…well, at least as I see it.

There are so many awesome things in this release.  You will see in the upcoming AUGI World Inventor column, there are A LOT of improvements in 2011.  So many in fact that the original basic article rang up 7000 words.  I spent a week cutting and cutting in order to get a streamlined brief. Needless to say, there is no reasonable way to talk about all of it, so I’ll go over my favorites.

#1 Context Glyphs

Autodesk calls this the “Direct Manipulation Mini Toolbar”.  I like ‘Context Glyphs’, because a) I came up with it, b) it’s shorter, and c) it indicates that these temporary graphic icons appear based on the context of what is picked. 

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Context Glyphs are my absolute favorite thing.  By now you’ve heard from Rob Cohee and others that they provide a fast way of manipulating a model.  While it’s not like mental projection fast, they do shave considerable time by ‘keeping your eyes on the ball’.

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Each time you look to a menu pulldown or some dialog, your brain has to shift its focus, and then shift back to the model.  The more stress you are under, the more mentally draining it is.  This eliminates some of this by giving us what we probably wanted in the first place just by picking the object we want to focus on. 

100% of the tools that we would choose 80% of the time, in a manner that is streamlined and at least 20% faster.

#2 Fusion

I am not completely certain much more needs to be said there.  Having the ability to use Fusion technology to make changes to the part, and then bring it back to Inventor with all the changes accessible is awesome.  I can’t wait to get moving with Fusion. 

#3 Dynamic Simulation Highlight Joint References

The functionality helps identify the components involved in a joint, by highlighting the component in the Graphics Window when the corresponding joint is picked in the  simulation browser.  Wow, that was a mouthful.

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To the average user this may not seem like a big deal, but when digging through a simulation, it is sometimes difficult to determine WHICH of the 20 identical joints is the problematic one. This can soak up substantial time, and is terribly frustrating.  This feature is a welcomed solution.

#4 Stress Analysis Assembly and Part simplification

We can now exclude one or more components from an assembly analysis. This permits us to be able to perform detailed analysis on a specific portion of a design, without having to create a new assembly.  Reduced overhead for non-critical features dramatically improves the performance of the application..

  • Mesh failures can be pushed past by excluding the affected components and continuing without addressing the issue.
  • Numerous different analysis can be performed in the same assembly on different components simply by including or excluding the necessary items in each saved analysis.

#5 Assemble Command

The all in one Place and Constrain tool that predicts the constraint type contextually as you select faces and edges.  Nice.

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Thinks of how many (or few) keystrokes it would actually take to place and constrain an object if you didn’t have all the other dialog starts to go through.  I mean you WILL be constraining the object after placement, why not do that all in one shot?

#6 Enhanced visualization tools

  • Visual Styles – preset styles such as realistic, shaded, wireframe with or without hidden lines, monochrome, watercolor, and illustration are available. These are dramatic in difference, and can really change the mood of how the model is being perceived by the viewer.
  • Shadows can be toggled on and off
  • Ground Reflections can simulate a reflective environment
  • Adjustable Ground Plane that sits adjacent to your model
  • Enhanced lighting styles that affect how your model is visualized

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To give you an example, how about the valve housing on my home page?  That is not rendered.  That is a part environment, with monochrome visual style, and ground reflections on.  Seriously changes the mood doesn’t it? 

The usefulness of the workspace viewed project has been elevated far beyond expectations, making non-rendered real-time presentations more appealing. Webcasts will never be the same.

#7 Realistic Appearance Material Library

Map a color style’s Realistic Appearance from the Autodesk Material Library for use with the Realistic Visual Style when you want a realistic display of the model.

The new Autodesk Material Library is shared between Autodesk products such as Inventor, AutoCAD, Revit and 3ds Max.

Other mentions

Alias – I know this isn’t part of the installation, but it REALLY needs to be mentioned here. The ability to use Alias to make dramatic changes in Inventor, that could not be performed in any realistic manner, and stored in the Inventor model is just unbelievable.  Makes me start to wonder which gets used first…Fusion…Alias..hmmm.

Conclusion

I could go on and on, but I will spare you.  The only way you will know how good these enhancements are, or how good it feels to be in Inventor 2011 is to try it.  The 2011 product line is the best overall release of products to date, and the most comfortable and stable the entire lineup has ever been.