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:

https://360.autodesk.com/Viewer



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 - autodesk.com/perpetuallicenses

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.

Friday, January 16, 2015

CAD Studio web services statistics 2014


January posts often cover results and achievements of the past year 2012 - including annual web site statistics. Let us look at the figures of the number of visitors and other statistics of CAD Studio's web services. From the more then ten web sites we run to support users of CAD/GIS/PDM software, the most popular sites are: the CAD portal CADforum.cz, the company pages CADstudio.cz, our technical support portal helpdesk.cadstudio.cz and our company blogs in Czech and English.

The results hit new records in 2014 - especially for CAD Forum:
  • Over 27 mil. pageviews
  • Over 5.3 mil. unique visits
  • Over 588.000 registered users
  • Over 130.000 postings in the discussion forums (CZ+EN)
  • Over 7.000 tips and tricks (in CZ, part in EN)
  • Over 11.390 CAD and BIM blocks and models uploaded by users
  • Over 7.4 mil. downloads of CAD utilities and patches
  • Over 1 TB of transferred web data monthly
  • Top 5 countries with most visits: USA, Czechia, UK, India, Germany

Also social web services by CAD Studio become more and more popular. There are more than 455.000 views of CAD videos on the CAD Studio's YouTube channel, the total of 6.250 fans on our Facebook pages or 926 Twitter followers.

Thanks for your continuing support.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Santa is coming - CAD Studio's tools for Christmas

Grab new CAD applications that are given out by CAD Studio as a traditional Christmas present - this year for the twelfth time already. This year's CAD presents are available especially for AutoCAD users.

Dimension length of any 2D or 3D curve, trace points on a curve in the specified distance (stationing), open a custom palette with a converter for hundreds of common and less-common international and historical physical units, log all changes performed in a DWG drawing, automatically switch layers for texts, dimensions, hatches, etc. - pick one of our free productivity tools for your everyday work.

Read more at Twelfth Christmas CAD utilities given out by CAD Studio.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Another update in Autodesk Memento - comparing 3D models

One of the fastest growing Autodesk application is the tool for processing large 3D mesh models - Autodesk Memento. It is an important tool for 3D reality-capture from photos, 3D point-cloud scanning or handheld scanners - converting the acquired data into 3D models for CAD and BIM software. Today released version of Memento (V1.0.12.1; expires March 31,2015) brings a couple of important new features. You can export AVI videos with presentations of the model in multiple resolutions. 3D navigation in the model was simplified by using the spherical orbit gizmo and by assigning coordinate systems to the processed model. You can export OBJ files without textures or with re-baked textures. There is an enhanced support for Artec 3D scanners.

But probably the most interesting new feature is the difference analysis between two 3D meshes. You can easily perform a comparison of differences between two mesh models. The results are presented as a colored hypsometry enhancing positive and negative changes of the model geometry - comparing two different files or an old and a new version of the same model. So you can easily compare e.g. photographed and generated 3D models of the same scene after some time (e.g. plant growing, terrain erosion), compare the theoretical (CAD-based) and the real shape of a manufactured and scanned 3D part, find changes in geometry between two versions of a 3D assembly from a CAD software (outer shape only, a mesh).

In the sample below, a doggie-toy model (generated in Memento from a photographed scene) was modified to a new version by using the "push" and "pull" smoothing tool on the dog's neck and back leg. Subsequently, the function Analyze > Analyze the difference was used to compare the loaded model with its original untouched version (.RCM file on disk). The dialog "Difference analysis" allows to set the display scale for the difference sizes, plus the "neutral area", where small differences are ignored. The result then clearly indicates areas where the model shape was changed using the "3D brush" (by adding and subtracting mass).

The original model:

Edit by smoothing:

Result of the comparison:

See Project Memento on Autodesk Labs.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

KORADO heating bodies as BIM objects for Revit MEP

CAD Studio cooperates with the Technical University in Ceske Budejovice (VSTE) and as a part of this cooperation, VSTE students prepared a large library of BIM objects of real MEP products for Revit. Our CAD/BIM library at CADforum.cz Blocks now e.g. contains an extended choice of 3D models of KORADO heating panels.

The KORADO BIM library contain steel radiators (wall heating panels) - the product lines RADIK - RADIK KLASIK, RADIK KLASIK - R (steel panel radiators for reconstructions) and VENTIL KOMPAKT (RADIK VK). This adds to the existing BIM models RADIK VKU, RADIK VKL, RADIK VKM  , RADIK COMBI VK and PLAN (RADIK PLAN KLASIK, RADIK PLAN VK, RADIK PLAN VKL, RADIK PLAN VKM).


The Revit family files (RFA) contain fully parametric 3D models and 2D symbols and other technical data as specified by the manufacturer.

The 46 newly published RFA files also contain a vast number of family types (with thousands of variants), so you can find a type catalog (TXT) with every RFA file. Type catalogs contain all types in a given family and you can choose the types you need for your current project when you load the RFA file (making the project file smaller). The type catalog text files must have the same name as the respective RFA file and must be stored in the same folder - so do not forget to download also the TXT attachment with the RFA file from our online library.


You can use these library elements in the BIM software Autodesk Revit versions 2014 and 2015.

The author of the families is Bc. Michal Marek.