At this year’s Autodesk University (AU) 2018, examples of Autodesk’s Forge platform were plentiful. Not only were examples touted in sessions and talks but there was a nice sized—albeit the smallest—zone on the expo floor dedicated to Autodesk Forge.
Autodesk had a good year with Forge platform progress, nabbing a key new leader from Google, growing its Forge DevCon conferences in number and attendees, and it shows in progress with BIM 360 and third-party developers’ work seen at AU2018.
For Architosh readers not familiar with the name Autodesk Forge, this is the company’s next-gen cloud-based developer tools platform. Forge is all about data, workflows, and connections—to teams and to services.
Forge at the Expo
In exploring the Forge Quad on the expo floor I came upon The Centre for Computational Technologies Pvt. Ltd., a company based in Pune, India. They describe themselves as technologists with expertise spanning aerodynamics, thermodynamics, computational fluid dynamics, computational geometry, HPC, cloud and UX design. Their solution on display at AU2018 is something called simulationHub and it is an easy-to-use cloud-based CFD (computational fluid dynamics) app for designers, engineers, and architects that work on mobile, tablet, and desktop devices. This solution is partly built on Autodesk Forge, utilizing Forge’s web services to provide 3D visualization, for example.
Another tool we saw in the Forge Quad at the AU2018 expo was db-lab and their BIM production tracking solution. This company has developed DABOX, a fully BIM Level 2 CDE, which can be found here at www.dabox.io.
We will write more about simulationHub and DABOX in another report, but this was the type of innovative companies exhibiting at AU2018 that was utilizing Autodesk’s Forge Platform. And there were many others.
2018 Accomplishments for Autodesk Forge
Autodesk is touting a recent new hire in Sam Ramji, who will now lead the Autodesk Forge cloud platform efforts. He is the former VP of Product Management for Google Cloud Platform, founded the Cloud Foundry, and headed open source and platform strategy at Microsoft. He is now onboard at Autodesk and with his expertise and experiences Forge could surge ahead dramatically in the next year or two.
When Architosh learned about Project Quantum, (see: Architosh, “Autodesk Explains Project Quantum—And Why It Matters in AEC,” 3 May 2017) Forge was explained as a cloud-based, next-gen app infrastructure, based around Forge APIs that could talk to just about anything. Forge, the platform, is gaining those communicative hooks into existing mainstay applications at Autodesk. A new public beta of Design Automation API for Inventor, for example, joins similar connections to apps like AutoCAD and Inventor in the cloud.
Design Automation for Revit was previewed and during AU2018 Autodesk released new BIM 360 API enhancements including API support for Issues, RFIs, and Checklists.
Autodesk now hosts four Forge DevCon events per year. In 2018 they were in China, Japan, Germany, and the US. Germany saw the largest growth in attendance with over 50 percent year-over-year. It is clear that Autodesk has critical momentum with Forge. They are also expanding the list of supported file formats—types of data that can be inbound input for Forge apps. You can see the supported translation formats here.
Architosh Analysis and Comments
Autodesk’s Forge Platform supports the file formats of several big rivals. For example, Bentley’s DGN format is supported. So is the ever-popular Rhino 3D and Trimble SketchUp. And IFC BIM models are also supported. With very wide 2/3D file format support, Autodesk’s cloud services tools built on Forge, along with third-party tools built on Forge, will have a greater possibility of adoption, able to input valuable CAD and 3D data sources from both rival and legacy software systems germane to numerous industry segments.