Autodesk in transition

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Every March Autodesk releases its updated software. I am old enough to remember a time when we could wait two to three years to see a new version of AutoCAD.

Now Autodesk is firmly in the groove of yearly updates, with mid-cycle additional features for those with subscription. However, all is not as it seems.

In Revit 2014 users now have more control over the appearance of point clouds

Autodesk is in transition, again. Historically a one product company, it first split into market groups covering AEC and manufacturing, and created new code streams such as Inventor. Media and Entertainment and yet more new products followed. Under CEO Carl Bass, the company has continued to drive outside of AutoCAD, Revit, Maya, Infrastructure Modeler, Buzzsaw, iPad and Android ‘apps’ (check out Formit), games and now ‘cloud’.

With 2014, Autodesk is starting its next evolution. But looking at the updated feature set, it probably will not be visible to many of its customers this time round.

Autodesk is concentrating on 2014 Suites, as opposed to new functionality added to the individual products. In fact it is actually pretty hard to find much detail on functionality on its website or get a definitive list, even if you are press. But there is plenty of information on Suites.

The cynic in me says this is because Suites make more money for Autodesk in unit sales and yearly subscription. However I do know that the company is concentrating a lot of its development work on the cloud, where much of the capabilities that we see today is being duplicated or enhanced with the creation of cloud-based versions of commonly used design applications. The idea being that you will have apps on your desktop, apps in the cloud with access to your data and tools wherever you are, coupled with the ‘infinite power’ of online analysis and rendering.

Autodesk 360 is the framework for this cloud vision and there are some bits to play with. But in my view these AEC tools are pretty early incarnations of the toolset and of limited value. Autodesk’s manufacturing team has driven forward further, faster with cloud applications and seeing what is possible there with Fusion and PLM 360, I am encouraged with Autodesk’s vision. The AEC division needs to catch up.

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In a discussion with Carl Bass last year, he said that in the future, a subscription should not be access to just the next release of your main tool but a guarantee to have access to a whole suite of powerful applications both on the desktop and in the cloud. On any device.

As effort is poured in to cloud development the big yearly updates mean less. Functionality and capability can be added by Autodesk to applications running in the cloud whenever they are ready. Users may not even know that subtle changes are being made all the time.

Autodesk 2014 products have a fair number of enhancements. There are precious few ‘big feature’ updates but lots of good tidying up.


Revit 2014 at a glance

Revit 2014 is snappier and smoother, with a lot of enhancements to the user interface, writes David Light at CASE

  • Displaced views
  • Dockable Windows framework and enhancements
  • Material UI overhaul
  • Non rectangular crop regions
  • Room calculation point
  • Schedules
  • Selection enhancements
  • Split elevations
  • Temporary view templates
  • View navigation performance
  • Multi selection — bring to front and send to back
  • Stairs and railings
  • Double click to edit
  • Point Clouds

Specific structural improvements

  • Multi-reference annotations
  • Structural analytical model improvements
  • Reinforcement rounding
  • Rebar constraints
  • Welded wire mesh constraints
  • Enhanced rebar shapes
  • Rebar length calculation for UK shapes

MEP improvements

  • CSV file removal — Ability to embed CSV data into a family
  • Divide system
  • Air Terminals on duct — Ability to place Air Terminal families directly on duct segments
  • Plumbing template
  • Cap open ends
  • Angle constraints building performance analysis
  • Energy analysis for architectural building elements — Ability to automatically generate an energy analysis model from a typical Revit model made of architectural building elements
  • GBS analysis app feature

autodesk.com

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