Having been involved with Autodesk betas for almost 19 years, and 5 years prior to that as a customer participating in multiple Autodesk betas I have seen a great deal of change in technology when connecting our product teams to our customers for pre-release testing. Over the years, the beta program technology has evolved from long days manually burning floppy disks and CD-ROMs and then shipping those out to people and then waiting for faxed or emailed bug reports to moving the betas to the Internet in 1998 and providing the software for download which greatly reduced not only the time to get the software to the beta tester but getting the feedback on the product such as reporting defects in online forms and discussions forums almost immediately instead of weeks later. Moving from shipping physical media not only saved time but it saved money.
More change and choice is coming with the cloud and remote hosted technologies providing exciting possibilities. Imagine clicking a link in a browser and in 30 seconds be running the latest pre-release version of Autodesk Inventor. Within Autodesk Beta we have been experimenting with several technology pilots allowing for greater flexibility, reduced risk of a beta product impacting a testers local production system, flexible platforms, and easy to install. The most recent pilot allows a beta participant to run a desktop application like AutoCAD, Inventor, and 3ds Max without installing anything and running the desktop application from a remote Frame server using only your web browser. Frame can be ran from most web browsers and we have hosted servers currently in multiple regions to provide reasonable protection from latency. When I ran a project this morning I was running at under 20ms latency from Portland to San Jose and Inventor was very usable for testing features.
Revit running in the browser from a Frame Server.
Some of the benefits:
- Up and running large applications in seconds or minutes.
- Always the latest build and updates.
- Limited risk to your local system without the conflicting system dlls etc.
- Use on many computers or platforms via the web browser.
- Your data is local on your system or Autodesk 360 drive account.
I was even able to run Autodesk Inventor from my iPhone although not entirely practical it shows that you can run most platform that can run a web browser. Imagine running Inventor, Revit, AutoCAD, or 3ds Max from an iPad, Google Chrome book, or MacBook.
Stay tuned for more change. Change is constant in technology and life.