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Monday, July 30, 2012

Autodesk Showcase Viewer - Installation Fail

Have you tried Autodesk Showcase?  If you haven't, you should.  You can send a Revit camera shot right to Showcase and have instant photorealistic rendering, as well as quickly change material colors.  It seems much better than waiting to render inside of Revit and 3ds Max is way too complicated to use if you're a novice.

Anyway, there's a free Showcase viewer.

Autodesk Showcase Viewer

You can have others view the model or scene.  Since this is something you can have your clients work with, you'd want the process to be easy for them.  

Here's what I went through.
Download the 91 MB file.
Usually with Autodesk software, it extract the files to a folder in c:\Autodesk and then runs through the installation process.  So, while I'm waiting for the program to launch, nothing happens.

Apparently, instead of the normal process, it extracted the files to a folder in Downloads.
If you go into that folder, there are a number of subfolders and no exe files in the root directory.
I went back to the Autodesk download page to figure that out and had to register again to get to the download page to see the instructions.

It says at the bottom of the page that you have to go into the Bin folder and navigate to the Showcase.exe file.  Really Autodesk?  There are 596 files in that directory.
Wouldn't it have been better and easier to put the exe file in the main directory so one doesn't have to search for an exe file in a directory filled with program files?

After making a shortcut to the program file on my desktop, I decided it was time to launch.  That's when I got my first error, msvcp100.dll is missing.  So I go searching through my computer and find 10 copies of it floating around.  No mention of where it needs to go in order to work, which happens to be c:\windows\sytem32.  I try to launch Showcase Viewer again and nothing, same error.  You have to reboot your computer first.  

After that's done, I try again, only this time, I get the mfc100u.dll is missing and the program cannot launch.  Once again, search, copy, paste and reboot.

I'm hoping I'm almost there after the reboot, double click and.....yeah, the splash screen pops up.  
Nothing happened after that, so it still doesn't work.

I think the Showcase Viewer is only intended for IT specialists and not a regular user.  
Why doesn't the install program put a shortcut to the program on the Desktop at least, check for any missing dlls and put a ReadMe or installation instructions in the extracted folder.  

Basically, this ended up being a complete waste of an hour.  If anyone's boss tried the above, they'd have started cursing about 60 seconds into the process.  

I may try this on another computer and see if I get better results, but I doubt it.  

For the rest of you, here are the troubleshooting tips from the download page.   

Preparing scenes for use in Autodesk Showcase Viewer

In a licensed version of Autodesk Showcase, scenes must be saved using File > Save Scene and Textures as… to create a files compatible with the standalone viewer. (Standard Showcase scenes may open in Autodesk Showcase Viewer, but materials, textures and environments will not appear.)

Running Autodesk Showcase Viewer

  1. Download and run the self-extracting archive and specify the destination folder on your computer.
  2. In the destination folder find Showcase.exe in the bin folder and double-click the icon to launch Showcase Viewer.
  3. Optional: Create a desktop shortcut by right-clicking on Showcase.exe, dragging to the desktop and choosing “Create shortcut here” from the Windows menu.


If you experience problems starting the Autodesk Showcase Viewer: 
Check that you have the following software installed. (This can be confirmed in Windows Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs. Most Windows systems will already have this software installed.)


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Scrumby,  August 27, 2012 at 11:10 AM  

I have had a similar experience. I expected to take my model and configure it into the Showcase environment, then send it along with the viewer to investors in order to demonstrate my device. It was a total waste of time. The custom environment I created is only useful for the full version, the viewer has no clues how to get started. The panel in the viewer has a bunch of icons that nobody would know what they are for, and hovering over them reveals no popup explaination etc. etc.
The response from people is always, "what am I supposed to do with this?". Autodesk you have failed.

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