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A Star Trek CAD



Let?s say we are on the Star Trek Enterprise set and they are going to show a CAD. How would that look and feel? How would we design it to make it look so advanced and powerful? That?s how we should think imagine and design what a CAD should be. Most of these capabilities already exist on different programs, we need to implement and integrate them.For the overall feedback interface, please refer to the previous ?Interface? posting and very acute replies. The program should always ?talk? to the user, trying to understand what you are performing (or trying to) and suggest, help, automate, repeat.

A nice woman voice (ok you can choose a man too) would salute you saying: ?What should we create today Al?? The program layout would be very contemporary and cool, with strong colors differentiating task Palettes (not draw, edit, 3d blah blah) such as Floor Plan Zone, Modeling Zone, Data Analyzing/Displaying zone, Word Processing Zone etc., appearing and disappearing depending on what the task is (context specific), and very mobile, boldly colored orange, green, yellow, blue, no frames around the palettes or fake shadows: just flat colored areas with tasks oriented operators. Background could be any color, tools wouldn?t be gray but any color you want with big icons: highlight it, type a key combination, ?you got a shortcut?! With the same spirit colors for fills could be graduated like with illustrating programs then filtered like on image editing programs, making presentations more compelling then artificial 3d renderings.

CAD operations shouldn?t be anymore an assembly of lines, simple shapes, but logical operations. This will work if the CAD is specialized toward a typical industry, such as architecture. I?d choose ?draw floor plan? task, a small window would open (the ?Design Window?), then manually trace /sketch with a free line, maybe a digital pen on the monitor, a building perimeter. Type the length of each side by it, type a wall thickness/height offset etc and the real floor plan would be displayed on the main window. Click ?now inserting window/door? task and sketch the line of opening (perpendicular to the plan) on my sketched plan, typing the dimensions or previously setting default sizes and jamb/wall offset. They would automatically appear in the right position in the plan, no trouble inserting or typing info. Then I could click on a window (the real one in the floor plan, not the sketch) and a specific info palette (very small) would open by the object selected and there, with a radio button, I could check ?make it a symbol?. Type a name, some record info if I want. Or click ?edit without affecting other instances?, or ?un-symbol it?. I could click on a group of elements or lines or single object too and my little Info/edit window would open and allow me to convert that to an existing symbol making my life much easier when somebody else drafted many objects without making them symbols.

Basically every time I select something a small orange (I like this color) area would appear by it allowing me to fully redefine the object, be it a line or text string or a door schedule etc. The automatic scheduling would allow me to type in it the record info for the doors, for example, and that would be automatically repeated on each row of same kind of doors; still I could type record just for a door without affecting the others if I choose so. Any record typed / edited in the schedule would be reflected on the actual instance of the door in the drawing, geometry included. One day in the Star Trek Next Generation I could type: wall#1 12?6? W-N then wall#2 ?90 degree 12?-0? etc. Windows on wall #1 2?-6? from floor 6?0 on center etc and get the model displayed on the monitor. On little windows, stacked vertically on the right side like little TVs I would see the 3d views of the model. I could turn on some little views displaying each a layer (some of them) with just that content at the base of my display and by clicking on them switching layer. Choose ? let?s do the roof? task and sketching the roof plan ( draw valley/ridges overhang lines)in my little Design Window would create the roof to display accordingly for 2d representations as well as 3d modeling. Space would be associated with time: saving views would save the history of that moment, reverting to a previous status of the drawing elements too, not just the view location. Drawing a lasso around a portion of the drawing would open a window asking me where (on which layer) I want to display that area at what scale. Editing this cloud content would be bilateral affecting the main drawing if I choose so. There would be a ?Let?s section it? task that will create not just an outline of the cut, but, associated with specific scales/amount of detail, I could specify layers thickness ( 5/8? gyp, ?? ply, 2x6 studs, double plate, top of plate at 9?-0? etc, R-19 insulation, typical mudsill/ footing, sub floor, T&G flooring etc. By saving these settings I wouldn?t need to retype all this info, but just edit some of it. And again more feedback: a soothing voice ( or a cartoon like displayed message) would remind me that ? sorry, you cannot edit this element because it is locked; do you want me to unlock it for you?? Or ?the object you are trying to select is on a layer at a different scale, do you want me to switch you to that layer?? Every time the cursor goes by an element on a layer different from the one being active, a cue would tell me which layer is that on. Having to search to which layer an object belongs to is like going to a time before the drafting table. Searching objects (to select, hide etc.) would require just clicking on an image (icon) depicting it on a ?search? zone palette that would display all and only the objects present in the drawing categorized by kind, layer class or whatever. A ?publish it? zone would allow me to instantly transfer a file or view to the web and or retrieve info/drawings elements from other computers in my office and or the other side of the world where users share components/details/specs. Imagine how simple would be doing 3d modeling if we could share a huge data bank of 3d elements instead of a thousand of users drawing them a thousand times. Modeling would require the same ?I sketch and input geometry, you draw? approach as for the floor plans. If you enjoy modeling you can choose to do it in the traditional way, but with a ?dynamic? environment:we could apply virtual forces to shapes to model them, a sort of more mathematically refined 3d stretch tool. I.E.: inserting a cylinder through a slab would instantly create a hole if I choose that mode; applying perpendicular forces to a cylinder I could shape a finger out of it, or, more abstractly, applying a torque to a cylinder I?ll get a spiral like shape. It would be the same approach you have using your hands on clay. Assigning a weight/force to a surface with a defined elastic coefficient ,tensed between two vertical elements,would create the appropriate inflection and Nurb surface. Animating would be assigning a little colored sphere, as a symbol for that complex element to be moved, be it the whole thing or a portion of it, like an arm. Move / rotate the little balls, color coded, type at each position the time you want that to happen and your complex model ( or part of it ) would do the same. Walk through? Draw a free line through the model; choose view height, speed (actual speed such as 1 meter/sec) and then a little ball/head representing you will move thru the model filming it. You can stop the head for a few seconds, rotate it toward a point, let it continue. The program will record all these ?events?. Opposite approach would be needed if showing something in particular is the scope of the animation: we have a landscape of architectural elements. Select the element that needs to be seen at 0:10 sec, view height 1.8 meters and type that on it. Then the other element at 0:20 sec same height etc. You could specify lens size per object, fading effects filters etc. Get a curve computed by all these parameters representing the movie, edit it smoothing it, assign it acceleration / deceleration/ pause and there you get exactly what you want to see.

Calculating surfaces would imply clicking on some walls defining the space instead of drawing a polygon, by choosing interior exterior median line. Same for dimensioning, same for hatch. Which should allow origin, rotation and scale to be constantly redefined when I insert it and better yet, 3D display of it, creating very nice line style renderings with brick lines tiles etc, no pasted pictures.Dimension will also have a setting that allows me to define the distance ?module? of the dimension line/text from the object so that all the strings are evenly spaced between them, i.e. 1x for the first string, 2x for the second, 3x for the third etc. The architectural CAD will contain already parametric bathroom kitchen layouts with all the objects, to be dropped in, edited, saved as office standard. In the Next Generation episodes just editing the word ?5?0? D table? on top of the table symbol with another dimension or even word (18?x18? chair) would modify the symbol. Along with more feedback from the program on what is happening we would need more preview of what will happen: i.e. the assistant would remind me ?moving this wall would bring the previously calculated space to a total of 1001 sq.ft., you might need an extra exit!? Or little displays showing a preview of the effects of adding/editing a light source, material, objects on a saved scene. Printing preview interactive with my moving the page area on the drawing, choosing scale and sheet and defining margins, clicking on objects or lassoing areas not to be plotted and saving these settings. I could have a little plot window showing my drawing elements, moving them to rearrange the plot layout and get the correspondent print without affecting the position of my elements on the drawing. At a point my cool application will allow me to open a number of files altogether, not just scroll through them, showing them as a new file with several little windows indicating the different files and their content for a specific sheet on the main drawing window as in a new ?Working Table? file and interactively allow me to drag an object from one file to another, literally dragging and moving them from little window to little window, and or editing same elements, text blocks simultaneously on all the files. My smart CAD would know what?s installed on my machine and tell me: ?are you sure you wouldn?t rather edit this paragraph with MS Word , Excel for the spreadsheet, or this image with Photoshop or instead of killing yourself trying to get nice looking outlined fonts, can I launch Illustrator for you? My friend, you better export and use Bryce for this animation?. All this inside my program so just to edit portions of its elements. Linked to the web, my nice CAD will know the weather forecast and say: ?It?s a sunny day, why don?t you go play outside while I finish this elevation for you? I?ll save the file too, don?t worry? and a nice smile would appear smile.gif" border="0 To boldly go where no designer has been before.

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Oops I forgot, last 3 things:1: side vertical bar (like a thermometer) with z values, where you click and reset the horizontal working plane height. A small axonometric representation would allow for WP rotation, snapping to known angles for easy resetting of the WP.

2: a click of the right mouse button would show a table with a set/legend of notes I?ve preloaded, scrolling with the wheel or the mouse pointer I could select which note/ keynote to insert, second click of mouse would assign leader starting point. This way I carry all the notes I need to insert with me on the drawing, virtually attached to the mouse.Obviously same notes are linked to each other for overall editing.

3: click record icon: draw anything, click stop, give a name, a new plug in object with geometrical parameters is created. Click play, the program starts recreating that object under my eyes but in the obj. info/edit palette I can set/modify its geometry.

And yes, Titanium Samurai, it would be a nightmare of bugs, but it?s holiday time, it?s time to dream. tongue.gif" border="0

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