Drawing a freewheeling dragonfly in the showroom – An Autodesk Labs roundup

Project Dragonfly

What is it with backyard bugs and software? First there was Grasshopper and now there is Dragonfly. Add to those the big animals used by McNeel and the cover designer of the O’Reilly books and we have ourselves a veritable zoo! But I digress…

Autodesk Labs has several web-based applications that look very interesting and take the “software as a service” (SAAS) to very useful new levels. For example, they recently launched a planning application for the non-technically minded: Project Dragonfly. It was created to serve as a space designer and furniture planner and from what I have seen so far is very intuitive to use.

The user of this free service first starts by laying out walls, windows and doors (don’t terminate a wall at the middle of a window – as in the image above!). Then nicely rendered furniture items and appliances as well as finishes can be selected and dropped into the space. Finally, everything can be visualized in either 2D or 3D and printed, shared or just saved for later use.

Although Autodesk primarily makes lots of software for technical professionals, their labs site has two additional applications for more general use:

  • Project Draw – This is a web-based 2D drawing and planning application. It is useful for space planning, general drafting, flow-chart generation and a lot more. Drawings can be exported as DWF, DWFx, PDF, JPG, PNG, and SVG or embedded in any website. Here is a nice intro video for the service:
  • Project Showroom – This is a rendering service that allows the user to modify space configurations (surface materials etc.) and get a photorealistically rendered image within a few seconds after making a change. Great for product configurators! Here’s an output image:

Finally – and targeted for users of technical Autodesk products like AutoCAD, Revit etc. that export plans and 3D models to the DWF format – there is Project Freewheel. With this service, a user can upload a DWF file and view it using only a browser. The server-based rendering makes plugins or external viewing applications (like Autodesk Design Review) unnecessary.

Here’s a sample: