Thursday, July 21, 2011

When Autodesk goes shopping

Like all big IT corporations, also Autodesk acquires new technologies not only through its own research and development but also through acquisition of technologies or whole companies from all over the world. These acquisition activities by Autodesk are especially intensive in the last 10 years, which is related to the increasing size of the company and especially to the increasing portfolio of products and manifold of technologies used in them.

Due to the growing Autodesk engagement in the consumer software area (mobile and cloud applications, maker and photo-processing software), more acquisitions in this area can be expected. The latest example is the acquisition of the swedish company Pixlr, producer of cloud applications for editing and sharing of pictures.

Let us recall other Autodesk acquisitions in the recent history and how these bought technologies are used today:
  • June 1997, US-based Softdesk - AEC applications, now parts in AutoCAD Architecture, MEP
  • May 1998, German Genius CAD Software GmbH - 2D mechanical application, now in AutoCAD Mechanical
  • March 1999, Canadian Discreet Logic Inc. - especially 3ds Max and other multimedia products
  • April 1999, Canadian VISION* Solutions - FM/GIS technologies, partly in Autodesk Utility Design
  • January 2001, US-based Gentry Systems - solutions for electric utilities, again for Autodesk Utility Design
  • September 2001, US-based Buzzsaw - still a product - web-hosted project management (also part of Vault Collaboration AEC)
  • February 2002, US-based Revit Technology Corporation - important acquisition of a parametric CAD/BIM solution, now the product line Autodesk Revit, Vasari
  • August 2002, US-based CAiCE Software Corporation - transportation applications, partly in AutoCAD Civil 3D
  • December 2002, US-based truEInnovations, Inc with the trueVault product - the base of today's product line Autodesk Vault (PLM)
  • March 2003, US-based Linius Technologies, Inc. and VIA Development Corporation - core technologies
  • Fabruary 2004, Czech MechSoft a.s. - developer of Mechsoft Profi, now included in the Autodesk Inventor product line
  • May 2004, US-based Unreal Pictures - developer of character studio, now included in Autodesk 3ds Max
  • March 2005, German COMPASS systems GmbH - developer of document management solutions, now in Vault Professional
  • June 2005, Swiss C-Plan - developer of the GIS solution Topobase (AutoCAD+Oracle), now Autodesk Topobase, resp. Map Infrastructure Server and AutoCAD Map Enterprise
  • August 2005, French Solid Dynamics - developer of applications for dynamic simulation, now part of Inventor Professional
  • October 2005, US-based Engineering Intent Corporation - developer of engineer-to-order applications, now Autodesk Intent, resp. Inventor ETO
  • January 2006, Canadian Alias - broad portfolio of technologies for automotive and visualizations, partly still as individual Autodesk products (Maya, SketchBook, Alias Design), technologies used also in Inventor and Autodesk multimedia applications
  • August 2007, New-zealand Skymatter Inc. - developer of the Mudbox application (still exists)
  • August 2007, UK-based NavisWorks - important technology for project coordination and simulation, now the product line Autodesk Navisworks
  • August 2007, Swedish Opticore AB - visualization in automotive industry, now in Autodesk Showcase
  • August 2007, US-based PlassoTech - developer of CAE applications, now in Autodesk Inventor
  • November 2007, French Robobat - developer of construction and building analysis software, now Autodesk Robobat
  • February 2008, US-based Karmel Software - HVAC software developer, now in Revit MEP
  • February 2008, US-based Green Building Studio - web application of the same name, energy-analysis tool, still active as a subscription benefit; gbXML tools (co-developed by CAD Studio)
  • May 2008, US-based Moldflow Corporation - mold-injection simulation, now the product line Autodesk Moldflow
  • May 2008, French Kynogon SA - developer of middleware solution Kynapse for computer games, still available
  • May 2008, French REALVIZ S.A. - developer of applications for photo-based modeling and stitching, now in Autodesk Photofly
  • June 2008, US-based Square One Research - the Ecotect software for "green" building analysis, now Autodesk Ecotect
  • October 2008, Canadian Avid Softimage, Co. - developer of the 3D animation software Softimage (formerly Softimage|XSI), now Autodesk Softimage
  • October 2008, German 3D Geo GmbH - developer of urban modeling software, now Autodesk LandXplorer and Project Galileo
  • December 2008, US-based ALGOR, Inc. - important developer of CAE technologies, now as the product line Autodesk Simulation
  • December 2008, US-based BIMWorld - BIM content vendor, now in Autodesk Seek
  • December 2008, Canadian Logimetrix, Inc. with the application iLogic - now part of Autodesk Inventor
  • December 2009, Israeli VisualTAO (PlanPlatform) - developer of a cloud application for online editing of DWG files - now as AutoCAD WS and AutoCAD WS mobile
  • February 2011, US-based Blue Ridge Numerics, Inc. - developer of the fluid-dynamics CAE application CFdesign, now as Autodesk Simulation CFD
  • July 2011, Swedish Pixlr - developer of cloud applications for online picture-editing
CAD Studio's overview of Autodesk products can be found on the page CAD Studio - Autodesk

Friday, July 1, 2011

Make 3D, Show 3D

Two recent Autodesk applications help creating 3D objects and displaying them interactively in 3D - also on mobile devices. Both are free.

The first one is Autodesk Project Photofly - described earlier on this blog. Photofly magically converts a series of photos to a 3D model. Autodesk names the Photofly project an "early beta" but it works pretty well for an early beta.

Great tips for using Photofly are summarized on the Shaan Hurley's blog.

We have perfomed additional tests and here are some tips: avoid glossy surfaces, don't use flash, do not combine multiple camera types, try to avoid zooming, fix the focal length if you shoot the scene with a camcorder, walk around with the camera - do not rotate the model.
Avoid running the Photofly's Photo Scene Editor in Windows Vista (frequent failures, missing features).

You can see some good and bad examples from our tests (the 3D results) on the Photofly tests page.

A nice tip from Scott Sheppard allows to share your 3D scenes using just a single, supersmall 3DP file. You can try it on our 4kB small Pejsek.3dp file (doggie). Just download the file, run the Photo Scene Editor and open this 3DP file as an "Existing scene". Choose "Download" to get the missing source images and the missing mesh (3D scene) from the cloud.

One of the publishing option in Photofly - IPM - takes us to the second new application by Autodesk. With the longest name among Autodesk tools, for the smallest devices, it is the Autodesk Inventor Publisher Mobile Viewer for Android (aka "IPM Viewer"). For some time, IPM Viewer was already available for Apple iPad and iPhone. Now it comes also for Android-based devices - tablets and mobile phones. It can be downloaded from the Apple and Android Markets.

You can use your mobile phone to open a IPM file and surprisingly smoothly rotate and pinch-zoom it in 3D. Don't be surprised that there is no Open command - any IPM file you get in your e-mail or via Drop-box will be opened in the IPM Viewer automatically.

IPM is a combined 3D format which includes the 3D geometry, textures, animations and textual notes. It can be published from Inventor Publisher, a digital prototyping tool for making electronic assembly instructions and service manuals.