3rd Annual Holiday Giveaway

This is an update to my 3rd annual holiday giveaway announced in my post from December 16th.

A huge thank you to fellow Autodeskers that rounded up and sent me the not for resale products they had. This years most generous teams were the AutoCAD, Revit, and Inventor product teams. The donations came from coast to coast. I have received quite a few nominations so far but can take more especially for Revit and 3ds Max. This holiday giveaway/donation is for students, teachers, and those needing the assistance and not to be used commercially. Spread the word to schools and user groups to get the nominations in. I will start emailing those that nominated someone in the next two weeks and ask what product would work best for them in their studies.

Products available for donation:
5 - AutoCAD 2006 English US only
2 - AutoCAD 2006 English Europe only
2 - AutoCAD LT 2006 English US only
1 - AutoCAD LT 2005 English US only
5 - Autodesk Revit Structure English US only
1 - Autodesk Architectural Desktop 2006 English US only
1 - Autodesk Revit Building 8 English US only
1 - AutoCAD Electrical 2005 English US only
1 - Autodesk Inventor 9 Pro English US only
1 - 3ds Max 6 English US only
1 - 3ds Max 7 English US only


A New AutoCAD Blog is Born - Welcome Heidi!

Heidi Hewett is a fellow team member of mine and has been responsible for many of the successful AutoCAD training materials and presentations such as  Autodesk University, AUGI CAD Camps, and the recent AutoCAD 2006 web casts. Now Heidi has a blog to provide more AutoCAD tips, tricks, and training on a blog.

Welcome to blogging Heidi!
AutoCAD Insider http://heidihewett.blogs.com/

Looking for an action packed job with Autodesk?

If you have experience with Autodesk products,  are a self starter, and like a fast paced exciting environment to work in, have I got a job opportunity for you. I have a position opening on my team for a Beta Coordinator. You get to work with every product and team in the company as well as work with the most amazing and creative customers from around the world. For more specifics please refer to the below listed Autodesk employment opportunity link. You also get pizza and beer "Beer Bust" on the first Friday of the month. :-)


Autodesk needs your expertise!

Autodesk is conducting weekly usability studies for AutoCAD future features at our facility in San Rafael California. For these sessions we need participants with all levels of experience with AutoCAD and other industry-associated applications.

A typical in-lab session lasts 1-1.5 hours and you will be paid $60 for your time. You will be working with product designers/usability engineers and helping us to validate future features or changes.

In many cases it is possible to book two sessions back to back and we will double compensation for your time. If you are interested or would like more information please contact: [email protected].

We also hold sessions in many locations around the world as well as online sessions so stay tuned for more opportunities to participate in the usability sessions. You can also sign up at http://myfeedback.autodesk.com/ to get involved in the AutoCAD Futures projects.

AutoCAD LT 2006 Packaging Behind the Scenes

Lt2006ops_1 The new Autodesk products will begin shipping soon. I was sent a behind the scenes video showing AutoCAD LT 2006 being packaged and shipped from the Fremont California operations. There are so many employees behind the scenes that are integral to the success of Autodesk products. I will start showing more of these behind the scenes in future posts. Credit goes to Tom Banks of the Fremont operations and the entire Autodesk US operations teams.

Lt2006ops3 Lt2006ops2

Link to Video


New Logo and autodesk.com look

Newautodeskdotcom Have a look at http://www.autodesk.com.

LogoThe Autodesk logo is back to a capital "A".  I showed the change initially last weekend in a blog post when the signs were changed "Signs of change". There is also a bunch of changes to the website including the addition of new products information.


Signs of change

I drove down to my Autodesk San Rafael California office today on a nice warm Sunday afternoon and I saw something that was definitely new. A new logo on all of the building signs as well as the address signs on the road. I really like the change!

Out with the old...

Oldsign2 Retired_sign1

And in with the new...
Newlogo3950sm Newlogo_3605111mcinnissm Newlogosign3

New releases, new logos whats next.


Participate in Shaping Future AutoCAD and Viz

Productfeedback Internally we call them test fests, usability sessions, focus groups, customer research, or gunslingers. No matter what the term used to describe them, Autodesk is always looking for customers to provide feedback on our products. It is extremely important that we observe and listen to the feedback of customers trying new features in our upcoming products or possible design concepts. I can say for the AutoCAD and Viz teams, that no changes or features are implemented without customer input and feedback at many stages before a release. If we don't listen to what the users want or expect from a feature, then we will not keep our customers satisfied and selecting our products.

Autodesk is always looking for product Usability Participants; both for in the Bay Area and in other regions. We hold many sessions via LiveMeeting for users not located in the SF Bay Area as well as hold customer visits and focus groups all year long in all regions of the world.

If you are interested in participating for AutoCAD, AutoCAD LT, or Autodesk Viz sessions, please contact: [email protected] Please include your Name, Contact details, and the products that you use.

Another critical part of the customer feedback equation is beta testing of future products. Beta testing is not only to find software bugs before the software is released but also is a perfect opportunity to listen to the customer feedback. The beta testing feedback is so very important so we can change or tune things or perhaps as in many cases add new items based on the customer feedback and requests. Of course beta testing is not without some amount of risk as unreleased software can have some downsides that must be considered as well. Ideally you want to have another machine separate from your production and daily use machine so that there are no conflicts to your existing versions of products. But if you want to be on the cutting edge and speak direct with the developers and designers of the products, have some time to test, want to provide your feedback, and help shape the future of products, then this is for you. You can sign up at htttp://myfeedback.autodesk.com. You will be invited to feedback or betas based on your profile you create when you sign up. I was a customer and beta site before coming to work for Autodesk and even was in the AutoCAD R14 satellite broadcast and demo CD ROM. I loved living on the edge but also participating the design feedback with the teams that developed the products I used daily. I got to participate and make the products more user friendly and productive for my use.

We also send out many surveys to users signed up on the http://myfeedback.autodesk.com looking for your feedback on potential features, design concepts, trends, and your usage of the products.

Contactus You can also submit feedback to the product teams. Many of us reply as I am on the AutoCAD product feedback alias that gets these user feedback items. We do try and answer all that we can. Most are fairly simple questions or requests. You can submit feedback direct to the team on the Autodesk web page by selecting the "contact us" located at Feedbackforms the bottom of each web page. Now select "Feedback", and finally select the product from the pull-down menu. Or you can direct to the AutoCAD feedback form page. Now enter your feedback and be as specific as possible. Maybe mention you heard about this feedback method from Shaan's blog.

So if you want to provide feedback and be involved in shaping the future product releases, just let us know.  Autodesk customer Lee Ambrosius's take on participating in the feedback process link to article.


Cool AutoCAD Session Today at AU

I will be participating in a special General Design Industry Session at 3:30PM to 5PM titled "General Design Industry Session: Inside the Sausage Factory".

If you really want to see what goes on behind the scenes and some glimpses of the future, be sure to attend this session today (Tuesday Nov. 30 2004) in rooms 113 and 114.


Interested in the future of AutoCAD?

Look inside the crystal ball and glimpse the future of AutoCAD at Autodesk University 2004!

Now's your chance to join Eric Stover, the Product Manager for AutoCAD 2002/2004/2005 and hear about our future directions. We'll demonstrate new technology and discuss the direction of design. Be ready to participate in validating new AutoCAD features before the rest of the public gets a chance to see them. This session is for everyone interested in the future of Autodesk’s flagship CAD software.

Topics Covered:

  • Where is Autodesk taking AutoCAD in the next five years?

  • Why should I care as a designer, CAD manager, or IT professional?

  • What should I be thinking about now to plan for the future?

  • How do I get involved in shaping the future of AutoCAD?

Class details:
GD34-3: The Future of AutoCAD® Software, December 2nd 2004 Thursday 12/2 at 3pm.

AutoCAD Team Listens

There was a press release today "Autodesk's Flagship Product AutoCAD Receives Accolades From Around the World". This press release mentions the worldwide acceptance of AutoCAD 2005.

"CADalyst magazine featured AutoCAD 2005 among its "2004 All-Stars" (http://www.cadalyst.com/cadalyst/article/articleDetail.jsp?id=101698). The publication's editor highlighted the software's powerful file management tools based on the sheet set paradigm that is common among design firms, as well as support for setting and enforcing drawing standards."

I can speak for the AutoCAD and Viz teams in saying we listen to the users of the products. My team has been all over the world this year visiting customers, holding design validation focus groups, usability studies, online surveys, and other customer related research. The teams visited almost every continent. In fact the AutoCAD 2005 beta program had the participation of customers from over 44 countries. Our goal is to make sure we are listening to the customers that use our products every day when we design the next release and features.

One of the hard things to balance is the different ways and methods customers use our products and this can be different in each local region and discipline so the key is getting the feedback from many customers and detailing use cases for features being considered for the next release and then validating those features with customers.

"AutoCAD 2005 mimics the terminology and processes that have been used in design offices long before CAD existed," said Bill Fane, CADalyst contributing editor and a professor at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. "Autodesk has obviously been watching and listening to real-world users."

Thanks Bill.
This is exactly what we are doing by visiting, listening and learning from our customers.

There is a bunch of future design classes like the AutoCAD Futures class by Eric Stover and feature validation sessions at AU this year if you are attending and interested in helping us shape the future of AutoCAD.

We will continue to focus on customer problems and designing solutions to resolve them. Without the customers, we disappear and so listening and making sure we involve customers in all decisions for future products and features is critical to keep AutoCAD number one.


Customer Error Reports - Please Send Them In

V8-WERUnlike some software application developers, Autodesk has made an enormous effort and commitment to get the error reports for review and investigation to determine the cause and what can be done to resolve the error. Windows Error Reports (WER) are great and have assisted Microsoft in fixing many of the most common issues in their applications and operating system such as Windows XP. The problem is when another application developer relies on the generic error reporting that are sent to Microsoft instead of the developer of the application that experienced the error. The generic report from the non Microsoft software company states "We are sorry for the inconvenience, Please tell Microsoft about this problem". The most likely result is that Microsoft will not be fixing that other applications error.

Examples of Autodesk Customer Error Reports

Successful Customer Error Report Submission Result

The AutoCAD Customer Error Report includes the following:

  • Operating System name and version
  • Product name and version
  • Graphics configuration driver name and version
  • Applications that were loaded when the error occurred
  • Active command when the error occurred
  • Autodesk uses the data contained in the error report only to troubleshoot the problem. The error report is transmitted over a secure connection and is not used for marketing activities.
    For a complete description of Autodesk's privacy policy.

    Please send these reports in, as they will help in determining any problems you may be encountering. I have called people that included their contact details in the reports to let them know that their issue had been addressed in a Service Pack (see past article from November 2003 "Your Customer Error Reports Are Very Important").

    Just remember we cannot fix what we are not aware of so anytime you see the Customer Error Report dialog, please send them in. Even in beta testing for AutoCAD, we have resolved most errors that caused an exit. By the time we hit the later betas, the customers testing the beta remarked at how difficult it was to get it to error out. It is usually a very small number of issues that are ultimately responsible for the majority of errors. When the issues can be identified or a pattern discovered they can be addressed and always include your contact details so we can if needed follow up for sample data or further details.

    The Customer Error Report may be disconcerting in this age of widespread privacy violations, but there are no hidden motives here. Autodesk goes to great lengths to protect the customer’s privacy. The main purpose and main result of sending in Customer Error Reports is software with fewer errors or conflicts, and that benefits both of us. The benefit is for you as a user of the software encountering fewer errors and for Autodesk as the developer of the software as we want the most dependable product possible. so please when you see one of these Customer Error Dialogs fill them out with as much detail as possible and contact information and then submit it.


    Steven Papke Visited Monday

    img_0001_1-thumbAutoCAD & Viz Power User and Autodesk customer visited while on vacation here in the Bay Area. We gave him the grand tour the behind the scenes of AutoCAD and Viz.
    Steven is from Jacksonville Florida and runs http://www.vizdepot.com/ as well as works for KBJ Architects, Inc.

    If anyone else is visiting the San Francisco Bay Area and wants a tour behind the scenes and meet some of the team responsible for AutoCAD and Viz, just email me.

    I posted a picture of Steven in front of the Autodesk Civic Center buildings into my Daily Grind Image Gallery. This is where AutoCAD is developed and much of the Viz team is located.


    Feedback Direct to the Autodesk Product Teams

    If you want to provide your feedback on products direct to the teams responsible for them, there is a direct way via a feedback form. This feedback goes directly to the team members. I can speak for the AutoCAD Team as one of those on the feedback list, we reply to much of the incoming email as we possibly can and also take it into consideration the provided feedback for future solutions and development work.

    AutoCAD Team Feedback Form
    Click Here

    Bug Report Form

    There is a feedback link on every product page at the bottom shown as "Contact Us".


    Sneak Peak at the New Beta and Feedback Web Portal

    This all new "MyFeedback Portal" will include your enrolled beta programs in your own page after you register one time. You will be able to see beta programs that are available to you, change your own contact info, surveys, voting for features or wish lists, image galleries per beta, and much more .

    I will provide more information on this as we get closer to the launch date but I wanted to provide a sneak peek here.


    Autodesk is Closed from July 1st to the 5th 2004.

    FourthAutodesk will be closed Thursday July 1st through Monday July 5th for the July 4th Holiday. I will be volunteering for my sons Boy Scout troop 39 selling taco salads at the Marin County Fair.


    The AutoCAD 2005 Easter Egg


    The excellent Autodesk product and resource for tips and tricks website CAD Forum has divulged details on the AutoCAD 2005 Easter Egg.

    Easter eggs are the practice and long-standing tradition of software developers to add a little something special in the program such as listing team members for the project. Just like the Easter tradition of locating a surprise or a hidden egg also known as the Easter egg hunt. The Easter eggs are hidden and take some work to locate the sequence to activate making it also fun for some to locate and we have had informal contests in locating them in the past. In most cases, at least here at Autodesk the Easter egg development of the Easter egg does not take away from regular development work and the Easter eggs are developed usually in a short time and after hours so they do not effect the scheduled software development. For the last few releases, the Easter eggs have even listed top beta site customers as well.

    Link to CAD Forums details on the AutoCAD 2005 Easter Egg Click Here


    Great Blog Post by Lee Ambrosius "Don't talk smack... instead give back"

    Lee Ambrosius of hyperpics.com and his blog Beyond the UI obviously had taken a large amount of time and thought in order to compose this article. He explains the various ways of reporting and providing feedback to Autodesk.
    Link to Article "Don't talk smack... instead give back"

    Many will just expect a software company to know about a problem and it will magically be fixed in the next service pack but that is really not based in reality. We need to understand the problem and in many cases to reproduce it in order to determine the appropriate solution. That is why Autodesk has developed the Customer Error Reporting in our products. With the Customer Error Reporting the details if you choose to send them come back to us and we research them. This method is far better than asking a million and one questions of a customer. Also make sure to fill in the details so we can contact you if needed to get further details or a sample file. The Customer Error Reporting helps everyone and is definitely better than doing nothing or the default Windows error reporting which submits to Microsoft, which many applications use but what is Microsoft going to do about a problem with an application that is not theirs, well not much. Just like other businesses we rely on feedback from the customers. So if you find a problem or something you feel should be changed, please let us know.

    Helpful Links:

    Shaan Hurley

    Congratulations to Eric & Kelly Stover on Thier New Family Addition

    evan_stovererickellyevanMy coworker Eric Stover the AutoCAD Product Manager and his wife Kelly had a new arrival this weekend.

    Evan Daniel Stover was born at 10:34pm on Friday April 30th.

    Congratulations Eric and Kelly!

    Paul Aubin ADT Author Stopped on By

    The other day I was passing through the Autodesk Civic Center lobby and saw ADT power user, author, and trainer Paul Aubin standing there. I said "howdy" and then proceeded to show him around my office and the hardware lab and grab a bite to eat. He was here doing some training. It is always wise to keep our staff up to date on our products and usage from an outside expert since we dont all work in design offices.


    New Autodesk Blog, In the Machine by the Autodesk Inventor Team

    I would like to introduce and welcome the Inventor Team to the world of blogging. It was so easy to convince them of the value of blogging.

    In The Machine Blog Link: http://autodesk.blogs.com/in_the_machine/

    I am also working on other teams to start publishing tid bits of knowledge, tips and tricks, and product info to a blog. It is as easy as writing an email in an online mail program. The ability to immediately publish to an audience and it naturally spreads via aggregators and links around the world without any programming or red tape is powerful. It is like a view to the inside track with up to the minute fresh information in many cases. The blog also allows for some more personal contact with customers and fellow technology freaks. I cannot tell you how many emails I have received directly from this blog and the content but there have been many and some great friendships. It is also about benefiting the reader with tips and information they can use or were not aware of.

    I just found out that many have started reading my blog on their Yahoo home pages as you can add a RSS feed on your Yahoo home page. Steven Papke of VizDepot.com was also going to add this blogs RSS feeds to his great Viz resource web site.


    New Autodesk Blog! Between the Walls by Chris Yanchar of the ADT Team



    Fellow Desker Chris Yanchar of the Architectural Desktop team now has a blog. I forced him into this fun side-work project as I know he is perfect for the task and does not sleep just like me.


    Make sure to bookmark his blog.


    More About the Blog "Between the Lines"

    Blogs (short for "weblogs") date back to the beginning of the web.
    What is a Blog?

    While not everything is the official Autodesk opinion, endorsement, or recommendation, it is a blog from an Autodesk employee. This approach provides direct contact between customers and Autodesk personnel most familiar with our products. It is one effect method in breaking down the wall that separates customers from those in Autodesk. I think the visitors get the feeling of content that may be more informal and timely. You never really know what I will post up here and that adds to some of the draw in my opinion.

    Our customers enjoy seeing more of a face to those here at Autodesk. At Autodesk we develop products that many of these customers use daily for many hours. In much of the information they see from Autodesk there may not really be a personal view, insight or connection. I also try to point out potential new trends in technology such as the new TabletPC and what that can mean to you in the field when you want to view or mark up drawings easily.

    Autodesk already has some very great marketing and tips and tutorial content on the web and in print, so I am not out to mimic that but add quick bit size nuggets of information that may interest them in our products as well as technology or resources.


    Print on Demand User Guides from Autodesk Now Available


    For those that want the printed user guides, you can now purchase all of your printed user guide product manuals at the Autodesk eStore. I agree that sometimes I need a paper-based manual but do use the online Help the majority of the time. No more killing trees for those that were not going to read the paper versions is what started as a trend with many software companies a few years back. In fact I heard personally the complaints from customers with hundreds of seats of products, and they were shocked to get hundreds of printed manuals back a few years ago. Of course all of the product documentation is in the product's help system, but we now give you multiple options to suit your needs. Most products at least have a printed user guide and install guide in the box, but if you want more just go order them from http://estore.autodesk.com/.

    Currently listed User Guides on the eStore:

  • AutoCAD 2004 User Guide
  • AutoCAD 2004 Customization Guide
  • AutoCAD 2004 Command Ref Vol I/II Doc Pack
  • AutoCAD 2004 Network Admin Guide
  • AutoCAD 2004 ActiveX/VBA Dev Guide
  • AutoCAD 2004 Visual LISP Tutorial
  • AutoCAD 2004 Visual LISP Dev Guide
  • AutoCAD 2002 User Guide
  • Architectural Desktop 2004 New Features
  • Civil Design R2i User Guide
  • Land Development Desktop R2i User Guide
  • Survey R2i User Guide

    Direct link to the eStore page with the User Guides: Click Here


    Now back to your regularly scheduled program. ;-)

  • 'Between The Lines AutoCAD Wish List'


    In addition to the AutoCAD Wish List on AUGI.com I added my 'Between The Lines AutoCAD Wish List' & $100 Feature Survey. I will be reviewing these and also discussing the suggestions directly with the design and development groups periodically. I will also periodically take the top items and hold a voting to rank the top items.

    'Between The Lines AutoCAD Wish List'

    With the following survey you get to pretend you are the head of AutoCAD development. You get $100 to spend on certain features. This helps us see what are the most valuable potential future features.
    Spend Your $100 Survey for AutoCAD


    More on 64-bit Processors and AutoCAD

    closerFPU-look.jpgI am posting more on the 64-bit CPUs that are slowly coming to market from both Intel & AMD. I mentioned the AMD Opteron and the increased performance with standard AutoCAD 2004 in my post to this blog on October 25th 2003 "64 bit Computers & AutoCAD". I was hoping that the 64-bit platform would offer a 128-bit double precision floating point allowing for 30-32 digit double extended precision. Unfortunately it does not in either the Intel or AMD processors that have been announced to this date.

    The IEEE-754 and 854 standards specify the numeric formats, value sets, and how the basic floating point arithmetic works.

    AutoCAD Currently used 64-bit precision and has since the early 80s. No other known CAD or geometry kernel I know of exceeds this 64-bit precision and a few CAD systems just recently got this level of precision after the year 2000 about 15 years later than AutoCAD.
    The current 64-bit Precision Limit: Double-precision format – 64-bit data width, 15 to16 digit precision
    1,000,000,000,000 to 0.0000000000000001
    Normalized as 53 bits of significance 1 bit sign 10 bits exponent

    We have been researching the implications of going to the maximum allowed by the 32 & 64-bit processors which is 80-bit. It may change the DWG and also affect many other core functions
    Extended-precision format: 80-bit data width, 18 to 20 digit precision
    Normalized as 64 bits of significance 1 bit sign 15 bits exponent

    In the AMD Opteron there is 128-bit XXM registers, but you do not get 128-bit precision. You get two 64-bit doubles at the same time which is normalized as 53 bits of significance.

    In the Intel Itanium the native floating point is 82-bit which is normalized as 64 bits of significance.

    But with the 64-bit Operating Systems we do get a larger addressable memory beyond the current 3gig which would allow larger models for example. But that means a total recompile to the 64-bit platform which is a huge undertaking. Also the Operating Systems and compilers have not all been released.

    It is my own opinion that a true 64-bit port of a CAD application will be some time down the road, maybe years when the market adopts a standard and there are compilers, Operating Systems, and also available 3rd party libraries which many CAD applications depend on such as geometry kernels that must also be ported to the 64-bit platform.

    More Information on the Floating Point Standards and mathematics behind it.

  • IEEE Standard 754 Floating Point Numbers Steve Hollasch 2003-Jan-02
    "What Are Floating Point Numbers?
    There are several ways to represent real numbers on computers. Fixed point places a radix point somewhere in the middle of the digits, and is equivalent to using integers that represent portions of some unit. For example, one might represent 1/100ths of a unit; if you have four decimal digits, you could represent 10.82, or 00.01. Another approach is to use rationals, and represent every number as the ratio of two integers.

    Floating-point representation - the most common solution - basically represents reals in scientific notation. Scientific notation represents numbers as a base number and an exponent. For example, 123.456 could be represented as 1.23456 x 102. In hexadecimal, the number 123.abc might be represented as 1.23abc x 162.

    Floating-point solves a number of representation problems. Fixed-point has a fixed window of representation, which limits it from representing very large or very small numbers. Also, fixed-point is prone to a loss of precision when two large numbers are divided.

    Floating-point, on the other hand, employs a sort of "sliding window" of precision appropriate to the scale of the number. This allows it to represent numbers from 1,000,000,000,000 to 0.0000000000000001 with ease. "

  • AMD Opteron™ Processor Models 148 and 248 for Workstations Product Overview
  • AMD64 Architecture Programmer’s Manual Volume 5: 64-Bit Media and x87 Floating-Point Instructions (PDF)
  • The Intel® Itanium® 2 processor Product Overview
  • Intel® Architecture Software Developer's Manual Volume 1: Basic Architecture PDF (see & 8.3.10)
  • Intel® Itanium Architecture Software Developer's Manual PDF (see 5.1.2 & 5.2)
  • AMD64 Architecture Tech Docs
  • AMD's and Intel's End-of-Year CPU Buyer's Guide from Tomshardware.com
  • Intel/AMD Processor Comparison from aceshardware.com
  • Extremetech.com Review: AMD Athlon 64 3400+

    bored.jpgYou asleep yet? I apologize for the length of this post but much of the background and references need to be present to explain the floating point. In any case the industry and Autodesk will continue to research new ways to get beyond the current floating point limitations. The most affected users are those using very large coordinates such as mapping and GIS and the limitation applies to all applications with 64-bit precision. I am definitely no mathematical expert, software, or a hardware developer, but I have spoken with many experts on this subject as well as read the reference material and spoken with the processor and operating system providers to form my personal opinions on this topic.

    But on the bright side is that you can run the current 32-bit AutoCAD 2004 on the 64-bit AMD processors and initial testing has shown in some cases a 40% increase in performance. The increase must be from an improved floating point calculation speed. For more on this subject see my other post on running on the 64-bit system.

    I will post an update in the future on this subject.


  • Week of Rest Coming to an End....

    Autodesk will be back from the annual week of rest on Monday January 5th. It is nice getting a little over a week to do as I want and spend time with the family over the holidays. I have also had the time to do some serious geeky reading and experimentation.


    First Post of 2004 - Happy New Years Everyone!


    Well the West Coast has now rang in the new year. I hope everyone has a safe new years day and a better year than the last. Also please note it will take me the next 9 months to stop writing 2003 in my email and documents...

    And now some of my new years resolutions...

  • Catch up on my email, I promise. I get almost a hundred a day and try not to get too far behind.
  • Post more product tutorials and tips and tricks in this blog.
  • Post a very special and exciting announcement very soon.
  • Get back to Germany for some well needed rest and great beer. :-)
  • Visit more worldwide Autodesk user group meetings and events. Just send the invites far enough in advance, and I will see what I can do. I almost got to New Zealand, but it was too short of notice. I can also do Autodesk/AutoCAD Technical Q&A for user groups via phone or web.
  • Get as many user requested features into the products as possible.
  • Gather much more research and use cases on non US localised product for usability or localised customer issues. I am currently gathering issues from Europe as we pretty much have a good handle now on the Asian issues like double byte fonts and are working to address many of these in the future.
  • And finally, at this years Autodesk University set up a more formal event and itinerary for my 4th annual CAD Geek Fest!

  • If You Are Ever in the Bay Area, Stop On By

    Autodesk is located in San Rafael California just about 20 miles North of the famous Golden Gate Bridge and the city of San Francisco. If you are ever in the area and want a quick tour of where AutoCAD is developed, just email before you intend to stop by.

    Map of
    4000 Civic Center Dr
    San Rafael, CA 94903-4171


    Happy Holidays from the AutoCAD Team

    Here is a holiday greeting photo I recently created of most of the AutoCAD Team here at Autodesk. I had to do some editing to fit some people into the photo which was taken at a team meeting a couple weeks ago. I also added a nice snowy background for the holidays as it does not snow here in the Bay area and christmas lights on a palm tree still does not feel right to me.


    Happy Holidays!

    New Exciting DWF Usage for Facilities

    I have seen some very clever usage of DWF files on a corporate network. You can show employee locations, printers and in many cases even install and map to the printers of an office as shown in Jimmy Bergmark’s intranet site.

    I am showing a couple examples below.

    Autodesk Facilities and Human Resources uses embedded DWF files to show the current office locations and associated information. Of course I have not made the clearest screen capture (below) on purpose due to the content such as office numbers in Autodesk facilities.

    An employee goes to the corporate intranet site and then types in a search for an employee based on many different criteria just like a search engine. They then get the page with all the employee info and a link to their office shown in a daily updated database created DWF file. The web page has an embedded DWF showing the employee office and all current details at the top of the DWF window. It is originally zoomed in on the office but I grabbed the screen capture when zoomed out. Also the employee and office numbers have hyperlinks back to the intranet site so you know the phone number of the office in a reverse search.

    Jimmy Bergmark’s excellent example of using a DWF in his facility in Sweden.
    Jimmy uses the embedded DWF in his intranet to display many different office floor layouts. He says they do this because it allows employees at his company to easily connect printers since they move around quite a lot. In the floor plan layouts are all of their corporate networked printers and their mapped locations. Simply clicking on the hyperlinked printer device and you are all ready to print to the device just as you would by manually going through the network setup of a printer but this offers the visual and automated steps and it is so easy to do. Have you ever mapped to the wrong printer when searching through the network for the cryptically named device .

    Some screen images of his DWF.

    Jimmy's web site www.jtbworld.com

    The possibilities are endless really when you consider the flexibility and lightweight format of DWF.


    Happy Halloween!

    Below is a photo of me and fellow desker Mikhail "Misha" Belilovskiy and his funny ballerina costume. We had a Halloween party and costume contest.

    64 bit Computers & AutoCAD

    The 64 bit computers are coming. It will take awhile before we see any native 64 bit applications but they will come. It may take time like the transition from 16 bit to 32 bit but remember all of the changes in applications and the things they allowed us to do? This is a perfect example of evolution not revolution.

    We have had 64 bit since the mid nineties remember the Sun SPARC? The operating systems are not there yet although there was NT 4 in a 64 bit awhile back but the new operating systems are progressing and some are in beta. Not even apple running on a 64 bit CPU is native 64 bit. Windows XP can run on the 64 bit CPU and there are versions in beta as native 64 bit expected late next year.

    I have run AutoCAD on both the Intel and AMD 64 bit machines and what I have seen is some great progress. While AutoCAD is 32 bit native it is not built for the 64 bit CPU. In one case I saw significant performance increases on the AMD Opteron and even AutoCAD 2004 installed in under one minute on a 1.6 GHz AMD 64 bit and that is the fastest of any single or dual CPU machine I have ever seen. The speed is fast. PC World has reported AutoCAD using the AUGI benchmarks as 44% faster but Autodesk has not confirmed this but we are looking at it.

    I have received questions from customers asking when is there going to be a 64 bit version of AutoCAD? The answer is simple, and like most other major changes in software architecture and hardware, when there is an enough demand. There also needs to be a true released 64 bit compiler available which there is not currently. AutoCAD for many years already has used the 64 bit floating point precision and operations on the 32 bit CPU. There are limitations to the floating point on the CPU that you can see when offsetting small geometry at a extreme distance from the 0,0 origin like 10E6+. The problem is when you get so far from the origin in the drawing and since there are only so many numbers you can use on either side of the decimal then the floating point will round making some very small features round to a zero which cannot be calculated as anything divided by zero equals zero. You can prevent this by moving the geometry closer in the drawing to 0,0 then offset and then move back to the extreme location. Mapping and Civil users work in this extreme area due to the reference points they must use for locating their property and other data such as most California coordinates are based from a single reference off of the Pacific coast. We are researching extending to 80bit floating point for operations thus extending precision and extend the distance from the origin in which you can work without the floating point rounding causing unpredictable results.

    I will post more on this subject as details are released and systems become more available. Currently industry analysts are predicting 18 months before we start seeing the native 64 bit applications in the market in any volume.

    Here are some interesting articles on the 64 bit and AutoCAD.

    Cadalyst is saying the AMD 64 bit is ther fastest AutoCAD benchmarks ever seen at Cadalyst labs.
    First Looks: @Xi MTower 64 AMD Opteron-based system Click Here

    "tore through AutoCAD tasks, finishing the test about 25 seconds faster
    than the average of the 3-GHz P4 systems. That's noteworthy because AutoCAD
    is one of only two PC World tests in which the 800-MHz bus seemed to boost
    newer 3-GHz P4 systems compared with 3.06-GHz P4 boxes."

    Click Here

    64-Bit Takes Off
    "Systems with the FX-51 showed pronounced improvements in some of our more CPU-intensive tests, particularly AutoCAD, where they were about 44 percent faster, on average, than the P4 unit."
    Click Here
    Click Here

    AMD chart for workstation comparison Click Here


    Do you have some suggestions for AutoCAD or AutoCAD LT

    I am on the team that develops AutoCAD, the viewers and many other products. If you have a suggestion for us to look into, please email me.

    Email me at [email protected]

    In the subject line of the email, please mention "Blog - AutoCAD Wish List".

    Include the following:

    Your Name:
    Phone Number:
    Web URL if any:
    About what you do:

    What problem you are trying to solve or your wish list item:

    Please describe in detail what you would expect and why:

    Shaan Hurley
    Autodesk, Inc.

    Where AutoCAD is developed

    This is where I work, in San Rafael California. My office is shown in the lower right corner and that is where most AutoCAD development takes place as well.