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Join us at Autodesk University 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages Design & Motion proudly brings to you, its Autodesk University speakers Mike Thomas and Gavin Bath!

If you’re heading to Las Vegas for Autodesk’s annual user-conference, we invite you to join us for one (or all four!) of our Inventor classes. John will also be seen lurking around Vegas too, so make sure to track him down.

D&M Take Over Autodesk University

Here’s a quick overview of Mike’s classes

MD4857 – Sketching with Inventor

Sketching is the basis of any model. In this class we will explore sketching within Inventor software, and we’ll give you the timesaving tips and tricks to make you more productive. This includes the timesaving tools introduced with the 2015 release of Inventor software, including Relax Mode and the new onscreen right-click tools. Come to this class to learn the skills you need to build a rock-solid foundation for your models.

Tuesday, Dec 2, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

MD4862 – Advanced Assembly Control with Representations in Inventor

[Proudly co-presented with Chris Benner @CGBenner ]

This class will teach you how to use the 3 types of Representations in Inventor software assemblies. Representations can control the visibility, the suppression, the position, and several of the other characteristics of components within assemblies. Representations enable you to save specific views of your assembly to prepare for presentations and to create drawings. Proper use of Representations also significantly improves computer performance when dealing with large, complex assemblies.

Tuesday, Dec 2, 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM

MD4890 – The Suite Life of Product Design Suite

Product Design Suite has just arrived and you’ve cracked the packaging (or finished the download) and are about to install the software—but wait, what are all these options? Why so many? What is all this stuff? You just want Inventor software and AutoCAD software. Take a deep breath. Autodesk, Inc., has packaged not only software but also workflows to provide you with an excellent set of product design tools. AutoCAD Mechanical software for sketching and legacy maintenance, Inventor software for 3D modeling and design, Showcase software for realistic renderings, 3ds Max Design software for animations, and Alias Design software for complex surface design, just to name a few. In this class we’ll look at some of Product Design Suite’s workflows so you can get up off the ground and running in no time.

Wednesday, Dec 3, 8:00 AM – 9:30 AM

Here is Gavin’s class

PE5895 – Truly Integrated CAM: Inventor HSM is a Well-Oiled Machine

Learn to extend the power of Autodesk, Inc.’s, fully integrated CAM Solution for Inventor software by complementing it with Vault software. You will learn about the workflows used to create machine code for the CNC (computer numerical control) machining of your parts, and you will also learn the benefits of using an integrated CAM system. Data management is often a nightmare for companies that maintain design separately from files containing manufacturing information such as toolpaths. In this class you will see just how easily you can maintain both in a single file, using Inventor HSM software and Vault software.

Tuesday, Dec 2, 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Autodesk University – What, When, Where, Why?

Autodesk University is December 2–4, at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. It is the biggest Autodesk User Conference, attended by 1000′s of Autodesk Users every year. It might sound corny, but the biggest benefit of attending AU, hands down, is the people. The interactions, the discussions, the laughs… everyone is there for the same reason, have similar problems, and are always so willing to talk. We’ve met many people over the years, many who have become close friends.

Visit the Autodesk University website for more information

Autodesk University – The Good, the Bad, and the Meh (Part 2)

Its been about a month since Autodesk University concluded and it was never my intention to let my final AU post take this long to finish but time sure flies fast when you come back right into the holiday season. However, keeping in the theme of the last post here are my final notes about the event

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The Good

Geek talk” for almost a whole week. CAM, Inventor, Data Management, PLM, ERP, MRP, Training, Support, past, present, and future. It was awesome. So many people, everyone so willing to talk. This is hands down the best part of attending AU. [NOTE: I would however still like to learn more about how people are using PLM 360, so if anyone wants to chat let me know.]


With four classes over three days, a couple meetings with Autodesk, and a few Usability sessions I didn’t get to attend as many classes as I normally do. Other than the classes I outlined in my last post, I will say that I enjoyed PL1753 – The Data Management Avengers. It was a great class for those already using Vault as it was informal with no agenda but Autodesk was very well represented with Product Managers, Application Engineers, and Developers. There was a lot of talk about current Vault issues and discussion about the future direction of Vault. The round of applause for Error 1415 was hilarious but I think made a strong point to Autodesk that there was a serious group of people in the room.

The Bad

My predictions… no SnapChat acquisition, no Jitterbit, no Netsuite, absolutely nothing. In fact there was almost nothing on Delcam other than Autodesk is in a period of “quiet” and we won’t know anything further until at least February. My worst prediction? getting certified (huge fail). I don’t really have an excuse, other than I tried three times and was told to expect a 45-minute wait. I know, I know, didn’t stop a lot of other people including Mr. Moyse (He assured me the couches were really comfortable throughout the 45 minute wait! But he did miss out on the closing session).


The Meh

The Closing Session. I don’t want to come across harsh as I really like the idea of having a closing session right before the wrap up party, but this just lacked substance. Penn and Teller were great again but I really wanted to learn more about which Autodesk products Moon Express is using and how they are using them. I’m sure a lot of it was competitive advantage limitations, but we really didn’t get to see anything of the “how”, more just “why” and “when” they are going to the moon.

The Exhibit Hall. Other than the green pants (inside joke), I think its safe to say the idea of booths, displays, and give-aways are a dying breed. Perhaps it had more to do with not being in the market for anything but I wasn’t really wowed by anything. The CAM companies and 3D Printers were setup in many places outside the exhibit hall, so there wasn’t really anything new in this area to see inside the exhibit hall. A reseller told me that they came with a significantly smaller presence this year, due to the lack of huge sales increases as a result of being there last year.

I will say that the food in the exhibit hall each night was great, the drinks cold, and the conversation was awesome. So the time spent in the Exhibit Hall was not all to waste.

Next Year

This year was different for me in that I didn’t really go with a focus and with four classes (and other activities) I didn’t get to attend as many classes as I would have liked. My goal for next year (fingers crossed I get to go again) is to attend more of the Innovation Forums. I think these will be a great place to see what leaders are doing and see different approaches to problem solving, engineering, sales, and marketing.

If you had to limit it to one thing, what was your favourite part of Autodesk University 2013?


Autodesk Wants Users to Have More Access

Autodesk University 2013 was a successful event, and we got to witness some great presentations about the changes in the world and how Autodesk plans to be part of the transformation. It’s all about access.

Access to Collaborative Influences

Jeff Kowalski delivered a great presentation on looking out. I am not usually fond of the dog-and-pony show presentations (my short attention span / companies glossing over obvious issues, etc.), however Jeff really did a fine job of relating how looking out has benefitted both imbedded and emerging companies across the world.

Jeff Kowalski Discusses Collaboration at Autodesk University

While many companies are trying to protect their investments by hiding their plans and goals, Jeff pointed out how many companies were being somewhat more open with their ideas, and openly inviting new engineers and designers to help solve problems with their internal team members. GrabCAD has been doing that for some time, using contests to attract talent and provide numerous ways to attack problems.

“No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.”

Autodesk continues to introduce new methods of integrating the collaborative effect across their products, especially the 360 cloud initiatives. The new face of Autodesk 360 reflects the direction they are heading. Those changes should provide more access to collaborative efforts for both companies and individuals alike, as well to expand the reach of those using the traditional engineering workflows such as tools like Autodesk Inventor.

Access to New Design Tools and Methods

Autodesk has expanded their pay-as-you-go solutions to include most of their popular products, which ultimately reaches more customers:

  • where the annual fees were cost prohibitive in a single payment
  • where the need for seats of a product could only be justified for a short period of time
  • where the need for the software is sporadic

Additionally the need for more computing power and the cost of a full time hardware investment have been difficult strategies for medium sized companies trying to compete. Autodesk has mitigated that with not only cloud computing services such as SIM 360 and CAM 360, but now offers SIM 360 with both cloud computing as well as local solving options. This gives companies the option to solve locally when the complexity is not too great, or lay the process off to the cloud solvers when the need rises, thus keeping the cost of cloud solving at a minimum. The strategy also allows companies to more confidently attack problems that became too costly during complex setup phases, where numerous partial results are required prior to solving the entire scope of the model.

Sim 360 Thermal Stress

The latter may also permit some companies to offer their employees SIM 360’s services. The learning curve for early design validation is quite short with SIM 360, and with the desktop only option not soaking up cloud credits, many roadblocks associated with adopting the new tool are removed. Let’s face it, if you wanted your teams to have more static type validation early in the design phase, with the least amount of training requirements and intrusiveness, SIM 360 is the way to go.

My Thoughts

Autodesk has really gone to some effort to help connect their subscribers to what they see as the needs of an evolving world:

  • embracing both additive and subtractive manufacturing technologies, and providing access to these for their subscribers
  • giving more people with new ideas access to capable tools that were out of reach for numerous reasons
  • providing better methods of collaboration, encouraging design teams to reach out to people around the globe in search of ideas to solve various problems, and not hide behind their firewall in order to protect their investments.

The latter is likely to spark new technological advancements where lack of collaboration with new people had stifled a potential new avenue of success.

Collaborative connectivity has been a problem for some time. Services have been emerging that embraced the thoughts of the many, but the services have been sporadic in nature and did not connect well to other processes. What seems to be happening is that companies such as Autodesk are looking at how these can be connected as they evolve, in order to prepare a fluid platform for emerging thinkers to solve problems. A platform that is easily adopted, easily used, and worked well with other collaborative and communicative platforms as they grow in popularity is a serious look at the emerging workforce, and puts Autodesk in a very good place to compete in the radically changing design marketplace.

Note: Autodesk, Inc. and Autodesk User Group International graciously covered portions of the expenses associated with my participation at the event, however in no manner did they influence or suggest any content in this article.

Autodesk University – The Good, the Bad, and the Meh (Part 1)

AU2013 has come and gone, what a blur. Opposed to detailing every class I attended and everything I saw I am going to summarize the experience in what I’m calling the good, the bad, and the meh

meh [mɛ/] = Indifference; to be used when one simply does not care.

AU2013 - The Good, the Bad, and the Meh

The Good

Jitterbit - On-Premise & Cloud Integration Made Easy

On-Premise & Cloud Integration Made Easy

Tuesday 8AM PL2759 Autodesk PLM 360 Connect. This class should have been called “Come see Jitterbit” as that what it was about. If you haven’t heard about Jitterbit it is a “middleware” whose sole purpose is sit between and connect different business systems…. And it does it very, very well. I was very impressed by how easy it was to build links between Salesforce and PLM360 and between PLM360 and Netsuite. They also showed a bi-directional link between Vault and PLM360 including using the Workflow system in PLM360 to manage the lifecycle of the item in Vault. Jitterbit is all wizard based that you need to know almost zero about javascript or SQL querying or any other programming language. The Jitterbit stuff is very impressive.

What’s interesting is the responses from Autodesk towards Vault and PLM360 integration. The official word is to look at Jitterbit, but if you read between the lines it seems that Autodesk is still deciding if and what to do at the lower end of the scale. I compare it to when Autodesk acquired Intent (which has become Inventor ETO), which provided high-end configuration. They then filled the lower-end of the spectrum with iLogic. if I was a betting man I’d say we either going to see a Jitterbit “Lite” or an Autodesk homegrown solution to provide a link between Vault and PLM360.

Autodesk CAM360

CAM 360…. Its heeerrrrre! Well, kind of. We got the official announcement and were told to expect beta of CAM 360 in December.  I’m going to leave the full review of CAM360 to the other Design & Motion guys but it has become very clear why Autodesk purchased HSM.

The CAM group is operating under the what they call the “95/5” rule meaning that 95% of the code base is platform independent, and 5% is platform integration. They are hoping to have the Inventor HSM CAM (not the free Express which is already out), CAM360, and HSMWorks for Solidworks all at the same level (very soon), meaning that as they roll out updates and new features it will be rolled out across all three at the same time. It will also get to the point where certain elements, like the tool library, will be stored in the cloud so that it doesn’t matter which CAM platform you are using, you’ll have access to your common elements.

The Bad

What we saw of Publisher 360. Autodesk was obviously hoping to be further along with this product as they had nothing to show. I don’t understand why they even bothered, except I guess to keep us interested on what’s upcoming. They are planning a alpha / beta testing period in January so we’ll have to wait for that.

Bigger than the disappointment of not really seeing Publisher 360 might be the plans to maintain Inventor Publisher as it is, with no plans to add any new features of significance. This product needs major enhancements or should just be killed off… but probably they are waiting for the 360 version to become established.

My ideal situation? The existing Inventor Publisher product is included in the Design Suite and a workflow is created to use it as the Inventor IPN environment. Inventor Assemblies are “pushed” into Publisher to create the exploded views and then “pulled” back into the Inventor Drawing environment to generate the drawing views. Its win-win… Inventor Publisher gets a new life, Inventor users get a better exploded view generator

The Meh

The keynote address: It wasn’t bad, just not overly compelling; it was just meh. A couple notes for now until I can watch it again

  • Penn & Teller were awesome
  • Jeff Kolwaski (Autodesk CTO) was great, as always. He talked about looking outside instead of inside. He focused on four main topics: insight, tools, people, and work. The one statement that Jeff quoted that really stuck with me was from Alvin Toffler The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.
  • Carl Bass highlighted a few customer successes, the ones that stood out to me were: Denver Airport, Orphanage Guitar, Aston Martin, Biolite, and Bot & Dolly

You can watch the recorded keynote here

I’ll be back again with my thoughts on the last day of AU and will expand on some of the things I learned and saw.I’ll look back at my predictions and see how I did


My AU Day 0 (Pre Conference)

For the first time in my AU experience I was scheduled to get into Las Vegas early enough to participate in a few of the many pre-conference events. I found out after that the amount of pre-conference activity is almost as overwhelming as the actual conference. Here’s how my day went

  • 5AM Up and dressed, eating breakfast, triple checking I had everything, and passed level 80 of Candy Crush
  • 6AM arrived at the airport
  • 7AM arrive in Calgary in the middle of a full force blizzard
  • 10AM board airplane for Vegas 45 minutes late
  • 11:30AM finally take off; we must have de-iced in anticipation of takeoff 3-times
  • 2PM Arrive at hotel, check-in, register for AU, and make it to first session (1-hour late)
  • 2PM – 4PM ADN3589 Breakout Manufacturing
  • 4:15PM – 6PM AU Mentor / Freshman Orientation
  • 6PM – 6:30PM NVIDIA and Dell AU Cocktail Reception
  • 6:30PM – 8PM AU Speaker Reception
  • 8PM – 10PM Blogger & Social Media Social

Autodesk University Snow

That’s right, got into Calgary in a full-out blizzard. About 30-flights across Alberta had already been cancelled by the time I got to Calgary and many more got cancelled after I left. In a weird twist of fate we were told that because of the many domestic flights cancelled it opened the windows of opportunity for the international flights to leave. There was a round of applause when we finally took off.

Autodesk University Gunslinger

Because of the delay in getting into Las Vegas I was unable to attend the Vault Gunslinger I was invited too. A “Gunslinger” is a way for Autodesk to get a group of people into a room and have them completely rip apart the software, letting Autodesk know what they like and what they don’t. I’ve never attended a gunslinger before and was really looking forward to it.

AUtodesk University Developer Network

I can’t talk much about the ADN breakout as most of it is under NDA (non-disclosure). However there wouldn’t really be much I would talk about. Autodesk highlighted (from a programming perspective) what you can currently do with the various manufacturing products and what’s coming in the upcoming releases. I don’t think I even saw one piece of code, just a lot of PowerPoints. I will say keep an eye out on the next version or two of Vault, there are some very cool things coming (well, as cool as Vault can be)

For the first time I attended the AU Freshman Orientation, participating in a mentor role. I was shocked by the amount of people that attended the event. There must have been over a thousand people there and they were all bright-eyed and bushy tailed eager to get their AU experience going. I’m glad I did this once, not sure I’ll do it again.

The NVIDIA Cocktail Reception was very disappointing. Why? Two laptops in the corner of the room not really doing anything. I expected a presentation, wanted to see what was hot and cool. Got a drink and a short speech from one of the sales people. I can get more from the NVIDIA website.


The Blogger and Social Media Reception was great just from the aspect of all the people I was able to meet and talk to.

So that is my recap of Day “0″ of Autodesk University. As you just read not much to report, but it was good just because of the contacts and the conversations.


Twas the Night Before Autodesk University

Twas the night before Vegas, when all through the land

Not a mouse was stirring, not even a digitizer or Leap Motion that I control with my hand..

The tablets (and other smart devices) were charging by the chimney with care,

In hopes that Autodesk University soon would be there.

The students were nestled all snug in their beds,

While visions of Lynn Allen danced in their heads.

And with Inventor and Revit on their laptop, and Autodesk 360 ready to take a lap,

they all settled their brains for a long Fall nap.


When out on twitter there arose such a clatter,

They sprang from their beds to see what was the matter.

Away to their phones they flew like a flash,

Tore open the app and flipped through with such sass.


The moon on the breast of the new-fallen Tweets

Gave the luster of mid-day to make them seen sweet.

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a miniature tweet, and eight tiny retweets.

With such a description, so lively and quick,

I knew in a moment there is no time for sleep.

More rapid than eagles the courses, they came,

There are too many classes to pick from and I know them all by name!

AU Logo

So AU is upon us and I am still tweaking my schedule, why do all the good classes or the ones that I’m most interested in always seem to fall on the same time slot? Argggghhhhh!

Other than my classes (of course) here are a couple I’m really looking forward too.

Classes, Classes, and more Classes

PL1749Looking into the Crystal Ball: The Future of PDM at Autodesk”. I usually have a good idea of what’s going on in the data-management world but this year I don’t know… and actually I hope I don’t know until this class as I like the excitement of the reveal of new things.

MA3501“Introduction to Computer-Aided Machining (CAM)“. I haven’t seriously looked at CAM since my tech-school days, so I’m ready for this refresher and re-introduction.

MA2330 – “Creating Interactive 3D Documentation with Autodesk® Publisher 360“. Inventor Publisher really became a “dead” product after it was introduced with so much hype. I’ve got one seat ready to be dusted off and have something done with it… just hope their is an easy migration path to 360

What we will see from Autodesk

I talked last time about some (hopeful) acquisitions outside of this what do I think we’ll see from Autodesk? I think two things will be front-and-center: the Cloud and 3D Printing. How could it not be?

With the release of HSM Express and the pending acquisition of Delcam, Autodesk is about ready to explode into the CAM market. With the commercialization of 3D Printing and the industry move to additive manufacturing, this is a huge market that not only Autodesk will be diving into head first. CAM 360 will be presented as the first CAM in the cloud.

“the Cloud”… its been the message for at least 3-years. Now with the traditional desktop products (like Inventor and Revit) working in a browser what is holding everyone back? What are we going to see? Additional 360 products and services: CAM 360, Publisher 360, Showcase 360(?), and probably some type of drafting and detailing engine for Fusion 360. I would also imagine better integration between Vault and PLM 360. What if there was a Vault 360? (Gasp!). And what about Design Review?

I’m hoping to see how long time traditional desktop users will gain access to the newer Cloud initiatives. Will there be a Navisworks / Mockup 360 bundle? Will there be a migration path for existing Inventor Publisher users to Publisher 360? (I really hope so).

What about Suite users? Is there really enough differentiation between the “flavours” of the Suites? For example the difference between PDS Premium and Ultimate is Alias Design and a bump from Navisworks Simulate to Manage. If I was a betting man I’d be betting that the “Ultimate” is going to get more stuff added, in the form of Cloud Services.

It will also be interesting to see how they will “spin” the death of the upgrade

Twitter here we come!

Other things I’m looking forward to? Meeting and putting faces to all my “twitter friends” that I’ve made over the past year. If we meet and I’m not sure who you are introduce yourself by twitter handle (ha!).

My suggestions for first comers?

There are dozens of articles, blog posts, and tweets with suggestions for first-times to AU. They are all great but really you only need to know two things to make it the best experience:

  1. Meet with and talk with as MANY people as you can. Autodesk people, vendors, resellers, and of course other AU’ers. Even if they are in different industry segments everyone is always so willing to talk. My wife refers to it as “Geek Talk” and how I must be in “Geek Heaven” for a whole week. I had some phenomenal conversations with some Architectural folks last year regarding CAD Management, Project Management, and their use of the Cloud. It didn’t matter that I was of a Manufacturing background, we found the common ground and found a lot to share and discuss.
  2. Drink as much water as possible! I can’t stress this enough… my first year I ended up with one of the worst headaches of my life all because I went like 12-hours without water. Your first thought will be for coffee (morning) and beer (evening) but try to fit in a couple glasses of water, trust me.

So, if you’re going to AU hunt me down, and lets talk. If you are not going to AU make sure to check out the live and online sessions. Last and not least check back here as we will all be doing AU wrap-ups and reviews during and after the event.

What’s everyone else looking forward to?


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