AEC Tech News (#279)

21 Oct, 2010 By: Cadalyst Staff

First Look Review:
Autodesk Inventor 2011

AEC users benefit from cross-platform collaboration between the software that designs the equipment and systems within buildings and the buildings themselves.

By Robert Green

I know you're already asking, "Why would a CAD user in the AEC field care about a mechanical modeling tool such as Autodesk Inventor?" The answer may or may not surprise you: Increasingly, people who design containment buildings, factories, and research labs must plan those buildings around industrial equipment that is modeled using Autodesk Inventor. And more and more often — particularly as part of the IPD (integrated project delivery) workflow — building designers are using 3D mechanical CAD solutions to design custom building components for manufacture. All told, I've encountered a growing number of AEC projects in the past few years that involve a surprising amount of Autodesk Inventor geometry.

Highly Recommended

In today's world, a mechanical modeler is one more tool that might help you get your job done in the best way possible. In this First Look, I'll give you an overview of Autodesk Inventor 2011's new capabilities and highlight some of its more AEC-friendly features. Let's dive in.

User Interface

The user interface for Inventor 2011 still features an assembly browser along the left-hand side, the view cube and view control tools along the right-hand side, and the quick-access toolbar and ribbon controls along the top. A significant upgrade is that models now display as rendered design previews that update in real time. New users may take this graphically rich environment for granted, but veterans who always had to click back and forth between wireframe and rendered levels of graphics will appreciate the better visualization immediately.

Another, more subtle user interface upgrade is the ability to see the feature type when you select a feature of the assembly, along with a Help display that gives contextual information about commands relative to that feature. These features significantly improve the learning curve for new users. Like many BIM (building information modeling) tools, Inventor 2011 offers more and more context-sensitive guidance via right-clicking. The new heads-up display (HUD) puts editable parameters on the screen, right where the mouse can make input a nearly click-free procedure. Read more »

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Cadalyst contributing editor Robert Green performs CAD programming and consulting throughout the United States and Canada.

Bentley Releases Inaugural Bentley Infrastructure 500 Top Owners Ranking

First-of-its-kind global ranking of public- and private-sector owners represents more than $13 trillion in infrastructure investments in 46 countries.

By Nancy Spurling Johnson

At its Be Inspired event in Amsterdam on Tuesday, software developer Bentley Systems announced the release of its inaugural Bentley Infrastructure 500 ranking of the top infrastructure owners worldwide. The global compendium lists the top public- and private-sector owners of infrastructure based on the value of their cumulative infrastructure investments (measured by reported net tangible fixed assets).

Bentley develops a comprehensive line of software that supports infrastructure development. The company reports that the company compiled Bentley Infrastructure 500 to help global constituents appreciate and explore the magnitude of investment in infrastructure and the potential to continually increase the return on that investment. The infrastructure value represented is more than US$ $13 trillion, which, to provide perspective, is close to the U.S. annual gross domestic product (GDP) and equal to the combined annual GDPs of China, Japan, and Germany. Read more »

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Nancy Spurling Johnson is Cadalyst's editor in chief.

Mark Your Calendar: AEC Events


Webinar: Construction Automation — Laser Scanning, BIM, and Machine Control at Turner Construction
November 3, 2010
1 p.m. ET
In this webcast, Autodesk and Turner Construction will present technologies and processes that can enable more efficient ways of completing heavy highway and land development construction projects. Topics will include using laser scanning and machine control in BIM (building information modeling) workflows. Read more »

Greenbuild 2010
November 17–19, 2010
Chicago, Illinois
Organized by the U.S. Green Building Council, this international conference and exposition presents sustainable building design practices and products, including more than 100 educational sessions, LEED workshops, and tours of local sites. Read more »

Revit Technology Conference (RTC) 2011, North America
June 23–25, 2011
Huntington Beach, California
Having run in Australia for the past 6 years, the Revit Technology Conference (RTC) will hold its inaugural event in North America in 2011. RTC is an independent conference covering all things Revit: building information modeling and the whole ecosystem that supports it. Read more »

For a complete list of CAD meetings, conferences, training sessions, and more, check out our calendar of events on Are you hosting an event that you would like to include in our calendar? Submit details at least two weeks in advance to


What’s New at


See Your Work on the Cover of Cadalyst Magazine!
Cadalyst editors invite designers and rendering artists to share your best rendering work, demonstrating the effective use of visualization techniques and technologies for communicating the intent of building, infrastructure, mechanical, product, or other CAD-based design. Our favorite entry will appear on the cover of Cadalyst magazine, fall 2010 edition. Sponsored by BOXX Technologies. Read more »

AutoCAD for Mac: It's Finally Here (Again)
A brand new, native version of AutoCAD arrives for the OS X platform, sporting an intuitive interface but lacking a number of key features. Read more »

Siemens PLM Software Announces Solid Edge ST3
The latest version upgrades synchronous technology to further improve design, validation, and collaboration. Read more »

CAD Manager's Toolbox: Enhancing Your CAD Management Career
Everyone wants to be happier and make more money. Fortunately, there are some simple ways you can improve your career outlook. Read more »

CAD Manager's Survey 2010
How much money do CAD managers make? How old are they? Do they work part-time or full-time? How has the economic roller coaster affected their jobs? These questions and more are answered with the help of your fellow CAD managers! Read more »

About the Author: Cadalyst Staff

Cadalyst Staff

Add comment

Note: Comments are moderated and will appear live after approval by the site moderator.

AutoCAD Tips!

Lynn Allen

In her easy-to-follow, friendly style, long-time Cadalyst contributing editor Lynn Allen guides you through a new feature or time-saving trick in every episode of her popular AutoCAD Video Tips. Subscribe to the free Cadalyst Video Picks newsletter, and we'll notify you every time a new video tip is published. All exclusively from Cadalyst!

Follow Lynn on TwitterFollow Lynn on Twitter

Do you use any augmented or virtual reality (AR or VR) technologies in your workflow?
Not yet, but we are planning to implement it.
No, but we think these technologies could hold value for us.
No; these technologies do not hold value for us.
Submit Vote

Download Cadalyst Magazine Special Edition