March 21, 2005
Profile of Autodesk's ISD 2006 Software Products
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Message from the Editor -

Welcome to GISWeekly! This week Autodesk released their whole
suite of products for
Infrastructure Solutions Division (ISD) products include Autodesk Map 3D 2006, Autodesk Civil 3D 2006 and Autodesk Raster Design 2006 which will soon ship for GIS and civil engineering customers. Read about it in this week's Industry News.

GISWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements, Announcements, Appointments, New Products, Around the Web and Upcoming Events.

GISWeekly welcomes letters and feedback from readers, so let us know what you think. Send your comments to me at

Best wishes,

Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

Profile of Autodesk's ISD 2006 Software Products

By Susan Smith

This week Autodesk released their whole
suite of products for
Infrastructure Solutions Division (ISD) products include Autodesk Map 3D 2006, Autodesk Civil 3D 2006 and Autodesk Raster Design 2006 which will soon ship for GIS and civil engineering customers. Mapguide, Buzzsaw and DWF Composer form part of the server strategy and data distribution strategy but will not be central to this exploration.

As we've reported
before, Autodesk's ISD customer segments comprise engineering and construction, government, communication and utilities, and transportation. Chris Bradshaw, vice president, ISD, stressed that across all four segments, Autodesk is focused on small and large firms, as they really got their start as a company with small firms.

Plenty has been said about Autodesk's recent earnings announcement as they topped $1.2 billion in revenue last year for the whole company. For ISD, full year revenue was up 22%. Map 3D increased new seat revenue 20% from Q3. Civil 3D was launched last year and grew 38% in China alone during the year 2004. 448 new seats of Civil 3D have been sold since the launch.

The primary challenge for infrastructure management companies continues to be integrating all the different data that is spread through different departments, according to Bradshaw. “A lot of that data is geospatial data. They have challenges integrating the CAD to GIS, integrating CAD and GIS with everything from finance to CRM systems, to work order management systems in operations,” Bradshaw explained. “We believe the right way for these people to be working and organizing their information is more centrally than it is today.” Autodesk considers spatial information to be an enterprise data type just like finance, CRM data and WMS data that if combined, it can add
core value to a customer's workflow.

Map 3D built on top of AutoCAD 2006 has all the functionality of AutoCAD 2006, plus is able to provide CAD and GIS functionality in a single seamless offering. CAD/GIS integration has been the most difficult to achieve so far, mainly because CAD and GIS are very different animals. CAD tools are file based and are better at manipulating features and maintaining engineering precision throughout a project. GIS is data based, and used for managing large spatial databases and performing analysis of data.

Autodesk Map 3D 2006

The focus of Autodesk Map 3D 2006 is to allow users to take tools from the AutoCAD suite and apply them to any kind of format typically found in the GIS field, such as shapefiles and MapInfo formats. The conversion step that was once necessary in previous versions of Map is no longer an issue as 2006 has added the ability to directly access datastores like Oracle Spatial, 10g and ArcSDE. The user connects directly to the datastore and is able to leverage those unique features in the datastores such as versioning to allow them bring in CAD tools and other new GIS capabilities that have been added to the product. Any data can be queried into Map.

In past versions, Map has required a high level of expertise for a user to become truly proficient in the product. With the new features it is more accessible.

Since not every customer has an investment in a datastore, Autodesk Map 3D 2006 allows for multiuser access to a multifile system. “We're looking at those files as a seamless geodatastore,” explained Bradshaw. “An improved Display Manager allows you to change the representation of that data on the fly. We don't just allow for the editing of the data, we can go ahead and aggregate the data in a number of different ways, then use the information, not just from a geographic perspective, but also the attributes and properties that are associated with that geometry to create new maps. You can also package this information in a format like DWF, which can be distributed via the
web or to a user's hard drive.”

Display Manager can be used to control what the map is going to look like. “You can connect to Oracle Spatial and use OGC standards for a GIS point, you can take that point and assign a particular symbolic representation to that point,” Bradshaw said. “We're not constrained by just images that we want to associate with those points, You can use anything you can possibly create with DWG. You can create complex blocks in AutoCAD and they can be assigned to these points.”

Another new feature is the automation of the Map Book creation process. In most county governments and municipalities, the complex job of managing very large hard copy output takes a lot of time to do. “We've added tools that allow you to reproduce the digital map in its entirety or in subsets very quickly. You can create hard copy or it serves as a new navigation paradigm. You can click on individual pages, or publish information as a DWF file and the DWF file will contain individual pages assembled together with adjacent page reference, automatically allowing you to navigate it.”

“No one has to convert all their shapefiles. Now we can support ArcSDE, with Map 2006 we can handle file based ESRI implementations, ArcSDE or database implementations. Historically, GIS has not had great datastores for the engineering side due to the loss of precision as we bring CAD data into a GIS environment. Now we can maintain a precise GIS, one that can meet the needs of an engineer. You can perform a query and analysis across that full data set and do the kinds of things that GIS professionals have been doing for 30 years,” Bradshaw claimed.

Map 3D has evolved to the point where it can support customers who want to integrate those two environments with a single tool for editing and managing the CAD side and GIS data, without having to translate or transform all their legacy data. Mapguide then allows users to publish out all that data into all parts of a company and beyond.

Autodesk Civil 3D

Civil 3D out of the box is clearly positioned as a civil engineering product, sold to a specific type of customer to fill a specific need. Historically, Autodesk has not really targeted the global transportation market, however, Civil 3D meets that criteria. Civil 3D customers benefit by getting not only 100% of AutoCAD but also 100% of Map 3D, as these products are supersets of one another. It is designed for transportation, subdivision, site and storm/sanitary projects.

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-- Susan Smith, Managing Editor.


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