Ralph Grabowski's report on the business of CAD > Issue #843 > January 27, 2015
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Can We Trust DWGs Displayed by AutoCAD 360?

Readers Respond

I spent several hours researching and writing an article for today, but then I came to the realizaion that a jey statistic I was relyng on did not mean what I first thought it meant. With that, the 720 words I had written went up in smoke. I have two other articles in the bin, but they are under NDA [non-disclosure agreement], which means I cannot run them here in upFront.eZine until the NDA expires. With that, let's see what readers had to say about last week's article, "Can We Trust DWGs Displayed by AutoCAD 360?"

      - Ralph Grabowski, editor


Ralph Grabowski compared AutoCAD 360 with AutoCAD clones in his latestupFront.eZine #842 in terms of DWG compatibility, mentioning our Budweiser.dwg compatibility test. There is one important point in the trust and compatibility aspect not mentioned in the review.

AutoCAD 360 is a view/review software and occasional 2D editor for DWG drawings. Unlike the non-Autodesk desktop clones, it does not display the true contents of a DWG file directly. The DWG is interpreted in the Autodesk cloud and sent to (and from) the thin client (mobile client or web browser) basically as simple vectors. So any incompatibilities are just in the interpretation phase and can be fixed on the cloud server.


And -- which is more important -- any entities which are currently not recognized by AutoCAD 360 are not damaged during editing and save-back, they remain untouched inside the DWG file. If you re-open the AutoCAD360-edited drawing in AutoCAD, all (all!) entities are displayed properly again. Plus the DWG remains in the genuine DWG file format.


Now try this in any of the AutoCAD fakes (copies, lookalikes) and your DWG will be damaged, unrecognized entities will be deleted.

      - Vladimir Michl, CAD Studio
        via http://budweiser.cadstudio.cz/2015/01/autocad-360-and-budweiserdwg-benchmark.html


The editor replies: I am not sure what file corruption of drawings by clones has to do with display corruption by Autodesk software, which is used by engineers working outside of the office, who rely on what they are seeing to resolve problems with contractors on the job site.


We have just published a translation of your "Can we trust…" at http://isicad.ru/ru/articles.php?article_num=17464.
      - David Levin


Useful information, thanks for the translation.
      - Aleksey N. Balyshev
        via isicad blog


Interesting report Ralph. I ran into my own troubles with these programs over Christmas break when I tried to get a AutoCAD 2011 model of my home into A360 for iPad.


When I was at AU last month, they worked hard to push everyone into A360 (which is not the same thing as AutoCAD 360). So I tried to see if I could port my home drawing into A360, but I struggled to save my drawing into a format I could open in A360.


I had problems just getting the original drawing from my desktop (running AutoCAD 2011) into my 360 account storage, because I didn't have 360 on my desktop, and didn't want to bother putting it on. I finally used my work laptop to push it up to the cloud, because it has AutoCAD 2015 on it.


I found I couldn't leave my pen settings (ctb) file applied to model or paper space, because it fails to display correctly in AutoCAD 360; it shows up thick and blobby, like you are zoomed way out and turned lineweights on. Turning off lineweights made no difference. To solve the problem, I had to set a non-width defined ctb file in AutoCAD. Bug. It seems to be not respecting some of the plot dialog box's or sheet setup settings (like Display Plot Style ahd ShowPlotStyles), or maybe the lineweight display is stuck on. So I had to save my drawing with a different setup, and ditch the lineweights (which I usually apply to layer definitions).


Once I got that done, I was disappointed to see that all I could do in A360 was view what I had drawn, like a typical viewer: control layers, zoom, print, etc. So I retreated back to AutoCAD 360 which still allowed enough drawing functions so I could make measurements for drawing cabinet faces for our kitchen.


I think the most disappointing problem I had with A360 was that I couldn't get it to print to my DeskJet.


Anyway, yes, there are a lot of issues depending, on the operating system you are working in. I found one issue with annotative objects not displaying correctly, but also found the workaround (but I forgot, since I've been buried in real work on more serious CAD issues at work).
       - P. R.


The editor replies: Because you brought up A360 (aka Autodesk 360), I tested it with Budweiser. It also exhibitied display corruption, albeit it had less severe problems than AutoCAD 360 for Windows 8. (See figure 1.) I find ti very odd that Autodesk is unable to provide a consistant display experience across its DWG properties.


Figure 1: Budweiser2013 test drawing displayed by A360, with problems objects circled in red (click image for high resolution verion)

It doesn't sound too good but I guess you get for what you pay.
       - Oscar Longoriaos, via Typepad


The editor replies: This is a story I had to write, that no one else seems to be reporting.

Re: About Fusion 360

There are three signs of old age. The first is loss of memory… Anyway, here are my recollections of the origins of Mechanical Desktop.

Once upon a time, a long time ago back in the last millennium, in 1992, I wrote a product review for Cadalyst magazine about a new third-party application called the Woodbourne Design Companion. It added 2D parametrics to AutoCAD. I gave it a rave review compared to other 2D parametric add-ons for AutoCAD that I had evaluated.

At Autodesk University that year (I believe it was still NAAUG at that time) Woodbourne had a booth. Someone on duty recognized my name from my name tag and invited me into the back of the booth to see the 3D parametric modeler they were developing, and promised to send me a beta version when it was available.
The beta never arrived and Woodbourne's ads disappeared from Cadalyst.

Shortly thereafter, however, AutoCAD Designer appeared on the market. It was a 3D parametric modeller for single parts but not assemblies. As it loaded (these were in the days of DOS) a message would flash by indicating it was copyright by Woodbourne. That explained a lot of things. I don't think it's completely true to say that Designer went nowhere; I recall the next release was called Mechanical Desktop and now included assembly capabilities.

I still have an original advertising handout for Woodbourne Design Companion that shows an address in Lake Oswego, Oregon, which I believe was the home address at the time of "Buzz" Kross, today the head of Autodesk's MCAD division.
      - Bill Fane


The editor replies: Thank you for contributing to the history of Designer. It is really hard to track down, as I describe in my blog posting from last month:


And One More Thing...

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Spin Doctor of the Moment

"America's lifestyle expectations are far too high and need to be adjusted so we have less things and a smaller, better existence."
       - Jeff Greene, billionaire who flew his wife, children, and two nannies on a private jet plane to Davos for the week


upFront.eZine is published every Tuesday, except for during summer and Christmas vacations. Editor: Ralph Grabowski. This newsletter is read by 9,000 subscribers in 70 countries. Your comments are welcome at grabowski@telus.net; deadline for submissions is every Monday morning. All 800+ back issues at www.upfrontezine.com/welcome.htm.


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