Hi Scott, the starting point of your app. looked like it was to take a file (call it pcf for now) and to generate an isometric piping drawing. Great idea.
I took a step back to say that the file that is input to your tool is the problem to generate / manipulate. I agree with dgorsman that pcf's are a hassle to alter. And the tools to do so are frankly well past their useful life.
Xml schema’s would be an effective placeholder for the data – which would provide a means for mapping “old” pcf formats to a currently used “schema”.
My naïve experience is that Plant 3D looks like it has the smarts to play a role in this (from an Autodesk standpoint) – or part of its internals do. A link between e.g. Inventor (I assume that Inventor has no plans to enhance its ISOGEN conversion tool) (Inventor is just a proxy for many other apps. that don’t produce ISO’s in the required format) and an ISO output tool – keeping in mind what others say about manipulating title blocks, data formats etc. Plant 3D is good at that last bit.
In short, I would not recommend departing from established “geometric primitives” at the outset – that stuff has been thought out and it exists. The problem seems to be a) piping people insist on using these obscure drawing formats and thus we have to comply in order to get work, b) the hold that the original developer has on this format. (An opportunity)
1) Use what exists
2) Provide a link between the products to allow one to get to the end point (your part)
3) Evolve a new layout that is e.g. more visually descriptive. (Takes time).
4) Provide a link in to some decent pipe stress analysis software – e.g. Autopipe or Caesar since Autodesk don’t have anything that’s close to those.
Here endeth today's sermon.
Geometric primitives don't enter into the discussion at this point, only data, in a similar manner as PCF is used to communicate component data to the isometric generator and to communicate between programs without specifiy blocks, linework, or other geometry.
What we (less of a "royal we" than a collective CAD Admin populous "we") need is an independant data format for describing piping components suitable for modeling (and by extension, analysis and other processes). For example, a "pipe" will always have two process connections with X/Y/Z, plus a wall thickness for the body. Alternately it may have tap connections or different wall ratings at its end points from taper boring/bore to match connecting component. Breaking down the PCF file shows similar definitions but in a text-only format which is difficult to produce, validate, manipulate, and consume.
What I am advocating for can be thought of as an XML equivalent to the PCF file, or for those from the Civil world a "LandXML" for piping components. As the PCF lists component data so would the XML file. XSD schema would provide the baseline of what is required for each class of component as well as provide extensibility for user-created additional data (provided the base data is present). The XML file can be read into the cloud-based isometric generation program very easily, using the schema to validate the component data and even inform the user as to which parts fail. Users can double check the raw XML files manually with as much ease as PCF, but with the additional benefits of XSL to transform the raw data to more human readable HTML summaries. Using additional XSL transforms, the XML can be translated to strip out non-schema elements; perform pre-calculations (e.g. part counts); convert the XML into other XML more suitable for the cloud-based isometric generation (e.g. add processing header elements); or even transform the XML to "real" PCF format.
Thank you for your feedback. You raise a lot of valid points and we will certainly consider them as we make future plans. We wanted to avoid creating yet another new format even if it's XML. That's not to say it's not with merits.
The fact is that most piping applications including stress analysis applications tend to import/export PCF files with varying degrees of success. As we develop more capabilities in the isometrics engine, we can certainly investigate creating a new standard that is more adaptable.
Thanks for the consideration. The evangelism is something thats been a long time coming, based on my experiences with a wide variety of programs not wanting to talk with each other and having to resort to PCF because its the only option (when it works...). I'd like to see at least another option which is easier to implement by the CAD admins who support the various design software even if the software doesn't explicity implement an interface for it.
Even if you guys aren't deliberately working on this, I am. Last year with Plant3D picking up steam, the potential for online isometric creation, and after taking a peek at LandXML and ISO 15926 (WAY over-engineered IMHO), I decided to "plant the flag" so to speak. Keeping the schema (but not the implementation) open-source I'm hoping to keep it open to multiple programs, whether its Inventor, Plant3D, or other piping design software.
Thank you for finally working on a tool that can read PCF files generated in Inventor Professional(Tube& Pipe).
One thing i noticed is the "wrong orientation of the flanges".
Face to face dimensions in a spool drawing matches with the pcf file but flange orientation is incorrect.Please see the attached files.
How and when is the ISOMETRICS WS will be available for inventor users?(any desktop version coming out?).
Thank you for your feedback. With regards to Inventor users, I am not able to talk about future release plans but that is a great idea. As for a desktop version the current release of AutoCAD® Plant 3D 2013 has it in it.
Hi Scott, this is a function that our Inventor Tube and Pipe users have been asking for since the module whas released. I really appreciate that this project is getting started! I agree with the others when it comes to customization of the drawing and a desktop feature for Inventor.
Are there any special things to concider when it comes to setting up the Content Center for Tube and Pipe?
I have heard that there were some issues with the pcf export in some earlier versions of Inventor, are they fixed?
With best Regards
Stefan Bergsten, Cadcraft (reseller) - Sweden
I'm not an Inventor expert by any means. The Inventor folks tell me that PCF out of Inventor adequately describes the components used in a piperun.
Are you having issues with it?
Thanks for letting us know. Can you send the source file to email@example.com so we can use it as a test case to improve the service should it ever make its way past the technology preview stage.
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