At AIA National Denver this year Autodesk had two exciting announcements, both of which I was privy to experience a bit just prior to the show. The company was clearly excited to show us the newest version of FormIt, a conceptual modeling product for Apple’s iOS platform specifically designed for the Apple iPad. We had noted this product’s qualities in our Ultimate iPad Guide: Apps for Architects series reports published in late May.
As we noted in that report “this app from Autodesk lets you use real-world site information to help support early 3D design decisions.” Angi Izzi, Sr. Manager of Industry Strategy & Marketing, Autodesk, told us, Autodesk sees a growing interest in the industry in bringing conceptual modeling into the BIM workflow and at an early stage. From this perspective, FormIt couldn’t be better placed.
An App for the De Rigueur Device
FormIt runs exclusively on Apple’s iPad. And by judging by its near exclusive appearance as the tablet of choice at AIA National, one might consider it de rigueur for architects to be toting one around. Indeed, the iPad is a dominant mobile device in AEC in the field and now architects have another excellent reason to utilize one–in the office, at home or at the client’s office. (editor’s note: Autodesk FormIt won BEST OF SHOW at this year’s AIA National for the Mobile category in Architosh’s second annual software honors, read more here.)
During our private demo Matt Jezyk, Sr. Product Line Manager, AEC Conceptual Design Products, Autodesk, told us that FormIt was just shy of 100,000 downloads on the App Store and has proven to be off to a very strong start. What Autodesk took to AIA was version 4.0 of FormIt.
New in this version is the ability to create your own texture-mapped materials, using the Photo Library of your iPad or your iPad’s camera. Materials can now have transparency support and can allow for the modification of color and transparency with the Color Picker in iOS.
Other new features include an updated sun and shadows portion of the app with new improved UI, the ability to send an image to the Photo Library or email (that is an image of the model) and smaller but key items like deleting edges to a flat surface, resizing and applying materials to arrows, et cetera. Last but not least, you can import geometry from other applications using SAT or OBJ file formats.
FormIt Story Reaches Web Openness
FormIt is its own file format but is compatible with working downstream with Autodesk’s other BIM tools Revit and Vasari. At this time it is uni-direction but Matt said that they can envision workflows that would support bi-directional support…meaning one can start in FormIt, say on the building site, then push the model to the cloud, then take it into another Autodesk application and then one day push it back down to FormIt for more manipulation.
Right now the application does support the ability to take in other file formats via OBJ and SAT.
The big story now though with FormIt is its Web support. Basically any modern standards compliant web browser (Safari, Chrome, FireFox) can run FormIt without any plugins or installation. You simply navigate to a URL and start working.
FormIt for the Web is free and will be a public beta. You also need an Autodesk 360 account which is also free and comes with 5 GB of storage space for your models. If you have another Autodesk product with subscription, you will get 25 GB of storage space for FormIt.
To see it in action check out this Autodesk YouTube channel video below: