Vladimir Michl (XanaduCZ on Twitter) asked a very insightful question about Project Snap:
AutoCAD users have always (as instructed) considered the Design Center (to be the tool for browsing/searching content regardless where they reside (without leaving AutoCAD). What's different about Project Snap?
Product Manager for Project Snap, Todd Nicol responded.
I’m the product manager for Project Snap, and I’d like to describe what it is - per your suggestion - by comparing it to well-known tools. The current offering on Autodesk Labs does indeed offer similar functionality to Design Center. However, there are key differences that I’d like to point out which may position Snap as the next-generation Design Center - and more.
|Google-like Indexing and Searching||Design Center cracks open files on-the-fly in order to extract file objects (layers, blocks) on demand; the data extracted is not stored - and so this process repeats every time you inspect a file. As such, searching across large directories is painfully slow and inefficient||Project Snap cracks open files via a background service and stores the data in an index. Therefore, the extraction happens only once and the data is then easily searchable within seconds (Google-style) across hundreds and thousands of files.|
|Deep Indexing||Design Center exposes objects within files such as layers, blocks, and various other ‘styles’. The list of objects has remained the same since the inception of the feature even though there are several other object types (OLE, raster, PDF Overlay, etc.) and several other interfaces within AutoCAD that expose these objects.||Project Snap intends to continue to extract and index additional objects (including block attributes and MTEXT) and consolidate search results within a single interface. In fact, for years customers have asked that Design Center be enhanced to include support for vertical product objects such as styles found in Civil 3D, AutoCAD Architecture, and AutoCAD MEP. Project Snap intends to include support for vertical object types as well. Project Snap is the platform by which we’ll extend support for deeper indexing and additional object types.|
|Support for Multiple Products||Design Center is supported in AutoCAD. However, more and more products are now being sold as suites (e.g. Inventor Suite, Revit Suite). Therefore, it may be common for customers to buy product suites that include products built on different platforms (e.g. Inventor, AutoCAD Architecture, Navisworks).||Project Snap is a platform that intends to support multiple design applications. Therefore, it’s possible to establish a common browse and search platform that works with a common interface (and common back-end framework) across multiple Autodesk products. Therefore, Project Snap intends to extract and index objects from Revit files (.rvt, .rfa, etc.) as well as Inventor files (.iam, .ipt etc.) - thereby enabling a common user experience across products.|
|Support for Multiple Data Sources||Design Center currently allows users to browse and find AutoCAD files on local and network drives. However, data is becoming more and more dispersed among more and more different data sources. Some data may be found in a database (Vault), some content may be found online (Buzzsaw/Seek), and new cloud-based sources will exacerbate the problem. We can no longer assume that all design data/content is located on Windows drives.||Project Snap intends to enable browsing and searching for content wherever it may be. Therefore, Snap connects and aggregates multiple data sources in a single interface - and therefore presents a single user experience. Users can then perform federated searches across those sources and return results within a single interface. When data is accessed from those sources, Snap recognizes where it came from - and therefore it can alert users when the source data has been updated (so users can choose to get the latest data).|
The key takeaway from all this is that Project Snap intends to be the next-generation platform by which a unified browse and search experience will be created; it’s starting where Design Center left off - but the scope of the project is clearly wider and longer than what Design Center is today. The platform intends to be extensible enough to plug-in additional applications and source providers as needed.
As a Labs release, there is no guarantee that the functionality will ever be presented as an official Autodesk product or offering. Feedback to [email protected] and the discussion forum will help determine the direction this project will take. However, I felt it was necessary to explain the motivation behind the project.
Thanks Vladimir. Thanks Todd.
Responding to customer feedback is alive in the lab.