Wednesday, January 20, 2010

CAD on the web with Autodesk’s Project Butterfly

Want to edit DWG files on the web? Take a look at Project Butterfly Home Page on Autodesk Labs. Project Butterfly is a Flash based program that allows you to edit, co-edit, and review designs using your web browser. I first tried to use my Autodesk Labs login but it didn’t work so after contacting the Autodesk Labs, Scott made a blog post on how it works to login to Project Butterfly.

Doing some basic drawing and editing works very easily and snap and ortho is available so exact work can be done. There is no distance or area command but dimensions can be added. Zooming can be done with the wheel but panning requires the use of left button and space key. Note also that the zoom tools are at the bottom right and not in the Ribbon menu (where I first looked for them).

I tried to import the Budweiser compatibility benchmark drawing for 2010 and as you can see it worked except that 3D objects were not imported and as you can see most of the tests did not work. One example is that dynamic blocks are not supported. We have to see what direction Autodesk takes with this application and how compatible it will be with DWG and AutoCAD as well as what complexity and feature richness will be added.

Project Butterfly

Offset is limited to specify the distance in the dialog only. It would be useful to be able to specify it on the screen too just like you can with the Move command.

Layouts, Xrefs and different View Modes are supported.

Plot Styles can be managed.

Fonts can be imported but I think some of the fonts like those missing below should be available by default.

Is this something that started to be developed by Autodesk? No, take a look at this Cadalyst article about VisualTao also known as PlanPlatform that was acquired by Autodesk in December 2009 (Autodesk Acquires Sequoia-Backed Software Design Startup PlanPlatform).

Via It’s Alive in the Lab. Take also a look at the Project Butterfly Blog that showcases this intercity rail car.

Project Butterfly Technology Preview’s Web client application is based upon Adobe Flash and Flex technology. Autodesk is hosting Project Butterfly Technology Preview’s Web servers on the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) service. The Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) stores application and user data.  Project Butterfly Technology Preview also uses AutoCAD RealDWG technology to read and write DWG files. - Technology behind Project Butterfly

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