I’d like to say that what you’re about to read might be the most interesting things happening at AU2010, but I won’t… because they ARE the most interesting things happening at AU2010.

You may have seen some of the Autodesk projects and programs coming out. They’re exploring the options of product development software and giving us a glimpse at what Autodesk is poking their porous, multi-faceted nose of design into. What else are they talking about? Take a look.

Now, this is all a bit of a mash-up, with absolutely no focus in one direction or the other. If there is one thing you’re interested and want more details on, hit the comments. We’ll chase down the appropriate people and squeeze it out of them.

Infinite Computing

This is the Autodesk term for Cloud Computing – computing over the web. They’re bringing this to fruition via many of the Lab projects and other web-based apps (like Homestyler) that have grown out of that environment. It also refers to the infinite power you could have to run simulations, renderings, store and share data or even scale your program usage. ‘Infinite Computing’ is probably the best reference to the unmeasurable possibilities through the use offsite resources I’ve heard. Anything to get away from the ‘Cloud’ reference though.

Infinite computing and cost

Carl Bass (CEO) and Jeff Kowalski (CTO) were asked about this in a Q&A session. Carl’s response… “I don’t know.” There are a couple factors, he mentioned, which are driving this – Infinite Computing is shifting cost from users to Autodesk and software/hardware prices, in general, are dropping. There’s also the fact that the mobile device industry is putting pressure on the CAD market. Jeff reinforced cost of efficiency gains by the ability to utilize offsite computing power, telling how the spot price for 1 hour of computing is .03.

Their view is that there is no reason why someone couldn’t go and rent individual services. There are clever ways of providing different levels of service like instant usage or peek hour usage and models for people who would only need to use the software two hours a month. Their view is that there will be a tipping point for cloud computing where it will suddenly make sense to everyone. I’d agree.

Cloud Security

Autodesk recognizes companies have security concerns. Many of their large customers who are interested in having storage and more computing power want their own data center or virtual private clouds. I’d say this is bound to happen, but at the rate large business/governments are able to implement and adapt technology, there will be much more cost effective, highly secure resources available making it harder to substantiate the cost of a private data center.

Software Delivery

Autodesk also recognizes the obvious shift to software being delivered as a download instead of in a box. Carl Bass mentioned options of software being used or evaluated by streaming the program over the web or through other services delivered via the cloud. In my opinion, this couldn’t happen soon enough. The faster software companies ditch the postal delivery and provide software and updates via the web, the better.

Project Twitch

This project allows you to use AutoCAD, Inventor, Revit and Maya via the web without having to install the program on your computer. One aspect Autodesk is using this for is to get people comfortable and familiar with a new computing resource.

This is also a take on cross platform compatibility and program interoperability between the stand-alone 2011 version of their four key application. The Central Engine (C++ based) used for the Autodesk products was created to run on any platform. Referred to as AIRMax technology, the UI, data, commands and navigation are increasingly becoming more consistent across the product lines. Try Project Twitch


AutoCAD WS is Autodesk’s first venture into the mobile market with their CAD software. The new 1.1 version coming out soon allows you to view and edit .DWG files offline and work with .DWG files sent via email. Try AutoCAD WS for iPhone and iPad.

Open Source software

Autodesk MapGuide was an open source project that was a succcessful experiment, but there’s not much push in the other markets. Other pressures, like mobile and cloud computing moved in and overshadowed open-source software. Carl sees it as the end of an era and most of the Autodesk software would not fall into that category.

Inventor Fusion

Autodesk’s Inventor Fusion is a history-free modeling program which maintains feature integrity of models created with Inventor. It uses what they call the Change Manager to work with features between Inventor’s history-based features and Fusion’s history-free features. It’s currently at version TP4. Fusion will ship along with future releases of Inventor AutoCAD for free.

The focus for Autodesk with this product is the DIY market. It’s a good strategy. There’s SketchUp and Shape that are free tools, but nothing in the MCAD arena with that level of ease-of-use. Inventor Fusion would be the next step up. With that focus, it will most assuredly be a separate product. While it’s free to use now, there’s no comment on price. TP4 can be downloaded and installed without having Inventor installed, although you won’t get the Change Manager functionality. Try Inventor Fusion

Autodesk Growth and Revenue

Autodesk is foreseeing a business growth of 12-15% per year. Top 1% of their accounts equate for 30% of revenue. 500,000 have paid for Sketchbook mobile. For perspective, the total revenue for the $0.99 Sketchbook mobile app sales still wouldn’t be enough to pay for AU. It’s been good to create awareness, but at that price point, it’s not a way to make money.

Revit on the Mac?

No comment from Carl Bass. At end of day, it’s just a consumer decision about what people want to run their software on. That decision was made for AutoCAD after customer feedback and the largest beta testing group in Autodesk history.

Generative design and Direct Manipulation

DesignScript is a new scripting language within AutoCAD. It allows automatic generation of parametric, associative, or computational models for your designs. The scripting language is powerful, but goal is not to create a new scripting language that only a handful of people know. Want you to be able to go back and forth depending on what you need to use.

Clean Tech

Hopes there’s a day where is not something to talk about, because everyone is desigin from a sustainable perspective. People are continuing to ask for more tools to evaluate materials in the design process.


Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.