Everyone who has used AutoCAD knows that it has a User Interface (UI). There is still debate today: command line or ribbon menu system?
- Proponents of the command line argue that using the command line is faster.
- Proponents of the ribbon menu point out that the menu system makes it easier to find which command to use.
What if the question was moot?
In addition to a UI, AutoCAD also has an API (Application Program Interface) that allows tasks to be automated and for the functionality to be extended to other purposes. Much like a desktop application like AutoCAD has an API that allows AutoCAD to be extended, Forge web service APIs help extend your [or other companies’] app functionality further. When using an API, the UI is out of the picture, because the application issues the commands on the user's behalf. For our web services, this is possible by what we call Autodesk Forge.
Forge is a:
- Platform (APIs) and supporting materials (sample code, manuals)
- Community of developers who uses those APIs
At Autodesk, we use Forge for our own development, but Forge is primarily intended for our customers and 3rd party developers. CCTech is an example of one of those developers.
CCTech offers a cloud-based computational fluid dynamics (CFD) simulation platform, called simulationHub, as well as 3D app/plug-in consulting services. Their simulationHub allows customers to analyze fluid flow and airflow from just a web browser. As such, simulationHub addresses two principal challenges when using CFD simulation early in the design process — complexity and compute intensiveness. Because the browser-based workflow is simple to complete, and the app runs the simulation in the cloud, this frees up a user's machine for other tasks.
For simulationHub, they've been making extensive use of Forge:
CCTech was looking for a reliable and scalable visualization component for simulationHub. They found that the Viewer was the best option since it offers their users the same look and feel as standard CAD software, to which they were accustomed. The Viewer gave simulationHub reliable, scalable, simple to use, and fast visualization capabilities.
The Data Management API allowed them to access Fusion models to make required modifications to optimize them for simulation.
CCTech added flow visualization modules to show air and fluid flow animations in the context of 3D models in just a web browser. This was possible because they used the Model Derivative API to convert the model into a format that could be sent to the Viewer and converted to WebGL that can be viewed in the browser without any plug-ins.
But that's not all. CCTech also developed an Autodesk Fusion 360 Control Valve Performer app, powered by their simulationHub Web Service. They created it as a Fusion in-app integration (more info), with an independent simulation workspace. The app enables control valve designers to obtain a performance curve in less than 15 minutes, while simultaneously performing more than 9 CFD simulations in the cloud.
CCTech wants to make CFD omnipresent by democratizing high-end CFD simulations technology. In their mind, every designer should be able to validate designs for fluid and thermal performance, easily and affordably. At Autodesk, we couldn't agree more. We are both grateful that Forge aids in pursuit of this. Check out their customer success story on the Autodesk Forge site.
Cloud-based simulation is alive in the lab.