Tag Archives: cad

One AutoCAD – Install Now!….[PART 2]

No, you don’t have to install One AutoCAD right NOW, but maybe consider the Install Now option in your Autodesk Account page at manage.autodesk.com if you are subscribed to the One AutoCAD.

InstallNow

Install Now

In my previous blog about One AutoCAD and AutoCAD 2019, I mentioned a great blog from my Autodesk friend and colleague, Marcus O’Brien, about using the Install now option when installing ANY of the One AutoCAD toolsets. You can find the blog here.

I had to run an install of the AutoCAD Architecture toolset recently and decided to give the Install Now option a go first-hand to see whether it did save me time and (most importantly) disk space when running an install.

I am happy to report back that it DID work. Normally, the Architecture toolset would provide an install file set of around 7GB. This would normally end up in the Autodesk folder on your root (C:) drive, taking up space (and download/install time). My normal workflow (once downloaded and installed) would be to put all these files on to a portable hard drive for safekeeping. Now, with the benefit of the Install Now with One AutoCAD, it only downloaded about 1GB of files and took just over thirty-five minutes to install. Now, the install time DOES depend on bandwidth, but this was so much better!

How does One AutoCAD do this?

It’s really simple. You make sure you have your basic AutoCAD installed, and then if you need one of the One AutoCAD toolsets, the Install Now option checks what core AutoCAD files you have already, and only downloads and installs the necessary toolset install files. If you think about this, it is such a simple process. When just running basic AutoCAD, you already have most of the necessary AutoCAD files already installed. You just download whatever extra is needed for the appropriate toolset and then you’re done.

(NOTE: The 15.0 MB in the graphic below is just the installer file size, but wouldn’t it be nice, eh?)

InstallNow_ICON

So, thanks Autodesk, for providing us with a break from huge software downloads and install times. That Install Now option with the One AutoCAD subscription is a blessing and will save a lot of time for a lot of users.

You’ll also be pleased to note that there was not ONE mention of Christopher Lambert, the Quickening or Highlander in this post. Pardon the pun.

This is Part Two of a series about One AutoCAD and the AutoCAD 2019 toolsets. Please stay tuned for the next instalment!

Happy One AutoCAD’ing!

SCB

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One AutoCAD – there can be only TEN?….[PART 1]

 

In my previous March blog about the release of AutoCAD 2019, I referenced the movie Highlander, and when the Quickening starts there can be only ONE. Well, how’s about we re-word that a little and play around with artistic licence? As one of my fellow CAD gurus, Steve Johnson, quite rightly quoted, “There can be only TEN”.

One AutoCAD gives you exactly that. It gives you TEN ways of accessing AutoCAD.

So how exactly does that work?

ONE AutoCAD

As a subscription customer (yep, subscription only on this one, folks), you will now be able to get One AutoCAD. This means that when you look at your Autodesk licence management screen, you will see this: –

OneAutoCAD_LicenceMgt1

And when you expand that on screen, you will see this: –

OneAutoCAD_LicenceMgt_1to10

So, what does this mean? Does AutoCAD now install as ONE application with all these flavors available as ribbon tabs perhaps, in the same way Revit now has Architecture, Structure and MEP all under one roof (pardon the pun)? Simple answer, no. One AutoCAD is not made to be used that way.

One AutoCAD is there so that all AutoCAD users can use their ONE AutoCAD that fulfills their needs; architects can use AutoCAD Architecture, engineers can use AutoCAD Mechanical, electrical and instrumentation techs can use AutoCAD Electrical and so on.

Let’s go back to 2012. I was at the Autodesk Media Summit held in the Autodesk HQ in San Francisco. I can always remember the now ex-CEO of Autodesk, Carl Bass, stating back then that he wanted Autodesk products to be a ‘toolset’, like tools in a toolbox, or like a Swiss army knife, where you chose the appropriate tool or blade to perform the required function. That’s what One AutoCAD does. With ONE subscription, you get all the AutoCAD ‘toolsets’ or blades, should you prefer my Swiss army knife analogy.

TOOLSETS

If you look back up at the screengrab of the expanded One AutoCAD on the licence management screen, you will see that I have numbered the AutoCAD toolsets available under the One AutoCAD licence. They are as follows (with a few ribbon screengrabs to break the monotony): –

AutoCAD 2019

AutoCAD2019_Ribbon_840long

AutoCAD – Mobile app (Premium)

AutoCAD Architecture

AutoCAD Electrical

ACADE2019_Ribbon_840long

AutoCAD MEP

ACADMEP2019_Ribbon_840long

AutoCAD Map 3D

AutoCAD Mechanical

ACADM2019_Ribbon_840long

AutoCAD Plant 3D

AutoCAD Raster Design

ACADRaster2019_Ribbon_840long

AutoCAD – Web application

So, there you go. There can be only ten. Steve Johnson, I concur, you were quite right!

Ten AutoCAD’s. All available as ONE subscription = One AutoCAD.

INSTALLATION

How do you install your One AutoCAD? Well, it’s simple. You install it just like you used to, in fact. You install vanilla AutoCAD if you need it. You install AutoCAD Raster Design if you need it. The only two exceptions to this are AutoCAD Web and AutoCAD Mobile (for obvious reasons).

You simply download the specific toolset of AutoCAD that you need. Run the install. Put in your serial number and product key and off you go. Situation normal.

Yes, there is a little bit of crossover in the AutoCAD universe. You can utilize blocks and move them between drawings using DesignCenter or Tool Palettes. You can use the Windows clipboard to copy and paste, but there’s no BIG AutoCAD interface in a single AutoCAD application that covers all the toolsets. However, there’s nothing to stop you running a session of vanilla AutoCAD and AutoCAD Electrical and moving blocks between the two. That’s how One AutoCAD works. So, I hope now you get what I am saying about the toolbox/Swiss army knife idea when you install what you need.

Before you do install your One AutoCAD, check out a great time saver on the AutoCAD blog from Marcus O’Brien. If you use the Install Now option, and the installer will check if you already have AutoCAD installed and will only install the parts of the toolset that you need, thus saving download time and disk space!

And by the way, there is no need to install EVERY toolkit either. That is just AutoCAD desktop icon overkill. Yep, it looks pretty, but ask yourself, do you really need EVERY SINGLE AutoCAD toolkit installed? 🙂

WEB AND MOBILE

What about the two exceptions? Well, AutoCAD Web and AutoCAD Mobile have had some serious face-lifting done. AutoCAD Web is a NEW browser-based version of AutoCAD, and in my humble opinion, this is a superb piece of AutoCAD kit. It runs best in Google Chrome and it replaces the older, dated AutoCAD 360. I won’t bore you with the browser technology stuff here but, suffice to say, Autodesk have used some very cool programming to give you an excellent user experience of AutoCAD on the web. Sure, it is not as sophisticated as your regular desktop AutoCAD, but it has a great interface with many of the traditional AutoCAD commands in place, plus development going on to add many more. It also works EXTREMELY well on touchscreen devices, such as the iPad Pro and Microsoft Surface (other touchscreen devices are available). Major benefit here is that someone WITHOUT an AutoCAD licence could use this to view and edit drawings whilst the AutoCAD power user on the desktop can be ‘driving’ the design.

AutoCAD Mobile is the ‘traveling’ AutoCAD, as I like to call it. It can be installed on any smart device, such as phone, tablet, phablet etc. It gives you a great workflow to facilitate any imminent changes to your drawings. The workflow is very simple. Upload your drawing from your desktop to your A360 Drive. Load up the drawing from A360 Drive in to AutoCAD Mobile and you can mark up changes, perform simple edits and then version control those changes. You can then sync/upload the changes to your desktop via the internet immediately or if you are offline, when you get back to your desk. I demo’ed AutoCAD Mobile on the Autodesk booth at the first Autodesk University London last summer, and the interest was huge. I think the super whizzy iPad Pro I was using also helped with the interest levels too though!

Also, bear in mind now, you have Save to Web and Mobile and Open from Web and Mobile built in to the 2019 versions of AutoCAD. This gives you the ability to save and open immediately from your A360 Drive directly through your desktop AutoCAD. A great time-saving workflow.

PROS & CONS

The benefits of One AutoCAD are obvious. You get TEN different access points to the AutoCAD product via ONE subscription. You can utilize any of the AutoCAD toolsets, or many of the toolsets. It is entirely up to you; personal choice, project requirements, company needs etc. Yes, the subscription cost has gone up, but you now get TEN AutoCAD’s for the ONE price. Not only will this help you should you need a specific flavor of AutoCAD, but it will also cover all your bases for future AutoCAD work.

Cons are that you must be a subscription customer to get One AutoCAD. That is the only route to get it. Now, I know that many of you out there are wary of subscription and are still fighting for perpetual licences. I know that numerous licences on subscription have increased in price too. This happens. I am not defending it, nor am I saying that I am totally happy with it either. I sit in between both camps, a bit like Switzerland. I used to be a CAD manager and the cost hikes would upset me (initially), but I am now a consultant/guru and I can see the benefits too.

WHAT DO YOU MEAN?

One thing I learnt as a CAD manager was to utilize or rationalize. Use or lose, basically. One of the big benefits of subscription is that you can cut back on licences when you need to, or increase licences when you need to, thus keeping the running costs down in your department. Secondly, subscription does have certain tax implications, where you can class the software as rental software, rather than a capital asset, which is what perpetual licences were. However, if you are tied in to subscription and the prices keep going up, that doesn’t help. I have heard all the arguments and I am staying Swiss, if you get my drift.

So, with my consultant/guru head on, I would look a to subscription as a way forward. A workflow, if you like. It’s a constant moving target, where you can forecast how many licences you need for future work as subscribe to those licences only when you need them. It is the way forward. Adobe have done it with Creative Cloud, Microsoft have done it with Office 365. Autodesk are now another subscription player in the marketplace. My suggestion is take advantage of it to utilize and rationalize. Make your CAD function lean and profitable and look at all the ways and means to use subscription as means to progress, not hold you back.

By the way, this is Part One of a series about One AutoCAD and the AutoCAD 2019 toolsets. Please stay tuned for the next instalment!

Happy AutoCAD’ing!

SCB

AutoCAD 2019 – There can be only ONE….

For those of you old enough to remember the movie Highlander, when the Quickening starts there can be only one. Apart from the stunning Queen soundtrack, it was a great movie, and Connor MacLeod (actor Christopher Lambert) of the clan MacLeod was THE one, combined with incredible support from famous co-star Sean Connery as Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez, who (unfortunately) does lose his head.

As they say in the movie (and the Queen song), it’s a kind of magic……

(For those of you that like a bit of Freddie and the band Queen, here’s the link to the album, A Kind Of Magic – CLICK HERE).

So, here we go, why ONE AutoCAD?

ONE AutoCAD

In the world of the new version of AutoCAD, AutoCAD 2019, we have only ONE too. When you subscribe to AutoCAD 2019, you get ONE subscription, but the many faces of AutoCAD; Architecture, Electrical, Mechanical, MEP, and various other flavors. This not only gives you a specialized AutoCAD by allowing you to work in various disciplines and verticals, but also gives you various workflow improvements too. However, Civil 3D has been omitted from the ONE AutoCAD intentionally, and I am sure Autodesk have their reasons for that.

Design Toolsets

When you log in to your account portal, you will see that it has changed and the view of your subscribed AutoCAD you get now is one (pardon the pun) of many, listing all the products under your main AutoCAD subscription. You will also find that the view of AutoCAD in your Autodesk Desktop App has changed as well.

What’s nice here is that you can select all the AutoCADs to be trialed or you can select individual flavors of AutoCAD to be trialed. This is especially advantageous if you are already a vanilla AutoCAD user and want to test a specific flavor of AutoCAD to see if it fulfills your needs and requirements. For those of you that just want all the flavors, but for one price, it is a great move by Autodesk also.

On your desktop, each flavour of AutoCAD will still have its own individual icon (just to clutter your desktop, I guess…an untidy desktop is a sign of a great mind, right?), plus, there will be no change to the DWG Launcher. You know, that little gizmo in Windows that allows you to open all DWG files using AutoCAD as the preferred application to do so.

Web and Mobile

There have been some great improvements in AutoCAD 2019. One of these is the ability to save your desktop AutoCAD designs directly to AutoCAD Web and AutoCAD Mobile. If you go to the Quick Access Toolbar (top left of the desktop AutoCAD application window), you will see the new icons there that not only provide you with the facility to save to web and mobile but also go directly to those saved cloud-based designs and open them directly in the AutoCAD desktop again as well. This is also available in the AutoCAD application menu. These cloud-based files go to A360 Drive in the usual way.

Save to Web and Mobile

So, what’s new with AutoCAD Web and Mobile then? Well, AutoCAD Web is much enhanced to give a highly sophisticated browser-based AutoCAD interface, that is quicker and faster. I won’t bore you with the techie stuff, but suffice to say, you will be using the equivalent AutoCAD executable (EXE) in your browser, the same as you would be on your desktop. This makes for a much-needed boost to what was (sometimes) quite a jerky, laggy web-based application in the past.

You will find AutoCAD Web at web.autocad.com and if you are using the subscription version (it comes with full AutoCAD), you get a great new command panel incorporating some of the more familiar AutoCAD drafting icons, that even have a preview, just like desktop AutoCAD.

AutoCAD Web

What’s also new is the referencing capability of AutoCAD Web. You can add reference drawings (XREFs) at your leisure, and if they are saved in the cloud in the same location as the host drawing, using the save to web and mobile options in your desktop AutoCAD, they will operate in the same way as relative XREFs that you might use locally.

Something I love (yes, love, not just like) is that you now have the native AutoCAD window and crossing selection tools in AutoCAD Web. They work in the same way as your desktop AutoCAD and provide a rounder user experience. We have grown used to these methods of selection, and it is great to see Autodesk taking the desktop user experience tools in to the web-based version. It is by no way perfect yet, but I can see AutoCAD Web getting to a point where your AutoCAD desktop will become fully mobile. The hardware is there now; such as the Apple iPad Pro and the Microsoft Surface Pro, that have the grunt under the hood to run AutoCAD Web and AutoCAD Mobile well.

What makes AutoCAD Web even more like desktop AutoCAD is that there are even some keyboard shortcuts included as well. I mean, come on, who doesn’t love a keyboard shortcut or two? Trust me, as a seasoned AutoCAD user (thirty years this year), I am a big fan of keyboard shortcuts!

Overall, though, I have to say that I am mightily impressed with the new AutoCAD Web. It has been well thought out and gives you a great browser-based AutoCAD experience that relates back to your desktop AutoCAD this time. And with regular updates promised by Autodesk, I can see AutoCAD Web developing at a quick pace to bring you a much slicker experience with AutoCAD Web on the web. Did I say ‘web’ enough there for you?

New Features and Enhancements

Back to the desktop AutoCAD now. Autodesk have added a couple of new features to AutoCAD 2019.

On the new Collaborate tab in the AutoCAD ribbon, you will find the DWG Compare command. This new feature is, quite simply, excellent. I wish I’d had it years ago. You can now compare two separate DWG files and AutoCAD creates a new comparison DWG file, highlighting any differences between the two compared drawings, using colors and revision clouds, providing tools to iterate between each difference and zoom in to each difference automatically.

DWG Compare

Another great new feature on the Collaborate tab is Shared Views. You can upload your designs directly to the web in to the Autodesk Viewer, a cloud-based viewer. You can invite other collaborators to view your design by way of a private URL that can be emailed to the respective team members. Also, in the Autodesk Viewer, there is a Comment feed that allows all invited users to comment on the shared design and link their comments to the design as well.

Shared Views

You may also notice that there are enhanced icons in AutoCAD 2019 that look different too. To bring AutoCAD 2019 in line with the 4K monitors out there, over 5000 icons have been revamped and redesigned in the ribbon, status bar and application menu. They provide a slick, professional look to AutoCAD that looks modern and clean. The cartoony icons now have a tidier, minimalist look that I have to say I prefer.

Enhanced Icons

Conclusions

Autodesk are taking AutoCAD to a new level with this release. Not only are you getting numerous flavors of AutoCAD as one subscription package, but you’re also getting a great web-based offering too, along with some cool new features and enhancements in the desktop application, with cool command icons. And don’t forget, you STILL get seamless DWG compatibility with AutoCAD for Mac too.

Overall, a nice AutoCAD offering from Autodesk, and I love the new AutoCAD Web, but I would still like to see more new features and enhancements in the desktop AutoCAD, especially on the new Collaborate tab. Collaboration is becoming more and more prevalent in this age of email, webmail and the cloud, and I hope to see Autodesk take advantage of that movement to make AutoCAD even more mobile in the future.

Happy AutoCAD’ing!

SCB.

PS – As some of you may know, I provide online AutoCAD learning content over at LinkedIn Learning and Lynda.com. You’ll find all the new AutoCAD 2019 Essential Training material below: –

LinkedIn Learning – CLICK HERE 

Lynda.com – CLICK HERE

 

AU2015 – Ten Questions

Scott Pawlowski, Chief of Cultural and Natural Resources, WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument

Scott-PIC

(Scott Pawlowski on right of picture)

Autodesk University (AU) is a place to network and meet fellow peers and new people who work in the Autodesk world. I had the chance to meet Scott Pawlowski at the AutoCAD Blogger Social at AU2015 this year. The Autodesk Special Projects Team, which includes Pete Kelsey and Shaan Hurley worked with Scott to develop a full 3D digital model of the USS Arizona, one of the first ships to be sunk in Pearl Harbor on the island of Hawaii in WWII. We were privileged to see an amazing 3D print of the USS Arizona at the Blogger Social. The USS Arizona is an official WWII war grave and many technical, social and cultural considerations had to be taken in to account when the 3D surveying work was done by the team, which was mainly conducted under the surface of the waters of Pearl Harbor itself.

  1. What is your name and what role do you perform?

My name is Scott Pawlowski and I am Chief of Cultural and Natural Resources in the WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument (VALR). That is a polite title which describes that I look after cultural heritage and scientific research at VALR for the National Park Service.

  1. What is a typical day for you?

Pretty much every day is a new day and I get to work on anything from chewing pencils whilst filling out reports for program managers in the region to leading the park dive team. I also have to maintain my dive qualifications, as well as keep the ship looking good. Any day might include figuring out how to pay for preserving our nation’s cultural heritage in the national monument, or deciding which research focus is most needed for managing effectively. I often meet with donors who give family heirlooms to the national monument museum collection. The other day we were testing ROV equipment to image the ship better and we found that the entire electrics in the dock were not wired properly so we had to troubleshoot the system! It’s a very diverse position.

  1. Do you feel a sense of pride in all that you do?

Absolutely. In this place it is important to get everything right, rendering honor to those who perished and to those who think about them; families, friends and colleagues. It is great to get feedback, good or bad, when you are dealing with the memory of people who lived and died for their country. It is a great responsibility and knowing that you get it right, by the type of feedback we receive, gives a great sense of pride.

  1. How do you get to work each day?

Through the traffic, just like everyone else….in the party wagon, my late model Honda Civic, sometimes watching construction of the light rail system here on Hawaii.

  1. What (if any) Autodesk software do you use?

Almost exclusively, I use Autodesk Infrastructure Design Suite (IDS), but I am learning everything else like 123D Catch and 3ds Max. We also have a contractor using the Unity game engine for modeling and a touch of Autodesk Memento. To test the efficacy of the Autodesk software, we use CloudCompare as a counter point to see how accurate the Autodesk point clouds are.

  1. Name a project very close to your heart and why do you hold it in such high regard?

The USS Arizona digital check-up project is one of my most professionally enriching projects because of the partnerships with the fifteen project partners including Autodesk, the US Navy and US Coastguard, all helping over 1.7 million visitors understand what the resource is like here today. To herd fifteen different cats for a common goal valuable to our nation is pretty cool.

  1. Is your role challenging and if so, why?

It is challenging but in a positive way because the work requires both creativity and a lot of humanities, scientific and engineering background to get the day done. It’s nice to be in a profession where you get to think creatively a lot also.

  1. Name a group of people you have loved working with.

Working in Pearl Harbour for the last nine years has been really rewarding because of the number or really high quality people you get to work with, such as the Mobile Dive Salvage Unit One in Pearl Harbor and the 14th District Coastguard folks as well as other military units. However, Autodesk staff have also been spectacular to work with at the same level as all the other groups. That has been the cherry on the top of the sundae. I recently had the chance to say that to Carl Bass and anyone else who will listen to me.

  1. Do you have any habits or superstitions that you always stick to?

First thing in the morning, I try to sit down and be introspective about what I am going to do for the day. I also frequently clear my emergency regulator on my dive rig, but that is another necessary habit.

  1. Where would you like to be in ten year’s time?

Sitting on a beach in the Bahamas, in the Exuma Cays near Georgetown!

I would like to thank Scott for his precious time and patience on a mobile phone call from Hawaii to Glasgow (where I was working in my hotel room) as we went through the interview. The line was sketchy at best but we got through it! I have watched the USS Arizona project with interest from day one, and I have to say that the dedication and the ambition of all involved was incredible. The ship is a national monument to a war that decided our way of life as it is today, and the maintenance of the ship is imperative to ensure that it remains there for many more years for people to see and understand the sacrifice of all who served on her on that fateful day.

You can find more information using the links below: –

http://www.nps.gov/valr/index.htm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EH7kYh6hR24

http://autodesk.blogs.com/between_the_lines/2014/07/3d-prints-of-uss-arizona-artifacts.html

SCB

AU2015 – In the land of Lost Wages

So here I am again. Autodesk University 2015 (#AU2015) in the land of Lost Wages, or as it says on the map, Las Vegas. The land of beautiful sunrises, bright lights and an excess of crazy entertainment. And, you can gamble to your hearts content too.

Well, all of that aside, I am here attending Autodesk University (AU) again and I just want to impart my knowledge and experiences from AU to you, ranging from the opening keynote from Carl Bass to my thoughts on the AU event this year.

The first big event at AU is always the opening keynote from the head honcho over at Autodesk, Inc. Entering the keynote was like entering an Ibiza nightclub, with throbbing techno beats and mixes of chart hits. A big nightclub for the Autodesk nerds and geeks, you might say, with DJ’s doing their thing on the decks, under the bright lights.

Various sponsor ads adorned the big screens, including ads for AU sponsors such as Amazon Web Services, Lenovo and HP, along with an ad for Microsoft HoloLens from Autodesk VP, Lisa Campbell. You could book sessions with the HoloLens at AU, but these were booked up thick and fast from day one!

As I am sure you all know, the opening of the new Star Wars movie is upon us. The music in the arena changed to a jazzy Star Wars theme tune and out marched numerous Stormtroopers, escorting Autodesk darling and Technical Evangelist, Lynn Allen to the stage, ready to open the key note. As Donnie Gladfelter (The CAD Geek – http://thecadgeek.com/) quoted, she managed to outnerd 10,000 nerds. Check out the video on my Flickr account here: https://flic.kr/p/C3T4Wm.

As usual, Lynn introduced Carl Bass (CEO – Autodesk, Inc.) and thus the keynote began, which sets the theme of AU each year. Carl began with a company who have developed and created “dovetail” structural steel joints, followed by how amazing the new Apple HQ will be in Cupertino, CA, which has been designed by a well-known British architect, Norman Foster (http://www.fosterandpartners.com/). The Apple HQ is being built using pre-fabricated concrete panels which are ALL catalogued and monitored, even the ones in the car park! All using new and emerging technologies, where building and manufacturing are converging.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is beginning to get bigger, with machines diagnosing and repairing themselves. Bass talked of his experiences of getting his noisy lathe diagnosed with a smartphone strapped to it inside a ZipLok bag. His point was that it would be great if machines could listen to themselves and the diagnose the problem and fix themselves.

Bass continued to discuss the drought of talented people who think innovatively and in a certain way, and how to recruit those people. Bass used an example of drinks bars being available in the Facebook HQ on each floor. He said he found it odd that Facebook needed these kind of enticements to get staff and wondered if this was the best way to get people working for you.

Bass then went on to highlight some of the amazing projects that some of the Autodesk interns have worked on in the last year and how they wanted to work on things that mattered, instead of having the incentive of a drinks bar on each floor. The old way or recruiting is changing. Free food is not the big sell anymore, people want to work for companies who offer them the opportunities to work with passion and create their best work.

Bass then hands the stage to Andrew McAfee (MIT) who discusses what have been the most important developments in human history. Imagine that as a dinner party question at a dinner party full of geeks. What does the geek say?

The geek would turn the timeline in to a graph, and from that we can extrapolate that nothing has affected human development as much as the technology story and path. But what about the consequences? Trees cut down, killing whales, using children in factories….

McAfee went on to talk about a book by William S Jevons called The Coal Question, which raised the question of being healthier and wealthier, but the population was exploding. So innovation kicked in and what happened? As we moved forward, we used concrete instead of wood, kerosene instead of oil. This is known as dematerialization, where we are now past the point of peak use of raw materials, which is now a “profound trend”. We are now moving with large scale computerization to dematerialize with the investment in software and equipment going up year upon year. There is a bottomless quest for software and code to create more environmentally sustainable buildings using Autodesk software.

McAfee quoted that we have two remaining challenges: –

  1. Stop cooking the planet to avoid climate change
  2. The labour force is now doing less and less due to technology

These are important changes where we are seeing corporate profits going up and salaries going down, with the labour share of income getting lower and lower.

McAfee then went on to use two famous quotes to end his session; one from Winston Churchill in 1949 just after World War II and another from Freeman Dyson.

Jeff Kowalski (CTO – Autodesk, Inc.) then took the stage. His first quote was that in the next twenty years we will have more change than in the last 2,000 years with the next age being the AUGMENTED age, with computation systems that help, make, work and think. Tools we use will move from PASSIVE to GENERATIVE, using algorithms to develop many design ideas at once. He used the example of a panel design used for aircrew seating in an Airbus aircraft, that used generative design. It is changing aircrew seating by designing a lighter, stronger panel that saves 500,000 tonnes of steel in weight, thus reducing aircraft emissions to the equivalent of having 96,000 less cars on the road.

Kowalski then went on to state that we would start to use INTUITIVE design tools, such as advanced machine learning systems that remember and use patterns. They would then also be EMPATHIC by working with us, remembering our preferences. Kowalski closed with the example of Bishop, an Autodesk robot in the Autodesk Applied Sciences Lab, developing HIVE, a pavilion that is being designed by both human and robot, which was an exhibit at AU2015 this year.

Kowalski then handed the stage to what was to be a presentation that I, personally, found to be both amazing and inspirational. Dr Hugh Herr (MIT) builds prosthetic body parts. He is the most incredible human being. He lost his legs to frostbite when mountain climbing and after surgery, he asked if he would ever climb again. He was told no, so against all odds, he began to develop a set of new, bionic legs that would allow him to climb again.

IMG_3614

As Herr quoted, he used technology to heal himself and rehabilitate to the point where he is now actively climbing again using a set of bionic legs he has developed in the incredible field of bionics. Herr’s story is as inspiring as it is amazing, both with the human story and the incredible use of technology where he is using nano mapping of the brain and the body to develop robots to measure the body and design bespoke bionic body parts of each individual. As Herr quoted, without technology, he is a cripple, but with technology, he is free.

Kowalski then took the stage again, commenting on how we are now designing a nervous system connecting us to the objects around us; buildings, toys, cars. He used a humourous example of the drinks and snacks provided in Las Vegas hotel rooms where if you moved an item, the sensor under it charged it to your room. And speaking of Vegas hotels, housekeeping arriving at the wrong time. Maybe a sensor should be designed to let housekeeping know that you need privacy, such as when the shower is in use or when you are asleep, instead of the usual “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door handle. What sort of waving action should be used for a paper towel dispenser? Kowalski demonstrated, much to the amusement of his audience. Kowalski went on to talk about web designers designing down to pixel size and imagining that kind of information coming to you as a user of technology. Kowalski then went on to quote that we should be making “stuff that people want”.

Kowalski’s closing example of the use of technology was Bandito Bros, a crazy car company who develop cars that jump huge distances and loop the loop in real life, in the same way that our Hot Wheels used to when we were children. They are working with Autodesk, developing an intelligent car with a nervous system, calculating every move a car makes. The information gained allowed a generative car chassis to be developed and manufactured using Autodesk Dreamcatcher.

Kowalski closed the session with the quote:

The future….the AUGMENTED age”.

As always, I thoroughly enjoyed my time at AU this year. It is a time to learn, network and meet old friends and make new ones. A high point for me was the Blogger Social held by Shaan Hurley (Autodesk, Inc.). This year we were treated to a 3D print of the USS Arizona that was sunk in Pearl Harbour, Hawaii, in WW2. This was an Autodesk special project headed up by Pete Kelsey (Autodesk, Inc.) in conjunction with the US National Parks Service where LIDAR, photogrammetry and reality capture were used to create a 3D model of the sunken ship in order to monitor and maintain it. You can check out Shaan Hurley’s blog, Between The Lines, where he writes about the project here: http://autodesk.blogs.com/between_the_lines/2014/07/3d-prints-of-uss-arizona-artifacts.html.

Another great moment was the Autodesk User Group International (AUGI) Annual General Meeting (AGM). As a serving Director on the Board of Directors for AUGI, I can safely say that the organisation is very close to my heart, and this year, the presentation excelled with the use of Bob Bell’s lightsabre, combined with Kate “Leia” Morrical and Curt “Obi Wan” Moreno. The nerd humour in that half an hour made my AU. Total nerd humour at its best.

If you are yet to become an AUGI member, why not sign up? Just head on over to www.augi.com, and sign up for the Basic membership. It’s free forever and if you like it, consider a paid Premier ($25/annum) or Professional ($100/annum) membership later on to gain even more AUGI benefits such as the printed version of AUGIWorld magazine as a Professional AUGI member.

This was my ninth AU, and I have to say that whilst the Vegas lights and dry desert air can be somewhat intolerable at times (make sure you get a humidifier for your hotel room), the people attending more than make up for it. You can learn what you need from world class speakers, socialise with Autodesk rock stars such as Lynn Allen and Shaan Hurley and, most importantly, make contacts that often will stay with you for the rest of your working lifetime. I have made friendships at AU that, whilst based on a professional standing, will be friends for life. These are people that share my nerd humour and have become people that you can talk to about all things Autodesk, but can also share a beer or a coffee with as well.

IMG_3598

Another little bonus this year was the chance to jam with some of my Autodesk muso buddies too. On the Tuesday night of AU, we hopped out to the city limits to a small rehearsal space to crash out some tunage. We had the remarkable talents of Teresa, Casey, Anthony, Brian, Robert, Steve and Guillermo, plus myself, and we had a blast kicking out some classic rock tunes. My highlight of the night was performing lead vocal to ZZ Top’s Sharp Dressed Man…..

So, now back in the cold, grey UK, I do miss the bright lights of Vegas, but not for the same reasons some people do. I miss the Autodesk camaraderie, the nerd humour and the buzz of being in a place where approximately 10,000 other Autodesk nerds get together to learn, network and share (and maybe, just maybe, grab a beer or two!).

I have set up a Flickr account to upload all of my photos from AU, so check them out here.

Autodesk University Las Vegas 2016 will be held at The Venetian Hotel and Casino between November 15 – 17, 2016. So save the dates in your diaries!

Happy CADD’ing!

SCB

 

To Arial or not to Arial…..that is the question….

(or how to choose a good font for CAD & BIM)

So, the new role at Farrells is ticking away and, I have to say, I am enjoying the challenge.

One of the discussion points in the project team I am in is what font to use. And, more importantly, should it be company-specific, or project-specific, or something else or something else, and so on, ad nauseum.

So I took it upon myself to search Google with the search criteria, “Best fonts for use in Revit” and I was blown away by the amount of discussion that goes on about this, and how much of a bone of contention fonts in CAD and BIM actually are.

We have the old school aficionados who still love the architectural style fonts. We have the young turks who want to utilise the up-to-date TrueType fonts and we have the “if it works, don’t fix it” crew who think that RomanS (an old AutoCAD SHX shape code font) is the way to go.

So, what EXACTLY is the best way to go with fonts? Which one do you use? Which one do you standardise on? Well, the answer is this. YOU decide. You decide on which one you want. You then have to implement it in to your CAD and BIM installed software. Now, Revit ships with Arial as the default font, and I have to say that, I find Arial perfectly adequate for my needs. The problem with Revit, is that if you do want to change the font, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, has to be updated. Your families, hosted families, component families and system families need to be updated.

Then, there is the decision on what TYPE of font to use. Typically, you SHOULD use a TrueType (TT) font. These are the fonts that tend to be in your Windows installation, unless any bespoke TrueType fonts have been created and this is probably the most important decision as Revit supports ANSI (the American National Standards Institute) and most TrueType fonts are ANSI fonts.

So why should you use a TrueType font that is ANSI supported? Easy. All ANSI fonts have a specific Character Map that allows for the use of symbols. How many of you need a copyright symbol on your designs? Did you know that if you hold down Alt+0169, you automatically get the copyright symbol in your current TrueType (ANSI) font? Older style fonts such as RomanS (the old SHX shape code font in AutoCAD) do not support these ANSI symbols, so to get a copyright symbol for RomanS, the quick fix is to draw a circle around a capital C. Crazy, huh? Especially when you can use a TrueType font and have the copyright symbol as part of the Character Map.

So, in conclusion, font choice is in the eye of the beholder, but you MUST make your font decision wisely. Personally, I would always look forward and try to future-proof any of my standard CAD and BIM templates by sticking with regular, well-known, TrueType (ANSI) fonts such as Arial, Calibri and perhaps Verdana. These fonts are well-known but, more importantly, are found just about everywhere on computers, so you will never have a missing bespoke font issue. We all know that AutoCAD substitutes the SIMPLEX.SHX font if it cannot find the font used on a drawing, which can really make a drawing look unattractive, AND, unprofessional.

Stick with well-known TrueType (ANSI) fonts and you won’t go far wrong…..so I WOULD Arial rather than not Arial, as the title suggests….

Steve Stafford’s blog about this is also quite informative, so maybe check it out here: –

http://revitoped.blogspot.co.uk/2005/09/are-you-special-character.html

Happy CADD’ing and BIM’ing!

SCB

AutoCAD 2015 – A Move to the Dark Side?

I love getting my Star Wars quotes in to my articles and blogs, so when I saw the new AutoCAD 2015 interface, I just had to smile. The Dark Side, right? OK, so, you might be thinking Darth and his cosy little relationship with the Emperor, and those aren’t the droids you’re looking for. However, the new DARKER AutoCAD 2015 interface is, as John Evans (a fellow blogger), put it….sexy! And I have to admit I agree with him.

AutoCAD 2015-Darker Interface

Fig.1 – AutoCAD 2015’s darker (sexier?) interface.

Now, while my beloved AutoCAD Blogger friends were being wined and dined by Autodesk in the lovely San Francisco (missed you guys!), I was teaching an AutoCAD Electrical 2014 course in the wilds of Yorkshire in the UK. Having just got home, and opened up AutoCAD 2015 at 11pm on a Thursday night, the darker interface (John Evans, take note) is STILL sexy!
I thought I had better get a blog in quickly as the 2015 blogs are coming think and fast and I see this AutoCAD Blogger gig as a team effort. We get the story out there for Autodesk as they work very hard to make the product better for us.

So WHAT exactly is new?

Fig.1 – AutoCAD 2015 Splash Screen

After tinkering with AutoCAD 2015 and reading my esteemed AutoCAD Blogger Council colleague’s blogs, I will try to give you an overall heads-up and my apologies for any similarities to any other AutoCAD 2015 blogs out there. Just wish I had been there to get the editorial first hand!

1. DOCUMENTING DESIGNS

After many faithful years of service, the AutoCAD MTEXT Editor has finally had a facelift. When using hardware acceleration, you now get complete transparency of the text editing window and some MS Word-like enhancements such as displaying a bullet and numbering menu next to your MTEXT as soon as you add a bullet or start a numbered list. Other MTEXT enhancements include better Caps Lock handling and column improvements. Also like MS Word, you can now Match Properties within MTEXT and the new TEXTALIGN allows for text alignment of both single-line and multi-line text to other text objects and user-defined points.

Fig.2 – AutoCAD 2015 has an enhanced MTEXT Editor.

The Geographic Location tools in AutoCAD 2015 are much slicker, being wizard-driven and are much improved from AutoCAD 2014. Map data can be captured and plotted, with a map area being embedded in to the drawing with no requirement for internet access. You can also dynamically increase map resolution.

2. CONNECTIVITY

For those of you who attended my Autodesk 360/AutoCAD 360 class at Autodesk University 2013 last December, you will already know how much I LOVE the Design Feed available in both Autodesk 360 and AutoCAD 360. It is now available in AutoCAD 2015 and acts as a messaging gateway to Autodesk 360, allowing you to post messages and images to your team via Autodesk 360. Associating your Design Feed message with an area on a drawing will display a small bubble which when clicked on, will take you to the relevant Design Feed message. Design Feed takes on a display similar to the old MSN Messenger. Internet messaging (IM) with a CAD twist!

Model data is imported using the new Autodesk Translation Framework (ATF), supporting meshes and curves, as well as colours and layers.

3. USER INTERFACE (UI)

The new darker interface with more refined icons (reminiscent of AutoCAD for Mac with the Retina display) makes AutoCAD look current. Plus, being somewhat myopic with my Jasper Conran specs, it reduces eye strain. Much nicer and more comfortable to look at and makes AutoCAD look cool (not that it wasn’t cool anyway, right?).

Other UI enhancements include: –

  • New Create Page for the creation of new drawings and to open existing AutoCAD DWG’s.
  • New ribbon galleries provide preview content from within the ribbon. So if you have inserted a block using Insert Block, you now get a preview of the blocks already inserted via a pop-out preview pane on the ribbon.
  • Enhanced visual feedback when using commands such as TRIM, EXTEND, and MATCH PROPERTIES allowing for previews of the changes to be made, giving the user an opportunity to preview any changes before committing to the drafting changes.
  • AutoCAD Help now provides an animated arrow tool in the UI, displaying the EXACT location of the tool looked up in the Help screen.
  • LINESMOOTHING (a new AutoCAD variable) turns on anti-aliasing of 2D drawings (wireframe) to make 2D objects look smoother. A nice touch, again making the UI look current and cleaner.
  • A new “lasso” selection tool that TOTALLY threw me when trying to perform a regular selection window! It allows you to drag a freehand selection boundary around any shape in a drawing. Neat.
  • Cursor display badges showing the state of the current AutoCAD operation. So, when performing a ROTATE, a rotation badge is displayed in the direction of the rotation. This is set in the Drawing Units.
  • FINALLY! Layers are sorted in their natural order, allowing layers numbered 1 to 11 to be displayed in that order, instead of the 1, 11, 2, 3 order……

4. DESIGN & POINT CLOUDS

You may have noticed a silent install of Autodesk ReCap with AutoCAD 2014. In AutoCAD 2015, ReCap has taken over the point cloud role with much needed performance enhancements, along with point size and density controls all in the one slider, thus making the insertion of point clouds much, much easier. New object snap options and colorization tools make the manipulation and visualisation of the point cloud much easier too.

Fig.3 – The NEW Autodesk ReCap installs with the AutoCAD 2015 install.

Enhanced colour and lighting control are provided, along with improved cropping tools for the point cloud. There is also a Point Cloud Manager (similar to the XREF Manager) that makes for much easier point cloud management.

5. CHOICES, CHOICES…..

So now you can rent or pay-as-you-go with AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT, as well as make an outright purchase. This is great and gives small and medium enterprise businesses the ability to manage their finances more effectively. They can now use a number of AutoCAD licences for the duration of a project and class it as an operating expense against the project, instead of making a large capital expenditure. This also works well with tax concerns as well. A very shrewd move by Autodesk, and a good one, in my opinion.

6. CAD MANAGEMENT & INSTALLATION

We now have a new Application Manager. Now a standalone application, it allows you to decide when to update your AutoCAD, which in turn downloads and installs the updates seamlessly. It also provides a full update and information service, allowing for easy management of service packs and hot fixes.

Fig.4 – The NEW Autodesk Application Manager

7. RELEASE?

So when do we get our hands on the official release of AutoCAD 2015 and other associated 2015 products? March 28th is the official release so only a day to go!

I think Autodesk have done a great job with AutoCAD 2015. There are some great user enhancements in there and a shift towards usability rather than pushing the cloud. They have listened to the user base and brought in some great new features and commands. Nice work, Autodesk.

Also, a big thanks to Shaan Hurley (Between The Lines) for posting our AutoCAD 2015 blog links!

So, enjoy your AutoCAD 2015 releases and happy CADD’ing!

SB