Many industries use in-house custom applications with their own design methodologies baked in. While migrating to a new CAD platform, it is normal to worry about the integration and customization capabilities of the target platform. But never fear! This post describes how easy it is to develop, integrate, deploy and maintain your custom applications with BricsCAD. It also gives a peek into the development setup of your CAD customization.
A robust CAD system
It can be hard to perform operations without a robust CAD system. Getting near-real experience while designing a product improves design effectiveness multi-fold.
More often than not, companies have their own complex design methodologies, perfected over decades. Integrating such systems with a CAD platform can be a daunting task. High-risk domains need multi-faceted services from their CAD systems. Along with the basic design capabilities; speed, accuracy, data management and concurrency.
The ability to customize, integrate, add-on and code a platform becomes an important decision maker when choosing a software package. This is where BricsCAD proves to be a very effective choice.
Apart from BricsCAD’s 2D and 3D drafting capabilities, BricsCAD provides an unparalleled edge over established systems, thanks to the ease and versatility it provides developers to integrate external systems and create a fully-customized CAD platform.
To demonstrate BricCAD’s versatility, I will share our experience customizing BricsCAD for one of our clients in the Industrial mass storage domain. Their work involves huge mechano-civil structures, high-risk, high-configurability products and “perfected over ages” design procedures. Rich 3D models are also an important asset for this company, as space optimization, accessibility and MRO (Maintenance Repair & Overhaul) need to be efficiently managed for maximum profitability of the storage facility.
BricsCAD – a natural choice of CAD platform
For our client, when looking for a new CAD system, BricsCAD was a natural choice. That’s because BricsCAD is native .dwg which makes migrating from AutoCAD® simple. The key challenge was to integrate existing programs (containing a high IP content) with the additional requirements of CAD driven design and automated, high-quality production of project artifacts.
BricsCAD’s BRX (BricsCAD Runtime eXtension) programming interface is a versatile tool from all aspects. Be it learning the API, starting to program, integrating third-party technologies, deployment or installation, all aspects can be easily understood and assimilated by a reasonably experienced CAD developer. (Beginners with no CAD experience can learn both BricsCAD as well as BRX with very little effort.)
Once you decide to develop a solution using BricsCAD, you need to address many aspects. Let’s visit them one by one:
Setting up the BricsCAD development environment
Start by installing BricsCAD on your machine. You can get a free 30-day trial on the bricsys.com website. That sets the CAD platform but next you’ll need a development toolkit to start programming.
Registering as a developer on BricsCAD is equally easy. After registration, you get a download link for BRX toolkit. You also need to apply for BricsCAD NFR (Not For Resale) key, that allows you to run BricsCAD beyond the trial period. This enables smooth development but prohibits the use of BricsCAD for commercial purposes.
BRX is an integrated C++ and C# API that can be used through suitable Microsoft Visual Studio IDE. BRX documentation provides ample instances of example code and documentation which make it easy to develop your solution on top of BricsCAD. No additional Visual Studio Add-ons are required to start BRX development.
Developers do not need additional add-ons to BricsCAD or IDE.
Developing a solution
You can either choose C++ or C# as your language of choice for development. BRX provides very rich API in both languages. BricsCAD itself uses WinForms as UI technology. However, it is equally easy to integrate WPF applications with BricsCAD.
Your solution can be debugged and tested by simply dragging DLLs into BricsCAD window. You can either start BricsCAD from a debugger or attach a debugger to a BricsCAD process later and debug thereof. Integrating third party technologies with BricsCAD becomes very easy through BRX API.
With rich API and integration capabilities, we were able to integrate our customer’s High IP-content system with BricsCAD, seamlessly.
Advanced programming capabilities
You can obtain advanced capabilities such as parametric modeling and BRep modeling through TX (Teigha eXtension) API. With the advancement in BricsCAD versions and corresponding BRX and TX APIs, advanced modeling capabilities increase further. More advanced capabilities such as HLR APIs give you great flexibility for creating custom projections and views.
With this, we were able to provide some of the key functionalities, that were part of their standard documentation procedure, to our customer.
Develop technical support
Bricsys technical support is very efficient and passionate about providing responses to technical queries. Beginners and experienced alike, get very prompt response for queries ranging from HowTo questions to resolution of API/ behavior issues.
You can build an installer for your solution with any standard installer generation program. You simply need to hook up your ARXLoad-able library into on_start.lsp.
Backward compatibility is another great feature of BRX APIs. There is very little change between two versions of BRX API. This means that solutions built on one version of BRX API works within a reasonable range of future versions. However, Visual Studio version compatibility needs to be addressed when changing BRX versions.
With a versatile platform, rich API, ease of set-up and solution development and prompt technical support, BricsCAD with BRX API proves to be a very powerful combination of CAD platform and customization capability.
Learn more about Developing for BricsCAD
Engenext Software Solutions (http://engenext.com) is dedicated to CAD/Engineering software solutions. Built on two decades of experience and exposure to variety of domains, diverse roles, multiple geographies and number of CAD platforms, company is confident of providing Innovative, comprehensive and effective software solutions.