Issue: Volume: 23 Issue: 1 (January 2000)

Spotlight: Alibre Introduces Web-Based Mechanical Design

Although Alibre Design is more of a service to which users subscribe than a traditional application, it has at its foundation a newly developed solid modeler based on the ACIS ker nel. The modeler uses a Web browser as its interface, and the system includes configurable security and access rights, e-mail notification, version control, and real-time collaboration. Alibre's three-tier architecture is designed to reduce bottlenecks, allowing the distribution of work to available servers, whether local, intranet, or remote.

"Alibre is obviously in its infancy as a CAD-functioning tool," says Ken Versprille, an analyst with D.H. Brown (Portchester, NY). "But the three-tiered architecture is what is going to be eye-opening. Any size company can adapt the software across the distributed architecture as it grows." Larger companies will be able to subscribe to the service as a self-hosted application, running it on their own intranet. Individuals and smaller companies will be able to use the service through Alibre's public Internet subscription site.

The Alibre interface has at its base level a personal home page called My Projects that provides each user with up-to-date project information, as well as the ability to view, zoom, rotate, and pan a part or assembly. In order to create or work on a design, the Alibre user accesses a secure data repository that provides file rights (depending on which rights the user has been assigned), including view-only, check out, and check in. As an option, team members can be notified via e-mail when team items or folders are accessed and changed. An entire team can work on a project (which can be single parts or en tire assemblies) together in real time.

Alibre utilizes the Open STEP format and handles SAT, IGES, DWG, DXF, and STl files as well. The company says it has worked closely with Microsoft in order to leverage new technologies such as COM+ and ActiveDirectory within Windows 2000.

Alibre Design requires a Pentium processor with 64mb of RAM, Windows 98/NT/2000, Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.1 or Netscape Navigator 4.0, and an Internet connection. Pricing and availability are scheduled to be announced in the first quarter of 2000. (Alibre; Richardson, TX; 972-671-8492;
-Jenny Donelan