For those of you who – like me – weren’t able to travel to Las Vegas for this year’s Forge DevCon, I thought I’d do a quick round-up of the major news that I could extract over the wire. I’m sure there will be further blog posts from the Forge team summarising more of things I couldn’t see – not being there in person – but this will hopefully be of some use to people, at least.
To kick things off, I suggest reading this blog post. It talks about some high-level items, such as additions to the platform, the partnership with Dropbox and some Forge Fund investments.
After that, it’s worth watching the DevCon keynotes. Here’s the main one, in two parts:
There are other keynotes, which you can watch at your leisure, but here are the big-ticket items from my personal perspective.
- Reality Capture API
- The back-end photo processing service used to power ReCap photo is now available for developers working with the Forge platform. I’m very excited about this: I’ve worked with different variants of this technology for a long time, and it’s great that it’s finally something Forge developers can get their hands on.
- Webhooks for the Data Management API
- Webhooks allow your application to be notified when your users make changes to their Forge-managed data. Here’s a blog post that goes into a little more detail. For Dasher 360 we’re definitely going to benefit from this API: initially to find out when new versions of models are saved into BIM 360 Team, but I’m sure we’ll find many more uses for it, over time.
- AR|VR Toolkit
- A huge problem for developers working with Augmented, Mixed and Virtual Reality is getting content that works well for their target device. CAD data is typically way too complex to just import: I’ve seen polygon budgets blown by a few tiny bolts with their threads modelled geometrically. Without even talking about visual fidelity issues relating to materials, etc. I (among many others) have been talking to people about this need – and the associated opportunity for Autodesk – for about three years, now.
- We believe the Forge AR|VR toolkit is going to help address this need, allowing developers to query subsets of a model and decimate appropriately for their usage scenario. The toolkit can be used to target all kinds of VR runtime engine – not just those developed by Autodesk. The tech preview is available today, and our partners and customers are already working with it. I’m certainly looking forward to using this, myself, once back in the office.
- BIM 360 API enhancements
- Now I admittedly don’t know very much about the BIM 360 API, so this is just one of those “that sounds cool, I guess!” updates, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be of significant interest to people integrating with the BIM 360 platform.
- Design Automation API for Inventor and Revit
- While not yet available, the fact these were mentioned publicly gives me hope they will be soon. This will be really good news for many of us: we have a number of workflows in Dasher 360 which would benefit greatly from a “headless Revit on the cloud”, for instance.
- High Frequency Data Management
- This was first talked about publicly at last year’s DevCon, and I expect was talked about a lot more at this year’s. It’s a mechanism for storing and accessing more granular data in your applications, moving beyond the use of large files to store desktop-centric data. Again something we’re looking at using inside Dasher 360 for a number of things (especially model- and user-specific settings).
- Integrated Development Experience
- This looks promising: a web-based IDE that allows you to integrate various pieces of Forge into a custom application. I admit to being cautiously optimistic about this one: the demo in the keynote was very interesting, but I’ll need to play with it for some time before I know how well it meets the needs of professional developers (i.e. whether it can be used for complex applications or whether it’s intended for developers just getting started with Forge).
- This was hinted at, at the end of the keynote: the pricing model for Forge is being simplified: rather than having to buy into a potentially costly annual subscription, you can give the platform a try – even beyond the initial trial period – and pay-as-you-go with cloud credits. Very, very welcome news.
That’s it for this quick round-up of the news from the recent Forge DevCon. I wish I could have been there in person – it looks like it was another great event – but I’m sure next year’s will come around all too quickly.