CAD Central

31 Dec, 2005 By: Sara Ferris

Analysis of industry news and trends: Autodesk University 2005 report and more

Autodesk plans 64-bit support, new illustration program

Autodesk University drew more than 5,200 customers, a new attendance record, to Orlando, FL, in early December. Autodesk took the opportunity to demonstrate some of the technology it's working on, with the disclaimer that it may or may not eventually appear in a future release of an Autodesk product.

 Autodesk University showcased work done by customers such as YORK International Corp.'s Refrigeration Systems Division of North America (<a, which uses Inventor for design of industrial refrigeration equipment (example shown above). York supplements Inventor with Vault, Productstream and AutoCAD Electrical."/>
Autodesk University showcased work done by customers such as YORK International Corp.'s Refrigeration Systems Division of North America (, which uses Inventor for design of industrial refrigeration equipment (example shown above). York supplements Inventor with Vault, Productstream and AutoCAD Electrical.

Coming sooner, or later. On the horizon for some future version of AutoCAD is mass modeling functionality for conceptual design. Users can draw simple 2D lines and extrude into 3D shapes, then add colors and apply styles such as overhanging lines. It will also be possible to perform sun and shadow studies. Also priorities for future releases are enhanced 2D documentation, better interoperability with competitors' formats such as DGN, and incorporation of Express Tools into the core product. Autodesk's new RealDWG program should ensure that updated third-party products are available at the same time as new versions of AutoCAD.

Autodesk was able to speak more freely about products that don't already exist. Vespa is the current name for a nonphotorealistic illustration tool that Autodesk plans to release in 2006. It will accept CAD files and retain the CAD data, so users will be able to replace certain blocks with trees, for example. Once in Vespa, a design can be embellished with line effects, fills and entourage. Users can create style maps that can be applied to other files. Vespa will export to DWF and various raster formats. There will also be an export to Photoshop option for images that require additional work.

Under the hood. Autodesk is awakening to the latest trends in high-performance hardware: 64-bit processing and multithreading, which enables an application to maximize the benefit of a dual-processor system or multicore processor. For the next-generation 3D applications such as Inventor and Revit, both are important: "All of our product lines will go there," says Buzz Kross, vice-president of the Manufacturing Solutions Division.

UGS updates solid edge
UGS updates solid edge

John Sanders, executive vice-president of the Design Solutions Division, says that Autodesk is devoting "a significant amount of resources" to implementing 64-bit support in AutoCAD. Though customers aren't demanding it, it will enable products built on AutoCAD to handle larger models. However, the company will implement multithreading support only in areas where it will yield greatest benefit—plotting and rendering, for example.

The Discreet division has already adopted 64-bit support and sees GPU accleration as the next frontier for performance boosts.

Business highlights. Autodesk reports that sales of Inventor seats have passed the half-million mark, and more than 12,000 sites have implemented Vault. As further proof of the spread of 3D, last quarter Autodesk sold 7,700 units of Civil 3D and 8,600 seats of Revit. Next year's AU is scheduled for Nov. 28–Dec. 1, 2006, at the Venetian in Las Vegas.

Autodesk opens source code for latest GIS application

To show its support for open-source Web mapping technologies, Autodesk released the source code for its MapServer Enterprise Web platform. Due for release in 2006, MapServer Enterprise is the successor to the MapGuide product, but built on an entirely new architecture.

A snapshot of the code is now available through the new MapServer Foundation (, an independent nonprofit group charged with supporting and promoting open-source Web mapping. MapServer Enterprise provides PHP, .NET and Java tools for developers to build and deploy spatial applications for Windows and Linux servers. MapServer Enterprise is licensed under the GNU LGPL (Lesser General Public License).

Autodesk expects the full MapServer Enterprise open-source project Web site to launch in early 2006, with support for code contributions, bug submissions, mailing lists and discussion forums.

The MapServer Foundation will also oversee the original MapServer platform, an open-source Web mapping platform developed at the University of Minnesota. The original version will be called MapServer Cheetah to differentiate it from MapServer Enterprise and will continue to be licensed under an MIT-style open-source license.

The two MapServer versions will be managed as two separate open-source projects. The foundation says it has no plans to merge the two, but developers will likely share technologies wherever it makes sense.

As a component of MapServer Enterprise, Autodesk will make available source code for its feature data objects (FDOs) for accessing spatial information. Autodesk will contribute nearly a dozen FDO "providers" to the open-source project, including ArcSDE, WFS, WMS, SHP, ODBC and MySQL.

"Autodesk's entry into open source validates the work done by the MapServer community, and indeed by all of the folks working on open-source geospatial projects. It is clear that open source plays a significant role in the geospatial technology market," said Steve Lime, creator of MapServer and chair of the MapServer Technical Steering Committee.


Autodesk and PARTsolutions ( announced a strategic partnership through which Autodesk will provide digital parts catalogs through its online Manufacturing Supplier Content Center ( Inventor users will be able to access the center directly and download parts, including supplier part numbers, bill of material parameters and geometry. PARTsolutions provides tools for suppliers to publish 3D digital catalogs in print and digital formats. Its customers include DaimlerChrysler, Porsche, Audi, MAN, MTU, Voith, Airbus, Siemens and others. The portal contains information from more than 100 component providers.

"Engineers are far more dependent on manufactured content than ever before, and this initiative demonstrates our commitment to meeting the needs of our global customers," said Buzz Kross, vice-president of Autodesk's Manufacturing Solutions Division. "The Autodesk Manufacturing Supplier Content Center provides easy access to millions of native-format Inventor models of the parts our customers use every day."

Bentley buys another structural software developer

Expanding its holdings in the structural engineering area, Bentley Systems acquired RAM International.

Last month, Bentley completed its purchase of the STAAD product line of structural design and analysis software from NetGuru. Bentley believes that RAM is the most widely used structural engineering software in the North American building industry.

French plm market favors MCAD players
French plm market favors MCAD players

"We are eager to advance RAM's entire product line, providing users with increasing capabilities," Bentley senior vice-president Buddy Cleveland said. "But most exciting is the common vision that Bentley, RAM and STAAD developers share—leveraging the power of analysis throughout the workflows of building, civil and plant lifecycles. We are convinced that our results will be game-changing."

Bentley planned to release further details about its plans for these two acquisitions this month. RAM had previously announced plans to integrate its RAM Structural System product with Autodesk's Revit building modeling software in the first quarter of 2006.

About the Author: Sara Ferris

More News and Resources from Cadalyst Partners

For Mold Designers! Cadalyst has an area of our site focused on technologies and resources specific to the mold design professional. Sponsored by Siemens NX.  Visit the Equipped Mold Designer here!

For Architects! Cadalyst has an area of our site focused on technologies and resources specific to the building design professional. Sponsored by HP.  Visit the Equipped Architect here!