Connected: A new Autodesk blog on collaboration

Alex Willingham, Jason Pratt and Mike Gemmell of Autodesk have launched Connected, a blog focused on digital collaboration within the AEC space. Hopefully the presence of three authors will not only ensure a steady flow of new content but also inspire some debate. Plus their positions inside of Autodesk will no doubt provide readers with an insight to where the company itself will be heading when it comes to online collaboration. So far nothing too juicy has been posted although Software as a Service looks like it will become a strong theme, not only in the blog but in the manner in which the authors will be working:

Autodesk sues the Open Design Alliance

For years the Open Design Alliance (ODA) have been working towards providing an 'open' (i.e. freely distributable) set of libraries and tools capable of reading and writing the DWG file standard. DWG is the default standard within the AutoDesk suite of CAD/CAM applications (the most notable and ubiquitous being AutoCAD). On November 13th 2006 AutoDesk filed a Trademark infringement lawsuit against the Open Design Alliance, apparently around the use of digital watermarks within TrustedDWG files created by the ODA libraries.

TrustedDWG is a digital watermark present within AutoCAD 2007 that ensures the recipient of the file that it was created using genuine AutoDesk software. This functionality has two uses, the marketing reason of course is that it protects customers from the dangers of nasty external programmers who cannot program to save themselves and as a consequence try to destroy your data. This is the marketing reason and like all good marketing reasons it is a completely lame excuse that attempts to cover up real technical issues. The fact of the matter is AutoDesk software is in itself notoriously bad for file corruption. After over five years of tutoring CAD I've seen numerous file corruption incidents and all have involved purely 'genuine' AutoDesk software. Perhaps if AutoDesk engineers were allowed to spend more time on developing a file standard with internal verification systems and less on monopoly protecting digital fingerprints they would not need to worry about third party applications damaging user's data?

AutoDesk bus promotion in NZ

I am over vendor presentations after the CAADRIA conference but it was interesting to read that Salesoft are touring around NZ on a big bus (which looks a lot like the XBox360 bus repainted) to promote AutoDesk's new products (Revit, ADT). They were in Wellington today and are off south for the rest of the week. It is good to see AutoDesk staff member and blogger Shaan Hurley (of Between the Lines) tour down here as an indication AutoDesk takes this market seriously. Its kind of funny, after years of almost no active promotion all of a sudden AutoDesk and Bentley seem to be interested in this part of the world again.

New AutoDesk DWF blog - Beyond the Paper

There is a new AutoDesk blog about DWF from Scott Sheppard. He has an fairly nice overview of what a DWF is exactly and then goes on to explain why Adobe and AutoDesk are not 'at war' with their PDF and DWF standards. This is something I completely disagree with and I think subconsciously he does too with comments like "if you want to solve real problems... then PDF is not enough" and "never fly in a plane that was designed from a PDF".

Autodesk presentation and moves by Adobe

Before Christmas I watched a video from the AutoDesk University keynote. The theme of the keynote was interoperability but the goings on concerned how different AutoDesk applications could talk to each other using DWG and DWF formats. It is rather ironic that a single silo is only just beginning to tout its ability to exchange data within itself whilst the IAI is promoting the adoption of a generic IFC model. Something that stood out during the presentation was that even though 'interoperability' was the theme there was no mention of IFCs. This is a clear indication that AutoDesk is concerned about the security of their silo and through the promotion of their own exchange standards they retain format control, and consequently customer subscriptions, to their AEC silo.

Bentley/AutoCAD Market Visibility

AutoDesk vs Bentley

Given our recent meeting with Bentley promotors this article seemed quite relevant. It deals with the different marketing (or non-marketing) strategies employed by the two companies and their different user bases.

Article: Why Bentley Seems Invisible to AutoCAD Users

Free Autodesk DWG Viewer

AutoDesk have released a freely downloadable dwg viewer. Whilst it clocks in at a whopping 100meg and is Windows only it does finally provide a free way of natively reading dwg files using only AutoDesk software. Things could be a lot better but at least AutoDesk has a free product on the market for doing this (now they just need to do something that runs on OSX and Linux).