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Are your Autodesk Inventor Drawing views moving on your sheet?

Autodesk Inventor Drawing Views moved position Over the years, both myself and most of my colleagues or staff I’ve had working for me, have suffered with Inventor allowing drawing views to ‘float’ across the drawing sheet as if they have a mind of their own. The effect of this phenomenon is misaligned sections and detail views… as well as their respective dimensions and annotations becoming ‘sick’. There is a way to stop this from happening, however, frustratingly there has been a policy at Autodesk to keep legacy settings as the default settings, so as to not upset the established users. This policy even applies when it makes A LOT more sense to use the new setting instead.

Inventor View Justification

The setting under focus in this post, is the View Justification option within the Drawing tab of Application Options.Inventor Drawing View Fixed CenteredIt’s best if you set this before creating any drawings within Inventor. Otherwise each view you place will take on this setting. However, if you haven’t and you have a particularly important drawing in a bit of a state, then there is a workaround which will allow you to rectify the situation. Check out the video below for further details.


Mindset: Tools to Anticipate, Plan for, and Create the Future – Selected Quotes

Autodesk University 2014: Mindset Tools to Anticipate, Plan for, and Create the Future

Today during the last day of Autodesk University, the final live streamed Innovation Forum session took place; Mindset: Tools to Anticipate, Plan for, and Create the Future. I haven’t watched it myself yet, but a number of tweets from attendees certainly got me interested, they even had Jacques-Yves Cousteau’s grandson Fabien Cousteau listed as the main speaker! So I will definitely be taking the time to watch it later on this evening. I’ve genuinely been impressed with this AU from afar and I’m super gutted that I didn’t push through with getting to the event like I have managed for the last two years.

Class Description

It’s clear that we’re living a world that’s volatile, uncertain, chaotic, and ambiguous. And within every industry, we’re seeing dizzying examples of new ways to make things. But what’s less clear is how organizations can systematically learn to understand, align with, and act on the broad forces of disruption. Join the MindSet Innovation Forum, which highlights essential skills to take advantage of new technologies applicable to every industry.

Selected Quotes

Angelo Vermeulen, visual artist

  • “I work with people to recycle wastes and build living ecosystems inside the computer networks that use those wastes”
  • “A culture of living organisms is collaborating with technology – symbiosis”
  • “Entangled reality – imagine having sensors inside your ecosystem that capture the dynamics, and using that data, real world getting into the virtual”
  • “Evolvability – the deep belief as a biologist that technology will accumulate more and more properties of living biology”
  • “I’m inspired by hardware”
  • “I am using a very specific design approach in my projects, approach things from multiple angles”
  • “Cross cultural dialogue is crucial to gaining a larger perspective on possible solutions for problems”
  • “I have a very different approach – we use no plan we just start building and slowly but surely everything emerges. It’s a very different approach than other design strategies”
  • “We approach building things from different angles simultaneously, without having a master plan”
  • “A second characteristic of how I am working is I am using a lot of waste – on one hand it makes the creators and the designers way more resilient , it makes humanity way more resilient”
  • “This approach leads to a discovery of questions as you go, leads to a very interesting way of designing things”
  • “The consequence of working like this is that you bind community – putting people in a position of such empowerment glues the community together, it gets people truly excited”

Bob Richards, CEO, Moon Express

  • “My passion in life, what drives me, is to help humanity become a multi world species”
  • “We live in an ocean of awesome, we live in a water planet that we are only just now beginning to discover, we’ve only scratched the surface”
  • “We live in an epic where we are now just leaving our world, starting to cross the ocean of space”
  • “When generations look back on us, this is the moment that we are leaving our planet for the first time”
  • “The moon is our sister world like the 8th continent”
  • “We’re proud to say we have used Autodesk tools in our design. Only by the power of simulation and computation, are we able to do what only superpowers have done before”
  • “What last year was a design, this year is a reality”
  • “The moon has water, a recent discovery, we are going to learn to use water as fuel, the moon is a fuel depot in the sky”
  • “We’ll help the interplanetary move from earth to earth’s orbit to the moon and beyond – making the humanity a multi world species”

Fabien Cousteau, aquanaut, oceanographic explorer, conservationist, and documentary filmmaker

  • “Oceans are the inner space of adventure”
  • “We have explored less than 5% of our oceans and yet nearly 95% of our worlds biodiversity is said to be living in and round that water body”
  • “When I was a kid I have to admit something to you all, in front of all the cameras, I was a terrible student. I grew up in a family of explorers and my imagination was going out the window in the school room – my imagination went way beyond that window”
  • “We were able to do 3 years’ worth of scientific research and data collection in one month because of the unprecedented access this opportunity afforded us”
  • “We were able to use new technologies to be able to see what goes on in that environment when were not around – what happens with climate change and acidification, what happens with pollution issues”
  • “As these systems get thrown into more and more chaos because of the unpredictability – we are realizing very real world repercussions on health, on the economy and of course on the future viability of these platforms”
  • “I’m a toy guy, I’m a technology guy – I’m not a scientist – the point of my adventure is to bring that knowledge back to the general masses so we can infuse them with a passion and knowledge so they can make better decisions”
  • “With technology, we’re able to get better insight into the biological realm so we can see biomechanics”
  • “Through the use of these innovative technologies we can imagine a new type of underwater habitat”
  • “As I mentioned bringing this to the general public is extremely important to me, especially youth – so they can learn to be better human beings”
  • “This adventure made me dream, made me dream about the future potential of what an underwater city or network of cities could afford us”

Pete Kelsey, Strategic Projects Executive, Autodesk

  • “For me, cool isn’t enough. Cool doesn’t pay the bills”
  • “The elephant in the room in terms of marine infrastructure is the oil and gas industry. That is next great opportunity for all the work we’ve being doing at Autodesk.”
  • “I can’t think of a better answer to “so what” than this – we at Autodesk are investing – Autodesk Maritime R&D, into something that is worth the investment and the time
  • “For me there was always something missing, something nagging, there must be a way to share that connection with data or a place with a much broader audience”
  • “Physical to digital to physical again”
  • “With Wow – all things are possible”

Tom Wujec, Fellow at Autodesk

  • “This century’s literacy is about design”

Mouse McCoy, world-class racer, stunt man, and the founder and creative director of Bandito Brother

  • “We are dreamers, designers and makers”
  • “We’ve always played with cars and cars have always played with our imagination”
  • “Evil Knievel holds one world record and that’s for the most broken bones”
  • “We are looking forward to the future of smart systems, data, engineering to take us out of the cowboy realm
  • “Looking forward as we look at what’s possible to reframe man and machine, how can smarter systems evolve what we do”
  • “Stunts are just going to become engineering, we can turn that into STEM and STEAM curriculum and in that process, refine what’s possible for man and machine”

Watch for yourself

Autodesk University 2014 Opening Keynote Selected Quotes

Carl Bass, CEO, Autodesk  

  • “I think, not since the industrial revolution has there been such a broad and radical rethinking of the way that we make things.”
  • “The biggest change has been the ability to work with much richer data. Data that better captures the complexity of the real world.”
  • “We’re breaking the glass that separates the real world from the digital world to better create.”
  • “What this (capture data) does is allow the computer to take on more of the foundational work. Work to build the model, so that more time can be spent, by you, designing.”
  • “60,000 of you have taken advantage of A360.”
  • “A360 digitizes the way you get together and gives you a place to collaborate.”
  • “Fusion provides the context to understand what is going on in your project and gives you access to the interactions of all the people involved.”
  • “The cloud provides a natural hub for you to collaborate.”
  • “In this new world, collaboration and design management are built into everything. It’s not just another task layered on top.”
  • “Paper and screens are inadequate for output. So I’d like to show you how we’re bringing 3D models into the physical world.”
  • “The printer doesn’t care if you’re printing a cube or something super complicated.”
  • “3D printing is the closest thing we have to the Star Trek replicator.”
  • “We’re all working together to push the limits of 3D printing.”
  • “We’ve established the $100 million Spark investment fund to support entrepreneurs, start-ups and researchers who are really pushing the limits of 3D printing.”
  • “CNC machines are poised to reinvent themselves.”
  • “BIM360 is the fastest growing product we’ve ever had.”

Jeff Kowalski, CTO, Autodesk

  • “In my 9 years as the CTO at Autodesk, this is the biggest change I’ve seen.”
  • “At Autodesk, we’re starting to look at technology and design itself through the lens of nature, a complete inversion of the traditional perspective.”
  • “We’re looking at the world through nature.”
  • “Using everything that is for whatever will be – that’s nature.”
  • “We’ve started to look at the design process as a living process.”
  • “Nature only moves forward, and for us to experience similar progress we need to consider the huge corpus of potentially relevant ideas and designs that already exist.”
  • “We can now discover and expose the content and the context of all the current designs for all of your next designs.”
  • “Adding context not only expresses what they (designs) are, but it also reveals what they’re for, what they do and how they work.”
  • “We’re developing a system that learns the same way we do… and the outcome is a tool that works in a lifelike manner and supports the way we solve problems naturally.”
  • “We need to stop telling the computer what to do and instead tell the computer what we want to achieve.”
  • “Generative design mimics natures approach to design. Generative design starts with your goals and then it explores all the possible permeations of a solution through successive generations until the best one is found.”
  • “This (generative design) is expanding human potential.”
  • “Generative design is not new…it wasn’t practical until now.”
  • “Like nature, the computer has created a design solution.”
  • “The things that we design now and in the future need to do three things – they need to sense, respond and collaborate.”
  • “Collecting data, even big data, isn’t enough. We need our objects and environments to also respond. To take some kind of action based on that sensory input.”
  • “The most enlightened things that we’ll design will be those that are actually capable of collaborating with each other to create new experiences for us.”
  • “Experiences don’t come from the things they come from you – the designer.”
  • “I think it is inevitable that we bring designs to life.”
  • “Looking ahead we need to harass the twin engines of design and nature.”
  • “There are whole territories ahead where we can take nature’s strengthens and extend them with technologies’ power.”

Keynote Presentation

Is this the start of Autodesk Fusion 360 replacing Inventor?


Today, during the Autodesk University keynote address, Autodesk announced am exciting and significant change to the Product Design Suite offering. From as early as January 2015, active Product Design Suite customers will gain access to the world’s leading CAD product built on ‘Cloud’ technology, Autodesk Fusion 360…. The question is, is this really a good thing for Inventor and it’s users? Let’s start with what Autodesk have to say and a few snippets from the FAQ.

Autodesk state:

This announcement and corresponding entitlement further demonstrates their commitment to adding value for both Maintenance and Desktop Subscription customers. Product Design Suite provides access to the latest engineering and design solutions in one suite of tools. Fusion 360 allows users to explore more ideas, work together in a collaborative cloud-based design, engineering and fabrication environment, with access to their data anytime from any device. With Product Design Suite containing Fusion 360, customers will have access to the best desktop and cloud based tools to transform their product development process with more options and flexibility than ever before.

Autodesk’s Product Design Suite – Fusion 360 inclusion FAQ

What specifically will Product Design Suite subscribers get?

  • Product Design Suite Premium Maintenance or Desktop Subscribers (new and existing) will receive Fusion 360 as part of the Subscription entitlement
  • Product Design Suite Ultimate Maintenance or Desktop Subscribers (new and existing) will receive Fusion 360 Ultimate as part of the Subscription entitlement

Why is Autodesk providing Fusion 360 as an entitlement to Product Design Suite for subscribers?
Product Design Suite will continue to deliver on the promise of providing access to the latest MCAD technology in a comprehensive portfolio. We believe that Product Design Suite is great tool that help our customers design and make great products, but we want our Subscription customers to have access to tools that solve a new and different business and technical challenges. So we’re giving Subscription customers access to our new cloud-based product development tools. This entitlement brings more options and flexibility than ever before.

Does this mean a shift in strategy away from Inventor and desktop suites?
No. Our goal is to give our Subscription customers access to the best product development tools now and in the future. We know that all of our customers have different needs, and that those needs often change depending on the projects being working on. We will continue to increase software development in both Autodesk Inventor and Fusion 360 to bring our customers the new features and functionally they need to make great products.

Why is this announcement good for Autodesk customers?
Making great products is about having access to the right tools, at the right time and for the right users. Now you don’t have to choose. Product Design Suite provides access to the latest engineering and design solutions on one suite of tools. Fusion 360 allows you to explore more ideas, work together in a collaborative cloud-based design, engineering and fabrication environment with access to your data anytime from any device. With Product Design Suite and Fusion 360 you have access to best desktop and cloud based tools to transform your product development process.

How do I get access to Fusion 360?
Specific details on the entitlement of Fusion 360 for Product Design Suite subscribers are currently being finalized. Until then, customers can try Fusion 360 now free for 30 days.

My Thoughts

Considering how incredible the combined tool set is already in Fusion 360 and certainly will be in Fusion 360 Ultimate over the next 6 to 12 months, the inclusion of Fusion 360 to the Product Design Suite is pretty epic! It certainly harks back to a few years back when PrDS users could include Inventor Fusion within their Digital Prototyping workflows. It just Fusion 360 is far superior in most ways, I actually enjoy using it, contrary to Inventor Fusion which I truly despised. No doubt this will please a lot of customers… if not right now, it certainly will once they start using it.

So how about those Inventor <> Inventor Fusion workflows so many product development and simulation users loved and ultimately lost? Will they make a return? There was no mention during Kevin Schneider’s road map post, so maybe not. But wouldn’t it be awesome if you could associatively import Inventor geometry into Fusion 360 or use Fusion 360 to flesh out a design in a natural direct editing environment, then push it back into Inventor to do some gnarly CAE? Honestly I would be surprised if Fusion 360 started to support associative import of Inventor models… since it would effectively kill Inventor HSM sales within Product Design Suite Ultimate sites.

So I should probably now address the question in the title of this post. Based on previous conversations with various Autodesk staff and the FAQ shown above, the answer is clearly no… but let’s be realistic. That is the correct answer in the here & now, as well as into the next few years for sure. To back that statement up, John is going to share some thoughts over the next couple of weeks, detailing why we believe Fusion 360 has a long way to go before it can puff its chest in front of Inventor. But here’s the thing, by putting the Fusion 360 toolset in front of all of Autodesk’s Product Design Suite customers, they are dramatically increasing feedback potential from, and exposure to, a ‘professional’ user base. Personally I think that is the next step for Fusion 360, it’s a great tool considering its age, largely used by ‘makers’ and new innovative, fresh minded CAD users. However, we are approaching the point in Fusion 360’s life where it needs to stand up to more experienced scrutiny without abandoning the requirements of it’s original user base, after all it’s been success so far for good reason. Without covering a broader user type demographic, Fusion 360 risks alienating itself from a lucrative market and making Autodesk’s transition to Software As A Service more painful. Autodesk can’t just take away the red wine because they want you to drink the white. For now, they have to give you both and make the white wine irresistible. What do you guys think? Are you excited, angry or dubious? Please let us know in the comments below.

New, New Autodesk PLM 360 with Data Management

Today Autodesk presented a group of media the changes they have been working of for the next generation of their PLM product, Autodesk PLM 360. We were greeted by the lovely Stacey Doyle, accompanied by the less attractive but both fine and knowledgeable gentlemen, Brian Roepke and Jared Sund. After a bit of nostalgia and looking at the requirements from which PLM 360 was born, Brian got stuck into showing us the new user interface.

User Interface

The new Autodesk PLM 360 Dashboard

When PLM 360 was launch in late February 2012, the web technology used within the user interface was circa 2008 & 2009. In web terms that’s quite old, although nothing like the 20-30 year old technology used by some of their competitors. As a result the Autodesk team believed they could do a lot better to redefine the User Experience. With these upcoming changes, the development team have leveraged the most modern HTML 5 & AngularJS web frameworks, to provide a rich speedy interface. The website now behaves much more like a desktop application with respect to response times from user interaction.

They haven’t just made the user interface more attractive and responsive though. You may have already come across the excellent Autodesk 360 viewer on other Autodesk websites or Cloud services now, but if you haven’t, it really is impressive. Well, naturally it’s being implemented within PLM 360 now. Select an Item with a CAD file associated with it and you get a full 3D model to play with, meaning you can interrogate it’s meta data, isolate components and even exploded assemblies gradually. For a fully immersive experience, you can view the model in full screen mode.

Autodesk PLM 360 3D Viewer

Just to get an idea of the fidelity of this viewer, the familiar looking assembly in the image above contains 4000 components and the viewer didn’t bat an eye lid while Brian was pushing it about. Even more impressive though is the quality of the image, the view is fully rendered out with ambient shadows and reflections.

Now that part was all very nice and everything, improving the tools UX across devices is always important. But the next part of the presentation was where things got serious.

Cloud enabled Product Data Management

Autodesk PLM 360 Desktop Integration

In September, during the Accelerate 2014 PLM event Brian announced and presented PLM 360’s new product data management capabilities. Oleg Shilovitsky blogged about it here, With the current incarnation of PLM 360, to associate a document to multiple Items, the file needs to be uploaded independently to each Item. However, now the PLM 360 team have written a simple extension for Windows Explorer, it presents itself as another drive in your computer, in much the same way Autodesk 360 does. While the implementation of this extension may appear similar to the Autodesk 360 Drive, it really isn’t. I hope it isn’t at least, because the A360 Drive is a truly horrible tool from a reliability standpoint.

As a result of implementing the integration this way, any application is essentially supported by PLM 360. While I wouldn’t go as far as to say PLM 360 offers integration with any application, this approach means you can very easily organize and upload your files to your PLM 360 tenant.

PLM 360 Multi-CAD Support

Companies like Greenpoint Technologies have Autodesk Vault & PLM 360 connected together. In addition they have fully adopted PLM to the point that everything design related is co-ordinated via PLM 360. This is a valid and preferred approach for many companies around the world. Curiously, Autodesk have found out over the last few years, that the transition to cloud technology is happening much faster than they thought it would. Smaller or newer companies with less IT overhead or companies with more flexible IT infrastructure, are naturally gravitating towards Cloud based strategies.

Memjet - PDM - Autodesk PLM 360

Autodesk haven’t moved Vault to the cloud, it wouldn’t be the right thing to do architecturally. Let’s face it, Vault is a mature PDM product and Autodesk aren’t stupid, just look at Fusion 360, they aren’t afraid to start with a clean sheet of paper and that’s exactly what they have done here. This has been built from the ground up, using the latest technology which has only emerged relatively recently and pioneered by Google, Netflix, Microsoft and eBay etc. eBay for example, transacts an insane 80 billion database calls a day. It’s highly unlikely any enterprise using CAD and PDM makes that many calls within their network in a week.

Autodesk PLM 360 CAD Integration

BUT, CAD data IS more complex, with large file sizes and intertwined relationships. To deal with this, Autodesk have developed Transfer Avoidance. Purposely built for managing desktop based engineering data in the cloud. Autodesk have innovated to the point where they’ve patented a lot of the techniques used within this protocol. There are lots of other technologies out there such as Riverbed etc.. However, Transfer Avoidance is optimized at the binary level. If it sees any common patterns of data, it will reuse the data already on the cloud. For each company, within each PLM 360 tenant, Autodesk maintains a library of these binary patterns. As you upload more and more information, the system actually gets faster. What’s unique about this technology is its ability to catalog this information on a massive scale.

PLM 360 Transfer Avoidance Benchmarks

Traditional PDM Features now Included in PLM 360

PLM Functionality

CAD Data Management

  • Revisions & Lifecycles
  • Versioning
  • Bills of Materials
  • Relationships
  • Change Management
  • Concurrent Design
  • Supplier Collaboration
  • Design Reuse
  • Search
  • Embedded Viewing
  • Reporting
  • Roles & Permissions
  • Business System Integration
  • Globally Access




I’m genuinely impressed by both of these additions. I haven’t been able to use PLM 360 for about 18 months now, I do miss it and although I’ve been dubious about PDM in the cloud in the past, and still am to a certain extent. This is really quite exciting. I’m curious to see how reliable this Transfer Avoidance technology really is, I’ve been told similar binary level transfer technology has failed spectacularly in the past, but the past is the past and I will approach this with an open mind given the opportunity. I really like the fact they have leveraged Windows Explorer to maintain simplicity and familiarity, which will inevitably increase adoption with staff members outside of the CAD department.

PLM 360 always felt a bit dated in certain areas, once you got into moving around the web pages. This naturally meant it wasn’t the best experience to use on mobile devices, so the adoption of HTML 5 and AngularJS is a welcome one. The responsive elements of the site were clearly demonstrated within the webinar and are most certainly a step in the right direction. The next big step though, isn’t rolling out these new updates. It’s making PLM 360 available to customers in all territories and not just the USA, UK and Germany.

@%#&! Autodesk Vault just overwrote my file

Recover Overwritten Vault CAD FilesIf you’ve used Autodesk Vault at any time, then its highly likely you have downloaded a file you already have checked out and overwrote a chunk of your work. Unfortunately that’s just one of several scenarios, which can result in you losing your work. The real trick to preventing this of course, is to check your work into Vault every couple of hours (similar to continually saving within your CAD application). Nevertheless, there could be a number of reasons why checking in your work continuously isn’t feasible. I often hear the comment “I wish Vault had a recycle bin”, I’ve even murmured those words myself and you know what it’s a reasonable request. Why can’t Vault create an old version of the files it’s overwriting? Although its likely possible, it could get mighty confusing.

Just over a year ago, one of my staff downloaded a skeletal / master model from Vault while trying to work around a problem he had, the problem was he already had it checked out, but worse he hadn’t checked in the file for a couple of days. He had created components, built a main assembly and even produced a drawing. Needless to say overwriting his skeletal model with what was essentially a template file, was highly undesirable. Don’t judge him though, he’s new to this Autodesk Inventor / Vault game, all while dealing with a temperamental VPN connection & a new replicated Vault, so he’s been doing a grand job. All of my staff and myself have all made this mistake once or twice.

Autodesk Vault Inventor Project File Old Versions Setting

In the past the Inventor Old Versions folder has been our first port of call, depending on how your Inventor Project File is setup, these folders can be a gold mine during these arse puckering moments. The project file setting I am referring to is shown in the image above, I like to set Old Versions To Keep On Save to equal 5 on all Vault project files. Of course, this tactic is of no use to AutoCAD users, but it does have some of it’s own backup treasures which may or may not be useful within any given situation.

This time however, I’m glad he made the mistake, because it prompted me to ponder if some of the new Windows Explorer features in Windows 7 on wards would help out here. The particular feature which inspired me to Google for a solution, was the undo tool. In Windows 7 or 8 if you delete a file in a folder, then press Ctrl + Z, it will undo the delete command and restore the file. In this case the file had been overwritten by an application and not as a result of the user interacting directly with the folder. So I took a punt and searched for:

“Recovering an overwritten file”

The first search return took me to this site. Method 3 of 4 was a particular surprise, I couldn’t believe it, I’d seen this tab in the Windows 7 Property menu before but I’d never realized it’s impact. The command worked perfectly, the 2 days of lost work was returned thanks to this hidden gem. You can even open or copy the previous version to a different location if you aren’t confident it’s the right way to go. Be warned though, this isn’t a fail safe, but this is always worth a check in this situation. The best part though? This is handy for all Windows users, not just Vault users.

Windows 7 Restore Previous Version Tab

Then I went and took a look at Windows 8 to make sure this behaviour still existed, it turns out it doesn’t and this article explains why. Thankfully Microsoft just improved it out right, the only catch is you have to enable it and point it to a non system drive. Take a look at this well written article explaining how to do that. Another bit of good news is Windows 10 has maintained the same system as Windows 8, so we are looking good into the future. If you are the owner of your Autodesk software, then you could re-purpose your Autodesk USB installation media, to leverage this native Windows benefit.

These tools for Windows 7 & 8 are cracking little gems, lurking in the background, rarely used but invaluable all the same just waiting for the opportunity to shine and save your butt. The best part is they can be used on any file stored on your hard drive and not just those your use for CAD. Check them out and if you need to, enable it. With respect to the title of this post, I haven’t really shown you how to prevent it happening in the first place, I will do this in an upcoming post covering dialog and prompt suppression within Vault and it’s application add-ins.

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