Autodesk has been on an acquisition rampage this year, and most of us assumed that products like T-Splines and HSMWorks would cease to exist as we know them. Well folks, we just got off the phone with Autodesk HQ, and were we told in no uncertain terms that T-Splines for Rhino and SolidWorks are here to stay–even for future versions of the platforms–but that Autodesk plans to continue to develop the product for both in parallel with their own products (e.g. Fusion 360). The same is true for HSMWorks: the SolidWorks product will not only be offered for current versions of SolidWorks, but will continue to grow and develop on the platform indefinitely. It’s a part of a broader strategy within AD to promote a more ‘open’ CAD market, and we must admit… SolidSmack likey.

“Wait… are you trying to tell us that Autodesk has decided to… play NICE??” Not really. It’s not about being “nice” or “fair” or any of that warm fuzzy nonsense; Autodesk wants to grow its customer base, and they’re hoping that T-Splines or HSMWorks users from the SolidWorks world will dip their toes in the Autodesk pool, see that the water is fine, and wade in to the broader AD product offering at their own pace.

To us this sounds suspiciously similar to the first half of Miracle on 34th St. where Kris Kringle starts sending frustrated shoppers from Macey’s to other stores. In a half-hour chat, we were told that AD ‘understands’ that users ‘use their existing tools for a reason’, and that AD would rather have users of competitive products as customers, even if it means developing software for competitive CAD platforms.

Our disbelief was palpable, and we were assured that our reaction was fully anticipated by the Autodesk team, which is why they didn’t make this announcement immediately following the T-Splines acquisition. They are aware that people are skeptical, but look forward to proving their sincerity over time.

This is pretty exciting stuff in an industry where being “open” traditionally means the ability to read and write STEP files. We hope this trend catches on.


Adam O'Hern is an industrial designer, designing products ranging from laptops to power tools, classroom toys to bathroom fixtures, and pro audio gear to guitar tuners. In 2008 he founded, and in 2010 co-founded EvD Media with Josh Mings of, and the two collaborate on the podcast.