Autodesk Unveils 2012 Product Line

21 Mar, 2011 By: Nancy Spurling Johnson

New product suites will support specific design workflows, and Inventor Fusion goes mainstream.

In a live web presentation this afternoon, Autodesk gave the media a really-big-picture overview of its 2012 product line, which the company will introduce officially on Tuesday and begin shipping in early April. Details are coming Tuesday to the Autodesk web site, the company reports, and Twitter users can follow @Autodesk and search #ADSK2012 for further updates. The archived version of today's web presentation is already available; the amazing two-minute introduction alone is worth a look.

The main news from all Autodesk divisions was around new product suites, which are bundles of products aimed to support specific design workflows. Pricing was not announced, but suites offered preivously by Autodesk have been significantly discounted compared with purchasing the bundled products separately. The suites, available for infrastructure, building, factory, and product design as well as for general AutoCAD-based design and entertainment workflows. Each comes in standard, premium, and ultimate editions and includes various products for modeling, visualization, simulation, analysis, data management, and others, depending on the needs of the design workflow.

The Autodesk Infrastructure Design Suite for 2012 will include AutoCAD Map 3D, AutoCAD Civil 3D, 3ds Max, and Navisworks. The Building Design Suite for 2012 will include AutoCAD, Revit, Navisworks, and other products depending on the suite edition purchased. It has been optimized for construction companies, which are rapidly moving to building information modeling (BIM) because of the benefits it offers for time and cost savings, said Armundo Darling, marketing manager, MEP Engineering. Builders can use the Autodesk products to carry out 4D sequencing, scheduling, documention, coordination, and more.

Details for other new product suites were released early on some web sites:

Check the Autodesk Design Suites page for links to updated information as it becomes available.

Each product suite for 2012 will be shipped on a single USB thumb drive, and each suite can be installed in its entirety with a single click "designed for customer convenience," Autodesk reported.

The company announced that Inventor Fusion, a direct-modeling tool, has graduated from the Autodesk Labs technology preview site to become a commercially available technology in the 2012 line. Rob Cohee, technical evangelist for Autodesk's Manufacturing Division, said Inventor Fusion will be available at no cost with AutoCAD 2012, explaining that AutoCAD as well as Autodesk Inventor users now can bring models into Inventor Fusion for direct push-pull editing, then round-trip the models back to their source program for further detailing and dimensioning. "Inventor Fusion may turn out to be the introduction to 3D design for many users," Cohee said, and is a great for editing models as well as other uses alone or in conjuction with parametric modeling.

Conceptual design and visualization products are front-and-center in every new product suite as design visualization becomes increasingly prevalent in all stages of the design process and gives companies a competitive marketing edge, Autodesk reported. (See Cadalyst's recent "Seeing in Believing" report.) Darling explained that users today can visualize designs much earlier in the design process and can share ideas and obtain customer feedback at every stage.

On the mobile front, all AutoCAD-based products in the 2012 line will include direct connectivity to AutoCAD WS, the tool that allows users to view, edit, and share AutoCAD and Inventor DWG files to a web browser, iPhone, or iPad — and a few clues were dropped to imply that integration is on the way for other mobile platforms.

AutoCAD for Mac, introduced only last fall, won't be part of this initial product line upgrade, reported Amar Hanspal, senior vice-president, Platform Solutions and Emerging Business. Hanspal wouldn't divulge whether the company is working on Mac versions of Revit or 3ds Max Design. "Let me just say we were very pleased with the response to AutoCAD for Mac," he said suggestively, adding that the company's efforts in the Mac arena are being guided by customer requests. He added that Autodesk is hard at work on the 2012 version of AutoCAD for Mac for release later this year.

English versions of the product suites will begin shipping in the United States in early April, followed later in the month by releases in other languages and in other countries. Suites will be available with or without subscription, as will all new standalone products.

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