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Autodesk Features

Autodesk University 2003

reprinted by permission of Ralph Grabowski, editor

December 10, 2003

         See Also

   Autodesk University 2003 - a weblog covering the events day by day, with photos, Shaan Hurley, Between the Lines/AutoCAD Weblog, December 2003
   Bass Delivers Autodesk University Keynote - Hal Reid, Directions Magazine, December 10, 2003
  Special Autodesk University Issue - Adena Schutzberg, GIS Monitor, December 4, 2003
  Meeting in Las Vegas - Autodesk University Attracts 3,300 - highlights of this years's meeting, Susan Smith, AECCafe, December 8, 2003
  Autodesk Reading Room - by CADdigest.com

Autodesk University, held once again in Las Vegas, was a mix of exciting news and some uninformative speeches. Monday was set aside by Autodesk to fly in and brief members of the CAD media on its future plans. Wednesday was the keynote addresses to 3,300 attendees. In between, Tuesday, I rode five hours by bus to see the Grand Canyon.

Although some of the news revealed I cannot discuss - because of a non-disclosure agreement - here's what I can report.


In contrast to Architectural Desktop, Autodesk calls Revit "the future," but I don't get the feeling customers are buying in vast quantities - otherwise Autodesk would be touting license numbers, as they do for Inventor. And maybe that's the mistake: if Revit is the Future, then it isn't for now.

To make the not-DWG-based Revit more palatable to potential customers, Autodesk is bundling v5.1 with AutoCAD, a package called "AutoCAD Revit Series." Does this make sense to you? Price not announced.

Revit v6 is due to ship Dec 16, with multi-element borrowing, split-level plans, enhanced stairs, detail views and repeating details, curved column grids, schedule formulae and filters, integrated spell checker, and phase-aware rooms.

In the future, Revit will get IFCs (industry foundation classes for sharing drawing elements between different architectural CAD programs) and a structural design component.

DWF Composer

Autodesk is barreling ahead making DWF (design Web format) its all-encompassing sharing-file format. In a few months, expect DWF Composer, a new piece of software. DWF Composer is not free (like Express Viewer), but allows redline markups and manipulation of pages. Of significant competition to PDF, Composer will handle any kind of document -- JPEGs, spreadsheets, and so on -- as well as drawings from non-Autodesk CAD packages, such as SolidWorks and ArchiCAD. Once Autodesk gets the merge-in feature working, it'll be interesting to check the quality of the DWF representation.

Some graphical software packages already handle DWF, such as TurboCAD and Visio. Others do not, but the "universal" DWF writer allows DWF output from any software package. Indeed, Tony Peach would like to hear from users of non-Autodesk CAD packages who would like to test DWFwriter, which you can download from http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/item after registration.

Keynotes & Exhibition

After the detail presented on Media Day, the keynote addresses felt void of data. In the exhibit hall, Matrox's Liv Stewart showed me the new HR256 graphics board that handles 9.2-megapixel LCD monitors -- a resolution of 3840x2400, about 7x the resolution of today's typical 1280x1024 monitor. She explained to me that these monitors are made of 4 LCD panels fused together. Looking closely, I couldn't see the splices.

To handle such high resolution, the monitor needs to receive data from the board over multiple channels -- i.e., two to four cables. The board sits in a PCI bus, and can coexist with other Matrox graphics boards in the same computer. HR256 is short for "high resolution" and "256MB RAM." www.matrox.com/mga/archive_story/sept2003/p_hr256.cfm

Grand Canyon

I think the problem with the Grand Canyon is that it's too big. Incomprehensibly deep, wide, and long: more than a mile deep (7 miles when hiking down), 18 miles wide (at its widest point), and 277 miles long. It takes three days to hike from the South Rim to the North Rim (down one side, and up the other). And here's curiosity: the North Rim is 1,0000 feet higher in elevation than the South Rim (roughly 7,000 feet above sea level, and 5,000 feet above Las Vegas).

Sitting next to me on the bus was a software engineer from St. Louis, originally from Nepal. He told me professionals leave Nepal, because there is little future for them there. This was his second attempt at reaching the Grand Canyon; a snow storm scuttled his earlier planned trip.

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