Saturday, April 19, 2014

Stereoscopic viewing of 3D models in Autodesk 360 cloud

If you use a graphics card nVidia Quadro (or other graphics card supporting stereoscopic display) in your computer, you can three-dimensionally view your 3D CAD models stored in the Autodesk 360 cloud. There is no need to pre-process the CAD models nor to install any special viewing software, a standard web viewing functionality of the cloud is used. The models are displayed stereoscopically, with any 3D viewing technology supported by your graphics card.

You need to first setup the stereoscopic mode on your graphics card. Install the latest version of the graphics card driver (full install). On nVidia cards then run the "NVIDIA Control Panel" and in it the task "Set up stereoscopic 3D".


The initial setup will launch the "Setup wizard" where you can choose the required display technology for 3D viewing. If you have no special 3D hardware (glasses), you can use plain paper red-cyan stereoscopic glasses - then use the option "Discover Glasses".


After this initial setup check the option "Enable stereoscopic 3D". This will enable 3D display in games but also in the Google Chrome web browser. Now if you login to your Autodesk 360 account with this browser and if you start a standard full preview of a 3D model from the uploaded documents, the interactive viewer will offer an anaglyph (or other selected) stereo view:



You can rotate/orbit your 3D model and enjoy the 3D experience. Please note the quality of 3D viewing can be sometimes less than ideal - this is not a functionality of the cloud itself but rather a local functionality of Google Chrome and the nVidia driver. Not all cloud-supported (viewable) 3D formats seem to invoke this 3D display mode.

See also other options for stereoscopic 3D display of CAD data - Anaglyph app and www.cadstudio.cz/anaglyf

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fibers - a small technical change in AutoCAD 2015

You have probably NOT noticed a small technical change in the latest AutoCAD 2015. This change is more important for programmers but it has also some consequences for normal AutoCAD users.

AutoCAD (at least its Windows versions) has traditionally used so called "fibers", an old Windows multitasking technology for switching contexts and threads. This allowed AutoCAD to switch drawings (documents in Windows terms) transparently in a middle of a command, without interrupting it. You could start a polyline in one drawing, switch to a different drawing opened in the same AutoCAD session, draw something there, and then return back to the original drawing to continue with the original polyline.

This is maybe a nice feature but it was not used much. And first of all it created major technical obstacles in debugging add-on applications, especially modern .NET and ObjectARX plugins, as Windows do not fully support this fibers technology anymore. See programming details on ADN DevBlog. Our programmers do like this change.

So since AutoCAD 2015, switching MDI context (switching to another opened drawing tab) now effectively means interrupting the active command - like pressing ESC. Do not confuse this with switching viewports in layouts - you can still use this type of "in-DWG" context switching in AutoCAD 2015.

There won't be many mourners at this funeral...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Most products of the Autodesk-2015 family already released


Since the FCS date of the new AutoCAD 2015 (March, 18th), most other products of the "2015" product family have been already released - at least in the original English versions and in main localizations. All new products are available for download on the Subscription Center (ELD, electronic license delivery) and as 30-day Trials on Autodesk.com. The latest releases as of today are the Product Design and Factory Design Suites, Building Design Suites, 3ds Max and Revit 2015. The list of already released products in English and Czech is maintained on the page Release dates - Autodesk 2015.

There was also a couple of surprises in this year's release process. Starting with premature publishing of AutoCAD 2015 product videos, through a "zero-day" update release (UR1) for Revit 2015 up to the Showcase 2015 first removed and then added back to the Autodesk Product Design Suites. Kudos to Autodesk for listening to users' complaints and quickly adding quite popular Showcase and Alias Design back to the standard set of Product Design Suite tools.

And more Kudos to the Autodesk localization team for releasing localized (in our case Czech) versions of most products so early after the original release. It took weeks less then usual.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

AutoCAD 2015 - hot off the press

I was lucky to attend the AutoCAD Blogger Day event in San Francisco where the new AutoCAD 2015 was released. The group of 10 bloggers from the US, UK, Brasil, Poland and Czechia was invited by Autodesk to presentations and interesting discusssion with Lynn Allen, Shaan Hurley, Heidi Hewett, and with one of the customers who participated in the development of AutoCAD 2015.


The version 2015 seems to be much influenced by users. In addition to inviting beta users, Autodesk developers got hard hats and were sent into the field - they participated in real work with CAD drawings in construction and manufacturing. Beta testers of AutoCAD 2015 were from 70 countries, some of them were using AutoCAD 2015 for six months(!). Autodesk also uses A/B testing inside betas of AutoCAD 360 - so do not be alarmed if suddenly some features in your beta version looks differently - you are probably undergoing an A/B test.


AutoCAD 2015 is a "shade of grey" release. The change the default color scheme in AutoCAD 2015 came just from the users. The aim of this modernization was to reduce eye strain by reducing contrast transitions, offer more pleasant work and put emphasis on the actual CAD content. Also other new featuers in version 2015 relate to graphics - AutoCAD 2015 uses better the GPU/hardware features of modern graphics cards - this brings higher performance and provides smoother and softer lines (anti-aliasing). Also the preview/selection hightlighting was accelerated significantly. And you can also select objects in a new way - with a free drawing boundary - "lasso".

Another theme of the new version is Connectivty. Today, CAD data is typically used on multiple devices, including tablets and mobile phones, with data stored in different locations (disk, USB, Dropbox, FTP, ...) and with new types of data describing the real world - maps, photographs, old drawings, point clouds, ...), users are working in geographically dispersed teams. Mobile version of AutoCAD - AutoCAD 360 - makes it easier to share and communicate CAD data. AutoCAD 360 has already 15 million downloads. There is over 10 million users of the desktop AutoCAD. Online comments in DWG drawings (Design Feed) in AutoCAD 2015 can now also be used for locally stored DWG drawings (not necessarily just DWGs in the cloud).

An important new feature for civil engineers and architects is the option to include map data (Bing) inside the DWG drawings. You can determine the precision of the map section stored inside a DWG. It is printed with DWG drawing. Also the support for 3D point clouds was significantly improved. You can now easily trim, crop, filter, classify and present the pint cloud data. Max. number of points in the cloud has been increased to 25 million.

A number of minor features improves productivity of everyday steps and workflows. There are for example several new contextual ribbons, the style previews (text, dimensions, ...), the picture menu for block inserts, previews when changing the properties of objects, easier adding layouts, natural sorting of numbered levels, the initial screen pad, direct links from the command Help into the ribbon, badge-icons at the cursor according to the perfomed function, easier editing of model space viewports, a number of improvements to the text formatting (bullets, fractions, indices, AutoCAPS). A greater influence of users to the product development can be seen from minor adjustments which address annoying inconveniences, such as the automatic exclusion of existing extension lines when adding new dimensions to the drawing, or simplifying isometric drawings, or targeting in 3DORBIT. Version 2015 also removes the EDU stamp from DWG drawings.

The related AutoCAD 360 has new functions for learining and sharing data.


The blogger team (foto: Przemek Marczynski)


Visiting Autodesk Gallery and Autodesk Workshops at Pier 9 was an interesting part of the Blogger Day.


Autodesk Gallery


Autodesk Gallery - 3D photo booth


Autodesk Gallery - if you are an Inventor user, you have probably already seen this model somewhere...


The elevator in the Autodesk's office

The Autodesk Workshops at Pier 9 are very intersting. Interns and employees can here realize their real projects using Autodesk software and the local high-end machine equipment (CNC machines, milling machines, water jet cutting, batteries of 3D printers, woodworking machines, laser engraving, sewing and cooking equipment). This is a dream of every maker and designer. The themes of the projects done in the Workshops extend from printed 3D models of buildings, over a kart built by the Autodesk CEO and his son, to somehow unexpected cooking recipes (for Instructables) and outfits.


"Galactic" touch-search for projects completed in Autodesk Workshops (each star represents a project)


A wide scale of equipment with CNC machines


A part of the 3D printer "battery"


... technologically advanced 3D printer using plain paper sheets


... and one of the results from this printer


One of finished projects - a swinging conference table

AutoCAD 2015 and AutoCAD LT 2015 are available for download (so far in English, German, French, Spanish, Japanese, Korean and Chinese) on your Subscription Center. It goes to sell on 28.3.2014. AutoCAD 2015 supports the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1.


See also AutoCAD 2015 - hot from the kitchen (in Czech)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Bunny masquerade in new Autodesk Meshmixer

Meshmixer is the newest member of the Autodesk 123D family. Meshmixer is a powerful software tool for 3D mashups and remixes. You can mash, mix, sculpt, stamp or paint your own 3D designs. The mesh models can be exported to OBJ, DAE or STL file formats or directly printed on a 3D printer.

The latest version Meshmixer 2.2 adds a.o. an interesting 3D patterning function. Here you can see its results on the sample 3D mesh model "Bunny":


Autodesk Meshmixer can be downloaded and used for free from
www.123dapp.com/meshmixer

Friday, March 14, 2014

New mobile application Autodesk Instant


Autodesk has released a new mobile application that seemingly targets outside of the conventional fields dominated by Autodesk. The application Autodesk Instant for Android and iOS is an "instant messaging" tool designed for team communication, with similar features as the popular application WhatsApp. But don't forget that Autodesk has already a long record of activities also in this "consumer" area of social networking applications - see e.g. his applications Socialcam, Pixlr or Instructables.

Team communication is an important part of the design process. Users now communicate primarily electronically, mostly on mobile devices that allow immediate response, anytime, anywhere. They are using a variety of methods - e-mails, SMS, Skype, Facebook, ICQ, WhatsApp... the range of communication tools is very broad. Autodesk Instant seeks to ensure that the enterpise communication between teams happens in an environment that enterprises can control and that can be easily integrated with existing and future data sharing platforms.

Autodesk Instant is very easy to use, the user is identified by his/her e-mail address, and you can immediately send or receive text messages, images, videos, or location data. If you use company e-mail addresses, users can be automatically organized into groups. If the recipient does not have the Instant application installed, the message is automatically delivered via a regular SMS.


A platform for instant communication can be an important addition to the Autodesk 360 services for online workflows and can facilitate project collaboration in distributed teams. An integration with other Autodesk tools is planned. Autodesk Instant for mobile devices based on Android and iOS is currently available only for North American users. A later release will be available worldwide.

More on www.autodeskinstant.com