When naval architects design a new yacht or ship, they must use many separate programs to design, analyze, and create the production drawings. These separate programs are most likely from different vendors using noncompatible data formats. The translation process between all these data formats can take many non-productive hours. In addition, any changes to the design often affect many separate drawings and software programs that must be changed independently GtkCAD is a new program that attempts to solve many of these problems by integrating these many individual programs into a program suite with a single user interface and a common data format. GtkCAD's modular design allows the user to load plug-in modules at runtime to add the functionality needed for the task at hand. The modular design also allows the user to customize GtkCAD to suit their particular needs at any given time. For example the hydrostatics program, used by naval architects, may not be very useful to civil engineers. This potential cost savings feature allows a customer to custom-build a system based upon their needs. Linux is a true multi-user Operating System, and GtkCAD is designed to take advantage of this by allowing multiple engineers to use a single binary copy of the program simultaneously. The use of shared libraries lowers the memory footprint by allowing multiple users of the program to share a single copy of the library, and also saves time during software upgrades. The use of a SQL database also allows controlled access of the data by several engineers simultaneously, remotely if necessary. GtkCAD is being developed using the Open Source development model. With this model groups of diverse software developers work on a common software project, often volunteering their time. Anybody is allowed to contribute to the project. In return, the software is freely distributed to the end user with little restrictions on its use, modification, or redistribution.

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