| Article Archive
Features List 13
From CAD User AEC Magazine Vol 15 No 05 - MAY 2002
Autodesk and CAD User are getting together to make it easier for you to find those particular specialist CAD solutions that have already been developed.
Autodesk software users have a wealth of specialist applications available that have been developed by companies with a host of specialist knowledge. These applications have been brought together within Autodesk's Partner Programme, and can be found by logging into Autodesk's own website. In future, they will also be found on the CAD User website as well, in a special Product and Services Guide, to which the application developers have been invited to contribute.In addition to this, each issue of CAD User will feature reviews of some of the software to be found on the site.
This closer co-operation with Autodesk, and with members of its
Partner Programme, the Autodesk Developer Network - ADN - serves
a number of useful purposes. First of all it enables such companies
to be more readily identified, and secondly, it presents them with
a certain degree of recommendation or approval from Autodesk itself.
Although Autodesk cannot test and verify all applications from its
ADN members, just becoming an ADN member requires software developers
to meet a strict set of commercial guidelines. In fact, to use a
product compatibility logo, the ADN member must self-certify his
product against a further list of criteria.
So what constitutes an ADN member? What do they produce, how different are they from other software developers and how are they selected by Autodesk? With all the best will in the world, principal CAD companies, such as Autodesk, cannot develop solutions to match the myriad of specialised tasks and industries that abound in the world. Similarly, such specialist companies would not wish to re-invent the basic CAD design tools to the same level of efficiency as Autodesk, and would prefer, instead, to utilise its design software as core tools for their own software.
Hence the Developer Network, which has been running since 1996. Prior to this date, there were many independent companies around the world beavering away developing specialist software applications for the AutoCAD market. The ADN rationalised the market, selecting a tenth of these companies to become authorised partners in its Partner Programme - not because the others were no good, but because the move was deemed sufficient to generate a bit of order in an otherwise anarchic state.
Developers fall within a number of different categories. Principal amongst these is the commercial group, which includes companies such as Infrasoft Ltd., COINs etc., that have developed products for a particular section of the market (Infrasoft's MXSuite for the Rail and Road networks, and COINS Frame/Truss software and Building Services), all using one of Autodesk's core products as a base.
Large corporates often find themselves in a position to develop software applications that specifically relate to their own immediate needs and for use just within their own organisations. Examples of such corporate companies include Laing Technology Group Ltd and Kvaerner Process Limited.
Consultants may also join Autodesk's ADN - companies that develop bespoke applications using AutoCAD. Because these tend to be uniquely devised for applications neither the consultant, nor the software, becomes as well known as it ought. Many Commercial Developers also offer bespoke software developments for specific customers too.
Some higher educational establishments are involved in Research and Development in some of the more esoteric areas of CAD, sometimes resulting in suitable applications that solve particular problems
Surprisingly, authors, developers of video training tools and other AutoCAD training publications can also become members of ADN, a significant concession that gives them the same type of access to Autodesk software and APIs that other ADN members have earned.
Development of the ADN
Amongst the current growth areas in ADN, Inventor and GIS stand out. In fact it was only in February of this year, with the release of Inventor 5.3, that a complete API was made available to enable developers to take full advantage of the software. Previously they were unable to create entities in the databases necessary to build their own complete applications on the back of the software. Since that date, just a couple of months ago, over 45 new applications have been logged in the Partner Programme Catalogue (the place on Autodesk's website where such software can be found).
Looking at these statistics we find some other interesting items. The total number of applications currently listed stands well over 1300, growing at the rate of 3-5 per week. Of these, nearly 800 are already AutoCAD 2002 compatible and others work with Inventor, MapGuide or one of the other Autodesk platforms.
Surprisingly, 50% of ADN products are aimed at the AEC market, with the other half split almost equally between mechanical CAD and GIS. The relatively high level of GIS products perhaps reflects a greater need for specifically developed solutions on the back of a more generically based core programme, such as Autodesk MAP, or alternatively, a wider sphere of associated disciplines, such as demography, surveying, land development, resource allocation etc.
Within the Autodesk Developer Network are the OEM and UAR partners. How do they fit into Autodesk's software sales structure?
OEM's (Other Equipment Manufacturers) embed Autodesk's kernel into their own software, producing a complete solution for a particular market sector where the knowledge that AutoCAD's kernel is underpinning the software is important, but where the customer does not need access to the full capabilities of AutoCAD. Such software has been developed by Mentor Graphics Corporation, which has produced Wiring Harness design software. The software uses some aspects of AutoCAD to enable designers to complete their designs - of which he or she is unaware. More significantly, the user, often a smaller, one or two person business, does not have to purchase both AutoCAD and an additional harness design application to use the software.
UARs are Unique Application Resellers who are allowed to bundle AutoCAD software with their own software as a hard bundle - used where the developer is selling into an industry where an ordinary reseller would have insufficient experience or knowledge. An example of this is Key Traffic Systems, who bundle AutoCAD Map with their traffic signs and signals management software as a total solution.
Statistics show that 30% of AutoCAD users that have taken advantage of the ADN view the software to be fundamental to their use of Autodesk software. As Autodesk posts details of members of ADN on its website/ and because CAD User magazine has devoted a part of its own website to AutoCAD Resources, users now have simple access to specialists whatever their particular sphere of interest.
The web enables users to view products from companies outside the UK - the other side of the coin being that European and American developers can also target their software solutions at UK companies more effectively. Autodesk has found that European ADN members are more effective in addressing their products for the UK market, rather than UK companies attempting to sell outside the UK (It is easier for them, as they regularly use English as a working tool, whereas UK inhabitants are notoriously inept at foreign languages). Balanced against this is the natural versatility and ingenuity of British developers that has enabled them to develop many solutions that have found enthusiastic adherents throughout the world.
Autodesk will be setting up Tech Camps for ADN members, where they will be invited to preview impending software releases, share information, and learn how to use APIs to solve particular problems. The first Tech Camp is being held in June this year, and delegates will witness the first showing of Autodesk's exciting new product, Architectural Studio. Closer co-operation between Autodesk and its developers will certainly benefit users.
The ease with which designers across the world can communicate with each other, and where software developers can offer rapid sales and technical support, has made the web an invaluable tool for exploring and developing the ultimate solution for any particular problem, and Autodesk's Developer Network is an invaluable tool in promulgating such solutions.
For a global list of Products and Services available from ADN members please visit http://www.autodesk.com/partnerproducts. If you are interested in becoming an ADN member please visit http://www.autodesk.com/adn to review the membership criteria and complete an application form.CU
Click here for a Print Friendly Version
©2006 BTC. All rights reserved.
No part of this site may be reproduced without written permission of the owners.