Why Would a Canadian Graphics Company Use a German CAD Engine?

We interview Corel about its use of Graebert ARES.

Corel and Dassault Systèmes are the two most public licensees of the ARES Commander desktop CAD software from Graebert GmbH of Berlin, Germany. Both companies rebrand the software (as CorelCAD and DraftSight, respectively) and tweak the feature set.

Both companies initially licensed other CAD products, but the programmers behind those products were unable to keep up the development pace required by today’s market. When the companies looked for alternatives, each licensed the same CAD program from Graebert.

Graebert has two decades of experience in licensing its software to other companies. Some of its software runs in total station surveying equipment and with CNC machines. In fact, CEO Wilfried Graebert considers his ARES Commander software as marketing — to show off what his company’s programmers are capable of accomplishing — and expresses a lack of concern about its sales.

It’s possible he can afford not to be concerned about giving away millions of licenses if it results in big OEM deals. This year, Graebert landed an OEM deal with the current darling of the CAD world, Onshape. This 3D MCAD program runs in Web browsers and, since September, it has been using the new ARES Kudo client from Graebert to provide 2D drafting functions. 

To get a better idea of the relationship between Graebert and its OEM customers, I had the opportunity to interview Klaus Vossen in Berlin. He is the senior product manager of technical graphics at Corel. At this year’s annual user meeting, Graebert announced that Corel was the first to license its new ARES Touch CAD software for Android tablets.

Klaus Vossen, senior product manager of technical graphics at Corel. (Image courtesy of Corel Corporation.)

Klaus Vossen, senior product manager of technical graphics at Corel. (Image courtesy of Corel Corporation.)


Ralph Grabowski: When did your relationship with Graebert begin?

Klaus Vossen: We have a multi-year deal with Graebert, having entered into the partnership in 2010.

The idea of working with them came about when we had the concept of connecting CAD to the Corel workflow. This is unique to CorelCAD, in which we have a connection importing and exporting CorelDRAW and Corel DESIGNER file formats to and from CorelCAD directly. (See Figure 1.)

RG: Is CorelCAD used in specific fields?

Figure 1: Diagram showing CorelCAD — Corel workflow. (Image courtesy of Corel Corporation.)

Figure 1: Diagram showing CorelCAD — Corel workflow. (Image courtesy of Corel Corporation.)

KV: You mean, “What are the use cases?” We found that the sign-making industry makes use of both kinds of our software: [they] first sketch the signs in CorelDRAW and then make the drawings precise in CorelCAD.

RG: So, do sign-makers use CorelCAD to cut out signs on cutting machines and print them on wide-format color printers?

KV: Yes, they can use CorelCAD for sign cutting and printing large signs; although they can also do this with CorelDRAW. It has add-ons like CoCut that cut signs.

Another use is in the architectural field: architects use CorelDRAW for presentation drawings, using CAD drawings as the source.

RG: You announced CorelCAD Mobile at this event. How did it come about? Did customers ask for it?

KV: Not really, but we see an opportunity there and so are trying it out with Graebert. We are seeing CAD viewers available on tablets, so these devices are becoming more suitable for professional use. We want to try it out. First, we will offer it to CorelCAD users by including it free with CorelCAD 2016, as well as on [the] Google Play store.

RG: So both Android tablet programs — your CorelCAD Mobile and Graebert’s ARES Touch — will be on the Google Play store?

KV: CorelCAD Mobile for sure, with 30-day full functionality. Then it reverts to Simple Mode with fewer functions. When you pay to license it, you also get CorelCAD 2016 for one year. CorelCAD 2016 was announced on October 20, 2015; CorelCAD Mobile will be available soon after.

RG: Do you plan to change CorelCAD Mobile the way you changed CorelCAD?

KV: Not for the first version. We will offer the same customizability as is in ARES Touch.

RG: One of the advantages you have is that you have a marketing and distribution network that Graebert lacks.

KV: That is part of the agreement: they provide their expertise in CAD, and we market it.

RG: Any thoughts on their cloud CAD product, ARES Kudo?

KV: It is not on our agenda. We are concentrating on how to deploy CorelCAD Mobile. For instance, we might sell the mobile software on its own [separate from CorelCAD] at some point in the future.

RG: With CorelCAD based in Canada, where are your strongest markets?

KV: For CorelCAD, it’s North America; in Europe, most of the strength is in Germany and then Brazil as the third-largest market. The reason we are so strong in Brazil is because, traditionally, it has had a very strong CorelDraw user base; in fact, our idea for CorelCAD came from users there.

RG: How will CorelCAD 2016 differ from ARES Commander 2016?

KV: All of [the] new functions in ARES 2016 will all be in CorelCAD 2016, except for the Extra Tools.

RG: I am interested to know how it is that you and Dassault Systèmes can both sell the “same” software. How do you co-exist?

KV: We don’t compete with them, as we are a completely different sphere from Dassault Systèmes. They have downloads of their free DraftSight in the millions and a sales force targeting MCAD. Our market is primarily among small businesses, even among engineering, architectural and construction firms. Being a smaller company, we can be more agile with CorelCAD than Dassault with DraftSight.

For more information, please visit the Corel website.