I have been a participant in the Autodesk discussion forums for 21 years now. Wow, my participation is old enough to drink. As part of that participation I have mentioned:
- The Design Web Format (DWF) is not dead. Autodesk will continue to use it for Autodesk Vault as well as our new cloud-based solutions.
- Autodesk Design Review (ADR) 2013 is still freely available for download. Like DWF, it continues to be an integral part of Vault. The DWF format did not change with the 2014 and 2015 versions of our design applications, so ADR can still handle DWF files produced by our latest offerings.
People who lament the freezing of ADR wonder why? Autodesk is focusing its energies on cloud-based viewing and reviewing of design data so people who participate in design projects can do so from desktops, laptops, tablets, and smart phones. ADR is Windows only. We're working on Autodesk 360 (A360) instead.
The sticking point for many customers regarding A360 is their desire to avoid putting their data in the cloud, yet these are the same people who use electronic banking on a regular basis. Admittedly the NSA and the seemingly endless reports of server hacking haven't done the cloud industry any favors, but issues around the cloud will be mitigated over time. In addition, ADR has markup and compare capabilities that have not come to A360 yet. (Manufacturing users can consider Mockup 360). Until people are comfortable with switching (if ever), they can use ADR 2013.
Recently Autodesk unveiled an updated viewing capability that is integrated into A360. Notice that I called it a viewing capability instead of a viewer. It's not an app. It's just part of the A360 experience. When I shop at Amazon.com, I don't download and install a shopping cart app. I just shop, and the cart is part of the experience. Such is the same with design projects. Forget about apps. Put the project at the center and just have the experience of working on the project.
So here are some attributes of the new A360 viewing capability:
- As a zero client solution, there is nothing to separately download and install.
- Viewing is integrated into the project search capability.
- The technology loads models that are larger than what ADR can handle.
- The visual fidelity is better than ADR.
- The performance is better than ADR.
- The user interface for navigation is consistent across platforms.
- Over 60 file formats are supported, so team members can simply upload data to A360, and others can view the data.
- Viewing is possible with the latest Firefox, Chrome, and Safari browsers. (Internal testing with Internet Explorer 11 demonstrates that it almost works, and support may be coming soon.)
I was able to play with it: Remember that suspension model we used on Project Freewheel when it was on Autodesk Labs:
In the screenshot, you can see how we had trouble in our staging environment due to some recent updates and were able to use A360 to communicate. Our comments were there for all team members to see rather than sending out a mass email.
Since project data can be shared publicly, it's not necessary for everyone on a project to join A360 to leverage the capability. The move to the cloud is about:
- Keeping the data, that is becoming too large to ship around in files, in one place as a single source of truth.
- Allowing access to that data via a variety of devices that include desktops, laptops, tablets, and smart phones for a variety of platforms like Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android.
- Applying the power of infinite computing to design projects so visualization, analysis, simulation, and collaboration are not limited to processing on a single computer.
So if you are an A360 user, please give the recently updated integrated viewer a try. You should find it performs better than ADR already and will only get better as we move forward. For example, Software Development Manager, Carsten Hess, tells me that there is a Software Development Kit (SDK) for cloud-based viewing coming soon.
You may also wish to register for the free webinar on June 11:
Thanks to Principal User Experience Designer, Severin Willie, for access to our demo models and some of the information used for my posting.
Cloud/mobile/social is alive in the lab.
P.S. This blog could form the basis of a drinking game. Every time you read a three letter acronym, you have to take a shot.