Saturday, June 20, 2015

Google Trends - is Revit more popular than ArchiCAD?

It is like taking large scale internet polls on arbitrary themes - Google Trends uses historical search data (since 2004) to measure popularity of a given keyword, how often are people searching for that particular term, worldwide or in a specified region. The Google Trends service was updated last week to include real-time, minute-by-minute trending data from more than 100 billion searches that take place on Google every month.

Try any theme you like and enter one or more keywords related to this theme to see how is it trending among other people in the whole world. Watch big data at work. Just pay attention to the language you use and filter out noise-words by selecting the appropriate category (e.g. "Inventor" as software vs. "inventors" in science).

So let's try to compare popularity of the BIM software Autodesk Revit vs. ArchiCAD (last 5 years, category: software):

Or the 3D CAD modelers Autodesk Inventor vs. SolidWorks (last 5 years, category: CAD/CAM):

Or a more complex dogfight - how the recent popular buzzwords in CAD and IT are trending - BIM vs. IoT vs. 3D printer vs. big data vs. PLM (since 2004, category: computers & electronics):,IoT,3D+printer,big+data,PLM&cat=0-5

The results are pretty objective due to the large number of "voters". Power to the people...

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Improved "AnyCAD" viewer - Autodesk A360

The weekend update of Autodesk's project management application - A360 Team - brought several bug fixes, easier changes of e-mail addresses or more detailed notifications of project changes. But it also brings a useful new feature in the web 3D viewer.

The CAD viewer embedded in A360 Team can handle virtually any CAD format. Now it supports also interactive sections on 3D models. Just click on the section icon in the viewer bottom toolbar and choose a X-Y-Z section plane or a section box to cut your model. Use the displayed color arrows to drag the required position and rotation of the section plane. The viewer will automatically add hatches for section areas cutting the model mass. You can still interactively orbit and zoom the cut model - so you can easily peek inside large assemblies.

Leaked images promise also one new function of the A360 Viewer to be relased shortly - measuring on 3D models.

DWG is of course one of the main CAD formats supported by the cloud-based A360 Viewer. But it handles not only AutoCAD drawings but also DWG projects containing special AEC objects from AutoCAD Civil 3D, Plant 3D or AutoCAD Architecture. Even these projects can be viewed anywhere, without installing any viewing software. It is not only about viewing, A360 Viewer offers concurrent online team discussions on the model, accessing its properties, displays structure of model, explodes assemblies, searches inside the model, etc. All of this just with your internet browser.

live model:

You can use the free A360 Viewer either as a pure unbundled viewer - see, or as a part of the cloud storage service Autodesk A360 Drive, or as a part of the project management and team collaboration service Autodesk A360 Team. Try yourself viewing of CAD data in almost any file format - more than 70 formats are supported. A360 Viewer works in all web browsers supporting HTML5/WebGL - e.g. Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari. A360 can be used also on mobile devices (as an app or in some mobile web browsers).

The next new feature relates to the mobile version of A360 - "A360 Mobile". This free app for tablets and smartphones running on Android or Apple iOS can now connect also to other cloud services so you can work with CAD data stored e.g. on Dropbox, OneDrive and others. In this way, you can also use your mobile device to access data (2D, 3D, office) in your Autodesk Buzzsaw projects. Just specify your ProjectPoint credentials.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Autodesk Print Studio - 3D printing not only from Inventor

One of the new functions in Inventor 2016 and Inventor LT 2016 is the direct 3D print environment. Any created or associated model from other CAD formats can be printed from Inventor on a connected 3D printer, or a STL file can be generated for a custom 3D print service. You can modify - independently on the editing of the original model - the orientation and placement of the model before you print it, or you can split the model to multiple printable parts. An auxiliar geometry of the selected printer is created in the browser tree.

Besides the direct 3D printing, you can also forward your model through the ribbon function to the Autodesk Print Studio application. You have to install it before its first usage from the offered link. Print Studio is a part of the 3D print platform Autodesk Spark, which contains not only software componens for 3D printing but also a reference device - the 3D printer Autodesk Ember. The Spark Server (on port http://localhost:9998) is installed with the Print Studio application, so other print jobs can be directed through it.

In the Print Studio application, you can select the type of 3D printer, print material, precision, types of supports and detailed parameters of print layers (time, velocity, geometry...). The print preparation functions allow to check and fix or cleanup model geometry (holes), place the supports manually or automatically, set exact size, placement and rotation of the model of the 3D printer bed. You can also export the individual print layer slices as a series of PNG images. The settings combinations can be stored as print profiles.

You can also use Autodesk Print Studio separately, to preprocess any STL or ONJ file before printing. So you can e.g. load a STL file (parametric surface Enneper from 3DPlot) and add automatic supports:

You can also download the free Autodesk Print Studio from

Sunday, March 22, 2015

AutoCAD 2016 - a zero day localization

Good job, Autodesk! Users of older versions of Autodesk's CAD products were used to several weeks- or even several months- delay between the FCS release of the original English version and the release of a localized version. Despite the fact that this delay was shortening in last few releases, nobody has expected - neither us who are participating on the Czech localizations - that this delay will be finally just about 8 hours. All 14 language localizations of AutoCAD has been released the same day - i.e. AutoCAD 2016 in English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Chinese Simplified, Chinese Traditional, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Czech, Polish, Hungarian.

All subscribers can now download the released AutoCAD 2016 (and also AutoCAD LT 2016, AutoCAD Mechanical 2016, AutoCAD Architecture 2016, AutoCAD MEP 2016, AutoCAD Electrical 2016 or Vault Basic 2016) from their accounts on the Subscription Center, resp. now on tne new "Autodesk Accounts" portal (and also as Trials). All versions are available since March 20th. So if you are an AutoCAD user with active Maintenance Subscription or Desktop Subscription (rental), download the latest "2016" version from Autodesk Account in your favourite language. You can also download the English version plus the appropriate Language Pack (add-on localization) and run AutoCAD in multiple languages.

You can find the download link on the page "Products and Services" - look up "AutoCAD" in the product list and on the version "2016", click on the "Install" link. In the "Install now" dialog, choose the preferred language in the "Language" list and click on the "Install now" button.

Please note that the method "Install now" is the fastest way of download and installation (downloads only those components neccessary for the particular PC), but it may collide with some company firewalls (see tips on In this case, use alternative download methods available through the link "More actions" on the right side.

If your account does not list AutoCAD 2016, your subscription is probably not active (pending renewal), or the product download is available for your Subscription Manager only.

The overview of new features in AutoCAD 2016 (including the new render, smart dimensioning, PDF enhancements, smooth graphics, point cloud geometry, sysvar monitoring, Navisworks/BIM360 coordination, etc.) can be found in the AutoCAD 2016 Preview Guide (PDF) or in the article "AutoCAD 2016 - whats new?" (in Czech). All new commands and variables are listed on

Friday, February 27, 2015

A360 - online viewer for "any" 2D/3D CAD file format

If you have the technology, it is all about offering it the most easy and user-friendly way. Autodesk has developed a cloud-based technology for interpreting in viewing 2D+3D design data in almost any CAD+BIM format and this viewer (dubbed "LMV" - large model viewer) is a part of Autodesk's A360 Drive and A360 Team document and project management services.

Having a reliable viewer for other CAD formats (those formats which are not used daily in usual CAD workflows) is a must for any designer. A couple of years ago, the market of standalone third-party CAD viewers was blooming. The existing A360 Drive and A360 Team services are very powerful and offer not only viewing but also sharing, versioning, commenting, searching, setting access rights and other document management functions. But they are not exactly for occassional users - you need to log in first with your "Autodesk ID" (free) and learn their (simple enough) user interface. But if you have received a foreign CAD file and want to just quickly look what's inside, a simple barebone viewer is all what you need, without any logins and clutter around it.

And this is exactly what Autodesk now offers with the new "unbundled" CAD file viewer (free) available on:

You don't need to install anything on your PC so you can use this service anywhere you are. Just drag-n-drop your CAD file and (after a short conversion) interactively view its contents - including file properties and properties of selected objects, assembly structure, model explosion, etc. You can share the resulting viewable model with other people through e-mail with a unique URL and concurrently view and discuss the model online (see the video below). The model will stay online for 30 days. The viewer works fine even on mobile web browsers.

The list of supported file formats offers more than 50 items (incl. AutoCAD, Inventor, Revit, Catia, Solidworks, Pro/E) and other can be added by extending the Autodesk cloud service: 3DM, 3DS, ASM, CAM360, CATPART, CATPRODUCT, CGR, DAE, DLV3, DWF, DWFX, DWG, DWT, EXP, F3D, FBX, GGB, XML, IFC, IGE, IGES, IGS, IPT, JT, MODEL, NEU, NWC, NWD, OBJ, PRT, RCP, RVT, SAB, SAT, SESSION, SIM, SIM360, SKP, SLD, ASM, SLDPRT, SMB, SMT, STE, STEP, STL, STLA, STLB, STP, WIRE, X_B, X_T, XAS, XPR.

An example of the concurrent collaboration:

The Autodesk A360 Viewer is a smart move and a very useful cloud service for any CAD user.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

No new permanent licenses of selected Autodesk products after Feb 1, 2016

Autodesk announced that after February 1st, 2016, they will stop selling new permanent (perpetual) licenses of selected products. You will be able to purchase these products only as a "Desktop Subscription" (rental) - monthly, quarterly, yearly or multi-yearly. The existing permanent licenses are not affected as well as the products not listed here (e.g. Vault, AutoCAD Civil 3D, Plant 3D, Simulation and all Design Suites):
  • 3ds Max
  • AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT
  • AutoCAD Architecture
  • AutoCAD Electrical
  • AutoCAD Mechanical
  • InfraWorks
  • Inventor and Inventor Professional
  • Inventor LT
  • Maya and Maya LT
  • MotionBuilder
  • Mudbox
  • Navisworks Simulate and Navisworks Manage
  • Revit Architecture and Revit MEP and Revit Structure
  • Revit LT

The costs (TCO) of rented licenses are usually lower when compared to purchasing a permanent license with annual Maintenance Subscription, or compared to the older Upgrade model (upgrade every N-th version). The Desktop Subscription is much more flexible in terms of license management, deployment, user experience, temporary increases/decreases of available licenses and cloud integration. Plus you have no upfront costs...

The existing permanent licenses will be still permanent and you can still continue to renew and update them with your Maintenance Subscription. The announced change (1 year from now) will affect only newly purchased products. Desktop Subscription licensing has nothing to do with the cloud - you get standard locally installed software products (the same as usual). The sales channel through VARs remains the same.

See more details (in Czech)

The Autodesk "transition" press release

All information and FAQ -

Monday, January 19, 2015

AutoCAD 360 and the Budweiser.dwg benchmark

Ralph Grabowski compared AutoCAD 360 with "AutoCAD clones" in his latest upFront.eZine #842 in terms of DWG compatibility, mentioning our Budweiser.dwg compatibility test. There is one important point in the "trust" and "compatibility" aspect not mentioned in the review.

AutoCAD 360 is a view/review software and "occasional" 2D editor for DWG drawings. Unlike the non-Autodesk desktop "clones" it does not display the true contents of a DWG file directly. The DWG is interpreted in the Autodesk cloud and sent to (and from) the thin client (mobile client or web browser) basically as simple vectors. So any incompatibilites are just in the interpretation phase and can be fixed on the cloud server. And - which is more important - any entities which are currently not recognized by AutoCAD 360 are not damaged during editing and save-back, they remain untouched inside the DWG file. If you re-open the AutoCAD360-edited drawing in AutoCAD, all (all!) entities are displayed properly again. Plus the DWG remains in the genuine DWG file format.

Now try this in any of the AutoCAD fakes (copies, lookalikes) and your DWG will be damaged, unrecognized entities will be deleted.

Updated 27.1.2015:
Ralph Grabowski asks in the next upFront.eZine #843: "I am not sure what file corruption of drawings by clones has to do with display corruption by Autodesk software, which is used by engineers working outside of the office, who rely on what they are seeing to resolve problems with contractors on the job site."
Yes, I agree that any viewer software should display the file contents reliably and I hope Autodesk will fix this soon in AutoCAD360 - at least for 2D DWGs. But there is a difference in the trust - "trusting in what is currently displayed on my mobile device" (when I can double-check the real contents in desktop AutoCAD) and in "trusting that the original contents is not corrupted forever" (when you open/save a DWG in a clone CAD). Any not-fully-recognized 2D object in AutoCAD360 can be still edited properly and it will be properly represented inside the cloud-based DWG. Any DWG edited in a clone is quite probably corrupted for any future use (we have lots of customers complaining then about double "0" layers, draworder not working, failures on plotting, missing objects and other strange problems caused by non-genuine DWGs).
It is like a web page - you know that it may look (or behave) slightly different on your tablet but I doubt you will like the risk of corrupting the page for any future visitors.