CAD offers improved workflow and publishing

Autodesk’s latest software promises to take users to the next level, including tools for the creation, organisation and publishing of entire drawing sets. Dean Palmer reports

Autodesk’s latest software promises to take users to the next level, including tools for the creation, organisation and publishing of entire drawing sets. Dean Palmer reports

“We believe customers who adopt this new release will experience greater productivity and a higher quality of product delivery,” John Sanders, VP Platform Technology Division at Autodesk boldly claimed at the launch of the company’s latest ‘AutoCAD 2005’ family of products.

He continued: “We’ve spent the last couple of years asking our customers what they would like to see in the next version of the software. In 2004, we managed to include six out of the top ten requests in the software. We’ve now done three more requests, so the software now includes nine out of the top ten requests.” Pretty impressive.

Included in AutoCAD 2005, which all other Autodesk products will use as a foundation, are several key features that enhance the workflow of drawing sets and it includes integrated tools for easy collaboration among project teams. Adding workflow to the latest version means that users can now create and manage entire sets of related drawings directly inside the software. The ‘Sheet Set Manager’ function also enables designers to manage entire drawing sets, views and models. It displays all drawing sheets and sheet subsets to help users better organise, plot and link information within the drawings.

Sanders said customers were experiencing similar problems that needed rectifying in the new version: “Some clients had hundreds of files for each project stored in Windows Explorer folders. Coordinating all these files was becoming difficult and time consuming. Other users had issues with annotating drawings and publishing entire drawing sets for their clients and drawing and managing tables.”

New features of AutoCAD 2005 include: the ability to easily create, view and modify sheet set properties at the start of the design process; users can automate the process of creating and managing the sheet in a particular sheet set; with one click, users can also add sheets preloaded with project information to their AutoCAD 2005 sheet set; Sheet Set Manager lets users automate sheet numbering and the insertion of a title block with current project information; and you can automatically associate and update detail placement changes on a DWG drawing with the callouts that identify their location.

There’s more though. Users can view and access resource drawings from a single location and add any number of folder locations as resources for sourcing information in the sheet set. Users can access sheet sets simultaneously and a sheet index can be generated quickly for drawing sets.

The improvements in the software should entice most of Autodesk’s users to consider an upgrade. As the company’s new VP EMEA Karsten Popp boasted at a press conference in January: “We have six million customers in more than 160 countries and only Microsoft has been in the top ten PC software companies [in global revenues] longer than Autodesk.”

And talking of Microsoft, at the end of last year Autodesk formed a strategic alliance with Microsoft Business Solutions to help mid-sized manufacturing firms streamline their product development processes. The two companies agreed to integrate Autodesk’s engineering data management (EDM) software with Microsoft Business Solutions’ enterprise resource planning (ERP) software to help customers bring products to market faster. It’s all about helping manufacturers bridge their ‘ERP to engineering data’ gap which results in data inconsistencies, poorly controlled engineering change processes, long delays in releasing or changing products and manual data re-entry.

Autodesk’s new ‘Vault’ functionality, available to customers on subscription and integrated with the firm’s 3D modelling software, Autodesk Inventor Series, uses a Microsoft SQL Server database as the integration point.

Author
Tom Shelley

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