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Realizing Your Ideas at Autodesk University 2005 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Glenn Letham (GISuser editor)   
26 November 2005
This year Autodesk U made a move from the familiar setting of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas to sunny Orlando, Florida. Some 5,000+ power-CAD users took in 4 days of sessions and training in order to become more familiar with the 2006 family of solutions offered up by Autodesk. Read on for more about AU, a look at the AUGI top 10 wish list, and the 5 coolest features you'll find in AutoCAD 2006.

AU Getting More Popular

Times are changing slightly at Autodesk U. Most noteworthy is the swelling number of attendees. I can recall AU’s in the recent past where attendance was likely around the 3,000 mark. This year more than 5,000 were in attendees. From the perspective of the press, the event has changed signifigantly in that “press invite only” product roadmap sessions are no longer available. Too bad really as I have always found the look into the future to be quite interesting and very useful in preparing material to conincide with product launches – these typically occur each year in the Spring. Unfortunately some members of the press objected to signing NDAs and just last year some leaked material put the “kaibosh” on the special look into the crystal ball sessions… bummer! One online GIS publication and supporting weblog seems to have really focused on AU as being a big “sales pitch” to attendees. Sorry but I don’t see it.

bradshawWe were, however, provided with some information as to what Autodesk solution users can expect in the near future. Most significant, the support for 64 bit architecture is coming and we’ve been assured that much attention in the product development is focused on this. Mapguide has been entirely rewritten and made available as Open Source… enter MapEnterprise Server. Look for commercial support that will enable access to Oracle DB and SQL Server as well as a very slick application development studio. Early to mid 2006 is the expected timely for these products to be made available. The migration of Mapguide to the world of Open Source is no doubt the biggest news out of AU this year and is likely one of the biggest news announcements affecting geospatial technologies this year. Look for Mapserver Enterprise to be housed at the newly created http://www.mapserverfoundation.org - the offical body that will govern and house the development of the project. Created by members from Autodesk, DM Solutions Group, and the University of Minnesota Mapserver development team, the foundation will support the evolution of MapServer Enterprise in the Open Source... more to come on this shortly.

Finally, the continued emphasis and support for DWF as a standard format supported and integrated into all of the company’s applications – DWF makes possible the “sharing” in the company’s commitment to helping customers create, manage, and share. When you consider that more than 9 million downloads of the free DWF viewer have been recorded to date and the support for DWF that will come with Mapserver Enterprise, you can see that users are indeed embracing DWF as the preferred format for their digital design data. Customers are using DWF and keeping their data digital.

Carol Bartz Takes Center Stage & Welcomes Attendees

bartzKicking off the 13th annual Autodesk University after a day of training sessions, key Autodesk executives took center stage on Tueday at the conference keynote session. Introduced by popular Autodesk evangelist, Lynn Allen, company CEO, Carol Bartz officially welcomed the record-breaking crowd of 5000+ end users, business partners, and customers. Bartz set the tone for AU by reiterating the company is committed to helping users realize their ideas. A large focus of AU is on 3D and we were informed that many of the sessions and presentations would be touching on 3D, reinforcing the company’s commitment to encouraging users to go 3D… “as 3D becomes standard, we don’t want customers to get left behind” noted Bartz. The second focus of the conference is obviously on networking and this year attendees and colleagues back home minding the shop are encouraged to use the online AU Connect – a reminder to readers, many of the 400+ AU courses will be made available online as webcasts and course handouts of other related material will be available for viewing and download from the Autodesk website.

Some key points from Bartz’ presentation:
- The feisty CEO is into her 14th year with ADSK
- Recall if god didn’t make it then one of our users did!
- Given that AU was taking place in Orlando, we were reminded that Walt Disney Corp. uses ADSK solutions for pretty much all aspects of their design work.
- We are in a period of change, must like the switch from drawing to drafting, but the benefits will be much greater. We want to make sure design data remains digital.
- The company’s solutions enable the creation of rich, 3d information that can be easily shared – enter smart design information on the network.
- Don’t freak out though, there is a 2D future with Autocad
- The sales pitch… Moving to 2006 will increase your productivity.
- Autodesk’s goal…  to help you fully realize your ideas
- Change can be unsettling... we realize this.

Create, manage, and share... Bartz emphasized the company's mantra and in doing so made a point of dicussing Buzzsaw, the company's product collaboration solution. It is a "cool" solution, albeit likely most useful for large enterprise customers and those with a need to share and exchange loads of data, information, and ideas. Buzzsaw for online sharing:
- 125,000 professionals using buzzsaw. Avg ROI is 370%
- Time to get up and running with Buzzsaw is generally 1 day
This is a no brainer… “duh”!

Most clients make use of Buzzsaw for collaboration, but there's also a huge draw for project management, tracking bids, record and archival of responses. It's not just for holding drawings.

AUGI Beer Bash and Presentation of the Wish List
 
AUGI DawgAUGI & The Top 10 Wish List - As usual, AUGI plays a big role at Autodesk U. Representing Autodesk product users from around the Globe, this dedicated group of volunteers communicates the wishes and requests of the user-base at-large to the company. In familiar fashion Autodesk product developers were presented with the AUGI Top Ten Wish List. This list of user-submitted requests helps drive the direction of the products and every year, Autodesk takes the requests very seriously and strives to incorporate the wishes into a future release. This year’s top 10 list follows:
 
1. multiple leaders
2. translucent / transparent layers
3. spellcheck improvements
4. 3D dynamic blocks
5. dynamic linetypes
6. greater control within tables
7. improved tools for manipulating layouts
8. paragraph spacing inn MTEXT
9. easier ways to add sheets to a sheetset
10. improved support for dual monitors.
 
Autodesk is committed to making these wishes come true and ensures that efforts will be made to deliver the requested functionality in a coming release.
 
Another list... 10 Cool Things About Map 3D
 
Attending an educational session provided me with another Top 10 list of interest – Ten Cool things in Autodesk Map 3D. Presenter Gary Rosen, president of Electric Pelican Ink CADD Consulting Services shared his top 10 list in his session. According to Gary the list is as follows:
1. Importing SHP files with data
2. attaching and querying source drawings
3. performing drawing cleanup
4. creating and attaching object data
5. using feature classification
6. using display manager
7. creating topoplogy and performing overlay analysis
8. using map books
9. using civil objects
10. using annotation
 
The 5 coolest features of Autocad 2006
 
While we're on the topic of "top" features, here's a brief run-down of just some of the coolest features that users will now find in AutoCAD at 2006 - a reminder, AutoCAD 2006 is designed to run side by side with AutoCAD 2000i/2002/2004/2005 software.  Autodesk products are interoperable with AutoCAD 2006.
 
Dynamic Blocks
Dynamic blocks enable you to reduce the size of your block libraries while giving you more block options that are easier to access, manipulate, and place. In AutoCAD® 2006 multiple variations of similar blocks can be contained in a single block, so you can select the proper version on the fly as you see the block displayed in the drawing. With dynamic blocks, you can easily cycle through multiple variations on a single block.
Improved Annotation
Mtext command in AutoCAD® 2006 software gives the text you create the exact appearance in the editor as when placed in the drawing. Table capabilities include sums, averages, and counts across rows and columns, and standard arithmetic expressions based on cell values. Table calculations are automatically updated as your designs and documentation progress. The improved hatch feature in AutoCAD 2006 allows easy hatching of multiple areas with a single hatch command. these are but some of the enhancements to annotation which is a time consuming and error-prone part of many digital design drawing projects.
UI
Heads up design means no constant staring at the command line. For example, dimensions are dynamically displayed on geometry as you create or edit it. You no longer need to shift your focus back and forth between the command line and the graphics cursor. The new graphical user interface in AutoCAD 2006 allows access to a powerful in-product calculator.
Graphic Calculator
AutoCAD 2006 provides a new GUI for the existing CAL command, and allows access to a powerful in-product calculator through both menu and toolbar selection. The calculator is available within individual commands and within other areas of the product. It provides standard mathematical expressions, units’ conversion, shortcut functions and acquisition of points and intersections. It saves and restores constants for future calculations and has a memory function.

The new graphic calculator

Migration
A new, automated method of reading in existing customized menus and toolbars ensures their transfer into AutoCAD 2006. moving to future releases of AutoCAD will be entirely automated, minimizing the need to “hand edit” files. AutoCAD 2006 maintains the same DWG file format as AutoCAD® 2005 and AutoCAD® 2004. Custom and third-party applications that run on top of AutoCAD 2004 or 2005 work just fine with AutoCAD 2006.
 
Monday Nov 28
 
On the floor at Autodesk University -- On opening night at Autodesk University the exhibition hall was buzzing, courtesy of the AUGI beer bash! A couple of thousand CAD users “had a couple” and schmoozed with fellow attendees and the exhibitors. A few cool things were on display on the exhibition floor:
 
Cadzation was there touting their AcroPlot software – a solution for PDF and DWF conversion. The solution can convert from within AutoCAD, as a separate Windows app.,  or it can act as a printer driver. Recently updated, the solution now boasts some new functionality including the ability to batch convert DWG files to PDF or DWF while also preserving layer information. Text features are now searchable and PDFs can now be reprocessed to enable markup and commenting in the free Acrobat Reader (7.0). The company has also announced a partnership with Autodesk via the DWF Partner Program.
 
Also present was my old friend Eric Waldman and the crew from GlobeXplorer. The company was on the floor explaining to a large influx of people that the ImageConnect Plug-in for to grab the plug-in!
 
A new company on the floor from the non-traditional Cad/GIS arena  was LinkTek. The company was demonstrating their LinkFixerPlus Gold application. Simply put, this solution enables users to easily move or rename many types of files in batch mode. The solution works with all common office application files as well as CAD and PDF files. See www.linkfixerplus.com
 
Falling under the “WOW” category is the new HP Designjet 4500 printer (officially announced at the show) see the press announcement in our PR section. The unit supports 2 rolls (load paper and mylar at once), prints images at a resolution up to 2400x1200 dpi, supports large rolls up to 500 ft or 175m, stacks and flattens up to 200 plots, and boasts less frequent ink replacement. No more babysitting the plotter!! See www.hp.com for more specs.
 
There was loads more on the floor but I simply don’t have time to cover off the other 96 booth exhibitors!
 
More info and news from AU in Orlando can be found at GISuser.com and be sure to check out my images from AU at http://www.flickr.com/photos/gisuser/

Monday Nov 28 - Likely the biggest news to come out of Autodesk U this year concerns Autodesk's involment with Mapserver. Just today an open letter was issued to the mapping community.. key points addressed the following... "To this end, we take this opportunity to share two bits of news: the creation of the MapServer Foundation and welcoming the addition of Autodesk's next-generation web mapping platform (previously known as Tux) as open source into the foundation. MapServer Foundation" See more at http://www.gisuser.com/content/view/7514/. And from Autodesk, the official announcement "Autodesk Contributes Web Mapping Software to Open Source" - the company is releasing the code for MapServer Enterprise, the company's new web mapping platform, as open source. See http://www.gisuser.com/content/view/7509/ The new "home" for the development of this Open Source initiative will be at mapserverfoundation.org - Re-written essentially from scratch, Autodesk's webmappinng solution's migration to open source has been driven in a big part by the crew fromm DM Solutions Group in Ottawa, Ont.  From the company's announcement made today ... "DM Solutions Group will continue to be a leader in the development of both technologies and will deliver custom online mapping solutions and professional services for these technologies to the company's world-wide customers and partners."

See http://www.mapserverfoundation.org/

Monday Nov 28 Cool things in AutoCAD 2006 - one of my favorite things to do while attending any Autodesk-hosted event is to sit in on a Lynn Allen presentation and today i did just that. Lynn is always energetic, entertaining, motivating, and informative. The following are a few of the cool features in AutoCAD 2006 that the typical user and would-be user should be aware of (courtesy of Lynn):

Dynamic Input – Simply put, this entails having the command line conveniently follow your cursor. This is HUGE! Now, don’t freak out… your command line isn’t gone… even better, you can now move it to pretty much any place on the screen that you like or, it can float and appear where your cursor happens to be positioned. You old-timers will no doubt want to keep your command line in the lower-left position “where it belongs” and your in good company as this is where Lynn likes it as well! In addition to the floating dynamic input, additional command options are available via a handy dialog pull down. Hint – to turn on Dynamic Input simply hit the F12 key (a tip: set “show command prompting” & “enable pointer input” – ON). Also, is your command line gone... don’t worry, simply key in Ctrl+Q.

Sheet Sets – A big surprise at the session was that hardly anyone in attendance would admit to using Sheet Sets… hard to believe and Lynn was visibly shaken (well, not quite) by this! Powered by a handy sheet set wizard, users can optionally elect to use an existing set or define their own. Multiple users can access and edit sheet sets at the same time, however, keep in mind each drawing can belong to only one sheet set. A sheet set index can be automatically generated (available to users of 2005 & 2006) enabling users to easily navigate in/out of sheets. This functionality is highly under-used… I can’t help but imaging how much easier my job would have been a number of years ago when I was creating gas pipeline alignment sheets here in British Columbia if I would have had this tool at my disposal (I was using AutoCAD 13 at the time). Hint: to access the Sheet Set Manager use the SSM command or hit Ctrl+4.

Intelligent Table Objects – Lynn didn’t jump into this topic but it is in the tip book. On a side note, be advised, if you’re currently not using intelligent tables and are still drawing tabular grids by hand then you need a SLAP! Driven by a Table Style Dialog, table definition and property assignment is now a breeze. Text is editable using the MTEXT command and mathematical formulas are supported. Even cooler, Excel tables are easily copied into a table and the TABLEEXPORT command enables output via TXT format for subsequent use in Excel or Access. Hint: select the Table Style option from the Format Menu.

Other cool stuff!

XREF Notification – Notification bubbles now pop-up when an externally referenced (XREF) file is changed or updated… handy!

Zoom – Smooth zoom transition makes for fast, simple, and pretty eye catching navigation around your digital design data. This won’t save you much time but it looks pretty slick!

Dynamic Blocks – Powerful, flexible, intelligent blocks enable the user to reduce the number of blocks to manage and maintain. One block can now have multiple definitions – For example, instead of maintaining twin, double, queen, and king size block definitions simply create a block called “Bed” that has options for various sizes which are pre-defined. Blocks now support multiple insertion points and a slick, simple-to-use Block Definition Editor (BEDIT) provides an environment to create and manage your block definitions.



Saturday Nov 26 - So what's on my agenda for the week at AU? After getting into Orlando late Sunday night, I'll be spending Monday taking in sessions that are billed as part of the Autodesk Developer day. Monday evening means the AUGI beer bust along with the obligatory shmoozing and stroll around the exhibition hall. Tuesday will see interviews with key execs like Autodesk ISD's Chris Bradshaw followed up by industry welcome sessions and a detailed look at what's coming next in the product releases - obviously my attention will focus on the MApping & GIS solutions. Wednesday I'll be taking in a tour of the Jet Blue Campus to hear about how the airline uses Buzzsaw as part of their corporate IT plan. Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday will bring numerous industry sessions and introductions to products from key staff. Thursday morning I'll return with loads of notes, images, and editorial from the event. The 8 hours in the air should give me some time to crank out a few articles!

Some of the sessions I'm planning on attending include:

  • Designing a website to Autodesk content
  • Dynamic maps utilizing DWF
  • Getting the most out of AutoCAD 2006
  • Ten cool things about Autodesk Map 3D 2006
  • Feedback on DWF
  • Autodesk's new webmapping platform
  • Take Autodesk Map into the field

We'll be adding content and updates from Autodesk U on this page throughout the week so stay tuned!

For more information about Autodesk U check out the following:

 

Last Updated ( 17 November 2007 )
 
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