Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Battle to the cloud

Fusion 360 - a new CAD era ? 

Almost everyone who follows the CAD field in the last 20 years can tell you the biggest mistake of Autodesk which, in the mid-nineties, allowed a small start-up company from Concord Massachusetts to precede it with a new software who took the lead at the SMB MCAD market. Those involved in the industry, also heard the story of how and why Autodesk missed the purchase of SolidWorks. The version I heard, suggest the  two sides set to close this acquisition when a director at Autodesk told SolidWorks  they will have to delay the  plans to launch the new software until they change it to Autodesk own DWG format. SolidWorks blew up the meeting and set out an independent (and later acquired by Dassault Systemes). Autodesk then develop the Autodesk Inventor, a new Windows native solid modeler but lost 3 important years battling SolidWorks with an old looking solution based on AutoCAD. 
A few years later, when Revit for architecture released and proposed a smart 3D architectural design, Autodesk was quick to acquire the company and make the software a market leader next to the common AutoCAD.
Since then, it seems Autodesk look closely at the market and checks carefully any trend or new beginning.
It turns out that SolidWorks announcement two years ago, that they are moving to a next-generation cloud based solution as a replacement to the current successful CAD software, did not leave Autodesk indifferent.  While SolidWorks delay the launch of the new product to 2013 and changed its position, Autodesk, determined not to be left behind this time, released this week the opening shot in what is going to be the race to the cloud. The Autodesk Fusion 360 is a brand new 3D solid modeler. The software uses cloud technology to perform some tasks. Similar to the Fusion software and the 123D free modeler the software performs operations and geometry changes directly on the three-dimensional topology regardless of the model's history. Approach called "direct edit".
SolidWorks V6 

Soon we will see SolidWorks giving more details about the mysterious V6 version. The software should be exposed at the SolidWorks world in late January 2013. Autodesk not yet released the beta version of the new software, Autodesk Fusion 360 but, opened the registration to download the beta. The two new programs will be available in 2013 and both will be sold aside the flagship programs of each company, Autodesk Inventor and SolidWorks. It looks like Autodesk's new infant has a better starting point.  Autodesk has gained extensive practical experience in the last two years with direct editing software. Inventor Fusion beta has long been available for free download and more than a million users took advantage of this opportunity. Fusion 360 will use the same geometry kernel as Inventor (and AutoCAD) and therefore will allow a seamless file transition with the flagship software. SolidWorks on the other side, will use at new software for the first time the Catia GSM geometric engine (kernel). Major differences between the CGM and SolidWorks V1 Parasolid, are expected to create significant problems when sharing files between programs.
After 17 years of evolving technology in the CAD software. 2013 is expected to introduce a new generation of modern software.

Gal Raz

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