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Autodesk + Instructables: For Makers? 77

Posted by timothy
from the interesting-bedfellows dept.
ptorrone writes "MAKE magazine has published an in-depth look at what the recent acquisition of Instructables by Autodesk means for makers and the DIY movement. MAKE suggests it wasn't about getting the millions of members or projects at Instructables or upselling Autodesk tools. Instead, the acquisition was more about creating many Instructable-like communities around Autodesk's new free and trial tools including their 3D printing site and service, Autodesk123D."
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Autodesk + Instructables: For Makers?

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  • It would be worse... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alex Belits (437) * on Saturday August 06, 2011 @12:03AM (#37004046) Homepage

    There are three companies that would be worse than Autodesk in this role:

    1. DSS.
    2. Altium.
    3. Microsoft.

    I mean, of all things, Autodesk? The guys who make poorly designed, expensive CAD program that only keeps its market dominance because of its semi-documented, closed file format? One that ported its engine to OSX but "forgot" to bring any of the modules that make their software in any way useful?

    That never ever touched Linux (and is worse than Solidworks with Wine)? That abandoned all Unix ports of their software many, many versions ago? (well, Pro/Engineer and CATIA bested them by abandoning an existing Linux port, apparently just to spite users).

    That never did, nor ever promised to give a fuck about any "community" other than corporate managers who make purchasing decisions?

    That never ever open sourced anything?

    That thinks, anyone sane would use crippled "free" tools specifically made to frustrate the user, to do design of anything that matters?

  • by webmistressrachel (903577) on Saturday August 06, 2011 @12:45AM (#37004214) Journal

    As long as capitalism encourages this, it will continue. Don't blame the child, blame the parent.

    I would also like to add that they retain the teams and platforms - gosh they still have seperate 3DS MAX and Maya teams! I'd like you to use those finely-honed research skills to compare and contrast this with, say, IBM, or M$...

  • by beachdog (690633) on Saturday August 06, 2011 @03:13AM (#37004770) Journal

    This report of the sale of Instructables to Autodesk makes it clear to me that the free software community needs a common drawing data structure and a set of user drawing interchange utilities.

    The world of free drafting and CAD doesn't have the many little component drawings available to the users of AutoCAD proprietary drafting software. From the previous poster's comments, AutoDesk is unlikely to make any user data files or data structure information more available in the future.

    I just finished spending 2 months reviewing many of the free CAD programs. I am looking for programs and applications to design a solar water heater installation, a radio antenna, a fractal made out of wire, an electrical circuit and a wagon. Is there anything yet to match sheets of quad paper, a .5 mm mechanical pencil and a HP-48 calculator and some assorted handbooks?

    What AutoDesk seems to have, that is never released by AutoDesk, is the Autocad user drawing data structure and the little drawings of ready to use components.

    What is missing from PythonCAD, Qcad, Blender, and Varkon is libraries of little drawings called "components". (An interesting program is the Beta prototype "Fritzing" for designing Arduino breadboards. Fritzing is all about placing components and drawing wires between the components. It has a delightful simple data structure for doing this.)

    The whole world of CAD or mechanical drafting programs is wrapped up in incompatible islands of proprietary user drawing data structures. It seems to spring from business based engineers who want to be paid directly for every single use of their engineering knowledge.

    Since it is partly free and it does run on Linux (with Wine), I like Google Sketchup. The drawing app is genius, the user data structure is proprietary and the data can be exported only using the $500 professional version of Sketchup. I wish they would publish their user data structure.

    It would be both fun and a first class challenge to write conversion utilities to convert files from Sketchup to Blender, from Sketchup to PythonCAD and Qcad. From the CAD programs back and forth to SAGE and Xnec2c. Here is an interesting problem in doing user data structure conversions: When doing the file conversion, you need a way to not throw away data that one program uses and another doesn't. One way is to provide for internal comments within the user application data structure for each drawing application. And figure out how to keep each comment together with some active point within the data structure.

  • by Animats (122034) on Saturday August 06, 2011 @03:19AM (#37004798) Homepage

    Autodesk already has a deal with TechShop - if you're a TechShop member, you can get a 6-month free license for Autodesk Inventor, their high-end CAD package. The intent is to increase the pool of people who know how to design and make things. Those are the people who use Autodesk products.

    Inventor takes weeks to learn, but is worth it if you're doing serious mechanical design. It's the attention to detail, like having a library of about 75,000 standard parts like bolts, nuts ("would you like a lockwasher with that?"), and bearings. The parts aren't just pictures; the system has strength and wear data for them, and can do the engineering calculations for a bolted joint or a bearing. It can handle moving parts, nested subassemblies, finite element analysis, wiring harness layout, piping - all those things which are a giant pain in real world design.

    123D is a toy-level Autodesk Inventor. The 3D and graphic visualization tools are there, but not the engineering calculations or the big parts libraries. Some parts from those libraries are distributed free with 123D, but without the engineering data. It's easier to use than Inventor, but it's definitely a CAD program,not a drawing program. It seems to be designed to get people thinking about mechanical design in the way it's done professionally. That makes sense from Autodesk's perspective.

  • by Migraineman (632203) on Saturday August 06, 2011 @12:26PM (#37008038)
    Autocad is fundamentally a 2-D drawing program, with some 3-D capabilities spackled on top. It excels at 2-D line drawings, like those found in architectural plans (plat view, elevation, etc.) It struggles with 3-D solids, as they are a serious afterthought - move a drilled hole for me, please. Solidworks is 3-D at it's core, so it's a bit clunky to manage 2-D drawings that aren't derived from 3-D sources. You're burdened with the 3-D support overhead when doing a 2-D only drawing.

    Autocad is a claw hammer. Solidworks is a ball-pein hammer. They can both "hammer," but each is better for a particular job. You should choose the appropriate tool depending on the objective. Do you need to pull nails, or shape sheet metal? (sorry, no car analogies today.)

    I've been using Autocad since about 1985 ... back when the UI had to be toggled between the text command window and the graphics display window. I also currently use Solidworks.

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