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A lesson from history… the Death of Inventor and the Move to Fusion 360

Inventor’s Death?

Is Inventor’s death a real possibility? How could Autodesk kill a product that is a market leader, is used by thousands of people, and has a strong (loyal) community of users? They definitely can and have done so before.

Mechanical Desktop

Picture this. It is 1999 and the so-called midrange modelers are now the dominate players in the 3D modeling market. Autodesk’s Mechanical Desktop, the new-to-the-market SOLIDWORKS, SolidEdge, and others were really changing the playing field. No longer were the old-boys club of ProEngineer, Catia, and Unigraphics ruling the roost. No longer did you have to spend tens of thousands of dollars to do 3D modeling. For most organizations, you could be very proficient spending just between $5000 and $10,000.

MDT 4 Box Shot

As already mentioned, the main 3D mechanical modeling system for Autodesk at the time was Mechanical Desktop (MDT). MDT was based on AutoCAD, acquired technology, and internally developed features.

When I entered the workforce in 1998 it was for an Autodesk reseller. MDT was an easy sell. It was an Autodesk product and existing AutoCAD customers could upgrade to MDT for a significantly less amount than buying SOLIDWORKS or SolidEdge.

In addition to costing less, as it was based on AutoCAD. We would show existing customers that they could continue to use their AutoCAD templates, borders, title blocks, layer schemes, block (symbol) libraries, and the icing-on-the-cake easily move their 2D drawings to 3D parametric models. Since it was based on AutoCAD, MDT’s detailing and annotation tools were easily the best in the market. I might even argue that there is no system today that provides the same level of flexibility to detail, as well as MDT could.

MDT 2004

Add it all up and selling MDT was as much of a slam dunk as you could have…. well, at least for existing Autodesk customers.

The next versions of Mechanical Desktop, based on AutoCAD R14 and 2000, brought along significant new features, functionality, and workflows.

But then something happened….(dramatic pause)…. Autodesk released Inventor (gasp)!

A New Beginning… Autodesk Inventor

Autodesk passed on the opportunity to purchase SOLIDWORKS as they were secretly working on their own “modern” system. This product, codenamed Rubicon, would go on to become the Autodesk Inventor we all know and love.

new-beginning-by-scott-robinson

New Beginning by Scott Robinson

Autodesk recognized they were seriously handcuffed developing on top of AutoCAD. They knew they needed something built from the ground up, focussed solely on mechanical 3D modeling for manufacturing.

As easy as it was to sell MDT to existing Autodesk customers, it was almost impossible to sell to non-Autodesk customers. As it was based on AutoCAD it seemed adequated and difficult to use, especially compared to the likes of SOLIDWORKS and SolidEdge. In addition, MDT was actually cumbersome to use plus it lacked some of the advanced bells-and-whistles as its competitors.

Autodesk Drops the Ball

What was a bit scary at the time for resellers, now seems a bit humorous. Autodesk so badly read the market and stumbled out of the gate with Inventor.

Autodesk touted Inventor as the “ProE Killer“. This was at a pre-Creo time, where ProEngineer was still king of the market. Autodesk sold hard on Inventor’s adaptivity, its large modeling database, its ease-of-use, and modern “clean” user interface.

The message from Autodesk to its resellers was to continue pushing MDT on the existing customer base and aim high by selling Inventor to the ProE, Catia, UG, and Ideas users.

As you can imagine things fell apart quickly. Autodesk Inventor, as a release 1, lacked features to really complete. Although Autodesk worked hard by ramping up the releases quickly there was no way Inventor could compete with ProE, UG, and the high-end modelers. A ProE killer it was not.

Inventor 1.0 could not import 2D DWG nor could it import MDT 3D models. Since Autodesk was looking elsewhere, they did not think it was important to include AutoCAD with Inventor. They didn’t want to murky the waters.

As much as the Autodesk customer base liked MDT they immediately felt betrayed and many pissed off that Autodesk was introducing a new product. The way Autodesk marketed and promoted Inventor and almost instantly ignored MDT, made customers start to question the life of MDT. It didn’t help that the quantity of new features in MDT quickly started to dwindle. The writing was on the wall.

Inventor Rebirth and the Struggles for MDT Users

Fast forward two years (say 2001ish) and Autodesk did an 180 when they realized they missed the boat. They first started including AutoCAD with your Inventor purchase. Then soon after started including MDT. This correlated with Inventor’s new abilities to import both 2D AutoCAD drawings and 3D MDT models.  They decided to leave the old-boys club alone and focus on their existing customer base and the other mid-range modelers.

The problem was it was not always such an easy task for MDT users to make the switch. Sure, you could import your existing MDT models and for the most part, it did a really good job. However, many organizations had processes and workflows (like data management) in place that worked with AutoCAD and MDT but could not work with Inventor without a significant investment. Also, MDT could annotate and detail well, while Inventor really lacked in this area.

death - a self portrait

Death – A Self Portrait by Liz Kcer

MDT 6 was the last release to include new features of significance and MDT immediately went into maintenance mode (although this was never made official at the time). Autodesk continued to rev bump MDT but the only new features were whatever was new in AutoCAD. Eventually, they made the decision and officially killed MDT. Now MDT users HAD to make the switch.

Autodesk Fusion 360

Now we fast forward to 2014. Inventor, which was once touted as cutting edge and the future of modeling, is now the grizzled veteran. Autodesk has sold Inventor into thousands of companies and it has a very large and very loyal user community.

However, Autodesk has decided to dive into “the cloud” and other new bleeding-edge technology head first. Their existing product has too much history to be adopted to the cloud, so they have introduced a new product. This new product is developed from the ground up to utilize things like the cloud to its advantage. This new product, Fusion 360, quickly becomes Autodesk’s poster child. Fusion is arguably Autodesk’s most marketed products. All sounds too familiar, doesn’t it?

All sounds too familiar, doesn’t it?

What’s Old is New Again… or is it What was New is Now Old Again?

Inventor’s Death must be upon us, right? That’s the view of many people.

During the Autodesk Keynote, there was very little on Inventor (or Revit, or Civil 3D, or AutoCAD, or any desktop product). It was clearly apparent that Fusion 360 has the bling, the bam, and all the swagger. Walk around the AU exhibit hall and again it is all about Fusion and the customers who are using Fusion.

Inventor along with all of Autodesk’s desktop software is going to disappear. The writing is clearly on the wall. However, I don’t think it is going to happen as quickly as what some are predicting.

Things are much different this time compared to the introduction of Inventor. I think Autodesk learned their lesson last time and will not let history repeat itself (let us all hope at least).

First, Autodesk is not aiming pie-in-the sky with Fusion. Currently, Fusion 360 is aimed at individuals, hobbyists, start-ups, and smaller companies. This is currently much different market than Inventors. Secondly, Fusion is not aimed at “killing” any one system… it is the killer of all of them! (sorry, couldn’t resist)

I also truly feel Autodesk recognizes the value they have with their Inventor product and the significance of the large and very loyal customer base. Inventor’s Death does not feel imminent as Autodesk appears to be in no rush to move us Inventor users into Fusion 360.

Inventor Still has a Heart Beat

At Autodesk Univerity, I heard Carl Bass (Autodesk’s CEO) twice publically commit to Inventor having 5 to 10 years to go.  He did say however that we will start to see it become more focused, especially in areas of its strengths like industrial machinery design. He also did not say that Autodesk would be actively developing it during its entire “life” either.

Autodesk is also maintaining a substantial development team on Inventor. In fact, they just added to it by moving the Vault development team within the Inventor group. The Inventor beta program is the envy of all the other Autodesk product groups, and even non-Autodesk developers. We’ve seen two Inventor 2017 subscription releases providing strong feature enhancements. What I’ve seen upcoming for Inventor 2018 is very promising.

Let’s Get This Rolling!

I would love to start using Fusion 360 in my day-job, especially for conceptual design…. but I don’t (at least for now). Why? Numerous reasons, the biggest being the lacking detailing tools and the inability to get the data into Vault, attached to items, and sent to our ERP system when the conceptual model is ready for production.

Why did it take MDT users so long to move into Inventor? Because it was all-or-nothing. You could tinker with Inventor but could not seriously use it with the lack of integration with existing processes.

Autodesk has already provided access to Fusion 360 to Inventor users in the form of it being included with the Product Design Suite / Collection. However, if Autodesk wants Inventor users to start moving to Fusion 360 now, they should make it easy for them to utilize Fusion data within Inventor. Then the Inventor user can use Fusion 360 where it makes sense, yet still incorporate the data in with their existing processes.

STEP 1 – Connected AnyCAD for Fusion 360 Data

Think about it, I’ve got countless assemblies, parts, components, drawings, and a content library of hardware that I’ve spent a significant amount of time developing. I’ve also got well-established processes.

So step 1 should be an easy and eloquent means to associatively use Fusion 360 data within Inventor.  No more exporting to STEP and non-associatively attaching / importing into Inventor. Let’s get Inventor connected to A360 so that I can associatively place Fusion models into my Inventor assemblies. As the Fusion design changes, it would update within the Inventor assembly. I would call this Connected AnyCAD as it combines the AnyCAD workflow and the Connected Design.

It is probably too late for this for Inventor 2018, so let’s get this in for the Inventor 2018 R1 update.

Autodesk would then expand on this to include Fusion multi-body support. I want to open the Fusion design in Inventor as multi-body parts. I don’t expect to modify them within Inventor, perhaps just add features, but I want the ability to use the Make Components feature to generate parts and build the assemblies. You could then detail those parts within the much more robust drawing environment and generate the required Bill of Materials. And I can place the assembly further up the hierarchy. Again it is all associative meaning that it changes in Fusion it changes in Inventor.

Step 2 – A360 Data Management within Vault

If I place a Fusion 360 model into Inventor I want this link tracked within Vault. I envision a system where clicking on the file within Vault opens a window into A360 in which I can preview the file. It should lock the file within A360 only allowing editing once the file is checked-out. It’ll be a somewhat unique scenario where that actual data does not reside on the local server, but in the cloud, yet Vault is still managing its lifecycle. I’m ok with this being a Vault Pro only feature, as really the true goal is linking it to an item so that it can be pushed in PLM or ERP systems.

It’ll be a somewhat unique scenario where that actual data does not reside on the local server, but in the cloud, yet Vault is still managing its lifecycle. Or perhaps its shared ownership between Vault and Fusion Lifecycle.

Let’s Wrap This Up

Inventor’s Death is coming but I don’t think its time to proclaim the sky is falling.

We still have years of Inventor usage in front of us. However, you would be foolish to not keep an eye on Fusion 360 and even go one more step of trying it out. Fusion 360 is included within the Product Design Collection and is free for individuals. You have no excuse to start using it now to prepare yourself for the inevitable.

 

Feature Image “Cemetary” by Karoly Lorentey

A closer look at the AutoCAD Region command

The AutoCAD Region command is a special kind of 2D object that has physical properties like centroid and moment of inertia that can be calculated using MASSPROP command. These geometries can also be converted into complex geometries with the help of Boolean operations Union, subtract and Intersect.

AutoCAD Regions can be created using closed objects with line, polyline, circle, arc, revision cloud, ellipse or spline. To create a Region, select the Region tool from the expanded Home tab on the Draw panel, then select all geometries forming a closed loop with which you want to create the region and press enter.

In a similar way you can create multiple regions for performing Boolean operations. To explain the Boolean operation with a region, I will use three regions created with a circle, rectangle and ellipse as shown in image below.

AutoCAD Region Circle, Ellipse, Rectangle

Union:

Using Union command you can merge all regions into a single unit in such a way that only extreme boundaries of all regions are retained and all internal boundaries are merged. To use this command type UNION at the command line, press enter, then select all three regions from drawing area and press enter again. The final region will look like this.

AutoCAD Region Union

Subtract:

Using the subtract command you can remove an overlapping part of one region from another. To use this command type SUBTRACT at the command line and press enter, then select the region from which you want to remove the geometries. In this case I am selecting the circle as my primary region, after selecting circle press enter, then select the ellipse and rectangle regions, ending by pressing enter again. In this case overlapping parts of the rectangle and ellipse are removed from the circular region giving it a shape which looks like geometry shown below.

AutoCAD Region Subtract

Intersect:

Intersect command will create a region that comprises of only the common regions of all meshing geometries. To use this command type INTERSECT at the command line and press enter, then select all of the regions in the drawing area and press enter again. You will get combined geometry which looks like the image shown below. You can clearly see that in this case only the common area of all these three regions is retained.

AutoCAD Region Intersect

More about AutoCAD Regions:

When a region is created with 2D geometries, the geometries are deleted and the region is created. But if you want to retain the geometry as well as the region, then change value of system variable DELOBJ to 0. By changing the system variable you will force AutoCAD to create a region retaining the 2D geometry with which it was made.

You can even apply materials to the region, just like a 3D solid or surface entity. In the image below I have applied Mahogany Natural Low Gloss wooden material to the rectangular region and then rendered it.

AutoCAD Region Materials

About the Author:

Jaiprakash Pandey is CAD Corporate Trainer specializing in AutoCAD, CATIA and other CAD software’s. He is an Autodesk AutoCAD Certified professional and an Autodesk expert elite. He is a regular contributor to AUGI World magazine and he has also developed AutoCAD video courses for pluralsight, his own platform SourceCAD and other E-Learning businesses. For free AutoCAD tutorials by him visit SourceCAD.

Autodesk Inventor 2017 R2

Autodesk Inventor 2017 R2

The first subscription-only update for Inventor 2017 has been released.

What’s New? Unlike the Inventor 2016 mid-year releases, this one is not focused on new functionality, but a collection of enhancements, improvements, and updates to just about every environment. I’m only highlighting what I feel are the significant updates, you can read the entire list of changes here.

Your first reaction might be disappointment, why? The 2016 mid-year releases set the bar so high with the introduction of the Shape Generator, the embedding of ForceEffect, and the new A360 Connected design review, that this update might just seem ho-hum. I’m happy with the enhancements, and we should all be… there is a lot put into this update and it’s focused on productivity and making our (Inventor) lives better.

General

  • Measure Improvements
  • Model Browser enhancements
  • Workflow Enhancements

A checkmark now appears next to the default measure precision. The precision is also now persistent across sessions meaning you can set it and forget it.

INV2017R2 - Measure Checkmark

The browser has been updated to provide better clarity. Lines are shown to aid in the display of the model hierarchy, there is now a bigger difference between expanded and collapsed states, and it is much easier to navigate the hierarchy. This might seem like a minor change, but its amazing how much easier it makes navigating the browser.

INV2017R2 - BrowserEnhancements

Use Alt + R to launch the Relationships dialog when a feature is selected in the browser. This was an idea from the Inventor Ideastation.

Sketches now maintain their properties when exported to an AutoCAD DWG.

The Undo / Redo now functions like the other Autodesk products in that you can use the drop-down to quickly undo / redo a group of actions. This was an idea from the Inventor Ideastation.

INV2017R2 - Undo_Redo_Updates

 

Parts

  • New Menu Options for Make Part & Make Components
  • Tangent feature selection enhancements

From the browser or graphics window select sketch blocks, solid bodies, or surface bodies and select Make Part or Make Component from the right-click context menu.

INV2017R2 - MakePartComponent

With Inventor 2017 R2 double-clicking a face or edge selects all faces or edges tangent to each other. After selecting multiple faces right-click and pick Select Tangencies to select all the faces tangent. Anything to make it easier to select a group of objects is always a winner in my books.

Inventor2017R2 - Select Tangencies

Assemblies

A long time coming, we finally get Mirror and Copy enhancements.

  1. Prior to Inventor 2017 R2 relationships were automatically applied to the mirrored or copied components, now within R2 you decide if you want the relationships applied.
  2. A new option grounds the resulting components of the mirror or copy operation.
  3. When mirroring you can select Origin planes directly within the Mirror Components dialog.

Inventor2017R2 - Mirror Enhancements

Interoperability

  • Quickly Customize Properties for Imported CAD Files with the New Property Mapping Tool
  • DWG Underlay Now Fully Supports AutoCAD Mechanical Geometry

When attaching CATIA, Creo, NX, STEP, or Solidworks files as reference models use the new standalone Property Mapping Utility to map properties from the 3rd party CAD data to Inventor iProperties. This means the 3rd party CAD data will automatically import during attachment, meaning no more manual entry.

INV2017 R2 - AnyCAD Property Mapping

As the mapping is stored in XML files it will be consistent and automatically set each time you attach the data. This also means you can create as many mappings as required. Take for example you receive Solidworks data from two different sources, each who use the properties differently, no problem, just create two XML files and set the mapping as required.

INV2017 R2 - Import Design Data

The Property Mapping tool is standalone, meaning in addition to launching it from within Inventor it is also its own menu item in the Start Menu.

Drawings

  • Reorder Attached Balloons with the new Sort Balloons Context Menu Option
  • Specify a Hatch Pattern as SOLID
  • Enhancements to Revision Tables and Parts Lists Exported Excel Formats
  • Improvements to Deferring Updates on a Drawing
  • Save Time Printing Multiple Drawings with Auto-Size to Drawing Sheet Size [Task Scheduler]
  • Align Multiple Center Marks in a Drawing to the Selected Edge

Yes, you read that right… we can finally after all this time finally apply actual SOLID hatch patterns… whoop, whoop… no longer do I need to set the scale so small that the ANSI hatch pattern just appears as solid. [This was a long time ideastation suggestion]

INV2017 R2 - Solid Hatch

When you collect balloons onto a single leader the new Sort Balloons now sorts the balloons numerically. Great little cleanup tool. My wish, how about picking Sort Balloons a second time and it sorts it in the opposite order?

INV 2017 R2 - Sort Balloons

Another implemented IdeaStation suggestion is the ability to align multiple select Center Marks. [I haven’t counted, but there has to be a least a dozen ideastation suggestions implemented with this update]

INV2017 R2 - Align Multi Center Marks

Presentation Enhancements

  • New Create Presentation options
  • Multiple Action Editing
  • Edit the Duration of Multiple Actions:
  • Local/World Direction
  • Publish Images with a Transparent Background
  • Performance Improvements for Presentations

Directly within the Assembly / Weldment browser, you can create a new presentation by right-clicking on the top-level node and selecting Create Presentation. The second option is pressing Alt + P. This is another suggestion from the Inventor Ideastation.

INV2017 R2 - Create Presentation

 

Multiple areas with the Presentation environment have received performance improvements. This includes trail & component selection, deleting tweaks & storyboards, and creating storyboards from previous storyboards.

The Auto Explode feature has been removed. Hopefully, you didn’t rely on it. I for one never used it as it usually ended up creating more cleanup work for me then just creating the tweaks manually myself.

Mesh components are now supported within Presentations and are treated just as other solids.

The Presentation environment went under quite the overhaul with Inventor 2017 and let’s be honest, for as good as the changes are there were a couple annoying workflow limitations. One of the biggest has been addressed with this update in that you can now modify multiple actions at one time.

Within the timeline select multiple actions by pressing Ctrl as you make your selections, then drag and drop the actions to the desired location. You can drag and drop the actions before or after existing tweaks and it will maintain the relationship between the actions with different start / end times. You can also drag the end to adjust the duration (length) of the actions.

With multiple actions selected, right-click, and from the contextual menu select:

INV2017 R2 - Timeline Multi Right Click

  • Edit Time to set the specific duration
  • Align Start Time or Align End Time to align the start / end positions
  • All Before, All After, and Group to select all actions occurring before or after the selected action or playhead position.

When editing multiple Opacity actions at one time all selected components will get the same opacity value.

 

Inventor 2017 Service Pack 1

This also includes all the updates contained within Service Pack 1 for Inventor 2017. If you are not on subscription then I would still highly recommend installing SP1.

 

In Summary

This is an update that I think will have something for everyone as it touches just about every standard environment. As it doesn’t introduce any new functionality do not wait until you pass go, just deploy it now, and start enjoying the increased productivity.

 

Feature Image Airplane Wing with Jet Engines at the Airport by Viktor Hanacek

Autodesk Forge Devcon 2016 – San Francisco

So what is this Forge thing anyway?

I was lucky enough to attend the Autodesk Forge Devcon this week in San Francisco. If you haven’t heard of Forge, it is a platform of cloud based RESTful APIs and microservices, that allow 3rd party developers to harness a growing range of Autodesk technologies, to integrate into web apps. Many companies such as Cl3ver, hsbcad, and openBoM are already using some of these services to build or enhance very slick and sophisticated websites for doing powerful things with 3D content.

Autodesk Hipsters – This ain’t your Dad’s ADN…

I’ve been to a couple of Autodesk University events, and some other smaller ones. As those of you who have attended these will know, you get a feel, and an image of what Autodesk are about, from the experience. Forge Devcon was very different. Autodesk have become really cool, and I don’t mean cool in a CAD geek way, I mean cool in the sense that they are up with the latest web development frameworks, and they put on cool parties, and they’re at javascript meetups, and cool in.. you know… a software geek way. That might seem like an odd statement, but the Forge platform is cloud technology, and to attract 3rd party web developers to use the Forge APIs, Autodesk have had to shake the perception that they only do boring old desktop stuff.

Whatever they did must have worked, because to attract 1500 developers to a conference in San Francisco, the same week as Apple’s Developer Conference, is no mean feat. The energy and buzz that filled the halls, and conversations I overheard, suggested that these developers were sitting up and taking notice, that there is a powerhouse of technology available to them, that is completely changing the scope of what is possible in a web environment.

I woke up early on the first morning, had breakfast, and wandered down Van Ness to Fort Mason, which I knew nothing about. I probably didn’t take the most efficient route, but I ended up walking along the waterfront and up and over a hill, where I got a clear view down onto the buildings that make up an old military base. It was a beautiful morning, and there below a fantastic view of the Golden Gate sat the Festival Pavilion, with a large “Autodesk Forge” banner hanging proudly over the entrance. What a cool venue! I continued down the steps and entered the huge building on the water and got the registration details sorted out. There were a number of theatres set up for classes, surrounding a central area of booths representing various industry players. At the end of the building was a keynote stage with a monstrous 50ft LED screen behind it.

Forge Devcon - Fort Mason Pavilion

The Booths

There were some very exciting technologies on display, both from Autodesk, and outsiders that provide complimentary services or hardware for things like IoT (Internet of Things), VR/AR (Virtual and Augmented Reality), and 3D Printing and CNC machining. One particular highlight for me, was my first chance to finally try out the Microsoft HoloLens, courtesy of the guys from hsbcad. It was impressive to see their example building model sitting on the table, and being able to interact with it using voice commands. The space tracking seems to be very good, and the model held it’s position perfectly as I moved around, which was a dramatic difference from previous AR techologies that I had tried. Scott Moyse and I were lucky enough to participate in Autodesk Cloud Accelerator 2 with Bill and Kris from hsbcad last year, and they have really come a long way since then with their very clever hsbshare system which provides a dropbox connected online viewing tool for building model collaboration. Another cool booth was run by Taylor Stein from Autodesk, where you could design a badge using a custom Fusion 360 plugin, and then route it out on a tiny desktop CNC router.

Forge Devcon HoloLens

The Classes and Keynotes

There was a nice mix of classes run by Autodesk employees, but also by 3rd party companies that had used the Forge platform already. It was great to have both perspectives. The sessions that I went to had a good balance of high level application, but with enough code examples thrown in to get the gist of the low level functionality of the APIs. There were a number of keynotes, including a very interesting insight into Protolabs, who produce very fast turnaround production parts using CNC machining, injection moulding and other manufacturing technologies.  The exciting revelation there, was that the heart of what makes them successful and able to achieve such a rapid turnaround, is a very sophisticated software platform that automagically analyses the 3D models sent to them by their clients, but also works with a huge network of CNC machines and injection presses. If you use Fusion 360, you might have noticed the button that allows you to get a quote from Protolabs to produce your part. As far as I can tell, there aren’t any humans involved directly in the process from when you push the button, to receiving the quote.

The Platform

While I have been messing around with the Autodesk cloud APIs for a while, when they relaunched them under the Forge umbrella, I have to admit, I didn’t really get it. It seemed like they had just given a name to a bunch of useful, but disconnected services. The branding and marketing implied a single connected ecosystem, but the reality was very different. Fast-forward a few weeks however, and the message suddenly made sense. Just a week or two ago, a number of new APIs were released, and some existing ones renamed. These additions allowed data to become the center of the platform, and a whole range of new potential possibilities appeared. Most of us who use design software, currently live in a product-centric world, where the data we deal with needs to be in the appropriate format for the tool we use, to be most useful. Forge is working to change that, where the geometry and associated meta-data become what is most important, and the APIs allow you to manipulate and share that data through whatever tools are needed for the particular task at hand. It’s an exciting new paradigm, and I’m excited to watch it evolve. With this, the ability to work with what they term “high frequency” data will be realised, opening up a new range of potential workflows, including some interesting possibilities in the world of IoT.

To build this platform, and the awesome code samples, they have embraced current and popular web technologies like WebGL, three.js, and node.js, and provided a fantastic developer portal and documentation to boot.

The categories of APIs available currently are as follows:

  • Authentication (OAuth)
  • Data Management – Connection to A360 data
  • Design Automation – Effectively AutoCAD in the cloud, for massive scale processing of DWG data
  • Model Derivative – File translation, thumbnail generation, geometry and data extraction services
  • Viewer – Previously known as the “Large Model Viewer,” this allows you to embed a clever viewer in a webpage for working with just about any CAD format file.
  • 3D Print (BETA)
  • BIM360 (BETA)
  • Reality Capture (BETA) – For processing image files to create 3D scenes / models

3DWebFest

Held on the Wednesday evening after Devcon Day 1 wrapped up, this initiative was unlike anything I’ve seen before. If you’ve ever been to an electronic music festival, you’ll be familiar with the computer generated visuals that are often played on big screens by ‘Veejays’ (visual DJs.) This event had that sort of feel to it, but the amazing thing about it, was that the visuals were being generated by the artists live, in a web browser, and piped to a massive 50ft LED screen. In combination with the music being pumped from the fairly large speaker stacks, the experience was very captivating and impressive, in a super geeky way. I particularly liked the work of Edan Kwon. The particle systems he builds are incredibly detailed, and breathtaking. The 3DWebFest is a really interesting initiative, and another example of the way that Autodesk are really making a name for themselves among the web developer community. I can’t wait to see how this festival evolves and grows.

Forge Devcon in closing

All in all, the conference was a great experience, and I came away with a much clearer picture of the future of Autodesk’s cloud offerings. Forge really seems to be gelling as a platform very nicely, and the rate at which it is growing seems to be accelerating. As Autodesk’s first developer conference in the web space, I thought it was outstandingly well put together, and hope to be able to report from the second one next year, as I’m sure it will be even better.

If you’d like to explore the offering, and have a go with any of the APIs, you can dive in here. They are available completely free for the next 90 days, well 87 or so now…

Autodesk Announces Industry Collections

Industry Collections

In an effort to reduce the product portfolio and make the customer’s decision easier Autodesk announced the introduction of the Industry Collection. These new Collections are replacing the Design & Creation Suites

“As we continue our transition to a fully subscription-based business, we remain committed to providing you greater value, more flexibility, and a simpler way to access the Autodesk software you need.”

“On August 1, 2016, we will introduce Autodesk industry collections and end the sale of Autodesk Design & Creation Suites” – Jeff Wright, Vice President, Customer Engagement ,Autodesk, Inc.

Design Suite sales end July 31st of this year. All existing premium and ultimate suite subscribers can be upgraded to the appropriate Collection for “free“, for the remainder of their subscription term. Except for AutoCAD premium / ultimate subscribers who will need to pay an upgrade fee to move to the collection. Here are two answers from the Industry Collection FAQ

Will I be able to switch my subscription to an industry collection subscription? Yes, Autodesk will provide a convenient way for you to switch your existing subscription(s) to an industry collection.

Will I be able to switch to industry collections during my subscription? Yes, in October 2016, you will be able to switch during your current subscription term

However, be warned that at the time of your renewal expect to pay more… more value = higher subscription costs.

Three Industry Collections will be available: Architecture, Engineering, & Construction, Product Design, and Media & Entertainment. What are the main advantages of the new Collections vs the old Design Suites (according to Autodesk)?

  • Greater Value – more software
  • Continuous Improvement – collections designed to continuously evolve
  • Greater Flexibility & Choice – available as single or multi-user in different term lengths
  • More Cloud Services
  • Simplified Packaging – one product to choose from

For a listing of what’s included in each Industry Collection visit the Autodesk website.

Is it better?

Let’s compare one of the Ultimate Design Suites to its Industry Collection replacement.

Product Design Suite Ultimate includes Inventor Professional, AutoCAD, AutoCAD Electrical, and AutoCAD Mechanical, AutoCAD Raster Design, 3ds Max, Alias Design, Navisworks Manage, Vault Basic, and Showcase. For cloud-based services, it includes Fusion 360, ReCap 360, A360, and Rendering in A360

The Product Design Industry Collection removes Alias DesignAutoCAD Raster Design and Showcase, but includes AutoCAD Architecture and the Factory Design Utilities. The included cloud services are Rendering in A360, AutoCAD 360 Pro, Fusion 360, and Recap 360 Pro.

The suggested retail price on the Autodesk website is US$2,460 / year for the Industry Collection vs US$3,730 for the Product Design Suite Ultimate. From an initial cost, the Industry Collection is the better deal in dollars. However, some may find the new collection a step down in functionality as AutoCAD Architecture and the Factory Design Utilities don’t necessarily replace Alias Design.

As a primarily Product Design Suite user I will admit to a bit of envy when I look at the Architectural Industry Collection. For an extra $200 / year it includes Revit,  AutoCAD P&ID, Plant 3D, and the Structural Analysis cloud tools for Revit (amongst much more included software). But if I was a structural detailer or required both Inventor and Revit I might be a bit choked with the removal of Inventor from the bundle as migrating to the collection, unfortunately, means needing to add on a subscription for Inventor.

Final Verdict

I for one am in favour of the reduction of options and was not a fan of having multiple suites to choose from. I do however wish there was a bit more flexibility to swap out software or add-on software at a reduced cost, but it just isn’t in the cards.

Whether you love or hate the changes is really going to depend on your industry and the software you rely on day-to-day. For example, if you are in AEC and don’t require Inventor I think you will love the new bundling of software as it provides great value for the dollar. If you are an Entertainment Creation Suite user you will probably feel indifferent to the changes as nothing has really changed. But if you rely on software that is no longer included in the bundle (like Alias Design) then you’ll probably be sticking with the existing Design Suite for as long as you can..

 

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Feature Image Young woman trying to check and repair her broken car BY VIKTOR HANACEK

Autodesk Forge – Powering the Future of Making Things

At Autodesk University Amar Hanspal, the Senior VP of Products, announced Autodesk Forge. Forge, the Cloud “Connected” Ecosystem, is not just a new ADN (Autodesk Developer Network), but the new development environment for all cloud developers to meet, learn, get help, and possibly get funding.

Forge Logo_Color

The basis of Autodesk Forge is three-fold:

Platform | Program | Fund

  • The Platform is a cloud-based platform including open application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs).
  • The Program is the community, an upcoming conference (June), training, resources, and support
  • Some companies just need inspiration, some need mentorship, and some need capital (funding), so Autodesk has pledged up to $100 million over the next couple years to help kickstart initiatives

 

Autodesk Forge Platform - Cloud

BriteHub was one of the six inaugural partners and presented briefly.

BriteHub1

Here’s part of the press release

Autodesk Unveils Cloud-based Forge Initiative to Transform How Products are Designed, Made and Used
Three-pronged Effort to Include Services, Training and a $100 Million Investment Fund

LAS VEGAS, Autodesk University, Dec. 1, 2015 — Autodesk, Inc. (Nasdaq: ADSK) today announced Forge, an initiative to accelerate a cloud connected ecosystem in support of the future of making things. The initiative consists of three major components – a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering, a robust developer program, and a $100 million investment fund – all geared toward advancing the next wave of innovative technologies that will transform how products are designed, made and used.

The way we design, make and use products is rapidly changing. New technologies are disrupting every aspect of the product lifecycle,” said Amar Hanspal, senior vice president, Products at Autodesk. “Autodesk is launching Forge to help developers build new businesses in the changing manufacturing landscape. We are inviting innovators to take advantage of Autodesk’s cloud platform to build services that turn today’s disconnected technologies into highly connected, personalized experiences.”

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