Editor's Window28 Feb, 2006 By: Sara Ferris
Rapid releases: Autodesk launches more products than we can count.
If It's March, it must be AutoCAD time. In keeping with its annual release cycle, Autodesk this month raised the curtain on AutoCAD 2007 and all its flavors, as well as new versions of Inventor and Revit, and DWG TrueConvert and DWG TrueView, and so on. Products won't actually start shipping until March 23 or thereabouts.
In addition to these updates, Autodesk is working on several brand-new products that it expects to launch later this year. Revit Systems will handle BIM-based mechanical, electrical and plumbing design. Vespa is an illustration product that creates hand-drawn effects while maintaining a link to the original CAD file. Autodesk also plans a foray into the process and power market, where AutoCAD already has a presence as the CAD engine underlying offerings from developers such as AVEVA, COADE and Bentley. First up is a P&ID product, followed by a 3D piping design tool.
To facilitate conceptual design, AutoCAD 2007 inherits some visualization tools found in other Autodesk products. A Dashboard presents the standard AutoCAD 3D tools as well as rendering options such as materials and lighting. A Dynamic UCS eliminates confusion when working in 3D by letting users simply pick a face and start drawing. Visual styles let users apply effects such as shadows, overhanging lines and transparency. Sun studies are also supported. After the conceptual model is created, it can drive documentation through use of AutoCAD 2007's new 3D-to-2D tools for sectioning and flattening.
Many of the Express Tools are now integrated into AutoCAD 2007, and tool palettes can be anchored. Publish to PDF will be included, and subscription customers will receive a free copy of Vault, the data management tool now provided only to mechanical design software customers.
It won't be ready for AutoCAD 2007, but support for MicroStation V8's DGN format (2D geometry and annotations only) is in the works. Autodesk expects to embark on a public beta program in the summer.
A major push in this development cycle is data sharing among the various Autodesk products. This task is made easier by the fact that the products now share the Autodesk Shape Manager modeling kernel (an Autodesk-developed version of the ACIS modeler). AutoCAD 2007 conceptual models can be transferred to Revit or Inventor for further development.
For more on AutoCAD 2007 and all the other Autodesk releases, check out the archive area for Cadalyst Daily (www.cadalyst.com/daily), our latest e-mail newsletter. Each day it features a brief, original article—anything from a hardware or software review to news analysis and opinion to a user success story. Keep your eyes open for the Cadalyst Labs Review of AutoCAD 2007 coming later this spring.
While at the Cadalyst site, drop by the new Hot Tip Harry forums, where you can post requests for help with programming problems or tips on where to find particular routines. Harry's pal Bill Kramer is handling the moderator duties there. Kramer also compiles the monthly collection of hot tips and is eager to see what you've been working on. Send your tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. The best tip each month earns $100, and all published tips are entered into a year-end prize drawing.
On a different note, this month we say goodbye to managing editor Lara Sheridan, who is moving on to new challenges after cheerfully and efficiently keeping everything organized and on schedule for the last 13 years. In her place we welcome Lisa McAdam (email@example.com), who joins us from our sister publication GPS World.