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20 Years with Stardraw.com

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20 Years With Stardraw.comThe software company’s open architecture facilitates partnering, not competition.By Kate BlessingJune marked the 20 th anniversaryof the first software application thatbegan Stardraw.com’s evolution. Asoftware-only company, Stardraw hasbeen a part of the industry since themid ’90s, and the company continueswith other manufacturers in the industrywithout competing with them.That’s really important to us.”Before Robinson became involvedwith Stardraw, he was working withShuttlesound, a distribution and“mobbed” at their 10x10 booth. Atabout the same time, David Snipp,Founder of Stardraw.com, was workingin the lighting industry, havingspent a number of years previouslyas a software engineer and architectStardraw.com founder David Snipp (right) appointed RobRobinson CEO in 2012 after 18 years of collaboration.The Stardraw team has collected many awards over the years, this one fromNSCA in 2005. From left: Kevin Harrison (Symbols Manager), Rob Robinson(CEO), David Strawbridge (Senior Software Engineer), David Snipp (Founder).to evolve. Because Stardraw’s productis not backed by any kind of hardware,the company is in a unique positionwithin the industry. Its approach tobusiness is more about building partnershipsand working on communicationfor clients. So far, so good.“We have always made and kept toa very firm decision not to do hardware,”said Rob Robinson, CEO. “Itmeant that we have stayed in a placewhere we can coexist and partnerintegration company in the UK in theearly ’90s. The company won manyof the prestigious bids in the regionin large part, according to Robinson,due to the company’s “fantastic documentation”system. Shuttlesoundquickly realized how important andmarketable its system was. “In effect,we developed our own documentationsystem,” said Robinson. “And wethought at that time, well, it’s beengood for us: If we smooth the edgesoff and add a few things, perhaps itwould be a good commercial propositionfor other integrators out there inthe world.”With this idea in mind, theylaunched Shuttle CAD at NSCA in1993. The show went well; as Robinsonmodestly explained, they wereat Microsoft. Snipp used his programmingskills to launch a softwaredivision at Starlite Systems Technology,the lighting company he purchasedafter his stint with Microsoft.He also launched a lighting packagecalled Stardraw 3D around the sametime. When Robinson bumped intoSnipp at the PLASA show in Londonin 1994, they decided to partner. “Heshowed me what his software coulddo, which was real-time 3D renderingon Windows 3.1,” said Robinson.“Which, as everyone knows, wasimpossible: You could not do realtime3D rendering on Windows; buthe could.” So Shuttlesound employedStarlite as developer of an OEMengine for the next version of its software,ShuttleCAD 4 for Windows.Kate Blessing is Sound & Communications’ Assistant Editor.42Sound & Communications


Stardraw’s control systems arebased on, and benefit from, openarchitecture. “What’s really coolabout the open architecture approachis that it’s inherently extensible. WithStardraw Control, we’ve never yet encountereda situation where we haveto say, ‘No, we can’t do that,’ becausewe can sit on the back of anythingthat a computer can do,” said Robinson.“And a computer can do prettymuch anything.”As for what’s next, the companybelieves its evolution, as it has been,will continue to be facilitated throughthe relationships made with peopleon all sides of business. “From ourpoint of view, our business and ourphilosophy really is all about partnership;it’s about great support andgreat partnerships,” said Robinson.“That’s what we do for our customers,and that’s what we do withmanufacturers and our OEM clients.”Currently, the company is focusingon the Cloud and Mobile technologyas what’s “next” for the industry. “Itseems that there’s a certain amountof mystery and mystique about whatthe Cloud means,” added Robinson.“For me, it’s the idea that a virtualizedprocess is out there, somewhere,and what that means for us isthat we can take any kind of processand make it secure and responsiveand scalable.” It’s also robust because,in one deployment, data isreplicated in three physical locationsand two graphical locations, so thesystem has five times redundancybuilt in.“We already offer Cloud-based ser-vices with the packages that we have,but what we want to do is move forward.I think what’s more interestingthan Cloud, is Mobile,” he stressed.Robinson added that one of themost challenging things he has seensince Stardraw’s beginning is theacceleration in the rate of change.When the iPad first launched in 2010,for example, many people didn’tknow what to do with it and weren’tsure what it was for. Now, there are100 million units sold. These days,about 70% of the world’s computingplatforms are iOS or Android.“Mobile and Cloud go hand in hand,”said Robinson, “but from our point ofview, we have to think about Mobile.This should be the platform youthink about first, and then desktop.”As it goes with technology, thingswill always get smaller, faster andcheaper. Stardraw was born in theearly ’90s, and has moved with technologyand convergence every stepof the way. Though the Cloud andMobile platform shift is huge, thecompany continues to look ahead forwhat’s relevant to it and its clients. n44Sound & Communications

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