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October 09, 2006
Something for Everyone: Autodesk Labs
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on AECcafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Susan Smith - Managing Editor


by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
Each AEC Weekly Review delivers to its readers news concerning the latest developments in the AEC industry, AEC product and company news, featured downloads, customer wins, and coming events, along with a selection of other articles that we feel you might find interesting. Brought to you by AECCafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

Welcome to AECWeekly! What’s at
Autodesk Labs? Probably the best way to find out is to go there and take a look.


According to Brian Mathews, director of Autodesk Labs and the chief architect for the DWF design collaboration platform, Autodesk Labs is going to go through a “Labs process” so that what you see up on Labs today is just the tip of the iceberg. Labs is a way to get products and technologies to anyone who is interested, and getting customers involved in product direction and development much earlier in the process than has been available in the past. Read all about it in this week’s Industry News.


AECWeekly is a news magazine featuring important industry news profiles, a summary of recently published AEC product and company news, customer wins, and coming events. Brought to you by AECCafe.


AECWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements, Announcements, Awards, New Products, Around the Web and Upcoming Events.


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Best wishes,

Susan Smith, Managing Editor



Industry News

Something for Everyone: Autodesk Labs

by Susan Smith


What’s at
Autodesk Labs? Probably the best way to find out is to go there and take a look.


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According to Brian Mathews, director of Autodesk Labs and the chief architect for the DWF design collaboration platform, Autodesk Labs is going to go through a “Labs process” so that what you see up on Labs today is just the tip of the iceberg. There are three types of content that will appear on the site: products, technologies, and features.


So what is it? It is a way for Autodesk to get prototypes, products and technologies to anyone who is interested, and to get customers involved in product direction and development much earlier in the process than has been available in the past. “We can have product managers go out and do customer studies, surveys and one-on-one conversations with lots of people about what ‘pain points’ they’re having,” noted Mathews. “We can bring that back to Autodesk and have product designers design products, build them and put them in beta and take them to market. But there’s nothing like putting actual code in people’s hands to really get it right.”


Beta versions happen late in the game, said Mathews, and are under NDA. “Beta is very limited in its requirements and what kind of feedback we get and how we get that feedback, plus only certain people are selected to be beta testers. Labs is not meant to replace any other thing that we do to develop software, it’s made to augment, i.e., another way to make that process even better.”


Labs lets people who are not beta testers experiment with the technologies and give feedback before the product is fully baked. “With traditional design you’ve got your product management going out there and surveying at the very beginning to get the requirements correct and beta is at the very end to get the bugs out, but what about the middle?” Mathews charged. “Generally software companies don’t show the stuff in the middle, and that’s where Labs would come in with the product.”


The beta applications that are currently on Labs include:
  • Google Earth Extension
  • Autodesk DGNV8 Translator
  • Project FreeWheel
  • Autodesk Vault Mirror Utility
  • Feature Recognition for Autodesk Inventor

  • Although Labs currently focuses on products, technologies and features, these are not clear cut delineations. Technologies may become products, features may become products or become part of products. When asked if the new Google Earth Publisher would be considered a technology, Mathews declined to categorize it.


    Having just stated this, the first example of a product (not on Labs yet) is the soon-to-be-announced Impression, which is the product
    Vespa that Autodesk brought to light at Autodesk University last year. Impression is built on sophisticated graphics technology and aims to solve a “new” problem – that of automating the illustration of CAD drawings (eds. note:
    SketchUp, now owned by Google, was a generic solution to the problem). Impression will leverage the design information already put into the CAD product, including layers, blocks, and objects.


    “By making Impression a free download that anyone can access while it’s in the experimental phase, we can get that customer input and revise that product before it goes into beta,” explained Mathews.


    Features may go into the next release of a major product such as AutoCAD, and this way customers can experiment with the new features and give feedback as to what needs to be changed in them well before the product release date. This also allows customers to plan for the new release and what it will offer.


    The feature recognition code for Autodesk Inventor that converts neutral 3D CAD (STEP, SAT or IGES Solids) models into fully featured Autodesk® Inventor™ 11 models is a feature.


    Project FreeWheel on Labs is an example of a technology. It is both a web site where you can enter a DWF URL for interactive viewing, and a web service that allows you to embed an interactive DWF viewer in your own HTML pages. It has pan, zoom and some markup capabilities as well. You can use FreeWheel without having to install any software onto your machine or to your server farm.


    An example of use may be a big firm with a CAD manager with IT background can take FreeWheel and mash it up with some of their existing systems. If they run SAP and want to put design content into this and other systems. “Labs can take some risks in areas that are still being defined by the marketplace, take design content and help make it more connectable to other systems and more useful in an enterprise,” said Mathews.


    Sometimes a developer will develop a technology that Autodesk doesn’t quite know how to productize, so it can be put on Labs for customers to explore and possibly help shape it into a product.


    Autodesk Labs will include brand new products that solve new problems for new audiences or workflows, as well as new features scheduled for new product releases. There may also be a section devoted to utilities that are not as “hot” but still necessary to a smaller audience of users.


    Labs may include products that engineers want to develop, that no one has asked for yet. “Nobody asked for search on the web but when we got Google, it became obvious it was a good idea,” Mathews pointed out.


    Last year Autodesk announced the release of the code for MapServer Enterprise, the company's then new web mapping platform, as open source, as reported in GISWeekly’s
    ISD Update from Autodesk University. Since then, many people have contributed to
    Autodesk MapGuide OpenSource. If Autodesk had had Labs last year, Mathews said, they probably would have started MapGuide OpenSource there so that many people could contribute to its development. Nonetheless, this product has enjoyed considerable customer involvement and has resulted in a
    commercial version of MapGuide Enterprise 2007 and MapGuide Studio 2007.


    For Autodesk, Labs is another way to get customers to have direct contact with the engineers who are building the product(s). Because there could potentially be a lot of feedback on Labs, individual features and technologies are divided up and comments on those features will be emailed directly to the appropriate teams.


    Visitors to Labs are also invited to participate in the process of building Labs, and deciding what functions it should serve.



    Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements


    GiveMePower Corporation announced that it has achieved the elite status of Microsoft Certified Partner, with particular competencies in providing Mobility Solutions and creating OEM Hardware Solutions for delivery to end-user customers and in cooperation with other Microsoft channel partners.


    Mensch und Maschine Software AG, a CAD/CAM specialist company listed on the Prime Standard, is selling the Building Services application RoCAD for one million US Dollar to Autodesk, the worldwide CAD market leader. The closing of the contract, requiring antitrust authorization, is expected in October.



    Announcements


    Avatech Solutions, Inc., technology experts for design, engineering, and facilities management, invites members of the construction industry in Denver to learn more about the benefits and uses of the Autodesk® Revit® product family, including Autodesk Revit® Building, Autodesk Revit® Systems Plus and Autodesk Design Review® in an all day, hands-on workshop.


    Times, Location, Cost

    Tuesday, October 24, 2006

    8:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.

    Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center

    7800 East Tufts Avenue

    Denver, CO 80237


    Avatech will provide breakfast and lunch. Participants will each sit at a workstation for a hands-on look at how these tools work in a production situation.

    Cost: $99.00


    Register for the workshops online at
    Avatech events or by calling

    1-800-520-8000 ext. 1535.


    Avatech Solutions, Inc. invites CAD managers, IT managers, and mechanical/electrical/plumbing engineers who use currently use AutoCAD® to learn about the benefits and uses of Autodesk® Building Systems.


    Both the webcasts and the hands-on workshops are designed to show people who currently do not use Building Systems how the latest in building information modeling (BIM) can improve workflow efficiency and dramatically reduce design time, allowing companies to complete more projects with existing resources.


    Webcasts

    To participate in the webcast, register at
    Avatech events to receive attendance information, including an event URL and conference call number. All webcasts run at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m. EST on October 11, 2006, December 6, 2006, and February 7, 2007, and last for approximately one hour.


    Deltek announced that national nonprofit firm, The Environmental Careers Organization, Inc. (ECO) has deployed Deltek Costpoint®, Deltek’s industry-leading enterprise resource planning solution designed specifically for sophisticated, project-driven organizations, in just two and a half months.


    ECO recruits, places and manages 600 to 1,000 ECO interns every year. ECO employees will utilize Costpoint to track, manage and report on every aspect of their projects including planning, estimating, proposals, budgets, expenses, indirect costs, purchasing, billing, regulatory compliance and business performance.



    Financials


    Catalog Data Solutions (CDS), a provider of online product selection tools for industrial suppliers and distributors, announced that its third quarter (Q3) sales in 2006 increased by more than 50% over the third quarter last year. In Q3 2006, the company added prestigious new customers including Accurate Screw Machine Corporation and Associated Spring, Barnes Group Inc., and earned repeat business from multiple existing customers.


    Oce Announces Results for the Third Quarter and Nine Months 2006



    Awards


    Primavera Systems, Inc., provider of project, resource and portfolio management software, announced that eight of its customers were awarded Constructech 2006 Vision Awards. The Constructech Vision Awards honor construction and engineering organizations that have solved critical business issues through the use of innovative technology solutions. Consistent among the winners is their ability to employ technology across their organizations to standardize the way project teams work together to achieve success.


    The eight winning Primavera customers include:

  • BE&K (Birmingham, AL) accepted the Gold Vision Award for the GC/Commercial/Industrial category.

  • Black & Veatch (Overland Park, KS) accepted the Gold Vision Award for the Architectural/Engineering/Design category.

  • Clancy & Theys (Raleigh, NC) accepted the Silver Vision Award for the GC/Commercial/Industrial category.

  • City of Phoenix Water Service Dept. (Phoenix, AZ) accepted the Gold Vision Award for the Government category.

  • Satterfield & Pontikes (Houston, TX) accepted the Bronze Vision Award for the GC/Commercial/Industrial category.

  • South Dakota Dept. of Transportation (Pierre, SD) accepted the Silver Vision Award for the Government category.

  • VECO USA (Bellingham, WA) accepted the Bronze Vision Award for the Architectural/Engineering/Design category.

  • Wisconsin Public Service Corporation (Green Bay, WS) accepted the Silver Vision Award for the Utility category.


  • USGN, Inc., provider of web-based collaborative project management software, announced that two of its customers, Wild Oats Markets and Menemsha Companies Construction Solutions were awarded Constructech 2006 Vision Awards. The Constructech Vision Awards honor those companies that have used leading-edge technology to solve critical business issues.


    Avatech Solutions, Inc. announced that it has been named one of Deloitte's prestigious Technology Fast 50 companies.


    A ranking of the 50 fastest growing technology companies in Maryland and Virginia, the Technology Fast 50 award is based on percentage revenue growth over the five years between 2001 and 2005.



    New Products


    WinEstimator, Inc., a leader in project cost estimating software development announced the release of WinEst 2006, Version 9. The industry leading WinEst Professional Series project cost estimating software has been updated with new features, integration options and abilities, and optional modules.


    A few of the WinEst 2006 highlights include:

  • Enhanced conceptual and specification driven estimating capabilities through the use of “nested” assemblies.

  • Fully customizable toolbar & menus, consistent with the Microsoft Windows XP© theme.

  • Improved takeoff productivity with the introduction of shared project specification and dimensional values. Estimators can now enter a list of “global variables” to be used throughout the takeoff process.

  • New options for item database categorization and database browsing, including support for 2004 Masterformat.

  • Expanded allowance for alternates and value engineering options.


  • ProSoft, nationally known for industry leading MicroStation® and InRoads® courseware, is announcing the availability of two new AutoCAD® 2007 titles.


    AutoCAD 2007 Fundamentals Reference Manual – this book provides a detailed introduction to the tools, concepts, and workflows a new user must master in order to become proficient with AutoCAD 2007. This book is intended to be a companion volume to the AutoCAD 2007 Fundamentals Exercise Workbook (below).


    AutoCAD 2007 Fundamentals Exercise Workbook – this book provides a detailed step-by-step hands-on exercise approach to learning the tools, concepts and workflows a new user must master in order to become proficient with AutoCAD 2007. Topics include working with drawing files, the AutoCAD drawing environment, viewing and zooming tools, object snapping, basic and precision drawing tools, layers, annotating and dimensioning drawings, external reference files, and plotting, and many others. 582 pages.



    Around the Web


    Google to Push for More Electrical Efficiency in PC’s , by John Markoff, September 26, 2006-- The New York Times (registration required) -
    Google is calling on the computer industry to create a simpler and more efficient power supply standard that it says will save billions of kilowatt-hours of energy annually.



    Upcoming Events


    Date:
    October 10, 2006
    Place: Internet

    Anywhere, 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.
     
    Date:
    October 10 - 11, 2006
    Place: The Arabella Sheraton Congress Hotel

    Frankfurt, Germany
    Since 2000, the International Symposium of Engineering IT has become a tradition; taking place in different international locations and bringing together engineering managers, directors and executives from both EPC and Owner Operator companies in every sector of industry.
     
    Date:
    October 10 - 11, 2006
    Place: Millenium Hotel and Resort

    Stuttgart, Germany
    The conferences will appeal to all audiences in the EDA environment, with a wide variety of sessions addressing all the elements you have come to expect from a Zuken conference including; industry speakers discussing the hot topics and the latest methods for improving design processes through methodology and software.
     
    Date:
    October 11 - 12, 2006
    Place: Hyatt Regency

    Dearborn, MI USA
    Come to hear about the latest technology trends to address business challenges faced in today's marketplace and what you need to overcome them with great success. High-level keynote executives from companies that are at the top of their industry will share their views on how digital manufacturing and PLM implementations foster innovation to improve their operations. In addition, experts using DELMIA, the leading digital manufacturing software, present their current projects and successes. Our two day conference provides an interactive forum for attendees to have the opportunity to collaborate with DELMIA professionals, ask specific questions in a
    small group setting and attend Best Practices Workshops to gain important insight into DELMIA solutions.
     
    Date:
    October 11, 2006
    Place: Blacksburg, VA USA
    Valerio Olgiati Swiss Architecture: Designing - Constructing - Building. Architect / University Professor, Chur, Switzerland 7 PM.

     
    Date:
    October 12 - 13, 2006
    Place: Washington, DC USA
    Institute Resource Training (IRT) is an intensive program for Component Executives that is designed to enhance understanding of AIA resources and how to implement them at the state and local levels. You will work in small groups with AIA staff to exchange ideas on how to make the most of these programs and services to benefit your members. An added value of your participation in the program is the networking and information exchange with other component executives.

     
    Date:
    October 12, 2006
    Place: Webinar

    USA
    When:

    Thursday, October 12, 2006

    12:30 PM - 1:30 PM EDT


    The past few years have seen an explosion of new technologies in the construction industry. It is now easier than ever before to access information and to create synergies with other firms using new technology. The increased use of technology in firms, however, has spurred a concern among many employers and employees about privacy within the workplace. The webinar will cover electronic correspondence and privacy issues related to A/E/C professionals regularly engaging in electronic communications.

     
    Date:
    October 15 - 22, 2006
    Place: Hong Kong, China
    The event, entitled Pacific Crossings , will be hosted by AIA Hong Kong in collaboration with the AIA Committee on Design, and will comprise an entire week of educational, cultural and inspirational activities. The program commences in Hong Kong on Sunday, 15 October, when there will be a number of city tours as well as a golf outing plus an evening Welcome Reception. The Conference itself starts on Monday, 16 October, and ends with a grand finale in Shanghai on Sunday, 22 October.
     
    Date:
    October 18 - 20, 2006
    Place: Beijing, China
    Urbanization is a key issue of our time. Never before in history has human society gone through a comparable process of urbanization. Never before have urban agglomerations expanded as today. New and transformed agglomerations of unprecedented dimensions are developing, giving rise to new urban cultures and economies, forming unknown challenges for the planning disciplines and unpredictable threats to the environment.
     
    Date:
    October 18 - 19, 2006
    Place: Fellbach, Germany
    Come to hear about the latest technology trends to address business challenges faced in today's marketplace and what you need to overcome them with great success. High-level keynote executives from companies that are at the top of their industry will share their views on how digital manufacturing and PLM implementations foster innovation to improve their operations. In addition, experts using DELMIA, the leading digital manufacturing software, present their current projects and successes.
     
    Date:
    October 18 - 21, 2006
    Place: InterContinental Hotel

    Miami, FL USA
    Conference Topics

    • Executive decision-making: balancing the costs and benefits of technological innovation

    • How technology is changing the face of cardiology, oncology, radiology, and clinical practice and facility design

    • Technology’s influence on reducing errors and improving safety

    • Virtual medicine’s impact on medical education and clinical care

    • Information technology convergence: changing clinical practice and communications


    Conference Highlights

    • A focused curriculum of innovations in healthcare technologies specifically for healthcare planners and designers

    • Case studies delivered by healthcare institutions deeply embedded with emerging healthcare technologies

    • Collaborative opportunities to share lessons learned from and with healthcare colleagues on award-winning healthcare projects

    • Special Midmark event

    • Health facility tours and forum discussion groups

    • ModernHealthcare design awards banquet

    • AIA/STERIS student healthcare design charrette


     
    Date:
    October 18 - 20, 2006
    Place: Harrahs Grand Casino

    Tunica, MS USA
    The Bentley Plant Users Group members are from the U.S. and Canada.
     
    Date:
    October 18 - 20, 2006
    Place: Nashville, TN USA
    Three days of action packed learning, education, training, communication, networking, entertainment and fun. This year’s conference will offer a new format with increased networking opportunities and many added features.

     
    Annual Civil Engineering Conference
    Date:
    October 19 - 21, 2006
    Place: USA
    Join ASCE for a Taste of Chicago and cutting edge educational sessions at the 2006 Annual Civil Engineering Conference. With a theme of "Surviving the Future," the conference will include high level, dynamic civil engineering leaders, including keynote speaker retired Army Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey. The conference will take place
     
    Date:
    October 19 - 20, 2006
    Place: Yokohama, Japan
    CDNLive! is a new, global series of technical conferences that brings customers together for face-to-face interactions. At CDNLive! events, you'll have the opportunity to talk with other designers using Cadence technology—and with the Cadence people who develop the technologies to help you face design challenges.
     
    Date:
    October 19 - 21, 2006
    Place: Lakeside Center | McCormick Place

    2301 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, IL 60616 USA
    IT’S THE ONLY EVENT OF ITS KIND. For three days, the entire remodeling community comes together to illustrate and reinforce the strength of the market.Hundreds of manufacturers fill the show floor, showcasing new products and services at every turn. Thousands of remodeling professionals crowd the aisles looking to catch a glimpse of the newest products and services that will take their business to the next level. IT ONLY HAPPENS ONCE A YEAR.

     
    Date:
    October 22 - 26, 2006
    Place: Kyoto, Japan
    The International Association for Universal Design will organize the 2nd International Conference for Universal Design in Kyoto in October 2006. This conference, which will inherit the ideals of the international conference held in Yokohama in November 2002, is positioned as an opportunity for presenting the results of research and activities that saw progress in the last four years.


    Universal design is a concept for designing appliances, architecture, and living space with the intention that they can be used by as many people as possible. In the International Universal Design Declaration, which was proclaimed in the finale of the conference in Yokohama in 2002, we went a step further and defined universal design as creation of social environment in which the humanity of each and every person is respected. We also proposed rebuilding the relation between the user and the creator and stressed the importance of framing a human-centered system, which should be applied to every aspect of society.


    In 2005, the percentage of senior citizens of 65 years old and above has reached 20 percent of Japan's total population, as Japan enters an era of "super-aged society" that no nation has ever experienced. Bodily functions such as eyesight and muscular strength decline noticeably with age as one reaches 50, and if we include people of 50 and above, the percentage has already exceeded 40 percent of the total population.
     
    Date:
    October 22 - 24, 2006
    Place: Hyatt Regency Cambridge

    Boston, MA USA
    Join us to learn about the latest in COMSOL products and applications of COMSOL Multiphysics while making contacts and getting hands-on training. Take this opportunity to gain the skills you will need to jump-start your modeling projects and save valuable time.
     
    Date:
    October 23 - 24, 2006
    Place: Southshore Harbour Resort

    Houston, TX USA
    Since 2000, the International Symposium of Engineering IT has become a tradition; taking place in different international locations and bringing together engineering managers, directors and executives from both EPC and Owner Operator companies in every sector of industry.
     
    Date:
    October 25 - 29, 2006
    Place: Bologna Fairground

    Piazza Costituzione, Via Aldo Moro e Via Michelino, Bologna, Italy
     
    Date:
    October 26 - 27, 2006
    Place: Las Vegas, NV USA
    Join us to learn about the latest in COMSOL products and applications of COMSOL Multiphysics while networking and getting hands-on training. Take this opportunity to gain the skills you will need to jump-start your modeling projects and save valuable time
     
    Date:
    October 26 - 27, 2006
    Place: San Diego, CA USA
    Here you'll see new breakthrough solutions for getting more college and university science building program (research and teaching) with limited construction dollars. You'll learn how new multi-discipline shared-facilities planning strategies, front-end business and life-cycle cost analysis, user-input processes, and construction contracting formats are yielding high-utilization, high-quality science-building outcomes. Attend Tradeline's 18th academic science buildings conference to assure that you implement the right construction or renovation plan, at the right cost, with the right design details, and with the right overall final performance
    metrics. Attend to save your institution millions of dollars through new cost-saving options and mistakes avoided for biology, chemistry, biochemistry, biomedical research buildings, nanotechnology facilities, advanced teaching platforms, and more.
     
    Date:
    October 26 - 29, 2006
    Place: Olympia National Hall

    Kensington, London, United Kingdom
    The UK’s leading exhibition and conference for the Mac community. With its doors open to both creative professionals and the public the show is the annual celebration of everything Mac and iPod.

     
    >


    You can find the full AECCafe event calendar here.


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    -- Susan Smith, AECCafe.com Managing Editor.


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