Bill Fane continues his report on Autodesk's Inventor media event...
Autodesk hosted about 15 MCAD writers and editors to a "get-acquainted/stay in touch session" on Inventor. Luckily, at the last moment, the Vancouver International Airport security personnel decided not to go on strike as previously announced, so I was able to attend.
The Tuesday afternoon/evening was spent arriving, checking in, and then being taken to dinner and SF Giants/AZ Wildcats baseball game.
Wednesday was pretty much devoted to the “formal” presentations, as described in Part I [below].
The Outs and Ins of Things
Okay, here we go with the possible new features. As you read them, remember the buzz phrase: "No translations."
If these features were to be implemented, you would be able to use AutoCAD template files directly when creating an Inventor 2D working drawing. At present you can translate .DWT files, but this proposal would eliminate the translation wizard.
Similarly, you would be able to use existing AutoCAD .DWG blocks and drawings directly without translation. For example, you would be able to drag an annotation block directly from a .DWG file into an Inventor 2D drawing file, including simply by using the Content Center, or you could open a .DWG and then cut’n’paste in order to use existing 2D geometry when creating Inventor 3D models.
Those were the innies; now the outies.
If this new functionality is adopted, then Inventor would effectively have two native file formats for 2D working drawings: the existing .IDW format would continue, but in addition you would be able to use DWG directly.
That’s right; you would simply create a new 2D drawing from an AutoCAD template, and then create the 2D drawing views based on the desired Inventor 3D part or assembly file. The really good news is that the .DWG file would remain associative with the Inventor part or assembly files, so that any changes made to the Inventor 3D model reflect down to the 2D .DWG drawing file. AutoCAD users would be able to open, view, and print the file. They would also be able to do normal AutoCAD editing on the rest of the file, but would not be able to edit those portions that were associative back to the parent Inventor file.
Users would also be able to mix and match. Autodesk showed an example of a large marine crane that had originally been designed in 2D AutoCAD. The operator’s cab had been re-designed using Inventor. They created a 2D AutoCAD file from the new cab assembly, and then simply inserted it into the existing 2D AutoCAD drawing of the rest of the machine.
So, you may well ask, why did Autodesk tell us all of this now, without restriction? I have two guesses.
First, they are not ready to announce a new release yet (their usual cycle would be early next year), but they want to catch the attention of existing 2D users. These new features would make it much easier to convince existing 2D AutoCAD users who have been reluctant to convert to 3D, and/or to head off anyone who might consider converting to 3D but using a competitor’s product. Their oft-repeated line was "Only Autodesk can give you this."
Second, and closely related, is that they want to build up anticipation and hype without having to actually pay for advertising.
Hey, you read this, didn’t you?
[Disclosure: Autodesk paid airfare, hotel, ball game, and meal expenses. --Ed.]