The company today announced a Web-based technology that, in the short run, will benefit current users of Autodesk's software programs.
Autodesk is the world's fourth-largest PC software vendor and controls 32 percent of the PC design software market, according to market research firm Dataquest. The company is best known for its AutoCAD computer-aided design application for engineers and architects. The firm's multimedia division also makes a variety of 2D and 3D design packages for animators, film producers, and other PC multimedia designers.
Now the company has spun off that division, as well as introduced plans for a 3D Web authoring tools and a format that it intends to become the industry standard for exchange of large data files, such as those created by high-end design packages.
"We want to create the technology that makes 3D and 2D easily used by our customers...engineers, architects, design professionals. Nobody on the Internet is addressing their needs," Autodesk spokesman David Radoff said.
The company has named its multimedia marketing group Kinetix. The division's first effort is HyperWire, a 3D authoring tool for the Web that provides an object-oriented interface for Java programming.
The new tool incorporates a VRML (Virtual Reality Modeling Language) and VRBL (Virtual Reality Behavior Language) player that will support the recently adopted Moving Worlds standard for VRML 2.0.
For 2D design, the company introduced the new DWF (Drawing Web Format) and a Web browser plug-in that work together to let designers download and view large files. DWF describes images in what is called vector data--such as lines, arc, and circles--instead of the bitmaps that are now commonly used to store image data. Vector-based images sent over the Net can be decompressed and rendered much more quickly than bitmapped images, according to the company, so they are appropriate for large files like engineering blueprints.
Autodesk hopes to persuade its competitors to adopt DWF as an industry standard, as Adobe Systems has done with its PDF format for electronic exchange of formatted documents.
A beta version of the Whip plug-in for downloading DWF files is available now from the company's Web site. The final version is to ship this summer.
Beta versions of HyperWire, the VRML/VRBL player and the plug-ins are now available from the Kinetix Web site. Prices for the final versions have not been determined.