While CAD software is developed by firms all over the world, the main point of contact is with their local authorised dealerships. One of the largest UK AEC resellers, CADline has just launched a community portal for all Autodesk customers.
With the ever-expanding product range from Autodesk, the need for expert help and advice has never been more in demand. While the web is a useful resource for finding this information, CAD portals, specific to designers’ needs are usually a font of knowledge.
UK Autodesk reseller CADline and its sister company Midas have launched a portal to serve both their own customers and the Autodesk-based community at large. The CADline Community (www.cadlinecommunity.co.uk) is an ambitious project for any reseller, providing an online resource full of information, videos, blogs and free utilities.
Covering design and analysis technologies, the CADline community is described as a place to ‘exchange ideas, experience and expertise’. The company sees the site as an expansion of its service and support to existing and potential customers. By providing an open site (requiring only basic registration) CADline hopes to build a community of experienced users to share technical information on CAD, Building Information Modelling (BIM), digital prototyping, Design visualisation and many other areas of interest for design professionals.
The site is in its first stage and at launch offers a range of resources including:
Blogs: CADline’s industry specialists provide their thoughts on new developments and challenges.
FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions with answers for all Autodesk products from CADline’s helpdesk.
White Papers: Documents for discussion, ‘tips and tricks’ and more in-depth technical solutions.
Videos: Video streamed presentations offering ‘tips and tricks’ recorded by CADline’s technical team.
Events: Schedule of upcoming CADline demonstrations and seminars
Gallery: An image gallery showing customer and demonstration project examples achieved using current design technology.
Downloads: Not only is CADline a reseller but it also develops software and add-ons. Here, registered users with a CADline subscription or maintenance contract get access to a wide-range of handy, free, design applications and utilities.
Covering a wide range of design markets, the downloadable applications aim to increase productivity by adding new functionality to Autodesk products.
A good example of this is the ‘Revit U-Value Calculator’, which enables customers to analyse their choice of wall or roof construction for its ability to minimise energy transfer. This has already been available in the company’s own building services product, Cymap.
The add-on program utilises a database of thermal properties of single elements, derived from manufacturers’ building materials or taken from guides such as CIBSE BS codes of practice. By layering these materials and specifying respective thicknesses of layers when setting up the composite working from the inner face to the outside, the engineer can calculate not only the U value, but the risk of interstitial condensation and thermal bridging to BS 6946.
The new European equivalent to the U value, the ‘Km’ value, is also calculated.
For customers of other Autodesk products there are add-ons such as the ‘AutoCAD Electrical Project Surfer’ and an Inventor AutoSave.
As a resource, CADline has done a comprehensive and excellent job with stage one of the community site. While the user interface layout is best described as ‘functional’ over being pretty, the resources are clearly labelled making browsing efficient.
While the full content, specifically the applications, requires being a CADline customer, there is more than enough free information, videos and insightful comment to make the site worth regular browsing.