During the week of April 24th, CAD Panacea author R.K. McSwain was one of a select group invited to the headquarters of Bricsys in Ghent, Belgium for Bricsys Insights – for an inside look at Bricsys and what they are currently doing in the world of CAD, BIM and many other avenues. (Note: Bricsys paid for our travel, accommodations, and some meals for this trip)
Who or what is Bricsys? We have heard this question on more than one occasion, so let’s take a step back in time to the early ‘80s. Autodesk’s AutoCAD® entered the market around this time and quickly became a leader in 2D and later, 3D CAD. Fifteen or so years later, IntelliCAD (formerly IntelliCADD) via Visio, released an AutoCAD “clone” to the market. Soon afterwards, that source code was given to the IntelliCAD Technology Consortium (ITC). Since then, various companies have joined the ITC for the right to access this source code and build their own AutoCAD compatible applications. Bricsys (Bricsys is the company, BricsCAD is the application) started out with the ITC code when it first developed BricsCAD and later in 2010, they split from the ITC. BricsCAD is now certified (through auditing) ITC code free and is currently using the Teigha platform for its development.
Bricsys is self-described as lean and mean. They employ some 135 people worldwide, 90% of whom are programmers. Even as Bricsys grows and expands, CEO Erik de Keyser still expects that the percentage of programmers will not drop below 80%. That current growth includes a revenue increase of, on average, 25% for the past five quarters. The upcoming outlook is very positive, with a large number of inquiries and sales coming to Bricsys directly from former Autodesk customers wishing to retain the option of purchasing perpetual software licenses. As you may be aware, Autodesk stopped the sale of perpetual licenses recently for most of its products, including AutoCAD. The only way to obtain most Autodesk software today is on a pay-as-you-go or rental basis. Bricsys is committed to their customers wishes, and COO Mark Van Den Bergh says that at least 95% of their software sales are perpetual licenses.
So what exactly is BricsCAD?
- It is a fully functional 2D and 3D CAD application whose interface and commands are modeled after AutoCAD, for ease of use by experienced AutoCAD users.
- It reads and writes the standard DWG file format.
- It is customizable with lisp and other languages.
- As mentioned above, perpetual licenses are (and we were assured, always will be) offered.
- It is available in three versions: Classic, Pro, and Platinum, starting at US $550.
- It is available on three platforms: Windows, Linux, and Mac, all with identical feature sets.
- BricsCAD BIM and BricsCAD Sheet Metal are available on the same BricsCAD base application, utilizing the same DWG file format.
Throughout the years, Bricsys has encouraged 3rd party development on BricsCAD. Today there are approximately 1,200 add-ons, and about one third of those are available to download directly from Bricsys. In April of 2017, Bricsys and Intergraph announced that CADWorx Plant 2017 is now fully supported on BricsCAD. This port was no small feat, as CADWorx itself contains 3.5 million lines of code, in four CAD modules (Plant – Structure – Equipment – P&ID), and over 400 commands.
In the CAD application world, there is an old saying that goes “every time one thing gets fixed, two more get broken”. A slight exaggeration, but it wouldn’t exist without some basis. The code being developed by Bricsys programmers goes through 29,000 tests after every update. Bricsys has 40 testing servers that continually run these 29,000 tests on the source code. They have over 500,000,000 test results in their database, and they retain over 78,000 historical builds of BricsCAD. All to help ensure a tight code base with fewer bugs in the end product.
What can you expect to find in the most recent release of BricsCAD, v17.2? Performance of the application remains high on the wishlist of customers and on Bricsys itself. BricsCAD opens and is ready to draw or edit in a fraction of the time it takes AutoCAD to open. BricsCAD v17.2 solved an old problem that has plagued many CAD applications where entities at extreme coordinates slowed the entire drawing down. Snap and hidden line performance was increased. Push-pull performance was increased, especially on large models. Regen speeds, and perspective zoom speeds were greatly increased. The Print to PDF driver has been improved. Customizing the UI “Quad” is easier now, too. These are just some of the improvements in V17.2, and that does not even take into account the improvements to the BIM and Sheet Metal products. A complete list of release notes can be found here.
Bricsys CEO Erik de Keyser believes the time is right to distinguish BricsCAD as not just another AutoCAD clone, but a truly independent, DWG compatible application that can compete on the same level as anyone. You can download a trial version of BricsCAD, BricsCAD BIM, or BricsCAD Sheet Metal at https://www.bricsys.com
Here are some other recounts of the Bricsys Insights Event from our colleagues:
- Bricsys Seeks to Take DWG Community ‘Beyond AutoCAD’ (Cadalyst)
- Multiple, various articles at blog nauseam (Steve Johnson)
- Bricsys Invites the Media to Belgium (upFront.eZine)
- Chapoo builds on Bricsys BIM expertise (Extranet Evolution)
- A Lean CAD Company Punches Above Its Weight (Engineering.com)