Saturday, December 11, 2010

Project Galileo - where CAD+BIM+GIS meets

The new "Project Galileo", a technology preview from Autodesk Labs is a tool for creating digital cities - models integrating mapping data, CAD, geospatial, building, utility networks and database data.

It may resemble a combination of computer games Sims and Trainz Simulator, but on a professional level - with precise tools, with support of professional file formats, and with support of very large datasets. It still keeps the ease of use known from the country-editors in the kids games. In Galileo, you can sketch streets, add rivers and ponds, elevate terrain, sketch buildings and apply their facade pictures, add city entourage (city furniture). You can create proposals, analyse, navigate and animate the models.

Galileo saves its projects (cities) in the .alxdb format. You can import terrain surface and terrain pictures (aerials) in the most common file formats (.dem, .tiff, .ecw, .jpg, .png, ...). Building and entourage models can be imported from .dae, .fbx, .obj, .sff and .3ds formats. You can also create 3D buildings (in fact: 2.5D buildings) from 2D footprints. The standard LandXML format is also supported for importing data, or you can use WFS web sources. Any object can be linked with database data in the .sdf, .shp and .sqlite file formats or directly from an ODBC, Oracle, MS SQL, ArcSDE or MySQL database.

Project Galileo emerges from an older project "Metropolis" and from the existing Autodesk product - "Land Xplorer Studio".

Download the city planning tool at Autodesk Labs - Galileo.

Galieo - above ground
The same scene with "negative elevation" - Galileo supports also underground objects:
Galileo - under ground

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bunch of news from Autodesk University 2010

The Autodesk user conference "Autodesk University 2010" held currently in Las Vegas brings a series of interesting news and new product announcements. You can also take part on this conference as a virtual attendee - see "AU virtual" for Autodesk subscription customers.

Here is a short list of the most important news from different areas covered by Autodesk technologies:

  • Inventor Fusion (the simple-to-use 3D CAD with direct editing) will be offered for free with AutoCAD
  • A very promising cloud application Autodesk Photofly (reconstruction of 3D point clouds from a series of photos) will be updated to directly generate 3D models from photos
  • Sketchbook Express (Sketchbook Mobile) was released for Android mobile devices - as a free version and $1 version - see the Android Market (there are not many Autodesk products for $1 ...)
  • Project Galileo is a new tool combining large CAD, GIS and BIM data - e.g. for modelling of cities
  • Autodesk Tinkerbox is a new learning software for design and simulation of mechanical devices/systems
  • Autodesk plans a new scripting tool DesignScript for automation of operations in AutoCAD and other products
  • The web application Homestyler (easy and free interior- and home-design 2D/3D tool) now generates photorealistic 3D views (render snapshots)
  • AutoCAD WS (AutoCAD version running inside web browsers and on Apple iPads/iPhones, now with more than 500.000 users) is being released in version 1.1 - supports off-line mode, direct upload of DWGs and other functionality from the full AutoCAD
  • Project Vasari - the simplified conceptual version of Revit is now available in an enhanced version with new editing tools and enhanced solar radiation

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

How good is your CAD hardware?

The "customer involvement program" (CIP) is a tool for online reporting of software bugs and of the ways how customers use AutoCAD, Inventor and other Autodesk products. The offer to take part in this program is displayed when you launch AutoCAD - you may remember this picture:

Customer involvement (CZ version)
This tool can help you to get help or a fix if your application happen to crash. Autodesk is also using the anonymous data collected through this tool to optimize the user interface and the most used commands.

If you have refused your participation initially, you can change your mind using the Help menu item (question mark) or with the command CUSTOMERINVOLVEMENTPROGRAM (a long name...).

The dialog Autodesk Customer Involvement contains also one interesting function. You can compare the main hardware parameters of your CAD workstation with the average of other users in the world. In the above dialog, click on the link "Preview my CIP data" and it displays a web page containing information about your system and the average values of RAM+VRAM memory, graphics resolution and the operating system used by you and your peers from all over the world:

Compare your workstation

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

AutoCAD WS - the web cloud AutoCAD

AutoCAD WS - iPad
AutoCAD WS (formerly "Project Butterfly") is a free, cloud version of a CAD editor that supports the DWG and DXF file formats. This CAD tool runs on virtually any device - so you can create and edit your CAD drawings anywhere - online from an internet browser (on any desktop computer, laptop or netbook), and with WS Mobile even from a mobile device like an Apple iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.

AutoCAD WS needs an internet connection as your DWG file is first uploded to the Autodesk's web cloud server (Amazon S3) and the client application (a browser, iPad, etc.) then communicates with this cloud server. So you can also share, publish and markup CAD drawings in a team with your collegues. On the server, you have a storage space for your drawings, including their revision history (timeline).

With the plug-in module for AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT 2011 you can synchronize your DWG files directly from your AutoCAD environment with AutoCAD WS on a mobile device.

Start with AutoCAD WS directly on:

A sample drawing Budweiser2010 (login not required)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

AutoCAD 2011 now returns to Macintosh

Many have speculated about this in the latest months but it is still surprising - Autodesk brings the most popular CAD application - AutoCAD - in the native version for Apple MacIntosh - AutoCAD for Mac.

AutoCAD for Mac already existed in the past. In the year 1992, AutoCAD R12 was released in the version for Unix and Mac. But since R13 the AutoCAD development continued on the Windows platform only. It was a logical decision by that time due to the dominance of the Windows operating system on the PC market - and this definitely contributed to the velocity of AutoCAD development as maintaining multiplatform versions brings substantial complications for software developers. The MacOS marketshare has not increased much (now about 5% worldwide - see the graph), but still Autodesk has decided to address the considerable Mac user community and ported the current version of AutoCAD 2011 to the Mac OS X platform. The AutoCAD code was rewritten in 18 months and 5.000 users have taken part in the beta testing phase.

MacOS marketshare
AutoCAD for Mac offers most of the functionality of the well known Windows version of AutoCAD and maintains the compatibility of DWG files. What's missing are the obvious Windows-specific functions (like the ribbon, Window system calls in API, OLE, etc.).

An interesting complement to AutoCAD is the new mobile application AutoCAD WS (as WorkSpace). This mobile version of AutoCAD can process AutoCAD DWG drawings on mobile devices like iPad, or even iPhone and iPad Touch. AutoCAD WS uses the web cloud technology Autodesk Butterfly - the power-hungry parts of this application run on Autodesk's cloud servers.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Autodesk and Cloud computing - they really mean it

Autodesk takes the web cloud computing seriously. And I am not talking just about the latests tools from Autodesk Labs - various web-based tools are available from Autodesk for several years already. Maybe they were not called by the popular buzzword "cloud" at that time but they are web-based services and they are scalable so they are true "cloud tools".

All these tools with very different functionality prove that cloud computing is today a real thing in the CAD industry.

Here is the list compiled by Scott Sheppard, the comments are mine:

  1. Buzzsaw

    Project Management for AEC - probably the oldest commercial Autodesk web based tool

  2. Constructware

    Construction Management

  3. Green Building Studio

    Energy/Sustainability Analysis - globalized recently and now available for all AEC subscription customers; we have developed one of the first GBS plugins, for Architecture Desktop 3.3

  4. Autodesk Seek

    Product content and search

  5. Project Butterfly

    2D SaaS CAD and Collaboration - a "web-based AutoCAD" tool, a very clever technology allowing to work in a graphics-intensive CAD application in "real-time"

  6. Homestyler

    2D/3D Consumer Home Design & Content - former Dragonfly, very nice tool, for non-CAD users, even your grandma can use it - definitely try it

  7. Project Showroom

    Consumer Home Design, Rendering - little bit hidden among all these Autodesk's rendering technologies

  8. Project Freewheel

    2D/3D Drawing Viewing, Collaboration - DWF online tool/viewer

  9. Project Draw

    2D Diagramming Tool - IMHO this technology is now being replaced by Butterfly

  10. Project Twitch

    Rapid Application Delivery, Remoting, Trials - not applicable in our part of the globe

  11. Inventor

    Cloud Design Optimization Service - currently N/A in Europe

  12. Project Neon

    Cloud Rendering Service - a perfect example of cloud computing - this is an ideal use of the "unlimited" computing power of web clouds - definitely try it

  13. Project Cumulus

    Cloud FEA/CFD Computation Service - TBA?

  14. Project Photofly

    Cloud Image to Model computation Service - another good example of complex computations performed as "black magic" somewhere in the cloud, but some steps in the photo-to-model workflow are still missing

  15. Project Bluestreak

    Cloud collaboration platform - web file manager, good interactivity employing Ajax, but one of many

  16. CommunityCommands
    for AutoCAD

    New command discovery based on community - a small web tool, not really a true "cloud" application

My favorites are the Project Neon and Homestyler.

See Match made in heaven

Friday, July 16, 2010

New CAD tool for plant design - AutoCAD Plant 3D 2011

AutoCAD Plant
Autodesk just released the latest version of its plant design software - AutoCAD Plant 3D 2011. It is an important release for us as this is the first version of Plant 3D distributed also for the Czech market and XANADU is currently the sole authorized reseller of Plant 3D in Czechia.

Plant 3D is an effective tool for designing piping systems, chemical and processing plants. It contains full functionality for concepts, 3D modelling, pipe routing, analysis plus isometrics and documentation of complex plant designs and their support structures. Its equipment libraries contain models and blocks in many industry standards. Like any other "industry-version" of AutoCAD, Plant 3D works with the standard DWG file format, it is based on a familiar user interface and it offers also all the commands and functions of the plain AutoCAD.

AutoCAD Plant is compatible with the 2D tool AutoCAD P&ID (process diagrams and 2D) and Autodesk Navisworks (project coordination, collision detection). In fact you can also receive AutoCAD Plant 3D as a "Suite" (Autodesk Plant Design Suite 2011) bundled with AutoCAD P&ID and Autodesk Navisworks.

More info:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cloud rendering with Autodesk Project Neon

New web rendering service Autodesk Project Neon is an interesting Labs product employing the "unlimited" computing performance of the internet server cloud.

With this free web application (technology preview by Autodesk Labs) you can easily create photorealistic renderings of views in complex 3D DWG models of your AutoCAD projects. So you can push off the resource-intensive rendering jobs from your computers to the scalable network of Autodesk computers (or probably rather Amazon computers). You don't need to burden your CAD workstations or upgrade their performance parameters.

You can upload your drawing either as a DWG file as an eTransmit ZIP package containing the neccessary xrefs and material textures. The 3D DWG drawing must contain the scene model, light definitions and first of all predefined named views, which you will then select as a rendering parameter.

You can find the Project Neon service on After you login to your Autodesk account (from your Subscription or from Autodesk discussion forums) you can upload your project drawing, choose the requested view for rendering and the rendering quality. Then you can just wait till the U.S. servers diligently process your project. Depending on the complexity of your scene and the selected resolution you can expect the results in minutes up to tens of minutes. You can let the service render multiple scenes in parallel. You don't have to wait for the results - the service will send you a notification e-mail when the render is finished - then you can pick up (download) the final rendered image (PNG or JPG) from your account.

E.g. the sample scene (7MB DWG) takes about 12 minutes to render in high quality and in the resolution of 1920x1080 pixels.

Setting parameters

Render processing, results

An example of final interior render

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cooperation with CADENAS - CADforum Partcommunity portal

In a cooperation with CADENAS, we have started a joint project - the online 3D CAD parts library at

The international CAD portal by XANADU (now "CAD Studio") offers a free 3D CAD web download library with millions of parts and product data, developed by CADENAS GmbH. This library contains parametric CAD parts from more than 250 world leading suppliers. CAD data is downloadable in the DWG format for AutoCAD, IPT/IAM formats for Inventor and in the neutral STEP exchange format.

All designers using Autodesk CAD products can benefit from this online resource - finishing their designs faster and without errors.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Show what's normally hidden...

No, I am talking about things normally hidden in AutoCAD drawings. Sometimes you just want to reveal more and show data which normally stay hidden.

There are several areas of hidden data, hidden parameters and information deep in the DWG drawing database. And here are some methods how to dig out this data.

  1. The most obvious item - the geometry. Reveal hidden layers by thawing and enabling all layers (the LAYER command). Unhide hidden (isolated) objects by the UNISOLATEOBJECTS command.
  2. Hidden attributes - display hidden attributes in blocks by the ATTDISP command.
  3. Empty texts - some drawing contain texts with space-only characters. Such texts are not visible until you set the QTEXTMODE variable.
  4. Hidden face edges - 3DFaces with hidden edges can be revealed by setting the SPLFRAME variable to 1.
  5. Proxy objects - proxy objects from vertical versions of AutoCAD and AutoCAD add-ons without object enablers can be displayed by setting the PROXYSHOW variable
  6. Drawing tables - a DWG drawing does not contain only geometry but also non-graphical objects: styles, tables, linetypes, etc. You can list them e.g. through the VisualLisp IDE. Start the VLIDE command and use View > Browse drawing database.
  7. EED - Extended Entity Data - can contain valuable information. You can list the EED contents for any drawing object with the Express Tools command XDLIST.
  8. Hyperlinks - if you attach a link (URL) to a drawing object, you may want to show it again. Use the SHOWURLS command.
  9. Field relationships - you may have a number of dynamically linked texts (fields) reflecting properties of other objects (acreage, lengths, etc.). Use the FIELDLINK utility to draw temporary lines linking fields and their dependent objects (see
  10. History - the history of a drawing is normally hidden - you cannot tell what was drawn first and what next. With the LISP utility "HISTORY" you can animate the history of your DWG drawing (see
NB: You can find all mentioned commands and variables in the AutoCAD commands database on

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Free AutoCAD and other Autodesk software

Did you know there are several ways how you can get AutoCAD, Civil 3D, Inventor, Mechanical or 3ds Max for free? Yes, Autodesk gives its software for free for selected groups of users.

The major one of these groups are students. In most countries, students can download and use educational versions (fully functional software, EDU banner embedded in the drawings) of the most important Autodesk CAD, BIM and GIS software products. This offer is valid for several years already and the number of students who took this opportunity passed 1 million.

Another group qualified for free Autodesk software (plus training and certifications) are displaced employees - the unemployed. The "Autodesk Assistance Program" helps these professionals to stay in touch with the latest CAD technology and update their skills. This program is valid through January 31st, 2011. See

Both these groups can now get the latest versions of Autodesk products including:

  • AutoCAD 2011
  • AutoCAD Architecture 2011
  • AutoCAD MEP 2011
  • AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011
  • AutoCAD Map 3D 2011
  • AutoCAD Electrical 2011
  • AutoCAD Mechanical 2011
  • Autodesk 3ds Max 2011

Friday, April 23, 2010

Congrats to HC Pardubice - champions of the Czech Hockey League

HC Pardubice - Dominik Hasek - XANADU
The new champion of the Czech Ice Hockey League 2009/2011 is the team of HC Eaton Pardubice. The success of this winner of the play-off series is based on its phenomenal goal-keeper Dominik Hasek, well known also from NHL where he played in the teams of Buffalo and Detroit.

XANADU is a proud partner of the HC Pardubice hockey team and we congratulate the new champions!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Revolutionary change in the AutoCAD 2011 user interface


(Prague, April 1st) Autodesk has released a revolutionary simplified user interface in the new AutoCAD 2011. This is an unprecedented deed in the software industry, but other software vendors have already expressed their intentions to follow the same way. What is the matter?

The costs of software localization to multiple languages and the time delays between the release of a new version and its localizations were coming into sharp conflict with the economic requirements for cost reduction in the period of global recession, and with the frequency of launching new versions of AutoCAD. At the same time, the number of AutoCAD users in China and other Asian countries is increasing rapidly. The estimated Y/Y growth is 21% in these regions - and in the year 2035 (the year when Himalayan glaciers should have melted), the users in that part of the world will already make 86.3% of the AutoCAD user base. According to the research study of the Springfield University, the knowledge level of AutoCAD users in the US and in Europe has grown so much that 89.8% percent of them follow only the icons and do not need to read the function names and command prompts. Plus, parts of the Autodesk software development team comes from China. As a logical conclusion from all these effects, Autodesk has decided to develop and deliver only the Chinese version of AutoCAD, with the Chinese user interface.

While all the icons and functions remain unchanged, any average user will be able to quickly navigate in the new AutoCAD. First-time users can make use of a paper template delivered with AutoCAD - by simple attaching this template to the screen they can quickly identify the individual functions in menus and ribbons. Moreover, the new web-based online help in AutoCAD 2011 can employ the Google Translate web tool to automatically translate the documentation to virtually any language - the Chinese version of AutoCAD can so easily get into new language areas where no localized versions of AutoCAD existed yet (e.g. Swahili or Galician). Printed manuals pose no problem as there are no printed manuals.

The initial reactions of users and journalists to this innovation depend on the region. The computer supplement of the Chinese government newspaper Ming Pao calls this Autodesk's decision a "step in the right direction". On the other hand, a reputable French blogger Patrick Merde chooses rather dismissive words in its heavily commented blog post. The reaction of financial markets is rather positive, the Autodesk shares (ADSK) rose after the announcement of about 2.8%. Therefore, we can probably look forward to similar solutions also in other programs.

Have a good April Fools' Day.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

FDO LineStyle for easier GIS maps

FDO LS ribbonIn our communication with customers and other CAD/GIS users we often hear questions and proposals to simplify and streamline everyday work with CAD and GIS software. We at CAD Studio (former: XANADU) try to "materialize" these inducements into specific add-on applications, which customize or add the missing functionality to the existing Autodesk products. We then provide the absolute majority of such add-on applications for free - for download from the page Xanadu freeware.

A new application of this freeware category is the tool for creation of custom linestyles for GIS maps. XANADU FDO LineStyle is an AutoCAD add-on which converts the geometry of selected drawing objects to the XML definition of linetypes(line symbols) used for FDO layers of GIS maps in AutoCAD Map, Autodesk Topobase and MapGuide. Without this tool, you would need to create your new custom linetypes through manual editing of codes in XML files.

You can find more information and download of this .Net utility on the page Xanadu FDO LineStyle.

FDO LineStyles

Sunday, February 14, 2010

3 Golds for XANADU

XANADU Inc. (now "CAD Studio"), the leading supplier of CAD, GIS and IT solutions in the Czech and Slovak Republics is an Autodesk reseller since 1994. Autodesk has now awarded XANADU the highest level of partnership - the Autodesk Gold Partner for both the Manufacturing and Architecture, Engineering & Construction industries.

At the same time, XANADU became the Autodesk Consulting Services Partner providing certified experts for industry solutions and implementation of Autodesk's CAD and GIS technologies.

XANADU has achieved the "Gold" partnership level not only with Autodesk but also with another two world leading IT vendors - HP and Microsoft. We offer the highest level of support for customers combining CAD and IT enterprise solutions.

Autodesk Gold Partner

HP Gold Partner

Microsoft Gold Partner

Sunday, January 24, 2010

AutoCAD as a web application

Project Butterfly
With the new Autodesk Project Butterfly you can edit your DWG drawings inside a web browser, over the internet.

After some initial attempts with limited functionality (ProjectDraw), Autodesk Labs now introduced a very interesting new web service which behaves more like a standard desktop version of AutoCAD. Unlike AutoCAD, you don't need to install any software. Butterfly runs just inside your internet browser.

The technology behind Butterfly is Adobe Flash, Adobe Flex and the computing power of the rented Amazon Compute Cloud.

Despite that Butterfly works with the AutoCAD file format - DWG, it supports only a limited set of DWG object types (see our benchmark drawing - Budweiser.dwg). One of the most interesting functions (would be popular even in AutoCAD) is the "Timeline". Using a simple slider you can roll back the drawing version to any older status of it. The file versions are saved "in the cloud" but you can import and export DWG files from/to your local computer.

All standard functions like object selection or mouse zooms use the same logic and almost the same speed as in full AutoCAD. You can use standard object types - lines, polylines, dimensions, raster images, blocks and their properties - color, layer, linetype, lineweight. For simple diagramming, sketching and drawing reviews, Butterfly can replace your desktop version of AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT.