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Sunday, June 7, 2009

View Revit & AutoCAD files on your Palm Pre or iPhone

Yesterday morning I woke up to the sound of my Palm Centro vibrating from a phone call. It was my father calling me to tell me to, and i quote "Get your ass down to the Sprint store now." That was at 8:40am. Apparently, he actually woke up, got dressed and drove to the Sprint store on South Beach at 6:40am. He put himself, my brother an me on the sign in sheet and at 9:15, I was holding a Palm Pre in my hand (http://twitpic.com/6qohz).

After spending the day getting to know my new little friend, a thought popped into my head. How can I look at drawings on my Palm Pre? I'll have to give partial credit to Autodesk and especially to Scott Sheppard for some of the technology they've developed.

There are two sites you'll need to get to web based DWF:
1st is http://freewheel.autodesk.com/
2nd is http://freewheel.labs.autodesk.com/

If you're reading this on a Pre or iPhone, click this link and try it now:

Photos of DWF on Pre Link

Note: This system is not perfect and has it's limitations while being used on a smartphone. You cannot zoom to fit or pan. Autodesk labs, if you're listening, please make a version for the Pre and iPhone. You'll get a lot more users. Of course, you could always mimic this with PDF files, but we know how Autodesk prefers DWF to PDF so let them know and that's what the Autodesk Lab is for anyhow. It looks like Autodesk just needs to find a way to simulate mouse clicks to move rotate and zoom.

A PDF file would have to be stored in your phone or saved to your website. The DWF can be accessed faster on the web and you're opening one sheet at a time. You'd have to download the whole PDF to go through each page on your phone. DWF wins!

Nonetheless, this is a great way to always have your drawings with you.
You can also use http://labs.autodesk.com/utilities/ShareNow/
These add-ins publish a design from AutoCAD, Inventor, Inventor LT, Revit, or Design Review to the Project Freewheel server. With one click of the ShareNow icon, your design application will publish a DWF file of your current design, upload it to Project Freewheel, and invoke the browser with a view of your design. You can then leverage all of the benefits that Project Freewheel has to offer - without installing additional software. Collaborate with your team members on Microsoft Windows, Apple Macintosh OSX, or Linux. They can use Internet Explorer or Firefox. They can use a PC, Mac, PDS, Cell phone -- whatever has a compatible browser with an internet connection.
Here's the main points of the tutorial.
Open just about any Autodesk software program, open your data file and export/publish your drawings as DWF files and bind them as one big DWF file.

Next, you can upload them to your own site or to Autodesk's site (using http://labs.autodesk.com/utilities/ShareNow/ of course).

Next, by using a web browser, you can view and browse through your drawings.
Sample: http://freewheel.autodesk.com/dwf.aspx?path=http://freewheel.autodesk.com/sample/Hotel5.dwf

The best part is, this will work on the Palm Pre or an iPhone.

We now have portable digital documents that you can have immediate access to wherever you have a cellular or wifi connection.

Pretty neat huh?
You can thank me later.

What is Autodesk Freewheel?

Autodesk Freewheel is an Ajax (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML) based web service/application built to provide CAD model viewing, printing and collaboration, through the dynamic rendering of DWF file data and graphics information. You can think of Freewheel as a set of componentized Web Services and JavaScript frameworks. Together these components make up the Interactive Ajax DWF Viewer.

Embed it into your website
Display interactive 2D and 3D CAD designs without requiring your visitors to download special viewing software.
Example: The following URL would start the interactive viewer with minimal parameters:

Leverage the CAD model graphics rendering Service
Quickly convert DWF files to images. Use the "Render-this-link" bookmarklet to convert all DWF files on your web page to thumbnail preview images (rendered on the fly).

Example 1: The following URL starts the rendering service, providing with a close up view of the front of the model "Supension.dwf".

Example 2: the following URL will render a image small enough to fit on most cell phone screens. It will view the center of page 3 of the Hotel5 zoomed in to a factor of 4 and generate a image that is 200x200 pixels:

Utilize the CAD model meta-data rendering service
Render certain types of meta data within the DWF file to XML. Use methods on the service to determine the number of pages in a DWF, the page names, and other information.

Sample Code: Add thumbnail images to DWF links

Instead of using plain text to link to DWF files, use this javascript code snippet to automatically generate thumbnail images (which, when clicked, will open the design in the Freewheel viewer). Just add this code to your catalog pages and you'll immediately get rendered images. Learn more.

Sample Code: Mash Up Freewheel with Google Maps

Embed Autodesk Freewheel within your KML file to display CAD data within online maps. Set pointers for important assets, display the rendered images within the pop-up, and open designs using the Freewheel service. Learn more (http://freewheel.autodesk.com/mashup.aspx).

What is Project Freewheel?

Project Freewheel, available on Autodesk Labs, is a tech preview of upcoming functionality we're working on for the Autodesk Freewheel product. At times, it will have identical functionality as the Autodesk Freewheel product. But other times, it may look or work differently. If you have thoughts or requests for new functionality, be sure to drop us a note on the Autodesk Freewheel discussion boards.


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