Autodesk University (AU2016)

AU2016 has come and gone. Even though it was earlier this year (to beat American Thanksgiving) it still feels a bit like the end of the year. It was a look back at what happened and a look forward to the exciting things happening as we go into 2017.

I flew into Las Vegas Sunday evening as I had a full slate Monday during the pre-conference events. I wear a lot of hats at AU; Technical Services Manager, Media, Expert Elite, AU Advisory Console, and a member of the Vault Customer Advisory Board. It leads to a very hectic schedule but I think provides me a different perspective than most who attend.

Here are the highlights of what happened BEFORE the conference opening keynote.

#1 – Autodesk Forge

I started the pre-conference with the Autodesk DevDays General Session. Announced at last year’s AU, Autodesk Forge was clearly the focus. Autodesk Forge is the development environment for all cloud developers to meet, learn, get help, and possibly get funding. There are over 4000 built so far on Forge. The goal is to have 5000 by early 2017.

Long term Autodesk feels all design will be in the cloud. The learning curve, as it is with anything new, is painful at first. However, Autodesk is here to help… “Let’s impress the boss” (great statement). Forge is not just about delivering an app but building a service and an experience.

It was pointed out that Kodak patented the original digital camera in 1975. They did nothing with it as they felt there was no reason to rock the boat. “It was best not to hurry to switch from making 70 cents on the dollar on film to maybe five cents at most in digital.” Mr Matteson, VP Electronic Imaging.

If you weren’t aware Kodak went from the top of the market to filing for bankruptcy in 2012

DevDays16 - Kodak

Autodesk does not want to be the next Kodak. Autodesk is moving to the cloud not because most of their customers are on the cloud now but because soon all their customers will be using the cloud.

In the long term, all design will be within the cloud. Short term it’s about connecting the desktop. The analogy given is it’s like moving away from collaborating by putting documents in dropbox to being the next Google documents.

Autodesk Forge is Legit

Over a dozen examples were shown of what has already been accomplished using Forge. It is uber impressive! Especially considering that many of the apps shown took only days to build. My head was spinning (honestly) with all the possibilities. 

Here are a few of the examples shown:

  • The viewer (which is the same as the A360 viewer) for viewing 3D models, manipulating the views, extracting dimensions and other information, and creating exploded views
  • IoT for a ship at sea with live maintenance information
  • CoolOrange thread modeler – Inventor is “booted”,  model is loaded,  geometry is generated , download model with real threads
  • a company offering FEA analysis as a service
  •; a site for posting your building models to present to the world
  • A mockup in which a ship model and car model are placed into the same environment and then scaled so they are the right size in relation to each other

DevDays16 - ExplodedModel

DevDays16 - Boat

DevDays16 - Ship

With Forge, Autodesk showed how you can collect data from any source; CAD,  databases,  ERP,  Sharepoint, you name it. With the data, you quickly propagate it into a web page to present in whatever fashion you need. Remember that just because it might be browser based doesn’t mean it needs to be broadcasted on the world wide web.

DevDays16 - Forge Center

At AU2016 the key is keeping the data at the center and building an experience around it. Most users don’t need the “clunky” desktop  when the lightweight version will suffice. With Forge at the center both Autodesk and customer applications are built on top.

DevDays16 - Forge2

What’s coming next for Forge?

  • Inventor API: Manufacturing workflows including create, edit, and publish
  • Revit API: Family creation, workflows for created, edit, and publish, and model checking.
  • Reality Capture
  • Visualization and Virtual Reality
  • Enterprise Integration

Want to learn more about programming in Forge? Take a look at YouTubeGithub and StackOverflow

Forge in the Media

Here’s a bit from the official press release:

“LAS VEGAS — Nov. 15, 2016 — At Autodesk University, Autodesk, Inc. (Nasdaq: ADSK) announced that developers and customers of all sizes are adopting its Forge platform to build and deploy apps and services for making the world around us. The company also introduced new AR/VR capabilities to drive immersive real-time industry experiences and shared its plans to use Forge as its common data environment and engine for simplifying its own product offerings.”

“Since announced at Autodesk University 2015, Autodesk Forge has expanded to include more robust integrations to manufacturing and construction enterprise systems to streamline collaboration, integrate with manufacturing and BIM workflows and make it easier to get things made. The more than 4,000 apps and services created on Forge span a variety of business needs ranging from part inspection to sub-sea surveying, from managing mines with drones to turning cost estimation into a competitive advantage.”

#2 – Tetra4D to Automate MBD PDF Creation

Tetra4D announced two exciting products: Automate and a mobile viewer. Read more here

#3 – Lenovo is Saving the World

Lenovo provides technology to organizations attempting to change the world. This is with the ThinkRevolution program. I had the please of sitting down with Tim Prestero from Design That Matters. This guy is truly inspirational. Read more here.

#4 – AU Advisory Council

I am a member of the Autodesk University Advisory Council. We did not have formal meetings at AU2016 but did meet for lunch. I mention this as it shows another initiative that Autodesk is taking to improve the experience of Autodesk University. Keep an eye out for the new Autodesk University online. The goal is to extend the AU experience to the entire year.

#5 – Vault News

Unfortunately, I cannot discuss the Vault Customer Advisory Board (CAB) meeting as I am under NDA. However, one bit of news is that the Vault team has been restructured to be within the Inventor team. The Inventor development team is top notch and who doesn’t want tighter integration between Inventor and Vault? Also, maybe they can finally fix the integration between Vault and AutoCAD Electrical. For those of us in the manufacturing realm, I think this is phenomenal news. For those in other spaces (like AEC) I’d be a bit nervous about future development and direction. The division is now referred to as Digital Engineering

#6 – I’m a Winner!

60 people came out this year for the Day 1 AU5K organized by Shaan Hurley. An annual event the goal is to get runners, joggers, and walkers out for a 5K jaunt early in the morning before the conference starts. I agree with Shaan in an amazing turnout and such a fun active way to start your AU day. It is another opportunity to catch up with people and meet new people. If you attend Autodesk University in the future make sure to look for all and any opportunity to talk shop with new people. I only made it out one morning, but I’m a winner and have the badge to prove it!

Running at AU 2016

[That’s me in the back row, right side, with the all black shirt]

#7 – Five Pillars of Effective CAD Management

Tuesday morning, prior to the keynote, I attended the Five Pillars of Effective CAD Management hosted by the Paul Munford. In all the years I’ve known Paul I had yet to catch him present live and in person. If you haven’t, don’t miss out on future opportunities. Even after 6-years as a CAD Manager, Paul still found a way to teach me a thing or two. I went back to work with a few key items to implement.

What did I learn? Yes, an old dog can still learn new tricks… and you’d be foolish to stop learning!


Feature Image Nicolas Alejandro