Wide 16x9 banner version of the Factory Design Suite 2012 hero image. Represents Factory Design Suite Ultimate, Premium, and Basic.<br /> CAPTION REQUIRED (see Marketing Guidelines Site for caption usage details): Rendering of a 2D factory layout with an overlay of 3D factory content. Autodesk(R) Factory Design Suite and Autodesk(R) 3ds Max(R) Design software products were used in the design process.Autodesk announced that the 2012 product lines would move to suites, combinations of software related to specific user needs in their respective industries. By now I suppose this is old news. Additionally, what is old news is that these have been erroneously dubbed software bundles.

This is a tragic misinterpretation of a pretty cool opportunity for 3 important situations:

  • Best BIM design and Digital Prototyping interoperability ever
  • Manage and deploy numerous software titles from one location
  • Least expensive manner in which to get more than one design application

Interoperability

I am a huge proponent of product interoperability. If you say export and interoperability in the same sentence, then I have probably stopped listening. Jay Bhatt’s claim to “…one version of data, and that has to be the true version of the data. It has to flow back and forth seamlessly, and not be a series of separate actions” has never been so close as with these suites.

The workflows of Manufacturing and AEC industries are substantially different, and such the modes of interoperability while different are still truer to form. No special steps to use the model from a sibling application.  Many of the applications in a Suite are often joined together by new panels on their ribbon interface that permit the seamless exchange data with their sibling applications in the suite.

imageI give you as a benchmark, the Autodesk Factory Design Suite, which has already been on the market for close to a year. The interaction between software is really amazing. Moreover, the reaction of the software to it’s suite companion’s models is wonderful. Like the automated transition of blocks taken from the 2D environment, and change into 3D variations in the 3D model.

The Product Design Suite 2012 for the Manufacturing division provides not only an enhanced BIM export solution for Revit Family models, but the relatively seamless translation from one application to the next. Inventor model free-form editing is completed by Fusion, and then deposited back into the Inventor model browser, without leaving the model environment. A work of art. We see similar workflows between Autodesk’s Simulation products and Fusion as well.

civil_3d_2012_ civil_view_Feature_SetThe Infrastructure Design Suite sheds the clunky visualization extensions and export process to 3DS Max. 2012 provides the streamlined Civil View Feature Set, enabling a simple push of a button exchange of dynamically updatable data in 3DS Max.

Installation

The Suites will all deliver on a thumb drive in the mail. The suites configure and deploy from one simplified process, not the individual configuration as before. No more swapping DVD after DVD.

Price

Autodesk has stated that the cost savings range upwards to 68%, and will offer a savings to anyone who already holds multiple software titles. Not all the divisions have their respective suite cost profiles out. AEC has given us a little insight. If you only use Civil 3D for example, Autodesk says that you will have an up charge of a few hundred dollars to receive the comparable Infrastructure Design Suite. Nothing specific yet. (There is a rumor that Infrastructure Design Suite will be ready by the 15th of April)

Manufacturing has published their pricing, which you can find below. Additionally, if you are a Manufacturing subscription customer, then you get a huge gift. If, for example you use Autodesk Inventor Professional, you will receive Autodesk Design Suite Ultimate at no additional charge.  Why? When asked Buzz Kross, Manufacturing Division Vice-President responded “Competitive Separation”. Autodesk wants to distribute the capabilities and opportunities of the suite to it’s customers, making both the customers and themselves more competitive and ultimately more profitable it their respective markets.

Conclusion

First let me say that I was extremely disappointed to find that Autodesk Publisher was not part of the Product Design Premium or Ultimate Suites. I think most of us would like to see it swapped with Mudbox.

Lastly, I think that something went wrong with the release of the suites. People tend to resist change and grasp hold of groundless assumption too often. Much uproar and confusion came about when the products were permitted to be called bundles, as few people understood the true nature of the integrated tools in each suite. With no suites available and so much talk early on about the products in the suites and the related savings offered has fueled the fire.

Manufacturing’s decision to offer subscription members an incredible upgrade at no charge was a great way to ease the tension of the moment. Additionally I think it is a testament to their desire to empower their customers.

For me, the power and benefit of interoperable products in a suite will result in an explosive manner. When you double the mass, the resulting power is cubed. Autodesk has put a great deal of time and effort into making their products efficiently work in unison toward a common goal as their customers have requested. It’s an opportunity for expanded capability in ways that were previously unreasonable to pursue.