Ralph Grabowski has been writing about the world of engineering-related and design-related software for quite a long time. And that world has continued to grow and evolve without slowing down.
When I started working in the "design" field, it was 1984. The predominant technology of the time was a wooden board covered with a plastic-film graph paper, a cable-mounted "drafting machine", and a stack of stencils and templates. The medium was one of the following: Tracing paper, Sepia, or Mylar. The instrumentation was usually a mechanical pencil with either an H-series graphite lead, or (more often) plastic "lead" of either E0, or E1 grade.
In 1985 that relatively arcane world started to fade away at a steady pace, and a new breed of computers and software began taking its place. First were the mainframe systems, like Autotrol and CADAM. Then came a few more, like Computervision, UniGraphics, Pro/Engineer, and Intergraph. Then wallets started to evaporate. The cost for mainframe, and later the more compact "workstation" packages, was astronomical. As in: you'd need an observatory telescope to see the end of the price tag. It was scary.
Renegade companies, with dreams of producing cheaper alternatives on the newer (and more affordable) MS-DOS PC-platform, started springing up, with names like GenericCAD, DesignCAD, Autodesk, FastCAD, Drafix, This-CAD and That-CAD, and too many others to recall now. Some survived for a while, some died out, and a few remained and exist to this day. And through a big portion of this timeline, most of it actually, there have been a few journalists who've tried to get a handle on just what this "CAD/CAM" and "CAD/CAM/CAE" stuff was all about, and more importantly: Where it was all going.
One of them has been, and still is, Ralph Grabowski. His newsletter, upFront.eZine, has been cranking out in-depth reviews, interviews, news, and events for as long as I can remember. A mix of web-content and e-mailed content, it is an enormously valuable resource for engineers, designers, managers, software developers, start-up visionaries, and anyone just plain curious about this unique segment of the technology world.
Although my personal and professional involvement with the design world somewhat ended a few years back, I'm still tied to parts of it by way of my role as an IT consultant. I still package and deploy CAD products for various environments, and I still get called in to consult and work with FlexLM and FlexNet implementations. For that reason alone, I still read the upFront.eZine newsletter to stay current with what's going on.
For continuing to push forward and keep us all clued-in: Thank you Ralph!