It's official: Autodesk's Project
Butterfly has graduated from a technology preview on Autodesk Labs to a
commercial product, allowing AutoCAD users to view, edit and share design and
DWG files through Web browsers and mobile devices.
The free Web application, called AutoCAD WS, employs cloud
computing technology to extend design tools beyond the desktop and to deliver a
more flexible and accessible platform for collaboration. "The need to
collaborate is an essential part of any engineering process," says Guri Stark,
vice president AutoCAD, platforms and products at Autodesk. "Whether it's collaboration
between engineer-to-engineer or with upstream or downstream people, the cloud
makes collaboration simpler."
With the new add-on tool, AutoCAD users can simply click on
a button to upload DWG files to the cloud where colleagues, peers and partners
can access them without having to have access to a full-blown version of the
software. In addition to standard viewing capabilities, AutoCAD WS has a DWG
editor, which supports more than 100 familiar AutoCAD drawing and editing tools
so users can edit and annotate drawings. The software's sharing capabilities
let users generate a unique URL to host the files online; there are permission
controls that allow users to govern how others view, edit or download drawings
and folders. Users can work on the same DWG file simultaneously and see changes
reflected in real time as they are made.
AutoCAD WS is tightly integrated with the standard AutoCAD
platform so users can access the cloud computing capabilities directly from
within their familiar environment. The application captures and tracks all
changes made to drawings, aiding in version control and audits, while providing
a convenient online storage area for organizing project materials.
The addition of AutoCAD WS lets users conduct virtual design
reviews with stakeholders located anywhere without having to share large files
via e-mail or sending paper documentation around the globe. "AutoCAD WS
releases users from the shackles of their desktop," Stark says. "There's no
more e-mailing of large files back and forth and dealing with all the
complications that come with it."
AutoCAD WS is also available as a free
mobile application for iOS, available in the Apple App Store for iPad,
iPhone and iPod Touch.
While Autodesk has made no formal announcements about
delivering similar technology for Inventor, Stark says the idea makes sense.
"We don't want to be limited to DWG files; we will want to expand this concept