Re: Inventor file format

D. Owen Rowley (
Tue, 21 Jun 1994 14:13:59 -0700

> From: (Mark Waks)
> Owen writes:
> >Autodesk knows this well, as our DXF file format and our 3DS format
> >have both been well received in the market place.
> >
> >Less well known is our CDF ( cyberspace description file -format )
> Intriguing; is this format intended to be proprietary, or open? If
> the latter, is there more information available?

It's part of our commercial package, the *Cyberspace developers Kit*
{ CDK for short }
It's published, therefore it's described, but my participation here is
not as a representative of Autodesk, and I cannot make any definitive
statement regarding how they want to handle the possibility of
publishing it openly. Its the same situation as SGI's, thats why I
brought up the questions I did.

I've just talked to someone who can speak definitively, who knew nothing
of this (vrml) effort, and its possible that something may come about,
but I'll have to leave it at that.

> The first tack is pushing a "standard", but trying to lock up the tools
> market by making sure you own that standard lock, stock, and barrel. In
> this model, you may not make all the tools yourself, but you make sure
> that anyone else making tools based on your format is paying you a fee
> to do so. Adobe Postscript is a good example.

the good ole *lord of the manner* keeping good watch over the serfs
and vassels :-)

The good news is we don't get all the government we pay for.

> The second tack is to sincerely push the standard as an open one, but
> make sure that you're ahead of the learning curve. Other people may
> be developing tools based on the standard, but you make sure that you
> know how to use the standard better than anyone else, and your tools
> are always a little better than the other guy's. In this model, you
> push the standard very, very hard, while also pushing your tools for
> it.

I'm well aware of this one.

its the one I call "have courage and keep moving".

> The first is the more typical big-company approach, which is why I
> will be cautious until and unless SGI makes a clear statement that this
> standard is public-domain. The second is possible, though, and some
> companies have become quite rich doing it. (Ie, Microsoft, although
> they've cheated a bit on Windows. Still, they've mostly played this
> game, with the "standards" being DOS and Windows and the "tools" being
> the applications to run on top of them. Having some control over the
> standard's evolution is often powerful enough by itself.)

uh huh
cheated a *bit* is an understatement, considering some of the dependencies
on microsoft proprietary tools that are not well known - or are promised
to *go away* as soon as they can clean 'em up.

> There is a clear effect on what SGI says. If they are taking the first
> tack, they're pretty unlikely to give us anywhere near the permission
> we want. But if it's the second, and we were to sell it right, they'd
> be fairly likely to embrace it enthusiastically. We'll see...

I think I would bet that this is the likely course, for SGI, or anyone
faced with the same choice.
Do too many choices spoil a virtual broth?

> >Again, the facts are that SGI's position in the marketplace is pretty
> >far down on the food chain. There are ~60 million PC class machines out here
> >and the reality of the marketplace is that before too long we will be
> >seeing home-based machines with processing and display power beyond
> >the level of todays workstations being employed as *multi-media terminals*
> >(my terminology for what the industry is calling set-top boxes)

> Well, bear in mind that there isn't *anybody* really at the top of the
> PC VR "food chain" yet. Everyone wants into that market, but no one is
> anywhere near controlling it yet...

We in the cyberspace project here are well aware of that.

every time I've thought the window of opportunitty was closing it wound up
getting bigger.

this also indicates how big an issue we are treading upon.

> >The battles that will ensue are not yet begun.

> I disagree -- they've begun, but haven't gotten very far. The abundance
> of VR standards that are appearing amount to the initial maneuverings
> of the war. And, frankly, we're simply one of the early battlegrounds
> (albeit one small enough that the companies show no sign of having
> noticed us yet).

semantics perhaps , I think its still at the logistical stage.
troops being pressed into service, borders being fortified, espionage,
intrigue, agent provocateurs, gun runners, camp followers .. you know :-)

but I don't think we've seen anything resembling a battle yet.
those become quite apparent when the heads roll, and the bodies start
to pile up.

I guess you might say we're involved in carving out the battle*field*
but I don't know if we want to BE the battlefield itself!
that could be downright destructive to everything we want to do.

> Something to consider, though -- we might well wind up having a real
> effect on that war. *If* this project really goes somewhere, and we
> wind up defining how Internet cyberspace looks over the next couple of
> years, and *if* the infobahn actually happens, so that a fair fraction
> of those 60M PCs wind up hooked into that cyberspace, that's going to
> create one *hell* of a market. *If* we were to decide on Inventor,
> that would give SGI a killer headstart on development tools for that
> market. Is this scenario likely? Damned if I know -- too many
> variables. But I certainly think it's possible...

I mentioned the *inversion* effect ealier in another posting.
It may be that the smaller and tighter your group, the better
you are in the frey..

I recall Xanadudes scoffing at the early www prospects, they were sure
their 20 years of vap- uh effort would materialise any day and
overshadow these simple grass roots efforts.

Wheres Henry the Vth when you need him.
A hard man is good to find.

LUX ./. owen

:I don't mind strayt people as long as they act gay in public: