No this isn't some kind of trick. It is definitely a treat.
So get your avatar over there and check it out.
No this isn't some kind of trick. It is definitely a treat.
So get your avatar over there and check it out.
Our old pal, Jürgen Wagner, supplied me with a DWF file for Halloween. You can see Jürgen's file and play with the knobs by panning, zooming, orbiting, etc.
Jürgen Wagner is an Application Engineer at the Dressler GmbH in Friedrichshafen. He hosts his own blog for Autodesk Inventor Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). In addition to the DWF file links above, check out some of the Halloween renderings on his site. When providing answers, Jürgen consults with his colleague, Mathias Ziegler, a technical draftsman who has worked with Autodesk Inventor since Inventor 8 as well as other favorite CAD programs. Jürgen is also an AUGI Forum Moderator. Thanks, Jürgen.
Autodesk Labs metrics indicate that 64% of you visit our site using a Cable connection or DSL. That's impressive. You see the benefits of being connected to the world using high bandwidth. So for many of you, these download sizes are not an issue.
|Technologies||Autodesk Inventor LT Technology Preview||976 MB|
|Project Draw||no download|
|Content Search Alpha||no download|
|Visual Search||no download|
|Project Freewheel||no download|
|Project Showroom||no download|
|Utilities||Drawing Cleanup Utility for AutoCAD||12 MB|
|Command Complete Bonus Tool for AutoCAD||less than 1 MB|
|3D/2D ShareNow Add-in for AutoCAD, Inventor, and Revit||3 MB|
|Translator Add-in for Inventor [and Inventor LT]||47 MB|
|Google Earth Extension for AutoCAD||4 MB|
|2D to 3D Tool for Inventor||less than 1 MB|
|Feature Recognition for Inventor||2 MB|
For those of you not connected via broadband, the download of the Autodesk Inventor LT Technology Preview is on the large size. (I bought my first computer in 1984. It had a 10 MB hard drive. We've come a long way baby.) For users where a 976 MB download is not practical, the technology preview is available via a free DVD. You can request one from
using the part number (52712-051462-9F12A) and serial number (unique for each install) you received via email. In addition, the Translator Add-ins are now packaged with the Autodesk Inventor LT Technology Preview download. This update was made on August 9. For those who downloaded Autodesk Inventor LT prior to that, you can download and install the Translator Add-ins separately.
Reaching out to those with high and low internet bandwidth is alive in the lab.
Our service provider has corrected the problem with its Windows servers. Project Draw and Visual Search are back up. We apologize for the inconvenience. You can resume your exploration of Project Draw and Visual Search and let us know what you think at email@example.com and Labs.VisualSearch@autodesk.com.
Our service provider is experiencing a problem with its Windows servers. Project Draw and Visual Search are affected. They are down. Our service provider is working to bring its servers back up as soon as possible. Thank you for your patience.
You can always use the Autodesk Labs menu pull downs to find and access items on the Autodesk Labs site. Let me explain. The Autodesk Labs home page has a few basic sections:
Flash animation: This section appears at the top. The section currently features an animation that is hyperlinked to the information/download page for the Autodesk Inventor LT Technology Preview.
Featured Technologies: This section highlights the last three technologies posted on the Labs site. Currently this includes: Project Draw, Content Search, and Visual Search.
Featured Utilities: This section lists the last seven utilities posted on the Labs site. Currently this includes: Drawing Cleanup for AutoCAD; Command Complete Bonus Tool for AutoCAD; 3D/2D ShareNow Add-in for AutoCAD, Inventor, and Revit; Translator Add-ins for Inventor and Inventor LT; Google Earth Extension for AutoCAD; 2D to 3D Tool for Inventor; and Feature Recognition for Inventor.
Graduates: This section lists technologies and utilities that have "graduated" from Autodesk Labs to become products or services on the Autodesk web site (http://www.autodesk.com). The list currently includes Autodesk Vault Mirror, Autodesk DGNV8 Translator Technology Preview, and Autodesk Impression Technology Preview.
Blog: This section of the Labs site (http://labs.autodesk.com) lists the three most recent postings to this blog (http://labs.blogs.com). It does this by including the RSS feed from this blog into the Labs site itself. It uses the RSS 1.0 feed which is why comments posted here do not show up on the Labs site and vice versa.
Tag cloud: This section shows the various tags that site visitors have added to the site. This aids visitors in searching for content since the tags become keywords for their associated site pages.
Recent discussions: This section highlights the three most recent topics from the Inventor and Freewheel discussion forums.
So you may ask yourself, since the home page shows the latest three technologies and Autodesk Labs has five, how do I navigate to the other two - in this case Project Freewheel and Project Showroom? What happens when Autodesk adds its eighth utility? Fear not. The Technologies pull down navigation menu always contains a full list of Technologies and Utilities:
Helping find technologies that still exist, but are no longer featured on the Autodesk Labs home page, is alive in the lab.
Peter Lawrence of Océ reports that Océ is sponsoring a design competition for Autodesk University attendees:
Océ is seeking your visually impressive designs to showcase your talent at Autodesk University (AU) on the Océ TCS500, the world's fastest color CAD plotter. In short, they want designs that print nicely. So if you are attending AU this year, you may want to submit one of your designs in DWF format.
The participants in the Project Freewheel collaboration sharing session provided terrific feedback. Being influenced by customer feedback is what Autodesk Labs is all about. Thanks!
On Monday I posted a blog article entitled Try it: Participate in a Design Review at a time suited for you. Twenty-one of you took me up on my offer. We got some great feedback. Since a sharing session is preserved on the web until the session owner deletes it, it acts like a website. Since many people contributed to its content, it acts like a Wiki. So my Project Freewheel session is still there if you wish to take a look:
We got great feedback via this session. Here are some of the things we learned.
1. The ability to zoom without losing fidelity is key. The premise of the sharing session was to find Autodesk Labs related terms sprinkled throughout the design. Several of the hidden items could only be found by zooming in. Having text that is still readable instead of turning into fat pixels was a key benefit of presenting a design as a DWF file instead of using an image format. Except for a few obscure references, the participants found all of the hidden items. Well done It's Alive in the Lab readers!
2. The Session participant list shows the last update of each of the participants. As currently implemented, it works fine if a sharing session occurs in real time.
If the session spans 5 days, like ours did, including the date and time would be useful. In the web world, date and time are relative terms as locations (i.e., time zones) vary.
3. Project Freewheel generates a markup color for each user by hashing the Autodesk Labs login name. Although there are six possible colors, we got a surprisingly high number of people with matching colors. Although Matt Anderson had magenta to himself, and Nathan Gordon was the only one with yellow, Bruce Thivierge and I both had red. Stephanie Sheppard, Juergen Wagner, Stefaan Boel, and Alexander Oberhauser all had blue! I would have expected a little more variety.
4. The Callout item includes the Autodesk Labs login name of the participant who added the callout.
This is splendid. It would have been beneficial to have this same strategy applied to highlight and freehand sketch markups.
I was able to deduce who added these markup items using the Markup List.
5. The Markup List presents the list of markups in the order the markups were created. Since our sample design had 15 sheets, it would have been nice to be able to sort the list by sheet number. This would have helped me locate who added the highlights and freehand sketches on the various sheets.
6. For a 2D design, Project Freewheel currently limits the user to "zoom to fit"regarding zooming out. Why zoom so far out to see areas outside the printable page? Constraining the zoom helps users in navigation. But if Project Freewheel is to provide this convenience, it must ensure that collaboration markups do not go outside of the visible area.
One of the markup items got clipped. When we released Project Freewheel 1.0.1, we knew that there was no way to delete an inadvertent markup. This capability can be considered for a future release. Based on some of the callouts in this session, we see that deletion would have come in handy.
Want to start your own session? It's easy. The first step is to publish to Project Freewheel using the 3D/2D Share Now Add-in for AutoCAD, Inventor, and Revit. Once your design is on Project Freewheel, you simply use the Share->Start menu to start a session. You pick a name and you are ready. You can email links to the session or just tell people the name over the phone.
Thanks to everyone who participated in the session. Customer feedback is definitely alive in the lab
Our very own, Doug Look, Senior Strategic Designer for Autodesk Labs was interviewed by Scott Swigart and Sean Campbell, blog authors and facilitators for discussions about software development models.
Doug talks about the charter of Autodesk Labs and its relationship to open source development. My favorite question was "Could you imagine writing a novel by open source methods?" If you think about it, can something with many separate authors have the cohesiveness of something developed by someone with a singular vision? Doug explains how Autodesk Labs develops at the rate traditionally associated with open source development but can attain fit and polish via customer feedback that is honed before being injected into shipping products. It's very fascinating reading.
Check it out. Using Autodesk Labs as a vehicle to get early customer feedback on what works and doesn't work is alive in the lab.
A new service, Project Draw, is available on Autodesk Labs. Project Draw lets you create simple drawings with an easy to use interface that requires just a browser. No install required. Please check it out and tell us what you think: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Software as a service (SaaS) is all the rage, but this is nothing new for Autodesk. Solutions like Buzzsaw, Constructware, and Streamline have been offered as a service for years. Project Freewheel started out on Autodesk Labs and is now available as a free service called Autodesk Freewheel. Project Freewheel continues on Autodesk Labs and lets people view and collaborate using their own design data without the need to install additional software. They just use their browsers. Other services are offered via Autodesk Labs such as Project Showroom and Content Search Alpha.
Whereas Project Freewheel allows you to work with designs created from traditional Autodesk design applications, Project Draw lets you create designs. You use a simple but powerful user interface to create shapes, add text, etc. requiring nothing more than your browser.
Project Draw is brought to you by the team who created Cumulate Draw as Cumulate Labs has been acquired by Autodesk.
Check it out. Creating designs via SaaS solutions is alive in the lab.
Revit MEP Product Manager, Kyle Bernhardt, has launched a new Autodesk blog:
Kyle's blog will cover Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing (MEP) topics and Sustainability as well as new technology in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry. These acronyms couldn't help but make me realize that an anagram for "Revit MEP for AEC" is "refractive poem." (And before you ask, an anagram for It's Alive in the Lab is "latish inevitable.")
Welcome Kyle to the Autodesk blogosphere.
We have all used search engines. You enter some text. You click the search button. The search engine queries its pre-indexed set of content and returns a list of results that match the text. This works great for documents and even images that have text associated with them. We have even shown that it works well for design data via our Content Search Alpha available on Autodesk Labs.
But what do you do if you are at a loss for words? What do you do if you have an idea as to what something should look like but do not know much else about it? Fear not. Autodesk Labs is happy to announce a technology preview of
Using this technology preview, you create a rough sketch. You click the search button. The search engine queries its pre-indexed set of content and returns a list of results that resemble the sketch. This works great for 2D and 3D design data - much like a compass that shows you the way. Instead of sketching, you can even load one of your own 2D designs, 3D designs, or images and search for other designs that are similar.
So please give it a try and tell us what you think: email@example.com. Exploring new ways to locate design data is alive in the lab.
The Project Freewheel collaboration capability lets you collaborate in real time. But it does not have to be that way. A sharing session persists on the web much like a web site. Since the session contains your design data plus the contributions (i.e. mark ups) of others, it's more like a Wiki.
Let's try this out. I loaded the Manufacturing Sheet Set that ships with AutoCAD into AutoCAD 2008. I updated various sheets to include terms and images related to Autodesk Labs. Can you join my collaboration session and find them?
Register or login to Autodesk Labs. That way the session will know who you are. Use the Page selector on the left to select various pages of the DWF file. You will also need to pan and zoom around. Project Freewheel provides this capability for you using just your browser. When you find an item, you can use the Callout tool available in a Project Freewheel sharing session. This too requires only your browser. Markup the item you have found. You will get credit as the person who found the item, since the session knows you by your Autodesk Labs login. Let's see how long it takes to find them all. My daughter has started us off with Sheet 1. It's Alive in the Lab readers can handle Sheets 2 through 15. Her callouts are in blue. Yours should automatically be in a different color.
Collaborating with design data using just a browser is alive in the lab.
The Drawing Cleanup Utility was first made available for AutoCAD 2008 and AutoCAD 2008-based applications. People wanted to use it with AutoCAD 2007. So the Drawing Cleanup Utility was updated to also support AutoCAD 2007 and AutoCAD 2007-based applications.
Our most recent feedback is that you want it to work in side by side installations. Though the setup_2008.exe or setup_2007.exe only allow one install of the utility, Technical Consulting Manager, Chris Nailer, reports that there is an easy workaround. You can install it for AutoCAD 2008 and then use netload to use it for AutoCAD 2007.
The Drawing Cleanup Utility will run from now through November 30, 2007. Keeping up with customer feedback is alive in the lab.
An updated version of the Google Earth Extension for AutoCAD is now available on Autodesk Labs.
Software Architect, Thomas Inzinga, reports the following improvements in this new version:
Thomas also notes that he will be teaching a class on this labs tool at AU, Publishing DWG Data to Google Earth (GD405-1). So download it now, try it, and tell us what you think: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Extending technologies to provide additional capabilities to the geospatial industry is alive in the lab.
The initial feedback that we have received from you is that you love the Drawing Cleanup utility for AutoCAD 2008. So much so, that many of you want to use it on AutoCAD 2007 and AutoCAD 2007-based applications. Well we have delivered. We have added an AutoCAD 2007 installer, setup_2007.exe, to the zip file for the AutoCAD Drawing Cleanup utility.
The Drawing Cleanup Utility will run from now through November 30, 2007. Responding to customer feedback with updates to technologies is alive in the lab.
Autodesk Labs Marketing Manager, Amanda Collins, shared some teaser information regarding Autodesk Labs and Autodesk University 2007:
Tom Wujec has his eyes on that car. And he’s working with it – by touch. His screen covers an entire wall. His mouse is non-existent. See Touch Wall: Manipulating CAD data with just your hands to see Tom in action. Do you watch that video and wish you were Tom Wujec? Attend AU and feel what it's like to be in Tom's shoes.
Autodesk Labs will host a special showcase in the AU Exhibit Hall. Experience many hands-on exhibits. Fly through cities of the future. Walk around a car that’s modeled in virtual reality. Unplug with a digital pen and paper. You’re going to like what you see. And feel.
Software Engineer, Doug Redmond, developed the Autodesk Vault Mirror utility that has since graduated from Autodesk Labs. The Autodesk Vault Mirror utility was compatible with Autodesk Vault 5 or Autodesk Productstream 5. It was not compatible with Vault 2008. Vault Mirror functionality is available in the Vault SDK for Vault 2008.
In the Vault Mirror for Vault 2008 thread in the Autodesk Vault discussion forum Doug noted:
For those of you using Vault Mirror upgrading to Vault 2008, you probably noticed that Vault Mirror no longer works. You probably also noticed that Autodesk Labs does not have the updated version. The reason is that Vault Mirror is now part of the server install... but it's a bit hidden. You can find it at "Data Management Server 2008\SDK\VS8\CSharp\VaultMirror\bin\Release". The readme file is in the folder 2 levels up. You can copy the files to a different location if you want.
Vault Mirror is now considered part of the SDK (software development kit), which is why it lives in such a strange location. The good news is that A) it's part of the install and B) the source code is included. So if you know how to program on the Vault API, you can take a look at how it works and tweak it for your own needs.
Graduation ceremonies are sometimes alive in the lab.
I have already blogged about things at Autodesk University that you can see and feel - like a multi-touch wall. Now it's time to talk about something you can hear.
The Autodesk University 2007 podcast series consists of short audio interviews that help you gear up for AU before you even leave home. In these podcasts, you hear from Autodesk insiders, the world's top instructors, and other industry experts who share information that can benefit you, your company, and your career.
Do you work with partners that supply you with drawings? Do these drawings not conform to your own company standards? Do you wish you had an easier way to clean them up? Autodesk Labs is happy to announce the availability of the Drawing Cleanup Utility for AutoCAD.
After downloading and installing this utility, the "labsload" command brings up the Cleanup Center.
The Drawing Cleanup Utility Application requires AutoCAD 2008, 2007, or an AutoCAD 2008 or 2007 based application. The Drawing Cleanup Utility does not work with any non-AutoCAD platform applications (e.g., Revit). The Drawing Cleanup Utility will run from now through November 30, 2007.
Check it out. (And "Yes, we do Windows." but the utility will only run on Microsoft Windows XP. Microsoft Vista is not supported at this time.).
Customer load testing of build 31 of Project Freewheel has identified an issue. We are grateful to our loyal users for this feedback. For the moment, we have disabled the Impression rendering technology from Project Freewheel. We are investigating the issue. We will restore this functionality after a solution has been developed and suitably tested. We thank you for your patience and continued interest in Project Freewheel.
Autodesk Labs is about feedback. Sometimes this feedback is in a form that helps us to improve. Other times users just wish to express their gratitude for what Autodesk offers. Here's an example of an email I received today.
Thanks for your work in the "lab." We just started a new business back in January. At that time, since we were starting from scratch, we evaluated [another CAD package]. We took a test drive, but didn't see any advantages over Inventor that were enough to overcome our speed, proficiency, and library in Inventor. So, we stuck with Autodesk. In the 9 months we've been open, we have come across [some] prospects/clients that use Inventor... [Other clients use other CAD packages.] The Translator Add-ins and Project Freewheel have given us the ability to open files from clients without having to beg for STEP files and also perform design reviews without forcing them to download any software.
So, until all CAD packages come together on the same file formats, we really appreciate tools like this.
Communicating with customers, taking the bad and, in this case, the good, is alive in the lab.
Senior Strategic Designer, Doug Look, has been working with our design software on our Multi-Touch Wall from Perceptive Pixel. In July, we posted a YouTube video showing Doug in action:
The Multi-Touch Wall is a multi-touch input device was invented by researcher and TED conference luminary Jeff Han. The video of the multi-touch wall has been very popular. Some of you have asked for a higher resolution version. An ISO image of the original DVD is available at:
We have been happy to receive feedback that people are anxious to show this video at company meetings, conferences, and other events where the YouTube resolution would not be sufficient. Please share related stories with us: email@example.com. Exploring new ways of interacting with design data is alive in the lab.
When I was authoring the Beyond the Paper blog, I got a lot of questions from users asking how to convert their TIF files to DWF files. I usually cautioned them that by already having "image data," converting to DWF is of limited value. DWF files really shine when they contain "vector data" that can be scaled to desired sizes. When you enlarge image data, you get fuzzy pixels. The case below is an exception. Here is a case where a DWF file was created from an image, so that Project Freewheel could be used to create a thumbnail. Since thumbnail images do not include the interactive viewer of Project Freewheel, there will be no zooming, and hence, no fat pixels.
Software Engineering Evangelist, Brian Pene, notes that if you have a DWF file, you can use Project Freewheel to create a thumbnail image of your DWF file. The steps are quite simple. Brian Pene provides an example using the floor plan for Autodesk University 2007:
Post the DWF file to a web server. For this example, Brian Pene has his sample DWF file at:
Use the Project Freewheel to Image webservice URL to generate a thumbnail image of your DWF. Call the DWF to Image service via the Freewheel Image Service URL:
Add the following string parameters to this URL to tell the service how to render your DWF file as an image:
This tells the service the location of the DWF file.
This specifies which page to load. You can change this to another value to load other page numbers in the DWF file).
This specifies the width in pixels of the image to create.
This specifies the height in pixels of the image to create.
Using the above conventions, you get an image as follows based on the full URL:
You can copy/paste this into the Image location in word or even in an HTML document src tag. The below image was created using the above URL.
Making thumbnail images that stay in sync with design changes is alive in the lab.
Google has the ability to look for text strings in designs. It returns a list of hyperlinks to designs containing the text supplied to the search engine. Wouldn't it be nicer to see a list of thumbnail images of those designs instead of just a list of hyperlinks as text?
Would you rather have
Project Freewheel makes this possible. Here's a two minute YouTube video showing just how easy this is:
Now that you've seen how easy it, click this link and follow the instructions to create a bookmarklet for yourself. Try it and tell us how it works for you: firstname.lastname@example.org. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and it certainly applies to design data.
Making it easier to locate and visualize designs is alive in the lab.
Autodesk Program Manager, Brian Souder, is defining a new type of CAD (computer aided design) product and would like to discuss some concepts with Interior Designers, Landscape Designers, and Contractors. Contact him at email@example.com if you are interested.
With the release of the Content Search technology preview alpha, some articles are starting to appear in various blogs.
Autodesk Content Search alpha Technology Preview Now Alive and Free
Between the Lines
Autodesk Content Search alpha Technology Preview Now Alive and Free
Between the Walls
Autodesk Labs Content Search allows design data viewing without installing additional software
Beyond the Paper
Neu in den Autodesk Labs: Content Search
Autodesk Inventor FAQ Blog
Autodesk Content Search alpha Technology Preview Now Alive and Free
Content Search - Autodesk Labs
Will render for food...
Autodesk Labs - Content Search
2D to (Civil) 3D
Check it out.
Autodesk University: What happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas. What you see, hear, and say will make a difference in Autodesk offices across the globe. Autodesk Labs is no exception. We will be sharing technology and getting your feedback. By any chance, is anyone getting married in Las Vegas while attending Autodesk University 2007? Please let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll have a nice surprise for you.
You've seen him in the YouTube videos:
Doug's title is Senior Strategic Designer, because he is to apply design principles not just to the design of products, but also to the strategy of what products should be built and for what customers problems. Design goes beyond the interface of a product and really includes the environment and process around how a product is used by customers. Since Doug brings a unique aspect to Autodesk Labs, I thought I would ask him "these questions three" and share his answers with you.
Q: What is your story?
A: Throughout my education and career, my life has been a search to find my voice. I haven’t always known what I have been looking for, but I have kept on searching. I continue to live life with a passion by listening to others and learning how to make the world a better place. I started out as a wide-eyed design student, progressed through a full career as an architect, went on to become a senior product manager bringing new products to market, then went back to graduate school after being away from academia for over twenty years. Now, I’m back with Autodesk Labs focusing on strategic design.
Q: What is your mission?
A: There are 3 aspects:
Q: What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
OK - I didn't ask that, but fans of Monty Python and the Holy Grail movie understand why I should have.
Q: What else?
A: I live in Evanston, Illinois, a college town just north of Chicago with son Eric, wife Anh, and corgi Tidus. I enjoy reading an eclectic mix of books on design, business, and sci-fi. I also love to cook—my signature dish is paella which demands great ingredients, a lot of patience, and a good sense for how it should look and taste.
Thanks Doug. Autodesk Labs is proud to have you aboard.
The Autodesk Content Search alpha was released on the Autodesk Labs web site yesterday. This technology preview features use of an open source search engine to locate design content from Autodesk as well as Autodesk partners. Autodesk Content Search allows you to refine your search in pursuit of design data that you can use in Autodesk design applications.
I decided to look for "nut." According to the Peter Paul Almond Joy commercial, sometimes you feel like a nut. Sometimes you don't. I did, so I searched for "nut." Actually I was looking for a grate that was shaped like a nut. Autodesk Content Search located 201 entries:
Being partial to DWF so I could view the designs that use nuts using Autodesk Freewheel, I refined my search to specify file type as DWF. I clicked the Search button and Autodesk Content Search limited its results to 72 entries:
Since I was partial to Neenah Foundry for my grates, I selected them as my manufacturer. I didn't start with this, but I could have, because I could not remember if they made the grate shaped like a nut or not. I specified the manufacturer with the click of a button, clicked on Search again, and now had 2 entries:
There it was: the Hexagon Tree grate. I selected it by double-clicking on the search results row:
Although I had 3 formats to choose from, I could then view this design item by selecting View for the DWF file. The design came up in Autodesk Freewheel:
I could then download the DWF file and attach it as an underlay in AutoCAD. Now wasn't that simple? Please tell us what you think: email@example.com. Refining design data searches to locate just the right item, in the right format, is alive in the lab.
Autodesk Labs is proud to announce the availability of a technology preview for Content Search. Please give it a try and let us know what you think: Labs.ContentSearch@autodesk.com.
Since our mission at Labs is to explore new ways to enhance the productivity of designers, we want to get your feedback on this technology as a means to connect users (on the buying side) with content providers (on the selling side). The technology preview is based on open source Lucene search technology, and the content is from Autodesk as well as an aggregation from some of our partners.
You have all used a search engine. The experience with Autodesk Content Search is the same. After either searching or browsing for what you are looking for, select the row in the search results page that you are interested in. This gives you additional details about the design. If the design is a DWF file, you can view it with Autodesk Freewheel. Yeah! You can download the relevant design file to your computer. It's just that easy.
Sharing new technologies to locate design information is alive in the lab.