Autodesk is taking its first steps towards cloud computing with the release of Project Butterfly, an Autodesk Technology Preview that enables AutoCAD users to edit and collaborate on AutoCAD drawings through a Web browser. With the technology, AutoCAD users can view, edit and collaborate in real-time on the same DWG files online, avoiding the version control and accuracy issues that occur when design teams share disparate files via email.
With the Butterfly technology, AutoCAD users can share drawings with others just using a Web browser and can conduct online design meetings where peers can co-edit drawings in real-time. They can also leverage the tool to collaborate with colleagues and customers who might not have access to AutoCAD or even have a Project Butterfly account.
Guri Stark, vice president, AutoCAD and Platform Products, told Design News that Autodesk believes the Web will play an increasing role in the world of CAD in the future. “Over the years, they’ll be more of a tendency to use the cloud and the Web for sharing and we want to enable that for our users,” he told us. Project Butterfly offers the first opportunity for users to co-edit AutoCAD files together in the same session using a Web browser, he said.
As part of Autodesk’s Labs technology sandbox, users can access the Project Butterfly capabilities for free at any time. Autodesk plans to continuously evolve the technology based on user feedback and there is no current timeframe for when it will be offered as a commercialized product. When asked if other Autodesk products might be offered in a similar fashion, including the 3-D tool Inventor, Stark said he didn’t see a reason why not, however, that this was a starting point.