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Monday, January 25, 2010

BIM on the cloud - Project Butterfly - just the latest SaaS installment - It is Alive in the Lab

After my post about being able to edit AutoCAD drawings on the interweb tubes, some people inquired about when that would be available for Revit. Apparently, they missed my previous posts about Project Twitter which includes a web based version of Revit. We're so close to full cloud computing.

Of course, this is just another way to screw up your workflow and processes. Also, for you pirates out there, cloud computing is going to make it impossible for you to use Autodesk software illegally. No more multiple installations and key generators, hacks and cracks. I think it would be cool for Autodesk to do a pay as you go plan so you can use any of their products on an as needed basis with a maximum price per year. Since Revit subscription is $725/year and that works out to 35 cents an hour, if you had a small project, it could cost you $200 to use Revit and you wouldn't have to pay so much. Maybe they charge by the size of the project so smaller firms don't have to pay as much as larger firms.

So many possibilities. Of course, net neutrality and all the jerky internet providers are going to start charging more for higher bandwith use of the internet, so now you can be pissed at someone other than Autodesk.

In the meantime, start playing with these programs and get used to them.

On another related note, I posted last year about Sugarsync, which does backups on the cloud. I was talking to one of my clients on Friday who told me it's changed his life. He's on the road a lot and has an iPhone with the SugarSync app. All of his documents, pictures, data and Revit models are available for him to email a link to a client. What's even better is that he's able to pull up images of blueprints that he uses for references on jobsites. Since he's viewing them on the web, he doesn't need to have gigabytes of files on his phone.

We now have portability of our collaborative capabilities. For those of you who spend your life running around from meeting to meeting, this would even allow you to save your files and have them accessible for your team back at the office automatically. Think of the possibilities. For those of you who never share your files because of the "Liability" of sharing information and data, I don't know what to tell you.

I love the name Autodesk picked...Project Butterfly. Think about it. You're a catepillar crawling along, you go into your cocoon (recession) and come out a beautiful flying being. Consider CAD vs BIM to be the following:

CAD - Catepillar BIM - Butterfly.

This is all part of the Borg's master plan.


At Autodesk Software as a Service (SaaS) is not just a set of buzz words. For over a decade, Autodesk has been a leader in SaaS applications for the design industry, starting with Buzzsaw, the world’s largest project hosting service. Many of you might remember it as ProjectPoint as it was called back in the day when I worked on it. Project Butterfly Technology Preview adds to Autodesk’s long tradition of investment and operational experience with SaaS solutions.

As Carl Bass and Jeff Kowalski noted in their AU presentations, our view is that desktop software and online services will interact and that the lines between desktop applications and Web applications will be a blurred continuum over time. We are excited about the possibilities for cloud computing to potentially introduce new users to our software or allow firms to use specific software tools on demand. A cloud computing approach frees companies from installation as well as opens up access to more powerful computing than would be available on a single desktop or laptop.

The Project Butterfly Technology Preview is an on demand software tool aimed at the individual AutoCAD user who wants to view, edit and collaborate in real-time on his or her DWG files with colleagues and clients over the Web. This is our latest foray into the world of SaaS. Examples of Autodesk’s other SaaS offerings include:

  • Project Twitch, which began September 18, 2009, offers some of our design applications via remote access over the Internet. It is a user alternative to traditional product trials for AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor, Autodesk Maya and the Autodesk Revit Platform. This test marks the first time Autodesk has run its products in the cloud using a new delivery technology. Hosted trials are only available to those with sufficient bandwidth - typically those who are located within 1,000 miles of the Santa Clara data center where the applications are hosted.

  • As far back as November 1999, Autodesk Buzzsaw was delivered as an on-demand service that helps organizations simplify, centralize, and streamline all project-related documents and information. Although some customers originally used it as "glorified FTP" they soon came to realize its full benefits by taking advantage of its forms based workflow processing for bid collection and analysis, construction administration, and facility management.

  • Project Freewheel is a technology preview to experiment with the idea of design visualization and collaboration. Customers post 2D and 3D designs as DWF files to an Autodesk server. Project Freewheel then allows users to view and markup the DWF files. This service became so successful that a production version of the viewing portions is available as Autodesk Freewheel.

  • Project Draw provides a versatile, web-based vector drawing application. It could be used to create simple floor plans, electronic circuit and network diagrams, user interface mock-ups, and more. Diagrams could be saved in a variety of formats on the Autodesk Labs server or locally.

  • Project Dragonfly is an easy-to-use home design application delivered over the web, providing an intuitive and highly engaging experience that makes home design accessible to anyone. Using Project Dragonfly, homeowners can design, visualize, and experiment with changes to their living space, while building product manufacturers and professional designers can take advantage of the application’s flexible web delivery to engage with this targeted community of potential customers. Whereas our design applications are geared towards design professionals, Project Dragonfly is for the average consumer.

  • Project Showroom is a web service that provides scalable, on-demand delivery of synthetic photography on home and building product manufacturers’ websites. Using Project Showroom, manufacturers can create immersive photorealistic experiences that allow homeowners and designers to experiment visually with different combinations of products. This type of visual engagement drives sales by boosting customers’ confidence in their product selections. In 6 words, it helps them make purchasing decisions. Model-based synthetic photography is also less expensive for the manufacturer than photography of physical objects in scenes and vignettes - no more constructing a set and swapping appliances in/out as photographs are taken. So Project Showroom is for design professionals and consumers.

  • Project Bluestreak is a relative new kid on the block. Autodesk Project Bluestreak is a web-based collaboration environment for accelerating building information modeling through the open exchange of design information and ideas between desktop applications, web-based services and people. Whereas Buzzsaw users are invited to participate by becoming a member of a Buzzsaw site, Project Bluestreak is different in that individual users sign up for the service and then aggregate as they work together. In one sense, Project Bluestreak is an experiment in community and social media. As such Project Bluestreak is oriented towards design professionals.

These examples show that Autodesk has a long history with SaaS.

Getting SaaSy is alive in the lab.

Source: Project Butterfly - just the latest SaaS installment - It is Alive in the Lab


Scott Sheppard January 29, 2010 at 10:04 AM  

Thanks for helping spread the word. Project Butterfly and Project Twitch do take different approaches to CAD in the cloud. We have technoloogies previews of both. We are investigating multiple avenues to serve our customers.

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