AutoCAD 2007 or, The Path from 2D to 3D

You can also switch workplanes using tracking objects snaps. For example, you can view and edit the distance when tracking from an acquired point by using dynamic input functionality and direct distance entry.

You can drop cameras in the drawing and get a camera perspective of what you have drawn, by specifying location and target.

Several engines that have materials which are already in VIZ, 3ds Max and Inventor can be accessed at this point in the process. You can design solid primitives using similar skills to what you would use doing 2D drafting in AutoCAD. You can also convert surfaces to solids, using a THICKEN command, or extract wireframe geometry from solids, regions and surfaces using the XEDGES command. You can also retain work done in other AutoCAD applications and use it here.

You can then render the model with lights by adding a light fixture, or you can create new materials. You can adjust the camera, get different backgrounds like a cityscape, ocean view, etc. Autodesk 2007 employs the mental ray rendering engine which is incorporated into 3ds Max that makes realistic rendering easy, using a slider control.
This is a working environment where people can see things happening.

Why add all this functionality when other applications provide these capabilities? Up until now, Autodesk has not offered a clear and easy path from 2D to 3D, thus third party vendors have stepped in with applications to fill the void. However, “They are not well integrated into AutoCAD,” Sanders pointed out. “And we are also trying to move people to 3D CAD.” The move to 3D is precipitated by the desire to get more people on Revit. “Revit is a big step for customers, and we are trying to decrease the height of that step,” explained Sanders. 'See benefits - get taste a of it in AutoCAD.' A lot of people are not using this type of tool because they can't justify buying it: the purchase, training, installation, training, etc. It's easier to get a new upgrade of AutoCAD than to buy a new tool.”

For the next part of the demo, a manufacturing model was used. The fillet tool works the same in 2D and 3D. Customers who are accustomed to snapping can use this feature in 3D. They can use 2D and 3D together and 2007 will cut the model up for a 2D drawing. It has tool palettes that customers can customize or use ready-made.

You can generate a 2D section of the 3D model, by just cutting it. You then dimension it, and begin creating a 2D drawing from it. For an isometric view, you can play with color and linetype, and can create a flattened model with Section and Flatten tools which allow you to take 2D details from your 3D model. This procedure can also be used with buildings to create elevations as well. Thus 2007 encompasses the conceptual design to “documentation” delivery piece of its mission.

In the realm of “sharing,” you can publish to PDF as Autodesk has put a PDF driver in this release. Another new feature is the ability to DWFATTACH command, which allows you to attach a DWF file as an underlay, that is password protected. It is similar to the xref in that you can denote scale and rotation, etc. All the viewer and conversion tools such as TrueView and TrueConvert have been updated. Subscription customers will also get the Vault with this release.

And curiously, a new feature allows you to tell if products you are using were developed in RealDWG or not. Clearly Autodesk is referring to applications that have been reverse engineered. “It's a security blanket,” said Sanders. “Customers can see if they will have problems. You'll get a dialog that says 'this file is not from a trusted source - proceed with caution.'” It's too early to tell yet what this may mean to third party vendors who have used DWG to develop compatible and complementary applications. Since the DWG file format has been changed with this release, it may require that they jump through a few more hoops anyway. For the user, it may simply be another dialog box to close on the way to getting where they want to go.

Another interesting addition to the lineup of features for AutoCAD 2007 that also comes under the heading “share”: exchange MicroStation V8 with MicroStation customers. This has not been released with the initial release of 2007, but is scheduled for a public beta program commencing Summer of 2006. “We want to get it out for customers who can test it and give us feedback, then move it into the product after that,” Sanders explained. The product will include support for import and export of DGN V8.0, 2D geometry and annotations, and will not have AutoCAD LT 2007 support, nor 3D or custom object support.

Other ways to share: you will be able to take conceptual design from Autodesk 2007 into Revit for further development, and take part designs into Inventor for assembly development.


The new code-named standalone “Vespa” is a SketchUp knock-off type product that is basically a tool to bring some realistic features to 2D presentation drawings. It is not a photorealistic rendering application like VIZ and 3ds Max. With Vespa you will be able to apply materials such as watercolor, gradients, fills, transparencies, charcoal and then either print or go to a graphics application. It reads DWG and DWF. It preserves all blocks and layers and lets you manage them. You can save them to PSD or EPS, DWG or PDF.

It is in beta right now and should be available later this year.

Power and Process

It would seem foolish at this point for Autodesk to develop a full-blown power and process solution as there are others who are very accomplished at providing those solutions. However, as most plants have a large number of AutoCAD users, there is a demand for some solutions from Autodesk. Look for a P&ID software product from Autodesk in the last half of the year.

Constructware purchase

Amar Hanspal spoke about Autodesk's recent acquisition of Constructware. He said that Buzzsaw provides a central repository for data, its strength is in being used for design and pre-construction. It is useful in the flow of information and early states of preconstruction, providing a single source of project information. “We need to get more into the construction process, i.e., we need cost information, communications, RFI, change orders, etc. so people have a comprehensive view of what's going on,” said Hanspal.

“We've been taking a build approach with Buzzsaw, but with Constructware we found a company that was compatible and complementary and they offered us general contractor and engineering companies that complemented our customer base.” These two products are both chasing the same problem from different views. The purchase nets Autodesk 1,000 new users, who are a combination of large construction companies, with a strong base in government, schools, universities and on the commercial side, homebuilders.


CH2M HILL announced that it has been issued a general contractor's license by the Shanghai Ministry of Construction in China. This enables CH2M HILL to provide consulting, engineering, project management, construction management and fully integrated engineering, procurement and construction services. The license also positions CH2M HILL for future general building and public works facilities in China.


The top ten federal architecture, engineering, & construction (AEC) contracts of fiscal years 2006 and 2007 are anticipated to produce more than $44 billion in business opportunities over the next 24 months, according to a report released by INPUT, the authority on government business. Some of the major initiatives in the federal AEC sector focus on repair of damaged infrastructure systems due to natural disasters, civil wars on foreign soil, accidents, or terrorist attacks. An environmental remediation, protection, and conservation program in locations worldwide is another major focus for a large number of these contracts.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the Indian entertainment industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of the Indian economy. It is valued at more than $4.65 billion USD and is expected to grow at an 18% compound annual growth rate to reach more than $10.46 billion USD in 2009.


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