Welcome to AECWeekly! Major software companies like Autodesk are always looking for a new twist, a new way to get their customers to upgrade to the new release or to buy a new product. Generally these releases and products are based on customer needs, not what the vendor thinks the customer needs. This year Autodesk's campaign tackles the toughest challenge yet: to get customers from 2D to 3D. Read about the new release in this week's Industry News.
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Susan Smith, Managing Editor
AutoCAD 2007 or, The Path from 2D to 3D
by Susan Smith
Design conceptually with editing tools that enable you to create like never before.
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Easily shape surfaces with smooth curves using the new LOFT command.
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Explore alternatives with massing tools by placing and manipulating multiple solid shapes in your model.
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Communicate you vision clearly with Visual Styles tools that enable you to pick the appropriate style, no matter what stage your design is in.
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Develop realistic renderings, matching your vision to the finished product.
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Define section objects and create single or multiple-segment planes with new sectioning tools.
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A conceptual design of a dune buggy done in AutoCAD 2007 by a Beta customer.
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The move from 2D to 3D has been written about a great deal over the past ten or fifteen years, and despite vendor enticements, the architectural and engineering communities have maintained a very slow adoption rate. To speed up that adoption rate, as discussed at AU last November, Autodesk offers up the AutoCAD 2007 release, debuting March 23rd, as an opportunity to move from 2D to 3D in a less painful way than has been available in the past.
In a meeting held in San Francisco two weeks ago, John Sanders, vice president, Platform Technology Division, offered a view of the new product which is the platform for the support of all vertical products going forward. The platform technology division is responsible for the DWF file format, Buzzsaw, the family of viewers and conversion tools. The division also localizes all Autodesk products into approximately 19 languages around the world. Their primary responsibility, however, is AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT.
Sanders said that in the past AutoCAD had not concentrated on visualization and presentation. Idea creativity has not been able to start in AutoCAD, so people used other products from other vendors for idea creation up to this point. AutoCAD users found it difficult to edit and maintain data and some did not want to purchase additional third party products.
Conceptual design tools have existed inside AutoCAD, however, Sanders said they have not been easy to use. With the 2007 release, Autodesk has taken some of the features of tools such as VIZ and 3ds Max and put them into the new release. Having all conceptual design in one environment that is familiar to the AutoCAD user and easily navigable is what characterizes 2007. Plus, the DWG file format has been changed once again with this release, but it is backwardly compatible.
The 2007 release focuses on idea creation, visualization and construction documentation or, in the words of Autodesk's marketing arm: “design, visualize, document, share, migrate.” The target customer is someone not familiar with 3D - they are generally overwhelmed with tools that have high level feature sets. “There is a larger customer base for simple feature set animation and visualization,” said Sanders. “[With 2007], they can get nice results very quickly.”
Under the heading “visualize,” the intent is to draw in the non-technical audience with presentations that are easy to understand. Obviously, most of these audiences are not going to readily understand architectural drawings. The new 2007 enables architects and engineers to create a look they want to present to their clients, including new line work styles, object transparency, and real-time shadows that are determined by the time of day and geography. Also, users have the ability to drag a camera around and record an action, do an animation and walkthroughs.
“The younger user wants things like game walkthroughs,” noted Sanders. Traditionally AutoCAD users have been older males, who were not generally as interested in such capabilities. However, as the new release contains this capability, Sanders expects that more users of all ages will learn it as it comes at no additional cost.
In the demo, a building was built and created using visualization and animation, in about 10 minutes.
Starting from a 2D drawing of a building, a designer can leverage the conceptual design data to drive documentation creation. All the products built on AutoCAD: Architectural Desktop (ADT), Civil 3D, and Map 3D will have all the features of AutoCAD and more.
In building an interior, the demonstration showed a basic 2D outline, and you could
use tools to pull up walls of a certain height, for example. The new release includes a new palette called Dashboard, which helps centralize the conceptual design tools. You can expand some sections of the Dashboard and also resize, dock and auto-hide it. The Dashboard includes a menu with various control panels such as 3D navigate, visual style, material, render, and light controls. You can use a feature called Dynamic Feedback to visualize the objects in your conceptual design while you draw. As you draw in 2007, for example, the size, shape and location of your drawing dynamically displays in the drawing.
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.
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.
As the Indian entertainment industry continues to flourish, many film studios and post-production facilities are turning to digital color grading technology from Autodesk, Inc. Five Indian studios and post-production facilities recently adopted Autodesk's Discreet Lustre system, which is used to realize "look and feel" ideas in movies around the globe.
COADE announced that Paulo has joined the engineering software company to oversee its business development efforts and network of dealers in South and Central America. In this new position at COADE, Monçores will focus on further development of the company's sales in the region, including Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Peru and Venezuela.
TRIRIGA announced that Kari Dimler has joined TRIRIGA as executive vice president of development & product engineering. Dimler comes with a long history of industry experience, including Oracle, PeopleSoft, and EDS, where she held various development leadership roles. At each of these companies, Kari was instrumental in design, product direction, architecture and organizational discipline.
IMSI, developer and publisher of precision design and consumer software solutions, as well as sole owner of Houseplans, Inc., a leading supplier of stock house plans online, announced that Mr. Martin Wade, Chief Executive Officer of IMSI, has taken over the role of President of IMSI. Mr. Wade succeeds Mr. Gordon Landies who resigned as President effective February 28, 2006 as planned and previously disclosed within the company's 10-KSB filing for the period ending June 30, 2005.
AEC Group, Inc. (AEC) announced that its Pittsburgh office has achieved platinum Citrix(R) Solution Advisor status. AEC was informed of this promotion on the effective date of 01-FEB-2006, and they now join 34 other platinum partners in the U.S.
Epicor Software Corporation, provider of integrated enterprise software solutions for the midmarket, announced it was named the 2005 "Fastest Growing Partner" by Progress Software Corporation, a global supplier of application infrastructure software used to develop, deploy, integrate and manage business applications. Progress Application Partners (APs) like Epicor were recognized for their innovative work using Progress(R) OpenEdge(R) technology at the company's recent North American AP Kick-off in Marco Island, Florida.
AVEVA , a supplier of engineering IT solutions for the process, power, and marine industries, announced it has signed a contract to provide its design and production solutions to New Century Shipbuilding (NCS).
The contract means that two of the fastest-developing, non state-owned, local shipbuilding forces in China have now signed up to and are benefiting from AVEVA's marine solutions.
Impress Software, a provider of packaged integration applications for SAP Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) and Enterprise Project Management (EPM) customers, announced that it has been selected by Framatome ANP, Inc. to integrate its SAP and Primavera systems in order to give controllers and schedulers more accurate data and timely visibility.
COADE, Inc. and Synergis Software announced that the two engineering software companies will co-host a free web seminar on March 8, 2006 to demonstrate how Synergis Adept software allows users of COADE's CAESAR II pipe flexibility and stress analysis software and CADWorx plant design automation software to manage their document files from within these software programs to boost productivity.
To register online for the seminar, visit the website
Meridian Systems, a provider of enterprise project management software for optimizing capital projects, programs and facilities, announced a new software license program for building owners and construction organizations that want to standardize on Prolog software for construction project management. The Prolog Enterprise Pack complements Meridian's position as the market leader in project management and collaboration software in the construction industry by providing more flexible purchasing options to its customers.
DecisionEdge, Inc., a provider of business intelligence software for project managers, announced the release of two new reporting and graphics software add-on products for Primavera and Microsoft Office Project. Instead of wasting time with spreadsheets or generic reporting software, managers at project-oriented organizations can use DecisionEdge products to quickly generate the reports and graphics they need to better understand and communicate project information with all stakeholders.
AEC CADCON, Inc., a provider of enterprise-wide engineering solutions and systems integration for the AEC marketplace, proudly announces the scheduled release of the NEW Autodesk 2007 Products.
AutoTable 3.3 for AutoCAD LT 2006 launched this week. AutoTable is designed to provide AutoCAD (LT)/MicroStation users a more convenient way working together with Excel. We then can import Excel spreadsheet into AutoCAD (LT)/MicroStation and modify it with Excel at anytime. Besides, you can update table to synchronize it with the original Excel spreadsheet. You can download AutoTable330forAutoCADLT2006.exe.
McGraw-Hill Construction, publisher of industry standard Sweets Catalog File, has launched the McGraw-Hill Construction Network(R) for products, a comprehensive online source of building product information and intelligence that integrates the 100 year track record of Sweets with the McGraw-Hill Construction Network which, since its inception in 2003, has become the place to find and manage design and construction business opportunities.
Fakespace Systems Inc. announced the availability of the Beacon 8MP, a stereoscopic projection system with an unprecedented 8.85 megapixel native resolution. The incredible spatial detail possible with the Beacon 8MP is ideal for terascale data and image critical applications such as scientific research, vehicle design reviews and geophysical interpretation and drill planning. Two of these projectors will be used to create a 10' x 10', 14 megapixel display at the Virtual Reality Applications Center (VRAC) of Iowa State University during the Human Computer Interaction Forum, April 12, 2006.
Matrox Graphics, Inc., the leading manufacturer of graphics solutions for professionals, unveiled the new TripleHead2Go, a palm-sized box which uniquely allows a user to add three 19" monitors with a combined resolution of up to 3840x1024 and an incredible 45" of total diagonal to many workstations, gaming systems and laptops -- even if those systems only support a single display output.
Nemetschek North America announced that its distribution partner in Italy, VideoCOM, has released its localized version of VectorWorks 12. VideoCOM has developed this version of VectorWorks to meet the specific needs of designers in the Italian marketplace.
Around the Web
Push to Create Standards for Documents, by Steve Lohr, March 3, 2006, The New York Times-(registration required) With government records, reports and documents increasingly being created and stored in digital form, there is a software threat to electronic access to government information and archives. The problem is that public information can be locked in proprietary software whose document formats become obsolete or cannot be read by people using software from another company.
|2006 National Green Building Conference|
|Date:||March 12 - 14, 2006|
|Place:||Albuquerque, NM USA|
|Plan to attend the National Green Building Conference to be held in March of 2006 in Albquerque, NM to find out why a growing number of home builders are "Greening the American Dream" by making cost-effective business decisions that also help the environment.
The goal at this conference is to provide all attendees, exhibitors, presenters and sponsors with an outstanding opportunity to improve their knowledge, increase their contacts, and generate productive networking. The high caliber education programs will give you a chance to meet other green-minded builders from all around the country as well as meet with exhibitors with products to help you build a better home. Expect to have fun while you learn. Albuquerque is one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, and it offers a myriad of attractions and activities for everyone.
|No Bill Left Behind: Ajera is the solution to your unique billing needs|
|Date:||March 16, 2006|
Internet, CA USA
|There is a gap in financial and accounting software commonly found between growing architectural and engineering (A/E) firms and more established A/E firms. Often, these growing firms get lost in the search for a new solution and don't get the advice and direction they need when investing in financial and accounting software. Client's Bill of RightsAxium recognized this gap and initiated an effort to help these firms; providing them with Ajera - an innovative, easy-to-use software that empowers them to grow and succeed. Each year, the number of Ajera clients grows as firms continue to see the benefit of using our software. At Axium we believe the key to bridging the gap between generic software and enterprise software is letting firms know what they should expect from their software; a Client's Bill of Rights.
In 2006, Axium will highlight and explain 10 rights you have and should be aware of in purchasing a financial and project management software. We will focus and discuss in detail your rights in a series of webinars throughout the year. So, watch for our next mailer, register for our upcoming webinars and learn what to look for in a financial and project management software.
|2006 AGC Annual Convention|
|Date:||March 19 - 22, 2006|
|Place:||Palm Springs, CA USA|
|This year’s Convention offers valuable opportunities for you to learn how to better your business, build useful connections and utilize helpful tools from AGC, while focusing on how AGC members build a stronger economy and the nation’s current economic state relating to construction.
|Management Models for Capital Projects and Facilities Management conference|
|Date:||March 20 - 21, 2006|
|Place:||Hilton Head, SC USA|
|Management models for facilities and corporate real estate are getting leaner, more leveraged, more highly automated, lower cost, and increasingly data-driven. At this conference you'll learn where leading companies and institutions are headed in terms of their performance metrics, processes for space management and service requests, data collection and data management systems, technology use, organizational models, staffing skill-sets, outsourcing strategies and methods, and "total spend" strategies. Here, you'll pick up the latest tools, innovative ideas, and metrics that are shaping the new integrated FM and CRE management models.
|International Congress on Industrial Heritage|
|Date:||March 21 - 23, 2006|
|West Virginia Equipment & Design Exposition|
|Date:||March 22 - 23, 2006|
|Place:||Charleston, WV USA|
|What type of people attend or exhibit at EXPO?
EXPO is the only West Virginia trade show for the Construction, Engineering, and Architectural industries.
How many people attend?
EXPO 2005 had nearly 6,000 attendees from 27 states.
What is the admission charge?
EXPO charges no admission fee to qualified attendees.
What is the price of a booth?
EXPO 2006 Booths are available in 10'x10' increments at the following rates.
|The 2006 International Conference on Biocontainment Facilities|
|Date:||March 27 - 28, 2006|
|Place:||St. Petersburg, FL USA|
|The major world-wide push to fund more research, vaccine development, and clinical capacity for addressing infectious diseases and pathogens is driving a new round of cost-effective solutions for BSL-rated facilities.
Attend this conference to learn what the new plans look like and make project decisions about:
|SPAR 2006: Capturing and Documenting Existing-Conditions Data for Design, Construction and Operations|
|Date:||March 27 - 28, 2006|
|Place:||Sugar Land Marriott Town Square, Houston, TX USA|
|The industry's only conference focused on the business and technology of advanced 3D laser scanning
The aim of SPAR 2006 is threefold. First the conference will illuminate the business case for using 3D laser scanning and other dimensional control technologies to improve the efficiency and reduce the risk of capital project execution for process manufacturing, civil infrastructure, transportation, fossil and nuclear power generation, offshore construction and architectural projects through improved existing-conditions capture. Second, SPAR 2006 will help practitioners from survey firms, laser scanning service providers, engineering/construction firms as well as asset owners and operators discover and exchange information about best practices to deploy these technologies. Third, SPAR 2006 showcases the newest technology from the world’s leading suppliers of laser scanning hardware, software and services.
|2nd International Conference of Frontier Cities|
|Date:||March 28 - 30, 2006|
|Place:||Foz de Iguacu, Brazil|