makes them tick, find areas of common interest and truly discover new and exciting things. Yes, it’s a small percentage of the world at large (though it’s moved on from its alpha geek territory) but its a growing community of people with common interests, particularly around the 3D design industry. But what I find most interesting is how it enables people to interact and the effect that has on those moments when they meet in person. Things click more easily, people know who each other are and it just works on a social level much more fluidly. To me, who’s job is to pretty much talk to and listen to people, that’s a fascinating advance.
#2 Direct Modelling, the 20 year Overnight Success: SpaceClaim reinvigorated it. Siemens made a brave move to bring this technology to its 3D design products. CoCreate got sold on the back of it. Then Autodesk released the Inventor Fusion tech preview. While many of these things broke in 2007 or 2008, this year was the year that direct modelling, synchronous technology, dynamic editing, call it what you will, started to pan out in terms of a clearer vision of where things are heading. Siemens’ Sync Tech has matured with two releases under the belt and while many feared a cut-off from history-based modelling tools, it’s clear that things are never going to be that cut and dried. These types of tools are going to become part of the designer and engineers’ toolkit. they’ll be integrated into the existing tools.
Some will be explicitly separated, some will be much more tightly integrated. Look at the work Autodesk is doing with Fusion and Change Manager, at what PTC has done with Pro/E Wildfire 5.0 and which will continue with Wildfire 6.0, at what Siemens is doing with NX. The History vs Non-history based argument will seem petty in a year or two’s time. Why? Because it’ll just be a set of tools.
#3 Live Events: This year’s been crazy for the D3D team’s travel schedules. We’ve been to the US for nearly three months of the year visiting some of the most interesting events. We’ve met users from across the planet, seen more demos of software than you can shake a very big stick at and we’ve made some friends along the way. In these days of digital-everything, the live event shows that people still get the most from meeting face to face, from discussing things over a coffee, or more than likely, at 2am in the morning in a bar, somewhere on the planet. Aeroplanes are our third office (the second is the Oxford services on the M40) and we love it. And you know what, we’re heading back out on the road to do it all again. I talked about the benefits of face to face in a post around the time of COFES and the same still stands. People like people, people buy from people and that’s how it works.
#4 Simulation spreads: Simulation, Digital Prototyping, Analysis, call it what you will, holds many benefits and this year we saw a huge growth of interest in the tools, the technology and the best practices across a huge range of industry sectors. This is going to be a key focus for us for 2010, so stay tuned. Exciting times and one we’ll be revelling on with glee.
#5 The Rise of the Mac Platform: If you read the magazine or the blog, you probably knew this was coming. While word is still out on AutoCAD for the Mac, the release of both Alias and NX (and the public beta of Rhino OS X) saw serious design and engineering tools released freshly on the OS X platform alongside those tools that have been there for some time, such as solidThinking and Ashlar’s Cobalt tools. The introduction of bootcamp has seen massive adoption and you see that glowing Apple logo much more regularly than you ever have before. We set-up mac.develop3d.com to cover things as they break.