CAD Tech News (#7)

12 Dec, 2014 By: Cadalyst Staff

▶ Autodesk Reshapes Itself for the Future

At Autodesk University 2014, the software developer shares its plan for adapting to a new era of design, production, and demand.

By Cyrena Respini-Irwin

Companies of all stripes typically point to outside factors as the source of their most pressing challenges: savage competitors, sluggish markets, supply holdups. It's far less common to hear anything along the lines of "We have met the enemy, and he is us." A version of that sentiment, however, was expressed by Andrew Anagnost at Autodesk University (AU) 2014, held last week in Las Vegas, Nevada. During a press briefing, Anagnost, Autodesk's senior vice-president of industry strategy and marketing, said "we're taking ourselves on, and we're going to knock ourselves down," explaining that traditional design software products are not suited to the new era of computer-aided design.

The first such era, Anagnost explained, was that of documentation; pen-and-paper tasks were largely replicated in digital form. It was followed by one of optimization, in which software could perform modeling tasks. Now, we're entering an era of connection, in which the design system is connected to new means of production. "This isn't fiction, it's happening," he affirmed, pointing to examples of 3D-printed cars and prefabricated buildings that are simply assembled on site.

According to Anagnost, the dramatic change in how products and infrastructure are generated is just one type of disruption shaping the modern era. We're also experiencing a new landscape of demand; consumers are becoming more knowledgeable — and more demanding — about where their purchases come from, the ethics of how they're made, and how long they will last. In addition, they've come to expect an unprecedented level of choice in the marketplace. "These people want variety; they want things that are customized for them," Anagnost noted.

Finally, the definition of what makes a "good" product is changing. Consumers expect products to not only maintain their function for a certain length of time, but to actually improve during ownership, and to be connected to the world around them. "People expect the product to change, evolve, and get better over time," said Anagnost. For example, he compared a Tesla Motors car, which will be improved over its lifetime through software and hardware updates, to a traditional vehicle, which will slowly degrade in value and usefulness from the time of purchase. Read more »

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Cyrena Respini-Irwin is editor in chief of Cadalyst.

▶ Visualization Tools Help Win Acceptance for Public Works Projects

RDV Systems makes 3D models more accessible to the Connecticut citizens who will be affected by park and greenway developments.

By Andrew G. Roe

While 3D visualizations have become commonplace on big-budget transportation and land development projects, industry professionals continue to find new applications for the technology, which is continually gaining more functionality while becoming more affordable. No longer limited to niche experts working on megaprojects, visualizations are increasingly being developed by a wide range of professionals on projects of all sizes. The results are being viewed interactively in new formats, and often help answer questions from skeptical members of the public.

The city of Meriden, Connecticut, has seen the benefits of 3D visualizations firsthand while transforming a 14-acre city-owned brownfield into a downtown park. When completed in late 2015, the Meriden HUB will provide public green space, flood storage, and redevelopment in a formerly industrial area. To help educate the public about what the $14-million project would look like, the city and its consultants developed visualizations and made them available to anyone with a mobile device.

“The residents were used to seeing an abandoned area,” said Doron Dagan, president of Meriden-based Luchs Consulting Engineers, consultants to the city and partners with Israel-based RDV Systems, a provider of modeling and simulation software and services. To illustrate the dramatic change in scenery, Luchs and RDV built visualizations that were ported to the City’s web site and linked with quick-response (QR) bar codes that allow the visualization to be viewed interactively on smart phones and other mobile devices. Read more »

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Cadalyst contributing editor Andrew G. Roe is a registered civil engineer and president of AGR Associates.

▶ Program AutoCAD-Based Products Without an Object Model

Use AutoLISP to accomplish unique tasks in Raster Design.

By Andrew G. Roe

In a previous article, we examined how to customize AutoCAD Civil 3D using a .NET approach. While .NET can be useful for automating tasks in AutoCAD and certain Autodesk vertical products such as Civil 3D and MEP, not all Autodesk software can be customized with .NET. Some titles, such as AutoCAD Electrical and Raster Design, do not include a .NET application programming interface (API), so another approach is needed. In these cases, AutoLISP provides a handy alternative.

This example will explain how to use AutoLISP to automate a task in Raster Design, an AutoCAD add-on for editing and managing raster images in an AutoCAD environment. For those experienced with AutoLISP, this may be familiar territory, but for VBA and .NET programmers, it may present some new concepts. Even if you don't use Raster Design, most of the concepts still apply in customizing AutoCAD-based products.

Raster Design offers a variety of tools for modifying raster images, including several commands for cropping images. For example, the Crop Circular Region command (ICROPCIRC) crops an image to a region defined by a center point and radius. As an alternative, perhaps you'd like to simply click on a circle and have the image cropped to that region, without specifying the center point and radius. This is a fairly simple task to automate with AutoLISP. Read more »

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Cadalyst contributing editor Andrew G. Roe is a registered civil engineer and president of AGR Associates.


CAD Manager's Toolbox: Get Your Own Autodesk University Account
Access the library of classes and other resources for free. Read more »

Autodesk University from a CAD Manager's Viewpoint
How are CAD managers faring this year — and what can they expect in 2015? Read more »

AutoCAD Video Tips by Lynn Allen: Super-Speedy Layer Control in AutoCAD
You may have used LayOff to quickly turn an object's layer off — but do you know about the power LayOff has with blocks, or viewports? Check out Lynn Allen's demonstration and master the additional capabilities of LayOff! Watch the video »

IMAGINiT Tricks Tutorial: Drawing Autodesk Inventor Standards with Style
With the Style and Standard Editor in Autodesk Inventor 2015, users can easily make drafting standards more visually interesting. Read more »

Herrera on Hardware: The Interface of Choice for SSDs
PCI Express provides a much higher-capacity path to storage drives than SATA does. Read more »


Photorealistic Visualization with Speed and Ease Using Iray+ for Autodesk 3ds Max
December 18, 2014
9 a.m. PT
Lightwork Design and NVIDIA will present this webinar about Iray+ in 3ds Max to show how fast interactive rendering can transform workflows. Read more »

International LiDAR Mapping Forum 2015
February 23–25, 2015
Denver, Colorado
The International LiDAR Mapping Forum (ILMF) is a technical conference and exhibition focused on data acquisition, fusion, processing, and point clouds for airborne, terrestrial, and underwater light detection and ranging (LiDAR) used to support transport, urban modeling, coastal zone mapping, utility asset management, and more. Read more »

NVIDIA GPU Technology Conference
March 17–20, 2015
San Jose, California
This graphics processing unit (GPU) conference covers a wide range of topics and industries. Attendees will learn about NVIDIA's latest technologies, as well as the newest developments from industry leaders in fields ranging from healthcare to automotive. Read more »

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