Yesterday, last Thursday, a couple of weeks ago * I spent the day at an Autodesk Solutions 2009 event. Over the day most of the 2010 product range was presented by industry specific resellers and a few customer presentations. The venue, Novotel Hotel - Ellerslie, was great with free parking and, for Auckland, easy access. I thought it was better than the typical city locations. Arriving early, thanks to lighter than expected traffic, meant I could sit in on a Civil 3D session I hadn't registered for.
Civil in the morning
Robert Gadbaw, Team Blue22, took the first session of the day demonstrating Civil 3D 2010 to a full room. I'm not a civil user, although quite polite, but seeing the survey, surface, piping, alignments and intersections created, changed, regenerated in minutes was pretty impressive. Robert got through a lot of content in the 45 minutes allocated but it really was just a glimpse of this sophisticated product. It was also the first time I'd seen Civil 3D with a ribboned interface. Like the other ribbon applications it makes extensive use of context sensitive tabs, even stacking several at times, but seemed pretty logical. I was also interested to see the .adsk file format used to import a Revit Model into Civil 3D. It's a pity Civil models can't use the .adsk format to go the other way. Team Blue22 also announced they are planning a multi-day "Civil 3D University" later in the year for more in-depth sessions. I will post details when confirmed.
The Autodesk beat?
After morning tea, for me much needed coffee, it was into the main session. Finding a length of plastic tube, a variety of colours & lengths, on each seat was a little perplexing and then a drum beat started. Human Rhythms, coordinating entirely by mime, took the arriving audience through a short interactive percussion session. “The Tubes” started with simple beat sequences & built to the Autodesk theme, some captured in the video below. It was a pretty cool way to kick off the main session and certainly got peoples attention!
Time to make them work?
The first section, the Autodesk corporate session, introduced the day, sponsors and the mentioned the economic context. The main themes were that industry solutions, but not platform specific, and digital prototyping can resolve design problems and aid process rather than just documenting design. That extended from components in Inventor, Revit Building Information Models to Civil Infrastructure and Digital Cities.There was also much talk of recessionary times being an opportunity to up-skill and the value/benefits of subscription was rather heavily promoted throughout the day. I suspect the recent sales results had something to do with that...
Paul Arthur, Channels Business Manager, surprised me with a presentation that challenged customers to demand more value from Autodesk and the dealer network. He suggested taking a look at the business problems and opportunities that design solutions can assist with then challenge Autodesk to provide solutions. It was an interesting approach and reflects Autodesk's apparent evolution from 'industry platforms" to mixed platform solutions. It may be a cunning plan to sell more boxes into the current customer base or perhaps reflects the reality that no single platform is the complete solution for a given task. In the AEC space I seem to remember a time when Revit was touted as the single database, single platform solution for all Architectural Design. While it currently is the best candidate to create and manage the project split databases (Arch/MEP/Structure etc) and the new .adsk format to share data means you can look to the best solution for a given part of the process. With linked Revit models, platform data sharing and tools like Navisworks merging multiple model formats "BIM" becomes a more complete solution to modelling all aspects of a building project than a single platform approach.
AutoCAD 2010, all meshy and dynamic!
Gary Page, Salesoft CAD Solutions, demonstrated AutoCAD 2010 with the focus on the new parametric features, incorporated with dynamic blocks, and mesh modelling engine. It was a convincing display of how parametric constraints can save a lot of drafting and how you can replace multiple legacy blocks with one smart, if only 2D, dynamic block. I know one part of the demo where multiple parameter/name settings were seamlessly copied from a spreadsheet catalog to the Dynamic Block got peoples attention. The mesh modelling, below, is fun to use and Gary clearly enjoyed demonstrating it. There was also a link to the following Revit demonstration with the AutoCAD mesh model being passed on to Revit.
Revit 2010, inspired by a tortoise?
I'm wondering if that heading will get a comment about ribbon performance but it's actually refers to a building. Rich, Salesoft CAD Solutions, showed the new Revit User Interface, Modelling engine, profile and pattern tools using a building shell inspired by a tortoise. It also incorporated an ex-AutoCAD mesh model column and, via .adsk import, door hardware from Inventor. Apart from a PowerPoint mention there was no sign of Revit MEP or Structure. That probably reflects the, UI aside, lightweight changes they had this time around. Although Revit is pretty established in New Zealand for Architecture the services seem slower to adopt it so it was a pity not to see it in action.
Inventor 2010, in the fast lane;
Perhaps it's my Product Design background that make the Inventor sessions of interest even though I don't currently use it. Greg Heeley, CAD Pro Systems Ltd, showcased Inventor 2010 with a rapid fire demo of the sheet metal, F.E.A, plastic and mold flow tools and design accelerators for frames and bolted connections. I was impressed to see Alias data incorporated in an Inventor model, with the Inventor model and it's additional added features changing to reflect Alias updates. It was also interesting to see extensive use of Vault with Inventor and AutoCAD Electrical but has me wondering why the AEC platforms don't use it to manage database/project/drawing versioning.
Steve Riddell, Aspex, presented the first of two customer sessions. He shared how Digital Prototyping and Production with Inventor, Vault and CNC technology enables them to design and manufacture of industrial automation equipment and machinery. It was good to hear how DWF, Autodesk Design Review, enables that process of model sharing to extend to the client, for free. In response to a few questions he also explained how Vault helps control the flow of design data within the business ensuring each stage is working with valid, current data. It was a good insight of how previously "enterprise scale systems" can now help a small scale manufacturing business.
Simon Holt, Triple Eight Racing, was the final presentation but one worth waiting for. Although I'm a race fan I was surprised how much in-house manufacture is done for the Australian V8 Supercars they build, totally modelled in Inventor. He showed how hundreds of pages of sporting regulations are transformed into a race car with much of the physical compliance captured and validated in the model. The level of detail was impressive, the result is race & championship winning cars.
A good day, except for what was missing;
Although a huge amount was covered there was no sign of Max and maybe scope for a bigger event as time pressure was evident. With over 200 attending the turnout was good but many familiar faces were "missing". Given the small community I thought it was pity that, for whatever reason, two solution days were held within a week covering similar material. When the focus of the day I attended heavily emphasised sharing data, cross industry collaboration and breaking barriers it's a pity Autodesk New Zealand couldn't do the same for all it's customers. It's not often such a wide range of industry professionals have a chance to get together and the lunchtime/break sessions are a good chance to make/renew contacts, Hard to do when they are at the other day...
Taking note with MindManager;
You may have seen my agenda MindManager Map posted last week before the meeting. I said it would be defaced with my illegible scrawled notes and a few commented on seeing the work Tablet PC in use. Its nice to use in meetings/presentations as allows seamless note taking that you just can't achieve on a conventional laptop.
MindManager's native inking is fast and the zoom + topic filters effectively gives you infinite paper with none of the 'running out of room" I find happens with paper mind maps. The image right shows the result by the end of the day but most of the time I only had the current branch expanded. It's quite surprising to see how much you can gather over the day but remember this was only a topic, often just a word, every few minutes during several hours of presentations. The best part of inking maps is you can also scribble diagrams that typed input can't match.
Unfortunately MindManager Player, an interactive map in a PDF, doesn't support inked topics so can only share this "all expanded" image view. The full size image (click the thumbnail) doesn't quite match the resolution seen in MindManager itself is but clear enough to see. Sadly it won't help you read my awful writing!
Download Autodesk_NZ_Solutions_Day_2009.mmap (793.8K) requires MindManager (Note: Trial install becomes a full function viewer when it expires)
* As you can see It took a bit longer than expected to get this post finished.