In keeping with the theme of top ten lists, here is the top ten list of technology previews that got the most feedback during 2010. December isn't over, but I doubt the results will change dramatically.
I included Autodesk Labs so you can see how many emails we get to firstname.lastname@example.org as well as how many comments get posted on the blog.
Looking back upon the year is alive in the lab.
It's that time of the year when all of those lists of the year appear. In keeping with the phenomenon, here are the top ten most downloaded technology previews from the Autodesk Labs web site.
9. DWF/PDF Batch Publish for AutoCAD ADN Plugin of the Month
And the number one, most downloaded technology preview from Autodesk Labs for 2010 is:
1. AutoCAD Freestyle (known as Project Copper while on Labs)
Thanks to all of you who download our technology previews and put them through their paces. Your experience shapes the future of our technology.
Looking at the year in review is alive in the lab.
I will be on vacation until January 4. In fact, many Autodesk employees are taking time off, so if you don't get an immediate response to your Autodesk Labs feedback, fear not. One of us will certainly respond upon our return. Here's wishing everyone a happy holiday season.
It's no secret that the point of the Autodesk Developer Network (ADN) Plugin of the Month is to encourage would-be developers to develop their own plugins for AutoCAD, Inventor, etc. That's why we include the source code with each plugin. We want everyone to see how easy it is. A side benefit of this process is that many customers just want to use the plugin instead of developing their own. We are fine with that too.
Towards that end, the ADN team routinely updates previously released plugins in response to customer feedback.
Last month they did so for BrowsePhotosynth for AutoCAD. As they do with each update, the read me identifies the changes:
You can download the latest BrowsePhotosyth for AutoCAD or any of the past plugins of the month:
Thanks for the continued feedback to email@example.com. We hope you continue to find these plugins useful as developers or users.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.
Project Galileo is our technology preview for infrastructure conceptual design. To quote Technical Marketing Manager, Lynda Sharkey, "Project Galileo is a virtual city model built using GIS data, 3D models, civil data, and terrain data." You can learn more about it at:
Recently I added two more videos that Linda provided to me. Please check them out:
Did you find the dog?
For those of you without YouTube access, you can download them from links in my original blog article. In addition to the videos appearing on the Autodesk Labs web site page, I have gathered them into a YouTube playlist.
Learning by watching is alive in the lab.
source: TRON: The Official Site
On Friday, December 17, many Autodesk employees went to see the new movie TRON Legacy. As computer scientists, we were enthralled by the original TRON in terms of the advances it fostered in computer graphics. As Autodesk employees, we wanted to see the latest creation from one of our biggest Media and Entertainment software customers - Disney Studios. So we all headed over to the IMAX theater at the Sony Metreon in San Francisco.
Prior to the showing of the movie itself, Brian Mathews, VP of Autodesk Labs, gave a presentation on the history of the original TRON, and how incredible it was to have been made given the state of computers and filmmaking of the time. Brian's presentation had some illuminating facts:
In 1982 a CRAY mainframe computer had 8MB of memory at a cost of $7,000,000. For TRON, each rendering required 18MB of memory, so even on a CRAY, the animators could not have viewed a single frame. So for whatever computer they used, they had to render one scan line at a time, and could not see the results of their efforts until the scan lines were combined on to film.
CRAY Computer - source: Central Computing Annual Report Excerpt 1986
With an expanding and contracting array of rendering servers at one's beck and call, rendering solutions like Project Neon offer 100,000 times more processing power than the CRAY at a cost of a few cents.
With limited computer processing power, the TRON motorcycles were made from mathematical geometric primitives like cylinders, cones, tori, etc. The predecessor to ray tracing was used, Ray Casting, to intersect an eye-ray from each pixel into the scene of primitives. This allowed smooth surfaces to be rendered without having to tessellate into memory consuming triangles.
With advances in computing power and photorealistic rendering capabilities, these limitations no longer exist for the TRON Legacy motorcycles. Even complications like having the light from one motorcycle be cast on another when two motorcycles are in proximity are no problem for today's rendering software.
source: TRON: The Official Site
Since I was working the lights and sound for Brian's presentation, I got to go into the control room for the IMAX theater. Because the Metreon is still in the process of converting to full digital, there were the TRON Legacy movie reels in all their glory. Each reel was about 7 feet wide and weighed 500 pounds. There were two of them - one with a yellow tint, and another with a blue tint. The projector itself was about the size of a vending machine. The reels of 4 inch wide tape are played synchronously and wearing the special glasses by the audience produces the 3D effect. Sadly I was not allowed to take pictures of the equipment, but I still found it very fascinating.
Appreciating computer science history is alive in the lab.
Senior Product Manager, Mark Fritts, noted that we had a Project Neon update on Friday. Recall that Project Neon is a technology preview of a rendering service. You upload your drawings. You get an image back. You can learn more about it on:
Mark noted that this update features:
Performance: We have upgraded the performance of Project Neon again. We have doubled the size of each cluster (8 -4 core machines now) that each image renders upon. This results in a dramatic speed improvement, about 2x, for all rendering jobs.
Rendering quality improvements: We are continually making improvements to the rendering engine that powers Project Neon. The big improvement this release is the addition of Texture Filtering capabilities. This eliminates some noise in certain materials such as fabrics and carpets in the rendered images.
Senior Software Architect, John Hutchinson, was keen to note that this update also fixes a nasty bug. Rendering times are now more linear. With the prior release, large DWG files could take much longer to render than smaller ones.
Improvement is alive in the lab.
Thanks to everyone who visited the Project Photofly booth at Autodesk University. For those who sat still and had their pictures taken so we could make a 3D model of your head, we have not forgotten about you. The Project Photofly we were using at AU is different from the one available on Labs. Were we to send you the RZI file generated by the AU version, you could not view it with the Photo Scene Editor that you can download from Labs.
Rosella Conan is Brian's capable assistant. She has been working with User Experience Architect, Mason Foster, generating head models and sending free Inventor Publisher viewer compatible files (IPM format) to people instead of the RZI files. There were about 500 of you, so please be patient. I have been gathering all of the pictures from the 6 machines into one location so we can process them manually but systematically.
This is a reminder that Autodesk Enterprise Information Systems team will be performing routine maintenance this weekend.
This maintenance is scheduled for Saturday, December 18 from 2 PM - 5 PM PDT which is the same as December 18 10 PM - December 19 1 AM UTC.
During the maintenance window, some Labs technology previews will not be available, so you will not be able to:
Since the Autodesk Single Sign-on is also affected, you will not be able to:
During this time, if you are an existing user, you will still be able to:
We thank you for your patience and continued interest in Autodesk Labs.
Senior Product Manager, Mark Evans, alerted me to the enhancements in the yesterday's December 15, 2010 Release of Autodesk Project Bluestreak.
This seems fitting since last night I watched the movie, Scott Pilgrim Versus The World, where the heroine had blue streaks in her hair. To see for yourself what all the fuss is about:
Tackling AEC collaboration issues one pilgrim at a time is alive in the lab.
Senior Product Designer, Sara Makarenko, supplied me with yet another video for the Subassembly Composer Technology Preview for AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011 - how to create a simple curb. Recall that this technology preview gives you an easy way to visually modify or create complex subassemblies without the need for programming. You can learn more about it and see the video at:
Enthusiastically sharing videos is alive in the lab.
With apologies to the rock band Devo:
"Working with [the flowchart]
Going on down, down
Working with [the flowchart]
Oops, about to slip down"
"Working In A Coal Mine," Allen Toussaint, 1966.
Senior Principal Developer, Tom Fukushima, supplied me with another video for the Subassembly Composer Technology Preview for AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011. This technology preview gives you an easy way to visually modify or create complex subassemblies without the need for programming. You can learn more about it and see Senior Product Designer, Sara Makarenko's video at:
Working with flowcharts to avoid Civil 3D slip ups is alive in the lab.
Media and Digital Public Relations Manager, Ralph Bond, interview our own Brian Mathews at AU:
Listen to Brian answering Ralph's questions
What is Autodesk Labs?
(See Autodesk Labs)
Sharing our thoughts on Autodesk Labs is alive in the lab.
Project Vasari is downloadable as a "sandbox" application. By this, I mean that everything it needs to run is contained in one EXE file. This is different from traditional installs that involve an EXE, registry updates, and dynamically loadable libraries (DLLs) placed in a variety of locations.
Since Project Vasari is a sandbox EXE, you can place the file anywhere on your system and run it from that location. This includes thumb drives in case you want to be able to take the program with you as you move from computer to computer. You can basically locate the file anywhere on your computer - well almost anywhere if you are running a 64-bit version of Windows.
Project Vasari is a 32-bit application. As Senior Software Engineer, Arjun Ayyar pointed out in response to a recent customer inquiry: "On a 64-bit system, Windows expects anything in C:\Program Files to be a 64-bit process. Therefore, it attempts to run our 32-bit sandbox wrapper as a 64-bit process. This can cause problems. You will not have a problem if you put it in the Program Files (x86) folder."
I can see how placing the EXE in Program Files makes sense since you want to keep all of your programs in the same place - traditional installs and sandbox executables, but simply use the 32-bit Program Files location instead.
Helping others avoid experiencing similar problems is alive in the lab.
Thanks to our Labs team members who manned the exhibit area at Autodesk University.
Here are some pictures based on the Project Photofly and Photo Scene Editor that we demonstrated at AU:
The astute observer will see that what is generated by Project Photofly is a mesh instead of a point cloud. Yes we are working on that. To quote the late Ed Sullivan: "Tonight we have a really big shoe, really big."
Based on our AU activities, I have added some short videos to the Labs site. Those without YouTube access can download the videos from my Buzzsaw site using IE or Firefox. (Sorry but Buzzsaw does not support Chrome.) Here is the updated list:
|Photo Scene Editor Introduction||photo_scene_editor_music_lowered_volume.mp4|
|Tutorial 1: Basic Usage||photo scene editor video tutorial 1.mp4|
|Tutorial 2: Advanced Usage||photo scene editor video tutorial 2.mp4|
|Tutorial 3: What's New in 1.2||photo scene editor video tutorial 3.mp4|
|Autodesk University 2010 Booth||AU2010_LabsBooth.wmv|
|Autodesk University 2010 Nike Shoe||NikeShoe.wmv|
|Autodesk University 2010 Sphinx||Sphynx.wmv|
|The CAD Geek: Overview (customer video)|
|Wrigley Field (customer video)|
Making progress on modeling from photographs is alive in the lab.
The Google Earth Extension is one of the oldest active technology previews available on Autodesk Labs. Month in, month out, the technology preview is one of Labs most popular downloads.
If you have not downloaded it for yourself, you can get it at:
For those mot already familiar with it, you can publish your 3D models from AutoCAD-based products directly into the Google Earth application, import a Google Earth image into AutoCAD, drape a Google Earth image onto a 3D mesh in AutoCAD, and attach time span information to your model. When I say AutoCAD-based products, I specifically mean:
AutoCAD 2011 Family
AutoCAD 2007-2010 Family
One of the key points here is that the 2011 family is the first one where 64-bit is supported.
Recently I posted a blog article where I requested feedback on what enhancements you would like to see in the Google Earth Extension. Here is what you told us.
This feedback has been shared with the development team. There are no definite plans for a technology preview update, but in the event that there is one, we certainly know what to work on. Thanks to everyone who responded. In addition to considering your responses, we would also want to consider adding support for Google Earth 6.
The Google Earth Extension currently supports Google Earth 5.x. The extension creates a link between the AutoCAD and Google Earth using the Microsoft Component Object Model (COM) application program interface (API). With the recent release of Google Earth 6, Google Earth no longer supports the COM interface. The team is formulating a plan for supporting the new API, but there is no exact date as to when that will be ready.
Collecting feedback is alive in the lab.
Every time Product Designer, Eric Fain, would send me an update of the sample data, I couldn't help but think:
"Won't you take me to
Won't you take me to
With apologies to "Funky Town" disco band, Lipps Inc., the sample data file is indeed named TinyTown.zip."
Whereas my original blog posting was a mere "Extra, extra, read all about it," you can now download the technology preview (plus some Protein library materials and sample data) via the Labs site:
I guess since I am supposed to take you to Tiny Town, I will share some screen shots from Eric:
The Labs site has some YouTube videos to get you started. For those without YouTube access, you can download the videos.
|Overview||Galileo_Labs_Overview.mp4 (35 MB)|
|Le Havre in Galileo||20101129_LeHavreInGalileo_short.mp4 (25 MB)|
|Creating a Project||Creating_a_Project.mov (2 MB)|
|Inserting Terrain||Inserting_Terrain.mov (3 MB)|
|Importing Water||Importing_Water.mov (3 MB)|
|Importing and Styling Multiple Layers||Importing_and_Styling_Multiple_Layers.mov (8 MB)|
|Navigation||Navigation.mov (66 MB)|
|Conceptual Design - Drawing City Features||Drawing.mov (23 MB)|
|Conceptual Design - Proposals||Proposals.mov (23 MB)|
|It's Just Cool||Its_Just_cool.mov (204 MB)|
|Selection Part 1||Selection_Part 1.mov (10 MB)|
|Selection Part 2||Selection_part2.mov (8 MB)|
|Selection Part 3||Selection_part3.mov (11 MB)|
|Inserting a 3D Model||Inserting_a_3D_Model.mov (15 MB)|
|Refining a City Asset||Refining_A_City_Asset.mov (11 MB)|
|Chris Andrews Geodesign Summit||Candrews_Geodesign_summit_narrated.mp4 (102 MB)|
With regard to the second video, according to Technical Marketing Manager, Lynda Sharkey, Le Havre is a long time user of Autodesk software and started building city models with 3D Studio back in the 1990’s. Today they are engaged in large infrastructure reconstruction projects around the port and rail corridors and use city modeling as part of their planning and new construction workflow. They have been providing great feedback on Project Galileo.
As always, we welcome your feedback on how it works for you with the sample or with your own real world data. Please share your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Asking if infrastructure conceptual design can be less funky is alive in the lab.
Yesterday I posted an updated BIM Family Toolkit to the Labs site. This update includes defect fixes and improved compatibility with localized versions of Revit.
For the uninitiated, the BIM Family Toolkit allows you to share parametric family information from Inventor to Revit. You then use this family information in Revit to create geometry whose attributes match what was imported from Inventor. In other words, what you create in Revit reflects what you created in Inventor.
Please test it with your own data and let us know your results at email@example.com.
The preview-feedback-update-preview cycle is alive in the lab.
As mentioned in my previous post, based on your feedback, the Factory Layout Optimization team was hard at work updating the technology preview to support other languages. You can download the fruits of their labor at:
As before, the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the following are supported:
Though the user interface for Factory Layout Optimization for AutoCAD appears in English, with this update, the technology preview is compatible with the following language versions of the supported applications:
We are excited that we can now hear from more of you at firstname.lastname@example.org with regard to your experiences trying out this technology preview.
On the heels of Autodesk University, we have released the December ADN Plugin of the Month. You can download it now:
This plugin comes to us from Developer Consultant, Augusto Gonçalves and Senior Manager of Worldwide DevTech, Kean Walmsley. As its name suggests, the plugin can be used embed Quick Response Codes in AutoCAD drawings. Whereas traditional bar codes are 1-dimensional, QR Codes are 2-dimensional bar codes that can be used to encode various types of data. As mentioned in the read me, one likely use of this tool would be to encode data into drawings' title sheets for later decoding via a mobile device at the job site.
The plugin has been tested with AutoCAD 2007 onwards. You can use it with your 32-bit or 64-bit AutoCAD. As a plugin of the month, the download includes the source code. The source code: gets installed to a "Source" folder beneath the plugin's installed location, has been provided as a Visual Studio 2008 project containing the C# code, but is not required to run the plugin. The source code is provided to inspire would-be developers to see how easy it is to extend the functionality of AutoCAD.
So please share your stories of success or failure using the plugin with us at email@example.com. We would be especially thrilled to hear how you have extended the application by modifying the source code.
Getting graphic is alive in the lab.
A few of the Autodesk bloggers were discussing the widths of images in blogs. This posting is a test to see how images are handled. This is a test. This is only a test.
This is an image that is 430 pixels wide with a fixed width insertion.
This is an image that is 430 pixels wide with a variable width insertion.
This is an image that is 450 pixels wide with a fixed width insertion.
This is an image that is 450 pixels wide with a variable width insertion.
This is an image that is 550 pixels wide with a fixed width insertion. In a traditional HTTP browser, the right edge is cut off. The line of red pixels on the right is missing.
This is an image that is 550 pixels wide with a variable width insertion. The image is scaled to fit the column width. The line of red pixels on the right is visible.
Testing complete. We now return you to your regularly scheduled web pages.
Last week a new download of Project Vasari was available that included critical stability and usability fixes. The update was originally only available for the portable executable. This same update has now been made for the streaming install. To refresh your memory, Project Vasari is available in two forms. Both forms do not require a traditional download and install. In one you download an entire executable and just use it. In the other you download a smaller executable, and just use it, but the executable gets larger as you use parts that you have not downloaded yet. These unused parts get streamed to your computer when you need them. On the one hand, it lets you get started using the application faster. On the other, you need to be connected to the internet to get the missing pieces.
Recall that based on your feedback, specifically the team has fixed the following issues:
With this update the streaming install will add a new version to your installed programs list called "Autodesk Project Vasari Technical Preview." This will exist next to your previous install, but to save disk space you can remove the older version. Open Control Panel->Programs and Features and Uninstall the "Project Vasari" entry.
Continuing to make our own art history is alive in the lab.
As part of our efforts to promote math and science among students, Autodesk hosted 17 eighth grade students from Glenbrook Middle School in Concord, California. They visited Autodesk as a field trip as part of the TechBridge program. Techbridge is an afterschool and summer program hosted by Chabot Space & Science Center that encourages girls in technology, science, and engineering through hands-on exercises and informative guest speakers.
The agenda for the students today included:
Thanks to Executive Assistant, Bobbie Casey, who organized the event. Thanks to: Alexia Neves, Callie Deardorff, Christine Mann, Grace Hom, Jessica Kuo, Joanna Cook, Julie Hayes, Julie Schiller, Kristen Pearce, Lindsey Chochola, Lynda De Vol, Melissa Dawe, Melissa McLean, Rachel Firestone, Rama Dunayevich, Sheila Tolle, and Susan Holman who served as individual mentors. Thanks to Technical Evangelist, Brian Pene, who gave a guided gallery tour.
We are happy to be a part of these programs. We are looking at our future employees. For more information, see the Techbridge site.
Education is alive in the lab.
Senior Principal Developer, Tom Fukushima, clued me in on our latest technology preview.
AutoCAD Civil 3D provides a powerful model-based representation of corridors. An issue with building these corridors is getting exactly the right subassembly. Your inventory of subassemblies may have issues such as a missing code; a dimension is slightly different from the local regulations; or there just may not be a suitable subassembly to start with. Bummer.
As such you do not look forward to writing a subassembly using VB.NET because it takes time to write it, test it, and sometimes there's that little error in the .atc file that causes the most problems.
Autodesk Subassembly Composer Technology Preview for AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011 can be used to get you the subassembly that meets your needs.
For example, let’s say you need a curb subassembly that is angled. Simply use the drag-and-drop interface to create and position your five points and links. Then add codes, a subassembly name and then save it. Import the created .pkt file into Civil 3D, and you’re ready to create your corridor. What could have taken hours or days now takes minutes. Not a bummer.
The Labs site has some YouTube videos to help you get started. For this without YouTube access, you can download the videos from my Buzzsaw site using Internet Explorer or Firefox. (Sorry but Autodesk Buzzsaw does not support Chrome at this time.)
|Introduction||Subassembly Composer Introduction.mp4|
|Navigating in Subassembly Composer||Navigating in Subassembly Composer.mp4|
|Using Conditionals in Subassembly Composer||Using Conditionals in Subassembly Composer.mp4|
|Edit a Retaining Wall||Edit a Retaining Wall.mp4|
|Working with the Flowchart||SubAssemblyComposer/Working with the Flowchart.mp4|
|Creating a Simple Curb||Creating a Simple Curb.mp4|
Thanks Tom. Paving the road to easily creating a civilized world is alive in the lab.
When we moved a Tesla Model S in our Gallery at One Market, I reported on it:
At Autodesk University, we had the real deal. Media & Digital Public Relations Manage, Ralph Bond, was kind enough to share his video with me:
The technology preview of Factory Layout Optimization for AutoCAD was launched with great fanfare at Autodesk University. As such many people are trying it. You can try it for yourself.
At this time the technology preview only supports English versions of AutoCAD 2011, AutoCAD Architecture 2011, and AutoCAD Mechanical 2011. Based on your initial feedback, the team is expanding the list of supported languages. Of course this means more to test and will take time, but they are on it.
To all non-English AutoCAD, AutoCAD Architecture, and AutoCAD Mechnical users, we thank you for your patience while we make this update.
Expanding the preview to get even more feedback is alive in the lab.
Software Developer, John Schmier, filed this report. John was part of the DWF team at its inception where he served in a variety of QA roles with his focus on automation. For Autodesk Labs, John has a development position which leverages his programming past.
Autodesk is building a new office space in San Rafael to host a few hundred employees, and part of Autodesk Labs is moving into the new space. As facilities is also looking at new ways for employees to work collaboratively, the Labs team volunteered to be the experimental group to try flexible work spaces. On Wednesday, November 17, the Labs team from San Rafael (John Schmier, Rosella Conanan, Frederic Loranger, Keshav Sahoo, Ben Cochran) and Vice President, Brian Mathews, visited Swerve. Swerve designs unique office furniture that is very flexible and configurable.
Swerve machines all of their components in-house and can build stations on demand based on needs and desires. Parts are interchangeable, so if someone needs to move an office or wants a different configuration, it's as easy as using an Allen wrench and a few other tools to change it up.
What was very cool in this visit was seeing all the designs and how they are made. Swerve has a fully automated CNC machine with a robotic arm that mills many of the connector components.
They have a very large milling machine in the back that can accommodate material that is 3 feet thick, 10+ feet wide, and 8 to 10 feet deep.
The Labs team, an adventurous group of people, will configure its own workspace with movable furniture and walls. The team will be given kits of parts of fully configurable furniture and be able to setup their workspace to fit their needs -& including how much or how little privacy they need from each other and the rest of the floor. I work in our San Francisco office but will experience it when I visit San Rafael.
Flexibility is alive in the lab (in more ways than one).
The Moldflow team names their projects after the elements.
We are also happy to announce the availability of the Scandium Technology Preview for Moldflow Insight. In terms of elements, Scandium is a silvery-white metallic transition metal, a rare earth element, discovered using spectral analysis by Lars Fredrik Nilson.
As did Radium, the Scandium Technology Preview enhances your injection molding predictive power through additional and improved design analysis capabilities. According to the developers, Autodesk Moldflow Scandium enhances the features made available through the Radium release by allowing transient cooling to handle a greater set of molding geometries with improved workflows, while thermoplastic venting, fiber orientation, and crystallization modeling have had solver and material data improvements.
The Labs page features some YouTube videos. For those without YouTube access, you can download the videos.
|Transient Cool Overview||transient_cool_overview.mp4|
|Transient Cool CAD Workflow||trans_cool_ait_mold.f4v|
|Transient Cool CWorkflow||Moldflow_Scandium_Trans_Cool.avi|
|Long Fiber Orientation||long_fiber.mp4|
Please try it and tell us what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Showing that design analysis is elementary is alive in the lab.
American TV viewers 40 years or older probably remember the episode of I Love Lucy where Lucille Ball worked in a candy factory:
Clearly this was a factory whose process was not optimal.
Today, more than ever, factories need to operate with utmost efficiency. With this in mind, the Factory team here at Autodesk is happy to announce a new technology preview - just in time for Autodesk University:
This technology preview allows you to take your AutoCAD drawings, move machines and equipment around, and get feedback on whether the layout is optimal or not. Using the feedback as a guide, you can evaluate multiple what-if layout scenarios.
Factory Layout Optimization for AutoCAD is compatible with the following applications:
Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions are supported. Though the user interface for Factory Layout Optimization for AutoCAD appears in English, the technology preview is compatible with non-English versions of the supported applications.
As with all of our technology previews, please give this one a try, and let us know your results at email@example.com, the AutoCAD 2011 discussion forum, or by posting comments on this blog.
Making laying out a factory floor as sweet as candy is alive in the lab.