I’ve been doing a few software installs recently; updates to Autodesk Building Design Suite 2015 at the previous workplace and a fresh install at the new one. As a result I’ve come to really appreciate Autodesk Application Manager; one of the best support applications Autodesk have ever made.
Remember the pain?
Install an app — or more like a dozen for the Design Suites — then spend hours finding which have been updated, downloading patches and installing (or updating deployments) on the machine. That is history as Autodesk Application Manager makes it a one click process, well nearly. You still do have to select which updates and click install but that is trivial compared to the alternative!
Updates tailored to your device:
The Application Manager looks at the software installed (not just the software in the suite), the user subscription rights, the device and existing patches to decide what is needed. I was impressed that the same Design Suite installed on my Tablet (where had just picked AutoCAD Architecture & Revit) only got a those updates, my desktop picking up the full set for all the installed applications.
Download overhead shared:
If you have multiple machines to update Application Manager can eliminate duplicated download overhead and time.
In Settings>Files tick the “Use shared storage or content downloads” and set the path to a common network folder all your PCs can access.
The first machine to encounter a new update will download the install file to the shared folder. Other machines will check the folder first and install from the existing download. With some updates being up to a gigabyte (Recap) you can save a lot of download data and time.
You can export and import Application Manager settings to easily configure multiple machines.
First phase of a cloud delivery framework:
The Application Manager framework currently delivers:
For the User:
Desktop notification of update availability
Delivery and install of updates: 'The best experience is no experience', not to get in the way of productivity
For Administrators/CAD Managers:
Discover and download updates
Manage updates distribution
Manage users access to notification updates and install
There are still some limitations — local user rights may need admin permission, users can ignore notifications — but the system is a vast improvement.
Updates are just the start:
Autodesk have put in place the framework to support a far more comprehensive solution. The future could include full installs and possibly even Microsoft Office 365’like click to run. In that case you can start using the core software almost immediately while the rest of it installs in the background.
And using Autodesk PLM 360 to do it!
It was interesting to hear the data source for the system is a case of Autodesk ‘eating its own dog food’. The Product Data Master, a complex mesh of products, applications and applicable updates is being managed with Autodesk PLM 360. The only glitch I’ve seen was Navisworks wanting to install a language update for a language pack I hadn’t installed. This disappeared off the list after a couple of days, presumably after the Product Data Master was updated.
As the complexity of software increases it is nice some attention is being given to making it easier to manage.
I did have some warning, seen but not used the beta, and like the look of the new simpler rendering, enhanced point cloud features and BIM coordination using Navisworks linking or BIM 360 Glue integration.
* My travels and workflow around projects delayed it rather than any technical or product concerns!
It was an early start for a call to learn about some big changes to Autodesk software purchases from 1 February 2016 onwards.
New commercial seats of most stand-alone desktop software (not Design Suites) will only be available on ‘pay as you go’ Desktop Subscription, not as Perpetual Licenses or the current annual Maintenance Subscription.
Purchases before 1 Feb 2016 will continue to receive existing benefits:
Existing perpetual licenses will continue to work forever.
Existing Maintenance Subscriptions (annual updates & bundled services etc.) will be honoured for as long as the subscription payment is maintained.
If current Perpetual or Maintenance Subscription customers require additional seats after 1 Feb 2016 the new Desktop Subscription will apply.
This is a response to changes in the way people design and make products;
Projects using multiple applications, at multiple sites.
Changes in how people expect buy products and software: more durable, flexible, local and personalised to them.
Expectations products are connected, responsive and updated.
Flexible teams, project not company or task specific
What does this mean?
A move towards cloud based services for better software delivery.
Simplified deployment update process. Ongoing updates rather than annual releases through the Autodesk Application Manager and cloud.
More integration between products (enabled by cloud nature)
Better & new cloud services.
Full year notice
New multi-year subscriptions for desktop applications
No change to current Maintenance Subscriptions
New programs like floating licenses (not tied to user/hardware) without current network license overhead.
Details in the Autodesk news release and links below:
SAN RAFAEL, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--TodayAutodesk, Inc. (Nasdaq:ADSK) announced that new commercial seats of most standalone desktop software products will be available only by Desktop Subscription beginning February 1, 2016. Through these changes, Autodesk is continuing its transition to subscription-based offerings for its products, which provide customers a simplified product management and deployment experience, and makes it easier to introduce new tools and technology into the workflow with lower upfront cost and the ability to pay as you go.
"How the world is designed and made is changing, and how software is delivered is changing as well. The companies that embrace these changes will lead their industries toward a more nimble, connected and richer future,” said Andrew Anagnost, Autodesk senior vice president of Industry Strategy & Marketing. "Our customers have long asked for greater flexibility and more value from their software investments. The shift to subscription allows Autodesk to deliver both, as well as an improved user experience and easier access to a broader portfolio of technology.”
Autodesk Desktop Subscription offers a simplified installation, management and upgrade experience, flexible payment terms, and broader access rights across multiple devices. Autodesk plans to continually innovate and improve Desktop Subscription products to more tightly integrate them with Autodesk cloud services and reduce file compatibility issues.
Autodesk customers who have purchased perpetual licenses prior to February 1, 2016 will be able to continue to use those licenses, and customers on Maintenance Subscription will continue to receive corresponding benefits for as long as their subscription remains active. Autodesk will also continue to offer Cloud Services Subscriptions.
“With today’s announcement, we are giving our customers a full year to plan for these changes, and will continue to be transparent about our plans,” continued Anagnost. “Autodesk will be working closely with our customers and partners to ease the impact of these changes, and we are committed to making the transition as smooth as possible.”
My first impression of AutoCAD 2015: This looks different!
A couple of presentations at the AutoCAD Blogger Day gave an insight into how changes in development methods, hardware/operating system capabilities and cloud infrastructure have driven evolution of the AutoCAD “platform” on, and beyond, the desktop.
We’re not in Kansas anymore…?
JoAnna Cook, Director User Experience AutoCAD Product Line Group (phew, long title!), handed out a little booklet titled: OZ.
It was not a new publication, not made for sales/marketing and not about AutoCAD 2015.
OZ presented a future AutoCAD user experience based on customer research, developments of the desktop application and (when it was written) a future beyond the desktop.
Oz, the vision
OZ was not about a software application, especially a traditional desktop one. It imagined your design, your project, as the centre of the experience. Devices present a window to your design from any location. Software on the device or a web service enable creation, manipulation and sharing of information or design intent anywhere in a connected world.
OZ was made for the AutoCAD team; about three hundred & fifty people with more than ten million customers to satisfy. It demonstrated a set of principles, a vision, of how products could work together and one aspect of what AutoCAD could become.
Defining the next AutoCAD?
I suspect steering the future of AutoCAD is one of the toughest assignments in the CAD world. While the industry specific platforms, like Revit/Inventor, can target defined workflows and outputs AutoCAD is used everywhere. That could be anything from 2D drafting to complex 3D geometric solid, surface or mesh modelling. In addition to that the AutoCAD platform also provides a base for many Autodesk, and third party, vertical solutions targeting specific tasks.
That said there are defined goals, themes, for each AutoCAD release. Some enhance, some might say fix!, existing commands/workflows or introduce new features. Others address changing hardware, operating system or cloud computing requirements and opportunities.
Some of what was imagined in OZ is in the AutoCAD we see today, other aspects point to an intriguing future.
AutoCAD User Experience Design gets Agile
The AutoCAD User Experience design and development process has changed. JoAnna shared how a traditional sequential process has been replaced with Agile development practices.
This is more akin to an IT start up approach with continuous development of features and immediate feedback. The AutoCAD team use feature focused customer councils during design and development. These are based on requirements from customer site visits, surveys or product development directions.
This may begin as early as the feature definition phase, literally post-it note process or paper UI design, or with very early code samples. There is more info, and interview with JoAnna, in this Autodesk Labs post from 2012:
From where I sit in Autodesk, I'm seeing the AutoCAD User Experience team behave suspiciously like a lean startup. I think they're lean because for the first time in history, the AutoCAD team is not following a waterfall development process, they're using Agile practices…
Looking at AutoCAD 2015, and AutoCAD 360, some of what was hinted at in that post from 2012 has already been delivered. There is plenty of potential for future development but the direction is clear.
The Customer Council connection
Agile development relies on rapid iteration and constant feedback. Major initiatives like Point Cloud integration, Connected Desktop and Geolocation were developed with dedicated Customer Councils.
In 2012/13 I was involved in a Customer Council for what became the Design Feed in AutoCAD WS (now AutoCAD 360) web and desktop application. Although I didn’t realise at the time this was a first hand experience of the sort of development agile practices bring.
The feature was released to a small customer group using AutoCAD WS. We were challenged to use it in a realistic way, collaborating on a real world project with participants across several time zones.
We saw several iterations of the feature during that process in the web application and later tested a version in the desktop application. The initial desktop implementation was in a web deployed zero footprint development package literally hand built for the task. By the end of the process we had used maybe half a dozen iterations of the feature, on web and desktop, as it developed.
This is quite different to the traditional alpha, beta, release process where a bundle of features are developed and assembled into ‘a release’ package for evaluation with a limited number of pre-release test builds.
Although it wasn’t explicitly stated I suspect the future of AutoCAD will be more fluid evolution between the annual releases. CAD Managers wrangling large install bases may object but I can see real potential in a regular update cycle (similar to Windows Update) to push new features. Looking at the updates, not just for AutoCAD, since 2015 first released perhaps we are already there!
What about My Feedback, Beta?
While agile development has driven user experience design there is still a considerable ‘traditional’ engineering effort delivering and testing release packages and updates.
The betas are very important but I suspect many have noticed they are no longer only place development is driven. While it should focus on ‘does this code work in the real world’ there was once considerable new feature/wish list debate in the beta world.
Veteran testers, like me!, may have noticed this has reduced as often those conversations happen in Customer Councils long before beta builds appear. That is not to diminish the importance of beta as a place to voice your thoughts but it is not the only way you can influence development.
If you want to be involved in the private—as opposed to public Autodesk Labs previews—Customer Councils, Beta/Previews or research survey/visits the Autodesk Feedback Community at beta.autodesk.com is the place to sign up.
So, new process, new AutoCAD? On to 2015…
My AutoCAD 2015 arrived as part of my Building Design Suite Premium suite, so was a bit behind the stand-alone release. I’ve had some time to explore the new version and post-release updates. More on that in my next Blogger day post…
Disclosure: Travel, some accommodation and meals provided by Autodesk, see disclosure page for details.
If you are interested in learning about laser scanning, photogrammetry or other reality data with Autodesk ReCap (part of Autodesk 360 & Building Design Suites):
There is a free webinar series being hosted by the Autodesk Reality Solutions team. If you want to know more about how to incorporate laser scanning, photogrammetry or other reality data into your workflow, this might be a great resource for you. These are available to everyone, no matter what country you are in*.
The first scheduled webinar on May 13th will focus on 3D laser scanners and ReCap entitled "The basics of terrestrial 3D laser scanning with ReCap". Please use this link to sign up:
I visited the Autodesk Fusion 360 site today—documenting some changes to Autodesk Building Design Suite—and thought they were winding me up.
Fusion 360 is part of the Autodesk 360 family and the page (below) features “3D CAD like never before” with Gus Petrika’s lovely ‘The Hook’ wearable phone. The design is awesome and features (it appears) Windows Phone tiles (right).
Thing is, guess how many Autodesk Windows Phone applications there are? Not lots, not a few, none at all!
That’s not Gus’ fault, he just chose the best mobile OS for his lovely device. Pity Autodesk don’t do the same!
I’ll leave covering the Apple announcement to the many iFan blogs other than to say it was more a story of refinement than surprise for iPad, nice for OS X Mavericks upgrade to be free on the desktop.
What I wasn’t expecting was a new AutoCAD for Mac 2014 and AutoCAD LT 2014 for Mac to match the OS X update. This is the first AutoCAD optimised for the Retina display and from the screen shots I’ve seen it benefits both UI and document display fidelity.
Autodesk Supplied image
In addition to the display and OS X compatibility changes AutoCAD For Mac has some new features:
Drawing Sync (using the Autodesk 360 cloud service)
Package Drawing: Similar to AutoCAD Windows Etransmit it packages a drawing and dependent resources (linked files/images, fonts etc) for archive or transmittal
Revised Startup Screen and new Help System
It’s not the same, feature wise, as AutoCAD Windows but getting closer. For more detail on that check out this feature comparison:
Autodesk have unveiled a new look Autodesk.com and announced their 2014 product updates. The new look Autodesk, hinted at earlier this month, comes with updates to existing products, new applications, revised industry specific Design Suites and Autodesk 360 Cloud Services.
Wow, where did 2012 go? Months flew past like weeks and now it’s nearly is 2013*. Time to look back at the past year from a (not just CAD) blog perspective:
Best Blog Event:
Usually it is Autodesk University but I didn’t get there this year. However, I did see some of it on-line. It was a bit strange to watch the keynote, on the netbook, in bed at about 05:00am NZ time! I enjoyed the virtual event, enhanced by the live Twitter stream which accompanied it, but it wasn’t quite like being there!
Although I haven’t blogged about it much I think a new Meetup group also deserves a mention. EPIC is a local initiative to create a true cross platform, multi discipline forum for model based design collaboration. The impetus for EPIC was improving how 3D design data is created, used and shared between all the participants of a project. Although it grew out of experience, OK maybe frustration, with AEC industry projects that is not the only audience. EPIC events to date have seen participation from the design, fabrication, construction and education disciplines.
This group was started to fill the void left by marketing between software platforms for 3D design, fabrication, construction and operations.
We get together to see actual demonstrations of how software interacts, and have real discussions about the pros and cons. All findings are publicly available, and everyone involved in this industry is welcome to participate.
A post about Mindjet’s lousy handling of a change to its business model attracted the most comment this year. It was good to see Mindjet reacted (not because of my post I must add) with a revised offer a few weeks later. I’m not sure if part of that was due to the power of social media but one comment on my personal blog demonstrated this and was my favourite.
Back in February I heard a podcast interview from Radio Australia with Fairlight synthesizer inventor Peter Vogel (and Thomas Dolby). I wrote a post reminiscing how I first learnt about the Fairlight, and heard it on demo cassette, via an 80s Aussie science/fiction magazine. I was amazed when Peter found my post and commented on it offering links to the audio I had first heard decades before.
An old media memory made a new media connection.
I suspect my US readers know of Radiolab already but I was introduced to it by ‘Capt. Toast’ from Skeptics in the Pub. I love both the content and its unique presentation. Visit the website for subscription info or have a listen to the latest episode below.
Having spent the day working on “cloud” presentations she decided it was just one cloud too many but I had to try it.
The verdict, Heavenly!
As seems usual March was busiest on the CAD Blog. It used to be annual Autodesk launch posts which drove this but for me that spread over several months. I was on holiday (cycling in Northland) so missed the international launch in March and the the NZ launches were in May. February was busiest on the Personal Blog, for some reason, due to an old Fiat X1/9 post.
Work and personal commitments meant fewer posts from me this year (~10/month vs. ~14 last year on both blogs). I have plenty of drafts and topics to cover in 2013 so just have to find the time!
Best Blog Tool:
I didn’t really change how I blog, hardware or software wise, this year so no radical new tools. One utility which was useful is VirtualBox from Oracle. Its a free virtual machine which allowed me, with some great tips from Ralph Grabowski, to try the previews of Windows 8 without needing a spare machine. Odd that it could do this better than Microsoft’s own virtual machine platform.
I have reserved my verdict on Windows 8 until I try it on real hardware and am contemplating upgrading my home PC over the New Year break. There is a discount, currently, offered till Jan 31 for on-line upgrades so it is worth considering before then.
“Doh!” of the year:
Nothing dramatic other than getting quite excited about two products only to find they would not be available in New Zealand. Hopefully this will change in 2013!
Revit LT:First got my attention when Autodesk Labs Project Spark arrived. New Zealand has a large AutoCAD LT user base and it seemed Spark offered a path to BIM for AEC focused LT users. Although disregarded by many “full Revit” users I think it offered most the tools a lonely BIM’er needed to join the Revit’lution. When Spark launched as Revit LT it was not offered in APAC! This is quite common for new Autodesk platforms, we rarely see V1 of anything, but LT is hardly that being based on the established Revit platform.
Microsoft Surface: Although the RT version has got mixed reviews I think the Pro Surface and similar tablet/ultrabook combos will be the new default mobile computer form factor for those needing more than ARM processors. Microsoft NZ have yet to launch Surface here although a few ‘parallel import’ units have been seen. They are not alone as the established Wintel hardware manufacturers have been slow off the mark too. Finding touch enabled Windows 8 hardware, of any form factor, at retail has been a bit of a challenge.
Happy New Year!
Thanks for visiting, reading and coming back. Lets see what 2013 brings!
* OK, so it took a few hours longer than I expected to get this on-line!