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Linedrawing/CAD-program in a browser window

edited June 2006 in Vanilla 1.0 Help
I'm starting a behemot of a online software here where I work, basically it is translating a program from desktop to browser window. Here is some tidbit of background before I go in to the detail of the subject. I'm working in a company on the romantic area of wastewater treatment, and the program is designed to be a tool for wastewater engineers to design solutions for home wasterwater treatment. Most of the tool is forms where you define your home, how many square feet/meters, how many people live in it and so on, very easy stuff to whip up in RoR, then it gives you a product choice(s) for you to choose from. Now in Finnish wastewatertreatment law, that the wastewater plan must have a principle drawings. And this is where it becomes tricky, the software we currently have has a jCad, but it doesn't need to be a CAD software necessarily, almost any line drawing software that allows importing of DWG (cad-images) and bitmaps (jpg primarily), and has an option for symbols and line drawing tools is suffice. In my mind, since jCad IS made with Java, it could be possible to use that or some other Java based drawing tool, maybe even a third party made one for our purpose (this is a serious advantage comparing to our competition that doesn't have any planning software at all so money shouldn't be huge issue). Are there other possible solutions for making this? Could Flash handle something like this, it would be wicked awesome if it could since it would be cool, somewhat light and would possibly run better than a Java program. I'm also thinking about a program made with C#, or other .Net tech, I'm not sure if they can run from a server in your browser window. I would appreciate if anyone can input to this, since this would be possibly the coolest thing on earth for me.

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    Flash should definitely be able to do the linedrawing and symbol placing stuff (generally shouldnt be *that* difficult anyway) - I presume the major difficulty finding the software is for the import tool? How are the cad images structured? Is it reasonable to expect software or a software creator at this level to be able to handle the importing and decoding of the files?
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    After talking with people here, we decided that for the average joe, it would be best if we would forget the support for CAD files and just support bitmaps. That should make things easier, importing and exporting DWG/CAD-files is insanely difficult from what I have heard. So basically, it should be a drawing program that supports used imported bitmaps.
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    Not sure if this helps, but Flash supports DXF files.

    Of course, I have no idea if it will import them dynamically, or only at design-time.
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    3stripe3stripe ✭✭
    edited June 2006
    http://www.gliffy.com/ looks intrstng
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    Interesting, I'm actually suprised that there are not more programs like gliffy, there are alot of TinyMCE like javascript/java interfaces, ofcourse styling text is a bit different animal alltogether than drawing images, but there are tons of image manipulation libraries out there, so how hard it would be to do something like that :3 Ofcourse project this size just begs a bought and customized java app, but I would like to see all my options before doing so, I mean Java app in Javakiller RoR app? Irony anyone?
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    Some thoughts about doing this in flash... If I were going to approach a problem like this I think the first thing I would do is look for standards that apply to the situation. If DXF can describe your like drawing adaquately then go that route. From what I understand the DWG format is not open and is binary, so not a good choice for flash. I would avoid storing the finalized drawing in an image format and the reason is because it is harder to edit and work with that type of thing in flash. You can import images, but using those for any informational purpose is tough to do in AS. You would almost be restricted to using it like a background image. Rather, what you want to build is a drawing app like Gliffy that stores the final drawing in a standardized format. This means the files are searchable, easily stored in a database, and very compressable. Your forms and stuff in the application can actually be leveraged to get the drawing started (eg, you know the number of rooms, bathrooms, dimensions of the homesite, ect so you can dynamically create a footprint that the engineer can then edit rather than start one from scratch).
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    Well first what came to mind when I thought about a flash based drawing program was naturally to store it as a PDF file, flash outputs PDF natively and it stores it in such a format that it is reusable in Illustrator and such linedrawing programs. Also easily one of the most universal formats, you even have some cellphones that open PDF. As for libraries that open and save in native format from flash program to be reusable, that would be the optimal solution, but making it with flash sounds complex, maybe something a Java app could do easily since there are already alot of libraries written for it and there are alot of working solutions out there, just have to find them. A good example of complex program written in Java is Runescape, Java MMORPG that runs in browser window. so if it can do that, I know it can do what I need. Tho, I think there is a way to run a C program in browser window, Active X and such, I don't know the details but it should be doable if everything else fails.
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