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December 06, 2004
Autodesk University 2004 Special Report
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on GIScafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
Each GIS Weekly Review delivers to its readers news concerning the latest developments in the GIS industry, GIS product and company news, featured downloads, customer wins, and coming events, along with a selection of other articles that we feel you might find interesting. Brought to you by GISCafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

Message from the Editor -

Welcome to GISWeekly! Attendance was up from last year at the 12th Annual Autodesk University held in Las Vegas November 29th-December 3rd, drawing 4400 attendees from around the world. See our coverage on AU in this week's Industry News, and more to come in next week's.

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
Managing Editor

Best wishes,

Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

Autodesk University 2004 Special Report

By Susan Smith

Attendance was up from last year at the 12th Annual Autodesk University held in Las Vegas November 29th-December 3rd, drawing 4400 attendees from around the world.

Due to a family emergency, Carl Bass, COO, was unable to be at the conference. Instead, Scott Borduin, Vice President and CTO responsible for the strategy of product development, gave an overview of the company's position in the overall industry. First of all, AutoCAD sales are up more than 20% over last year.

He spoke of the products that are critical for adjacent processes downstream: Inventor, Revit, Autodesk Architectural Desktop, Civil 3D and AutoCAD. Last quarter sales of these products were up 50 %.

Using a flywheel diagram to illustrate his points, Borduin said the company has these major elements: core competencies, democratizing technology, global community, and volume market leadership.

In talking about core technology competence, Borduin said that the way Autodesk innovates is in democratizing technology, or rather, making it available to a lot of people. Products need to be affordable, to learn, to deploy, to adopt, and they need to be low cost and have a rapid return on investment. The company spends a lot of time focusing on openness in data structures, and making the technology easily extensible by developing partners and customers. He noted that the technology has a rapid return on investment and is sold largely to users who use the system, rather than to CEOs and upper management who will purchase an enterprise system. This was an interesting statement, since in
talking about volume market leadership, Borduin said that 98% of Fortune 500 companies are also AutoCAD users. It would appear that many of those companies relied on upper management to make those purchases. Also on that topic, there are 6 million users of AutoCAD worldwide.

Borduin outlined three dominant trends for Autodesk in this decade:

1) Productivity software is hot

         -AutoCAD has a new lease in life

2) Model based design (3D)

         - New value for traditional customers

3) Lifecycle management

         - Cheap ubiquitous digital communication

         - New value for new kinds of customers

The company continues to promote a customer focused product development process with:

         -Thematic releases

         -Focus on the user's process

         -Continued focus on development environments

         -Increasing focus on capturing and using design intelligence

         -Data management

Borduin stressed that out of a 40 hour work week, an average user uses AutoCAD products for about 24 hours, and there is a lot of opportunity to develop new products and enhancements. Autodesk is picking themes in the customer environment to identify where the problem areas are.

Areas that customers wanted addressed included:

         -2D to 3D or model based design.

         -Capturing more intelligence about physical world and the customers work; product is key.

         -Faster design time

         -Reduction in design error

         -Automation of design documentation

         -Better analysis and decisions-“computerable information.”

For the Infrastructure Lifecycle Management part of the continuum, Autodesk helps to solve problems by putting tools in the box for free for their current customers. “We want to establish a broad base of customers who are creating aggregated data, products in a Vault, so they have a single point of access,” said Borduin.


Chris Bradshaw, Vice President of Infrastructure Solutions Division (ISD) spoke about the success of that division in the past year. He cited the “create manage share” principle and noted that they are seeing more wins on the manage share side of the business now. Traditionally they saw more on the create end of things. Emergency response technology has been a big draw for new customer segments.

The division is performing well with a strong sales of civil products as well as strong sales from the government sector.

         -ISD Q3 FY05 performance up +15% over previous year

         -ISD growth came from new seats and strong Civil sales

         -Government spending drove record billings in the federal market

         -ISD recognized as Oracle 10G adopter of the year

         -Working with industry partners to deliver open spatial enterprise standards.

With Oracle putting spatial capabilities into their core product now, interoperability between disparate systems, CAD and GIS, are all possible. Because of the great IT cost savings, productivity gains and new opportunities to be gained by having one central repository of data, a new way of managing data is emerging. The old way was characterized by spatial information silos and disparate data that could not be linked or accessed by many people.

The main challenge to moving ahead with this new paradigm is changing the way the organization fundamentally works or designs.

“We are spending as little time as possible thinking about server side applications. We are focusing on planning, design, maintenance and operations, we are making sure our systems can tie into other systems like customer management systems,” said Bradshaw. Civil 3D, built on top of Map 3D, can write directly to Oracle Spatial. The main challenge is getting engineers to think about putting things in a relational database system.

Infrastructure Lifecycle Management (ILM)

Autodesk did research on how customers feel about terms and concepts, such as “infrastructure lifecycle management.” The company wanted to understand their customers' reaction to the concept of ILM and their reaction to the concept of CAD and GIS integration.

As one might guess, what Autodesk found was that:

         -Information lifecycle management (ILM) is not well understood.

         -The concept ILM was well understood - once explained it made sense, but was not intuitive. Doesn't resonate as a term.

On the other hand, CAD and GIS integration resonates and customers have clear needs where integrating CAD and GIS are concerned, among them:

         -Difficult to move data between different formats systems (i.e. shp, dgn, dwg)

                  -Important details lost during conversion

                  -Metadata doesn't translate consistently

                  -Lots of re-editing of data when moved between systems

         -Have to use multiple applications (not always compatible)

         -Need to share information has increased between CAD and GIS

         -Many workarounds have been done

Opening Session

Carol Bartz
Lynn Allen, Technical Evangelist for Autodesk, made the opening remarks which focused on the user and the terms “create manage share,” then introduced CEO and President Carol Bartz. Bartz reminded her audience of their importance, stating that “you and your colleagues are responsible for creating billions of products around the world. Look around you - if God didn't make it, it's most likely an Autodesk customer made it. You make the world.”

A heady claim, but also sympathetic to the fact that so many people work in climates of “organizational inertia” where they are still expected to be “agents of change.” “Everyone out here is an unsung hero,” claimed Bartz.

She brought home the fact that Autodesk took some important steps five years ago and greatly expanded their vision of what design software was all about. Today's Autodesk vision is “to make sure design information is in digital form, from the creation all the way through the entire process to the downstream user.”

The words “create manage share” were cited again, emphasizing what they mean in Autodeskese: create - smart 3D design data; manage - create intelligent electronic project documents; share - use online collaboration across an entire organization.

For building design and construction Autodesk has ADT, Building Systems, Revit, and Buzzsaw. Buzzsaw can be used to share your design information. Managing data can be done through Infrastructure - mapping and GIS, Map 3D, Civil Design, MapGuide, all of which dramatically improve project workflow.

“Our idea is that you have to have practical common sense ways to transition to these technologies,” said Bartz. “We are dedicated to helping you make the change. Our idea of the change strategy is to get you from where you are today to where you want to be.”

Scott Borduin walked attendees through a few “very cool” demos. The first one, called “dynamic input,” enables the user to see the command line data right at the cursor rather than having to look at the bottom of the screen for it. Now the user can keep his or her eye right on the design the entire time. Another demoed capability was that of “dynamic blocks” that can stretch an object such as a table (the object used in the demo) and snap it to the right length using a dynamic block editor to array chairs so that there are the correct number of chairs around the table.

Civil 3D was a brand new product introduced last year that is the first civil product designed from the ground up in 3D. All change management is done in Civil 3D, all the annotation is automatically updated. There are various models that can be used such as a corridor model, subdivision layout, anything that requires a plan and a profile.

Sheet set manager can be used to lay out and will grab a plot view. The engineering model is smart enough to know what needs to be changed in the model. It can create construction documents, update them, iterate your design, with less chance of errors.

Data management is not intrinsically cool according to Borduin, but it is cool to be able to make a new version of something on screen, and copy the design, in this case a mechanical assembly. Vault patches up the relationships and creates a brand new assembly, saves it out and puts it in appropriate locations on the disk. It took an entire four minutes to complete, as opposed to hours in the old file management way of doing things.

DWF is about sharing data. DWF Composer is now able to do more than in the past, according to Borduin - you can use a free Windows print driver to insert sketches, digital photos and more. Composer lets you build up DWF packages as well as compose. You can use the markup tool to markup any DWF and you can navigate by markups. You can send the drawings out to clients who own the DWF Viewer and they can view it also this way.

DWF Viewer downloads have cross the 5 million unique user mark, which means there is one new user every 6 seconds.


Dean Kamen
This year's keynote speaker was Dean Kamen, an award winning inventor, entrepreneur, and advocate for science and technology, who holds over 150 patents for medical devices, and has expanded frontiers of healthcare worldwide. He is founder of FIRST and DEKA Research & Development. He has won numerous awards, owns an island of the coast of Connecticut, and has been dubbed “the pied piper of technology” by Smithsonian Magazine. Kamen warned the audience that he is not a professional speaker, but nonetheless gave a very entertaining and heartfelt presentation.

One of DEKA's most widely anticipated products is the INDEPENDENCE IBOT Mobility System. Developed for Independence Technology (
www.indetech.com), a division of Johnson & Johnson, the IBOT is a stair climbing device for the physically challenged that allows them to travel up and down stairs and over uneven terrain.

“Some of my clients have asked me to speak and typically ask me to talk about how to be innovative,” said Kamen, moving around on another of his inventions, a motorized platform device called the Segway. “Giant companies are like big football players having a midlife crisis and asking me how to look good in a tutu. Innovation needs a lot more people involved; if you take offense you must be one of those managers and not an innovator.”

“I can't teach you how to innovate,” he said, “I can only give you a perspective on how to create an environment more conducive to innovation.”

One of the themes of innovation is surprises, said Kamen, and most people in business don't like surprises. Kamen has always collected old technology, and believes that you can learn a lot about people by looking at these old tools. He showed a slide of a south pointing chariot designed in China in ancient times, noting that most technology was developed because “most cultures spent a lot of their time finding effective ways to kill each other. The reason for this invention was that the Gobi Desert was 1500 miles wide and if they traveled on the desert during the day they'd be seen so they needed to travel at night but also stay on course.” Although this invention was not one
that enjoyed
lasting success, in producing it, they had essentially created an adding machine hundreds of years before Babbage.

“The Chinese knew a thousand years before they built this thing that if they took a piece of lodestone and put it in the bucket of water, it would always float to the top of the pan. What they had was a compass,” noted Kamen. “Great technology alone is not want makes innovation.”

The compass was an innovation, which allowed people to understand the scope of our world. Innovation is about inventions that change how we think and live.

Kamen talked about the fact that research inevitably requires that you risk failure and face unpredictability, quoting Einstein, “If we knew what we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?”

Sometimes our own reluctance to give up what was once true keeps us from innovation. An example: although DEKA was known to many clients as makers of health care products, the people who made a new stent for Johnson & Johnson were from the helicopter industry.

Ten years ago Kamen founded
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), an organization dedicated to motivating the next generation to want to learn about science and technology. Kamen has personally recruited top leaders of American industry and education to participate in this organization. The FIRST robotics competition pairs professional engineers with high school students across the country, to enter a national championship where they will create and compete robots - held at Walt Disney World's Epcot Center.

Kamen believes that children and teens need to see what opportunities there are in science and technology and criticizes American society for its obsession with sports at the expense of teaching about real life endeavors. Kamen claims, “You have teenagers thinking they're going to make millions as NBA stars when that's not realistic for even 1 percent of them. Becoming a scientist or engineer is."

Big on one liners, Kamen ended his talk with this one from Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world…indeed it is the only thing that ever has.”

It was one of the few times I had seen a standing ovation given to a guest speaker at a technology event.

LandXML to LandGML to GML: Breaking down the Engineering/GIS Data Wall Using Open Standards

This session was very well attended and addressed the LandGML Interoperability Experiment instituted by the OGC, which seeks to advance CAD/GIS interoperability. OGC member ERDC initially envisioned addressing CAD/GIS interoperability via encoding and transformation. ERDC then formed a focus group of members consisting of Galdos, OGC, Autodesk and the “user” with LandXML as the starting point, focusing on enabling a round trip to GML and back without loss. The following is basically taken from the Power Point demonstration:

LandXML is an XML data standard format for civil engineering and survey measurement data used in the Land Development and Transportation Industries. LandGML is a Geography Markup Language Application Schema that can exactly model LandXML 1.0 using GML 3.1.

The primary goal of LandXML was to specify an XML format for civil engineering design and survey measurement data to:

         -Transfer engineering design data between producers and consumers.

         -Provide a data format suitable for long-term data archival.

         -Provide a standard format for electronic design submission.

The LandXML 1.0 schema status is broadly supported in online cadastral applications, GIS applications, survey field instruments, Civil Engineering desktop and CAD-based applications, realtime 3D viewers and high end 3D visualization rendering applications. A wide range of vendors also support it: Autodesk, Bentley, CadCorp, Eagle Point, Safe Software, Trimble Navigation, Leica, Carlson Software and many others. It is also supported in more than 30 software applications and in all major civil engineering software applications in the US.

The LandXML 1.0 schema status also has broad community implementation:

         -Design data standard for US Federal Highway Administration's Interactive Highway Safety Design Model (IHSDM) software.

         -Foundation for transportation industry XML standards.

         -Survey data standard for Land Information New Zealand's Landonline.

         -Emerging in Slovenia as a national 3D road model standard.

         -Used in a Philippine Land Management system.

The LandGML Application Schema was developed by incrementally modeling every single type of element and attribute in LandXML. GML 3.1 was used to express all of the survey and design data model elements as geographic features with “standard” geometries; and attributes as elements where possible. The idea behind this schema is to make it easier for applications that support GML to support LandGML. It doesn't add any new capability, only allows the user to get design data into GML.

A new collaboration between Autodesk and Intergraph's GeoMedia group has recently developed to work on the LandGML Application schema.


The National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) recently accepted the GIS Certification Institute's (GISCI) invitation to join the GISCI Board of Governors. This partnership helps to fulfill the goals of both organizations. It was the intention to make the Institute more inclusive in order to better meet the needs of the multidisciplinary GIS profession.

Exor and Laser-Scan announced a partnership to provide network integration tools for the merging and management of linear network data.

GeoAnalytics®, Inc., a provider of geographic and land information systems (GIS/LIS) technology and management consulting, has signed a business partnership agreement with SAS®, the leader in business intelligence.

Leica Geosystems announced that its GIS & Mapping division has recently signed a blanket purchase agreement (BPA) for Leica Geosystems software with the USDA Forest Service. The Forest Service is standardizing on Leica Geosystems imaging processing and photogrammetry software, joining a growing roster of organizations that recognize Leica Geosystems as the premier provider of geospatial imaging solutions.

@Last Software, Inc., a Boulder-based developer of 3D modeling software, announced the ability to exchange files between SketchUp and ArcGIS. This interoperability gives GIS users the ability to create 3D models in SketchUp, incorporate the models in to their GIS database, and then display them in ArcScene and ArcGlobe, ESRI's 3D viewing environments.


Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions Netherlands successfully participated in the third GML Relay at the "Standards in Action" event held at the Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands. The event demonstrates the easy, open exchange of spatial data using the Open Geospatial Consortium's (OGC) Geographic Markup Language (GML) standard. The GML standard is an XML encoding for spatial data and related attributes used for storing and transporting geospatial information.

Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions is currently hosting the European Geospatial Intelligence Seminar for the geospatial intelligence community at the Haus der Geschichte in Bonn, Germany. Targeting international military and intelligence decision makers and geospatial intelligence professionals, the seminar focuses on solutions for data management; imagery exploitation; spatial analysis and intensification of data; and dissemination, collaboration and communication of data. Among the briefings offered is a keynote address by Joanne Isham, Deputy Director, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).

ORBIMAGE Inc. announced that it has received notice from the Government Accountability Office ("GAO") that they have dismissed the protest of the NextView Second Vendor contract awarded to ORBIMAGE from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency ("NGA"). The protest had been filed by New SI LLC, the competing bidder under the program. ORBIMAGE believes New SI is an affiliate of Space Imaging.

LizardTech, Inc., announced that its next generation MrSID® format (MG3) is now being supported in CARIS product line.

GIS professionals from Utah, ESRI business partners, and ESRI-Denver staff will convene at the GIS EXPO in Salt Lake City, Utah, December 9, 2004. The event will showcase how geographic information system (GIS) technology is used to help Utah businesses and government agencies do their work more efficiently. The GIS EXPO is open to the public and free of charge, however pre-registration is recommended.

The Enterprise for Innovative Geospatial Solutions (EIGS) is pleased to announce that member company Radiance Technologies was recently selected by NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate to support their new vision for space exploration by developing a geospatial technology toolkit for a safe, efficient and effective human return to the Moon and Mars.

Intermap Technologies has announced a new flying program beginning in the spring of 2005 that will extend its NEXTMap Britain 3D landscape map across the whole of the UK. This will mean that for the first time England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man will be covered by a single up-to-date landscape survey of unprecedented accuracy.

Euromap GmbH, a wholly owned subsidiary of GAF AG and the DFD installation at Neustrelitz of the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) have started receiving data from the new Indian Remote Sensing Satellite, IRS-P6 Resourcesat-1. The Indian constellation of EO satellites is marketed through ANTRIX, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and Space Imaging, which has obtained international commercial rights. Euromap has entered into an agreement with Antrix and SI to receive and distribute Resourcesat-1 data collected over Europe and North Africa.

The Geospatial Information & Technology Association (GITA) announced that it has launched “Location in Education,” an educational program for middle- and high-school students in the Denver metropolitan area. The announcement was made at the GIS Day celebration hosted by the City and County of Denver on Nov. 17, 2004, at the Webb Municipal Building in Denver, Colo. Jerry Clayton, a teacher at Denver's West High School, and a group of his students were on hand to accept the kit as the program's first participants.

Following a very successful 42nd Annual Conference in Reno, Nevada earlier this month, URISA has announced that it is now accepting abstract submissions for its 2005 Annual Conference. URISA's 43rd Annual Conference will take place October 9-12, 2005 in Kansas
City, Missouri. For more information, and to submit online, visit

The Lockheed Martin built Global Positioning System (GPS) satellite, launched successfully Nov. 6 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., has been declared fully operational for military and civilian navigation users around the globe.


IDELIX Software Inc. announced that Derek H. Burney, the former President of CAE Inc. and Prime Ministerial Chief of Staff, has joined the visualization software company's Board of Advisors. Mr. Burney will advise IDELIX as the company gains momentum in new markets such as digital imaging, computer aided design (CAD), modeling and simulation.

New Products

Tripod Data Systems (TDS) introduced the TDS TerraGuide(TM) navigation package. TDS TerraGuide is a full-featured navigation package that displays digital topographic maps and nautical charts, and allows users to determine their location, plan their route and plot waypoints. The software includes elevation data to display 3-D terrain views, and its QuickChart map engine lets users quickly pan and zoom on maps.

MapText, Inc. announced the release of Version 4.5 of Label-EZ, the Company's cartographic text placement software.

GfK MACON AG runs a Christmas campaign every year. Up to the end of the year, the Premium Edition of the geographic information systems (GIS) RegioGraph and DISTRICT come with a free paper map. These Business GIS's support Marketing and Sales in customer, market and location analyses and in area planning. The Premium Edition includes maps of the entire EU right down to administrative district level with the matching economic and population data.


IDELIX Software Inc. announced that Derek H.
Burney, the former President of CAE Inc. and Prime Ministerial Chief of Staff, has joined
the visualization software company's Board of Advisors. Mr. Burney will advise IDELIX as
the company gains momentum in new markets such as digital imaging, computer aided design
(CAD), modeling and simulation.


During URISA's 42nd Annual Conference in Reno last month, industry leader Don Cooke was the honored recipient of the prestigious Horwood Distinguished Service Award. The Horwood Distinguished Service Award is an occasional award given for long-term service to URISA and the profession. This year it was awarded to Don Cooke.

The Enterprise for Innovative Geospatial Solutions (EIGS) is pleased to announce that member company, Air-O-Space International (a wholly owned subsidiary of GB Tech, Inc.), was recognized for their innovative high tech methods being used in their unique partnership with the Picayune Police Department in combating the “War on Drugs.”

Around the Web...

High-tech 'bait cars' catch unsuspecting auto thieves by Peter Eisler, November 28, 2004, USA Today --A thief slips into a car, hot-wires the ignition and drives off. But within blocks, the car mysteriously shuts off, the doors lock and police swoop in. Busted. Dozens of police departments are catching car thieves just like this, with new, high-tech "bait cars" that officers can track - and control - from afar.

Upcoming Events

ESRI Mid-Atlantic User Group

Date: December 1 - 3, 2004

Place: Hilton Silver Spring Silver Spring, MD USA

The ESRI Mid-Atlantic User Group (ESRI-MUG) announces its annual GIS conference December 1-3, 2004, at the Hilton Silver Spring, 8727 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD, 20910. The conference hotel is in the heart of downtown Silver Spring and just 2 blocks from the Silver Spring Metro. December 1st will be devoted to three all-day training seminars. On December 2-3, 2004, the conference will feature keynote speakers, vendor exhibits, poster displays, user presentations, and ESRI technical sessions. The deadline to submit paper abstracts is August 1, 2004. For more information on the conference or to register, visit the ESRI-MUG web site or contact Brendan Ford, Program Chair, at
Email Contact or (703) 324-3792. For exhibitor information, contact Delaney Meeting and Event Management at (802) 655-7769.

United States IPv6 Summit 2004

Date: December 7 - 10, 2004

Place: Hyatt Regency Reston, VA USA

A 3-Day Summit on Internet Protocol version 6. The Summit will be in coordination with the Department of Defense's Day of IPv6. Leaders in industry, military, government, academia and research are coming together to discuss the deployment of IPv6 and the future of the "New Internet." There will also be an exhibit hall filled with cutting edge IPv6 technology.

You can find the full GISCafe event calendar here.

To read more news, click here.

-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.