Coming Attractions

Front Page screenwriter Ben Hecht said "Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading newspapers is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand of a clock." In engineering terms: too much noise; not enough signal. But, if daily is too often, monthly is too slow. Like Goldilocks, we think weekly is "just right." Take a peek at what the LaiserinLetterTM will cover in weeks to come:

Principles - Mission, Vision, Decision
Following up this week's lead item ("Laiserin Launches Letter"), we will regularly visit and revisit questions about our mission: who we are, what we cover, why we cover it, who it's for, and how to read it.

More than mere navel-gazing, this ongoing introspection assures you, the reader, a clear vision of the context of our content. That context will also include disclosure of consulting and other business relationships with companies we cover.

Further, we will be developing a unique set of decision guidelines that will enable you to strategize the relevance of any tool, technology, or process that we cover in terms of your position in the technology lifecycle.

Plans - Design, Representation, Visualization
Despite other analysts' write-off of computer-aided design as a boring, mature market, we find exciting, high-growth-potential product areas almost every week.

For example, it is inevitable that some form(s) of design software interoperability will take hold and generate design service opportunities upstream (analysis) and downstream (facilities) from traditional scopes of work. Who offers the best prospects for which consumers of what services?

> Autodesk, with its multi-pronged attack?—AAS, ABE, ABM, ADT, Revit, VIZ. What about DesignXML? Where does Tririga's IBS fit in?
> Bentley's V8 generation? Is DWG versus DGN really moot? Will TriForma and Project Servers fill all needs? Whither aecXML?
> Graphisoft, with its international leadership in BLIS and IFC2.0? What about IAI/IFC2.x? Is GDL the secret weapon?
> Nemetschek—NA versus AG? Mac versus Wintel? Simplicity versus complexity?
> And, what about BOA, DataCAD, Sketchup, to name a few more?
> Will Dassault/Catia/Solidworks/Spatial, EDS/UGS/SDRC, and/or PTC cross over?
> Does Microsoft have a design industry strategy?

It's also inevitable that multiple design representations will continue to coexist, from 2D/paper and 2D/digital to 3D/digital and 3D/physical. This raises questions about:

> File viewers, converters, and Internet publishers
> Printing and plotting, on-site, on-demand, at-a-distance
> Modeling, rendering, and animation
> Photogrammetry, 3D scanning, and rapid prototyping

Among the names we'll be watching are: Abvent, Ashlar, Charrette, Cimmetry, Cyco, DocuPoint, Eon Reality, Eos, eQuorum, HP, InfinitySquared, Informatix, Informative Graphics, McNeel, Navisworks, Oce, PlanADocuments, PlanWell, RealityWave, ReproMax, SepiaLine, Spicer, Technesis, VRContext, XES.

No technical reviews, with their endless feature lists and overemphasis on command and configuration trivia. Instead, we position every product we examine squarely in a practice context—who is it for and what does it do for you?

Projects - Management, Delivery, Collaboration
The overhyping of the late 1990s shouldn't obscure the fact that new technologies continue to transform the collaborative work of project-centric businesses. What do you need to know now about products and services such as: AEC Software, Arenium, Buildpoint, Citadon, Constructw@re, eBuilder, eReview, eZmeeting, Framework Technologies, MarketStreet, Meridian, Microsoft, OpenLink, Pacific Edge, Primavera, PrimeContract, ProjectEdge, ProjectMates, ProjectTalk, ProjectVillage, ProjectWise, Robust Decisions, Thumbprint, Tririga, VirtualDesign.Net, VirtualStep, Vite, Web4?

Plus, the latest research and empirical data on ways that real firms like yours—and your competitors—are applying these tools and technologies to cut costs, shorten the critical path, and increase client satisfaction.

Premises - Facilities, Plant, Infrastructure
Integration, integration, integration. STEP, IAI, NCS, ad infinitum. Because successful facility solutions consist of two-thirds system integration and only one-third product implementation, we'll look at real-world case studies across all sizes, industries, and locations. We'll also explore analytic tools and their applications, and keep a close watch on product and manufacturing tools and processes that may extend their influence. How to spot the leaders and the comers among the likes of: Alibre, Aperture, Arcihbus, ArchiFM, Aspentech, Bricsnet|FM, Centerstone, CoCreate, Energy Plus, FaMe, FM:Systems, FIS, Fluent, GeoPraxis, Infrasoft, Peregrine, Proficiency, RamSteel, Rebis, Windchill, and XSteel, among others.

Practices - Documents, Business, Knowledge
After automating individual processes and business functions—from finance and HR, to marketing and administration—design businesses find themselves stranded on islands of automation. Just as ERP (enterprise resource planning) helped integrate information and workflow in manufacturing firms, PSA (professional services automation) promises to "knowledge-enable" service businesses. Hype or hope? We'll look at CRM, document management, PSA, and the ever-elusive knowledge management—covering concepts and cases, policies and procedures. A few of the companies we'll watch are: ArchStreet, BST, Cosential, Deltek, Documentum, Elite, iManage, JDEdwards, Lawson, Lotus, MarketEdge, Microsoft, Ostara, Penta, PeopleSoft, PSSS, SAP, Wind-2, and more.

We'll also take an inside look at what professional societies and licensing bodies are planning to do about digital signatures and digital practice.

Profiles - People, Organizations, Places
Despite all the advances in technology, success in design business remains dependent on people and policies, not on programs and protocols. Our industry expertise and insider status, combined with traveling almost 150 days and 150,000 miles a year, provide us direct 1:1 access to many of the most interesting and influential people, companies, and research centers. At the risk of offending our many friends throughout the design and technology worlds who we can't mention yet, look for upcoming profiles of: Robert Aish, Peter Anders, Vladimir Bazjanac, Bill Buxton, Eric Drexler, Chuck Eastman, Steve Feiner, Martin Fischer, Alan Kay, Branko Kolarevic, Doug Look, Mark Margulies, Al Moulton, Alex Niehaus, Stanley Saitowitz, Charlie White, Arol Wolford—plus research efforts such as CDI, CERL, CIFE, DDRL, DMG, NIBS, NIST, and Tekes.

Products - Materials, Tools, Technology
Technology-driven transformations have now begun to extend beyond the way we design and build, to the tools and materials we build with. From computer and communications hardware, to security and connectivity infrastructure, to specifying products as diverse as brick, furnishings, and windows, we will explore the emergent tech invasion of every nook and cranny of our industry.

Proceedings - Events, Talks, Meetings
Over the coming weeks we'll work down a backlog of first-hand coverage on recent events such as:

> Alan Kay's McLuhan Memorial Lecture at the New School
> Georgia Tech Symposium on eAEC, Atlanta
> Jim Glymph at Rockefeller University
> Congress on the Future of Engineering Software (3rd annual CoFES), Scottsdale
> ACEC Convention, Las Vegas
> Deltek User Conference, San Diego
> Bentley International User Conference (BIUC), Atlantic City

In this issue we cover an epochal session of last week's SEGD conference in Denver. June slows down, with NeoCon in Chicago and CSI in Las Vegas the only major shows worth writing about, followed by the AIA/San Francisco Digital Design Awards July 1. Then check out our LaiserinLiveTM listings for upcoming events in the fall.

Prognoses - News, Trends, Predictions
Among the many joys of punditry is the privilege of spotting interesting news, tracking trends, and making predictions. We won't cover the background noise that passes for news these days; there are many fine portals, digests, and ezines that fill that need, if that's a need you need to fill. We will however, monitor the news to analyze and identify trends and counter-trends. And, we may from time to time call your attention to absurdities of content and coverage published elsewhere.

Consistent with our mission to provide analysis, strategy and opinion for technology leaders in design business, we will look at the future, not to predict it, but as Paul Saffo of the Institute for the Future says, to assess the probability of alternative outcomes. Combined with the technology lifecycle decision guidelines that we're developing, these strategic assessments of future probabilities will help you be a better-informed influencer or maker of technology decisions.

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