The Last XML Barrier

The great thing about XML was that is was suppose to provide everyone with a universal file format that would make it a lot easier to integrate applications. For the most part, this great expectation is being largely fulfilled as Microsoft, SAP and a host of other software vendors all move to make XML the de facto file format.

But one area where XML has been slow in being adopted is in the CAD/CAM application area, where Autodesk holds sway with a proprietary file format. Given Autodesk's dominance of the category, there's little wonder why Autodesk has not seen fit to accelerate the adoption of XML because from their perspective it would just make it easier for their customer's to adopt other applications.

But eventually all proprietary standards give way and Autodesk is no exception to the rule. Recently, the CAD/CAM industry saw the adoption of a 3D XML standard that should eventually create a file format standard for CAD/CAM applications. That standard has the support of companies such as Microsoft, IBM, Dassault and SolidWorks. But more importantly, the need to accelerate product development in a hypercompetitive global economy using 3D CAD/CAM software is eventually going to require Autodesk to get fully behind a 3D XML standard.

That can't happen too soon, because 3D CAD/CAM applications are richer environments for rapid product development and customization. Couple that with the need to better integrate product development across multiple organizations that make up the supply chain around the globe and 3D XML becomes a pressing concern for manufacturers of all types and stripes.

None of this will happen over night, but people like SolidWorks CEO John McEleney are determined to make 3D XML a major issue. Granted, he's got an ax to grind against Autodesk, but at the end of the day the faster any standard gets adopted in any industry, the better off everyone ultimately is because more people wind up using the software. And that benefits incumbents and challengers alike.