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