IN OUR CURRENT POST-PANDEMIC WORLD, there is a growing need to develop not just cloud-based technologies for remote work but to accelerate these technologies and solutions to improve significantly upon the state-of-the-art remote work technologies.
Years before the global 2020 pandemic, Autodesk began leading the way in cloud collaboration so teams across disciplines, industries, and regions can work together more easily. With numerous cloud offerings, Autodesk customers can work successfully from home and other remote situations. Its flagship CAD solution—AutoCAD—has also evolved to accelerate and mature its cloud technologies and features.
Summary: The AutoCAD Product World
Autodesk’s AutoCAD offerings span desktop, web, and mobile app solutions. Most users will still prefer to do all their heavy 2D creation and editing on the desktop application. At the same time, AutoCAD Web is one of the few offerings on the market that further democratizes access to DWG data via the modern web browser regardless of the computer platform. (1)
Data from one stakeholder is passed through the cloud to other stakeholders via a seamless marriage of robust cloud technology, integrations, and an AutoCAD app built around the idea of the right tool for the job.
Mobile AutoCAD apps for Apple iOS and Google Android enable users to bring DWG data to the job site and integrate measured and verified field data into the DWG CAD file.
A critical purpose of AutoCAD Web—which includes access and use of AutoCAD on mobile—is to serve as a collaboration tool amongst various stakeholders. Data from one stakeholder is passed through the cloud to other stakeholders via a seamless marriage of robust cloud technology, integrations, and an AutoCAD app built around the idea of the right tool for the job.
Right Tool for the Job: Case Study One
At Autodesk University, a session on the new AutoCAD Web offerings highlighted new features and capabilities via two case studies. In this article, I will highlight both to illustrate how the latest AutoCAD technologies streamline the nature of remote work, emphasizing a broader definition of remote work.
Remote Work means broadly working apart from teammates and collaborators, not simply what it meant during the COVID pandemic when workers were sent home. That was a “virtual office” context, whereas working apart can mean many things, like taking a brief walking break to a coffee shop and while at a local Starbucks getting an anticipated update from one’s project manager about one’s latest work.
Let’s imagine the scenario.
Picture an architecture firm designing a new home for a client. The project manager has acquired the new home design requirements and requested the latest floor plan from a drafter in the firm. The drafter working in AutoCAD on the desktop saves the newest version of the design to AutoCAD web and mobile—essentially pushing it to the cloud.
The project manager isn’t heading back to the office but instead heading home early. Upon arrival, the project manager opens AutoCAD on the web via the web browser on her home computer. From there, she can see the latest work from the drafter. The project manager can see errors that need fixing and can fast-track changes that need to be made from the most recent client meeting.
What are the options in the old way of working to deal with these changes versus today?
Before the latest cloud and AutoCAD updates, the only course of action would be to wait until the next day to come into the office and relay the design changes and errors found in the latest plan. Fast forward to today’s AutoCAD Web, the project manager selects to jump into the errors spotted in the plan and fix them herself using AutoCAD Web and Mobile’s core editing tools. She quickly makes those minor adjustments fixing a door’s swing direction, editing some walls, and working with AutoCAD Blocks to adjust the furniture layout.
Before the latest cloud and AutoCAD updates, the only course of action would be to wait until the next day to come into the office and relay the design changes and errors found in the latest plan.
After dinner, the project manager jumps back into the AutoCAD Web, using the AutoCAD Mobile tools running on a powerful Apple iPad Pro with Apple Pencil. Intent on getting down the notes on the client’s changes, the project manager opens a Trace (a key new feature in the recent AutoCAD technology) where she can safely add direct feedback to a DWG without altering the drawing itself. Working with annotation and markup features (like revision bubbles) and the new Sketch command, the project manager uses Apple Pencil to draw arrows, leave freehand writing notes, and more to aid the drafter in tomorrow’s work.
It is essential to note the acceleration of work that has taken place thanks to these cloud-based technologies. The project manager completed her day with a combination of work in the early evening and then a bit later before bed using different devices: AutoCAD Web running on a Mac laptop in the home office and AutoCAD Mobile on an iPad. After completing all these tasks, the latest information was saved to the cloud and ready for colleagues tomorrow.
The next day the project manager was free to head to another meeting first thing rather than coming into the office to collaborate with her drafter. The drafter understood the new requirements and edits from the information left on the Trace by the project manager the night before.
Let’s look at another case study example.
Right Tool for the Job: Case Study Two
In this example, an architect works on a new restaurant layout with an interior designer. The architect uploads the existing conditions floor plans to AutoCAD Web. Then she can go to the field to verify the space in person using an Android tablet running AutoCAD on mobile. Upon inspection, she notes that several plan conditions are slightly different than the existing plans indicated. She decides to fix these minor adjustments while on-site using the editing tools in AutoCAD on mobile.
Other observations are added to a Trace for later consideration by the interior designer. The architect shares observations in notes and freehand sketches on the Trace because the Trace technologies are deployed throughout the AutoCAD product line.
With these updates now saved back to the cloud, the architect notifies the interior designer, who then begins adjusting his concept ideas for layout items. Later in the week, the architect returns to the job site for another meeting about HVAC issues. Notified about a new layout plan by the interior designer, the architect opens that drawing from within AutoCAD Mobile on her Android tablet. With new realizations about some HVAC requirements, the architect sees that the new layout plan is nearly perfect but needs a small, suggested change to accommodate relocations of the restrooms.
This time, the architect uses the Trace tools in AutoCAD Mobile to freehand her ideas about these changes and save them up to the cloud. The next day at home, the architect logs into AutoCAD on the web on her home computer and begins to lay out the restrooms in a new location on the plan. While at a coffee shop, the interior designer receives the notification of the architect’s latest plan, and he opens to review the changes on AutoCAD on mobile his iPhone. He now knows he has new opportunities to increase the restaurant’s seating capacity and looks forward to spending the day optimizing the restaurant plan for the client.
Case Study Observations
In both case studies, colleagues’ workflows have been accelerated and compressed into faster time intervals. Despite different locations between offices, homes, job sites, and coffee shops, working apart no longer means losing time and opportunity.
In the first case study, the project manager saved time as she didn’t need to head back to the office to relay information to her drafter. She could use any computer and tablet at home to summarize changes and prepare that information for her drafter ahead of the next business day. This also liberated her schedule to optimize a next-day client meeting further. In this case, travel is one of the most explicit forms of efficiency optimization when liberal use of cloud technologies is deployed evenly across firms.
Another observation is the power of capturing field information in AutoCAD on mobile, using technologies like the AutoCAD Trace and leveraging device technologies like Apple Pencil on iPad. In the second scenario, the architect of a restaurant project works with an existing DWG plan file produced on the desktop where it is most efficient to produce. The mobility of a tablet is ideal for viewing that plan file in the field and making quick comparisons, measurements, markups, or even edits. The old alternative way of working is to bring paper-based plans into the field and make markups on paper. That process is inherently slower.
Working with AutoCAD Web and Mobile
Autodesk rightly considers its AutoCAD product line an excellent example of a modern software app—built for a computing ethos that has long shifted the center of computing to the cloud and mobile.
AutoCAD on the web is supported on 64-bit Windows or Mac computers running Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge. AutoCAD on mobile is supported on iOS, Android, or Windows 10 on mobile devices and tablets. AutoCAD and AutoCAD LT system requirements require relatively recent versions of Mac and Windows operating systems.
AutoCAD on the web and on mobile is purpose-built for today’s remote workforce and attendant agile workflows. They are built around the idea of precisely providing the right tools for the job and, more than that, keeping user interfaces clean and streamlined and putting the focus on task-speed optimization.
AutoCAD Web is a standalone product (which then comes with mobile), or the two products come with complete AutoCAD subscription offerings–making AutoCAD a leading value on the market. There is even a free view-only (non-subscription) version of AutoCAD Web for stakeholders who only need to view CAD data. All of this means greatly enhanced flexibility for project teams, colleagues, and stakeholders to configure their DWG workflows to fit their exact needs.
- To see which specific web browsers and operating systems AutoCAD Web functions on please visit this link.