This latest iteration is itself an aggressive and ambitious undertaking, with additions highlighted by a graphical user interface that eschews command lines and dialog boxes, and has the option for speech-enabled input that can be used alone or in combination with mouse and keyboard. Other new features include smart objects, which let designers reuse intelligent design elements including profiles, solids, and shapes; and precision shape modeling, which allows for the intuitive creation of complex shapes, along with parting surface creation, constrained shape changes, and tweaks at any stage of the design process. The new version also offers curve, surface, and solid associativity; integrated product data management; a new Web-based 3D adventure game, "Time Mechanic," which users can play to learn the software; and a host of other enhancements such as better collision support in filleting and shelling.
"One of thinkdesign's most impressive features is the new interface overall," says Bruce Jenkins, analyst with the research firm Daratech in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "The voice activation is very nice, but the other features-such as design wizards that replace dialog boxes-are as important or even more important." Jenkins also cited the program's library of smart objects as a "boon for people moving from 2D to 3D." However, these are new developments, he cautions. "How robust thinkdesign 6 is will be seen once it gets into the hands of users."
The program requires a Pentium-based computer running Windows 95/98/2000/NT. The think design 6.0 module and the thinkshape 6.0 advanced surfacing pack age cost $1995 apiece for an annual subscription. The software was scheduled to complete its rollout by the first quarter of this year. (think3; www.think3.com)