Autodesk Cloud Now Available! – (Exclusive)

Taking a page out of how Engadget would do it, I just entered into my web browser and bam! It works. Looks like this is what Autodesk is set to announce soon. I was surprised that it was such a plain address and already open to the public. Just sign on using your existing Autodesk username and you get 1GB of free storage. Enjoy!

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Autodesk Design Review for iOS – Now Available

Well Autodesk has finally done it and released ‘Design Review’ for iOS devices. I am also now certain that they are really up to something big with all of this. I have discussed this in several past blog posts and Autodesk has finally delivered:

What’s notable about the application is the Autodesk Cloud option. Opening this folder brings you to the standard Autodesk logon window. After I signed on, I almost was in disbelief that my FishFinder PDF appeared in the list of available documents. This was the document I uploaded using the Autodesk Labs Project Nitrous application as discussed in this blog post. Very cool, indeed. This is also starting to paint a grand picture for the November 29th Vault announcement at Autodesk University discussed in this blog post.

The Design Review application itself seemed to function well but  it looks like for now it is just a basic, bare bones application with 3D model and 2D drawing viewing capabilities. It also allows you to add basic text and callout redlines. No measurement tool is available but you can obtain property information on individual components that may contain the length. Measurement capability would certainly be a nice plus if Autodesk decides to add it in future updates.

Unfortunately, the app can not yet import DWF’s from email attachments on your iOS device yet. The Autodesk Labs Project Nitrous tool is the best interim method for importing files for use with the app until something more streamlined is provided. Update(1): Also, the Nitrous project seems to be disabled. Update(2): Project Nitrous is working again. The Design Review app has this in the help file: “Upload a document: If you have an Autodesk Cloud account, you can upload documents from your desktop or laptop”. Well, since I do not have an account, don’t know what it is and certain this is available in the future and not not… the iPhone Design Review app can only view the sample data on your phone and nothing more right now.

I’m really looking forward to using this app for some real world, in the field scenarios. Also looking forward to the final big picture tie in for all the puzzle pieces to fit together. I’m sure, we’re definitely in for some exciting, new applications to really start putting some meat and potatoes type backing to the whole Autodesk data management vision.

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Project Nitrous from Autodesk Labs

I found myself trying out Project Nitrous from Autodesk Labs this weekend. Nitrous seems to be some pretty sweet and clean code for sharing documents over the web. This could be the forerunner to what I discussed  in this post regarding Autodesk’s upcoming 11/29 announcement. If you note on the Nitrous page, it says the preview is available until Sept 27th. Maybe this is because it will be closed down for preparations for whatever is coming on 11/29? Makes sense to me. So hurry up and check it out for yourself before it closes down on the 27th.

Autodesk Project Nitrous is a cloud-based collaboration service for design files. Architects, Engineers, Design Professionals, and their clients can all use Project Nitrous to view, edit, and share their 2D and 3D design files. There is no need to own an Autodesk product or to download special software to use this service. Getting started is as simple as creating an account and uploading your first file. Project Nitrous provides every user with 1GB of free storage space and an unlimited amount of collaboration. The technology preview is available until September 27, 2011.

The interface is real crisp with minimal clutter. I love working with interfaces like this. As a test I uploaded a PDF document (NC fish species identification) just for fun. Nitrous allows you to upload the document as well as upload future new versions of the document. You also have the ability to create a full comment thread on the document and see the entire document activity history. Pretty slick stuff from Autodesk. I definitely can see this as the backbone powering some other future, more complex web based product.

Document Interface

The comment and activity thread for a selected document:

Comments and Activity

Project Nitrous from Autodesk:


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11.29.2011 – Vault Announcement

Autodesk is set to announce something big this year at Autodesk University on 11/29/2011 regarding it’s Vault product line and PLM strategy. Sounding like a headline ripped from Steve Jobs mouth, they have have tagged the announcement as an “Everything Changes” event.

From Products to Projects… from Bikes to Buildings… from PLM to BIM…
Autodesk will forever improve the way you manage your business processes and workflows when we unveil a modern, zero deployment solution that makes collaboration, data, and lifecycle management accessible to anyone, anytime, anywhere.

Watch the teaser video here.

Following up on the teaser announcement, Rob Cohee (@robcohee) Technical Evangelist for Autodesk has a new blog post titled “What’s business critical to you?“. In this blog post, Rob lays the ground work for a new PLM strategy for Autodesk without revealing too many of the details.

So what’s the big shift then? What’s the biggest difference that I’m seeing? Back to the looking at the design information through different lenses analogy… Access to even more of the information. That’s what I’m seeing as one of the biggest differences and one that is becoming more and more critical to our customers business. Our customers need the right level of access to the right piece of information

So what could all this mean? I predicted a cloud based Vault way back on March 31st.  This post was obviously taking advantage of April fools day, but not really. After working with Vault as far back as version 4 the obstacles for upgrading from one version to the next, keeping up with the required server hardware, maintaining SQL licenses, applying patches and maintaining backups has sometimes been daunting. If Autodesk reveals a cloud based solution to replace your existing Vault IT infrastructure, this could be a very good thing for many companies who find the current Vault application costly and burdensome on their IT departments. A cloud based Vault solution would allow Autodesk to maintain the servers, software, patches, upgrades and backups. Being a web based application would also allow for easier access for remote workers, 3rd party contractors and suppliers.

Of course, you are always going to have those companies that absolutely, positively have no desire to store their proprietary design data off site, out of their complete control. This is going to be hard sell to many companies who require this type of security.

This cloud based business model fits into the current trend of outsourcing your IT worries to the people that know it best. Look at what Microsoft is doing with Office 365(@office365). Allowing Microsoft to host your Exchange server email, Sharepoint data and other critical information takes the task of updates, patches and backups off the shoulders of your IT department and allows them to focus on your other non-commodity IT infrastructure and services.

So if it’s not a cloud based vault, what else could it be? It’s obvious from the posts that they want to extract more data from your designs to provide better business intelligence to your organization. I can see this as bringing Vaulted design data information in a form that would apply to who needs to see it and when. This could be a intranet web based application along the lines of Sharepoint. I’ve always thought a web based dashboard for getting a snaphot of where a project is at in the design cycle would be an awesome thing. Vault Professional brings some of this together but lacks the easy to follow interface that I think most organizations outside of engineering can relate to.

One thing for sure that I can agree with and hope Autodesk does too, as Scott Moyse (@ScottMoyse) pointed out in this tweet:

Hope this means Value goin 2 b added 2 our recent significant investment in #AutodeskVault Pro, instead o devaluing it

Whatever Autodesk announces, we want the feeling our Vault would be moving forward and not hitting the reset button. Managers hate reset buttons. Productivity hates reset buttons.

I’m really looking forward to the 11/29 news. Vault has been a back burner type product for Autodesk for some years now and I’m happy to see it getting some of the spotlight it deserves.

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