Create, Manage, and Share – A Report from Autodesk University (AU) 2004

This week at the 12th annual Autodesk University (AU), Autodesk executives, product managers, and partners are reinforcing their commitment to help customers create, manage, and share digital design data. A record crowd of an estimated 4,400+ Autodesk solution customers are taking in the event to learn about the company’s product offerings and get a peek at what’s coming.

By the numbers:
- Attendance this year is up 30% over AU 2003
- 70+ exhibitors on the floor
- 300+ classes and hands-on labs
- 4400+ attendees
- 3D – the direction users are taking and adoption with Autodesk solutions
- 100 – Autodesk CEO Carol Bartz was recently listed by Forbes as a top 100 most powerful women in business

A familiar concept to those that attended AU last year is the commitment for Autodesk products to enable users to keep design data digital. This is likely most apparent in the hype that has surrounded 2 solutions to facilitate the sharing of design data – DWF and Buzzsaw. Recall By using DWF files instead of paper-based designs, firms can reduce or eliminate many of the hard costs associated with communicating and sharing design data. Buzzsaw is the very popular online collaboration solution used by more than 100,000 professionals.

What’s cool at AU?

Well, given that there are no official new product announcements affecting “geo” users, much to-do in the sessions has surrounded AutoCAD 2005 and http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/pcredir?siteID=123112&id=3549288). Because this release comes several months later than Map 3D it actually incorporates all the functionality that can be found in AutoCAD Map 3D and lots more. We’re told that in the future, products will be released at the same time so that all solutions in a family or products will be based on the same core AutoCAD functionality. Those interested can expect new major product releases every year in the future as well as a coinciding product retirement. This will keep products inline with the current naming convention we’ve come to expect (i.e. next year look for AutoCAD 2006, then 2007, etc…)

More Conference Highlights and Cool stuff!

From Scott Borduin, Autodesk CTO – cool stuff you’ll find in AutoCAD Civil 3D
Dynamic display – enables users to keep their eyes on the screen rather than looking down at the command line
Dynamic block editing – easily make changes and updates and include arrays and linked attributes
Data extraction – easily create click tables that contain attributes, fields, and math calculations

News from AUGI – Autodesk User Group International
- Approaching 50, 000 registered members
- The first AUGI CAD camp was recently held in Jacksonville, FL. Expect more of these next year, likely 12 classes to be held around the US
- Web improvements include new product specific user communities, AUGI University Channel, new improved forums, new simple registration – process, information about AUGI CAD Camps
- Presentation of the AUGI wish list to www.augi.com

In a session titled “LandXML to LandGML to GML” attendees were brought up to speed on XML. FYI, XML is a standard for civil engineering and survey measurement data used in the land development and transportation industries. Its purpose is to provide a data format suitable for long-term data archival and provide a format for electronic design submission. Those interested in learning more are encouraged to check out landxml.org which began in 1999. The organization now boasts some 22 corporate participants and 238 member companies from 23 countries. Membership is free and fosters open discussion and collaboration. Membership is made up of end users, government, EDUs, and software vendors. Interestingly, this is a US centric effort but is a World-wide standard with 70% of participants coming from outside North America. Land XML is currently supported in 43 commercial software applications – notably, CadCorp and SAFE Software products can read LandXML directly. Suitable applications that may wish to look into supporting LandXML include: online cadastral systems, GIS applications, survey field instruments, Civil.CAD/Survey applications, and 3D viewers. LandXML v1.0 was officially released July 17, 2002 (documentation and developer kits are freely available) and LandXML 1.1 is expected to be announced July 2005. This version will be backward compatible, support design cross sections, and synchronize with EPSG coordinate systems (noteworthy for GIS developers). The SDKs support Win32 and Linux.

Some suggested resources for those interested in more about LandXML:
www.landxml.org
www.opengeospatial.org
www.galdos.com
www.sourceforge.net/projects

DWF

Attendees at AU are being reminded that in order to efficiently share and keep design data digital DWF is the solution. A common question users and those first exposed to DWF is why DWF and not PDF? The answer is simple… DWF is smarter, faster, secure, print ready, web ready, and is integrated with AutoCAD. Of particular interest… Autodesk DWF Composer is now the second top selling product sold by Autodesk and the free DWF viewer has been downloaded by more than 5 million! DWF is the solution that addresses the “Share” in the company’s core mission of enabling users to create, manage, and share digital design data.

New features found in DWF since its release last year include:
- DWF composer (released Spring 04) enables markup and re-integration back into AutoCAD
- DWF viewer supports 3D
- DWF publishing is now supported across all the 2005 products
- integrated with Buzzsaw

The coolest things about DWF
- A free writer or Windows printer driver enables printing to DWF from any application
- embedding DWF in Office apps like Power Point enables slick delivery of presentations. Imagine viewing your AutoCAD data within your presentation, toggle off layers, pan, zoom, rotate, and spin.
- 3D DWF enables rotation and spinning of 3D data within the viewer.
- 1 click publishing to DWF from AutoCAD
- Hyperlink between documents (i.e. click a link to make a call to another drawing sheet)
- Enhanced print options like fit to page, print to scale, set resolution etc…
- embed DWF in web applications and html documents. Developers that dig a bit deeper into the customizing options and developer tools can easily add DWF to a web page.

For simple maps or those not interested in getting involved with Mapguide this is a very cool way to publish your data to the web and provide users with the ability to pan, zoom, and print design data over the web.

More info can be found at:
http://www.autodesk.com/dwf/
http://www.autodesk.com/dwf-whitepapers/

We’ve only touched on a few of the highlights from AU but as you can see, the solutions are indeed keeping up with Autodesk’s commitment to keeping design data digital. Product users adopting the latest solutions are being rewarded with faster design time, more intelligent data, reduced errors, increased automation, and better analysis. My suggestion for those wanting more… look into DWF and the opportunities it offers. For the GIS user, DWF offers a host of opportunities and some exciting challenges and I can’t wait to hear more from users and would-be users of this very cool technology!

Related GISuser docs:

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