Design and engineering professionals face a diverse set of challenges, and require specialized tools to get their job done. Although Autodesk® makes a wide variety of products, customization on top of the software with third-party applications (apps) can provide even greater tools and options.
AutoCAD® first featured AutoLISP in 1986, and users have customized their CAD installations ever since. Today, custom apps range from content libraries to drafting shortcuts. Although these apps are quite useful, they were spread over many different locations, making them hard to find. Now, these apps are in one centralized place called Autodesk Exchange Apps, which can be accessed from within many Autodesk products, or on the Web at: http://apps.exchange.autodesk.com/.
What is Autodesk Exchange Apps?
Autodesk Exchange Apps is an online marketplace where a CAD user can find a variety of add-on apps for customizing his or her software. Within Autodesk Exchange Apps, you can search by app name or a description of the app, or you can simply browse by category. Once you find an app you are interested in, you may learn more by taking a look at the user reviews. Autodesk also reviews and tests each app before it is published.
Originally, Exchange Apps was available only to AutoCAD users, but now Autodesk offers storefronts for 13 major products, including AutoCAD®, Autodesk® Alias®, Autodesk® Inventor®, Autodesk® Revit®, Autodesk® Vault , Autodesk® Simulation Suite, and the discipline focused AutoCAD® products (such as AutoCAD® Architecture, AutoCAD® Civil 3D®, AutoCAD® Mechanical, etc.).
Figure 1: The AutoCAD Architecture Exchange Apps store.
What Kinds of Apps Are Available?
Within Autodesk Exchange Apps there is a tremendous assortment of apps, most of which are free. Some interesting apps are Excel2CAD (http://bit.ly/NoCzXr), which imports Microsoft Excel spreadsheets as native AutoCAD objects, Okala (http://bit.ly/NoCEuf), a tool which helps designers select appropriate ecological design strategies, and Command Trends (http://bit.ly/KQWajf), a plug-in which tracks and reports on your AutoCAD command usage to increase efficiency. There are solutions for some of even the most complex engineering, simulation, and rendering needs.
Figure 2: Command Trends app screenshot.
This variety of apps within Autodesk Exchange Apps means that almost everyone will find something useful. In addition to this, reviews and screenshots provide more information than ever, helping users make good decisions about which apps they want to try.
Figure 3: Sample Apps information.
Boosting the Developer Network
One of the biggest advantages of Autodesk Exchange Apps is that it helps app developers distribute their own apps more readily. The challenges of setting up a website, marketing, and collecting fees for purchased apps are significantly reduced. In addition, with apps being easier to find and download, an increased number of users are downloading apps.
If you’d like to find out more about publishing your own apps, start by visiting the Autodesk Exchange Apps Developer Center at http://bit.ly/nixe0P for detailed information. At this site you will find guidelines and recommendations, answers to frequently asked questions, and tutorial videos. Currently, APIs are available for .NET, LISP, ActiveX and ObjectARX (C++) apps. If you have any additional questions about developing and posting apps to Autodesk Exchange Apps, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s Next for Exchange Apps?
Autodesk Exchange Apps has only been available for a short while, but the feedback has been positive, both from developers and end users. We are always looking into solutions for our customers and are open to suggestions as well as requests.
New apps and updates to apps are being released almost every day, and one way to keep up with the most recent developments is with social media. If you would like learn about new apps, check out the Autodesk Facebook page and Twitter feeds for the Autodesk products of interest. Another great way to learn about new apps is with an app itself! The Featured Apps plug-in, available in the AutoCAD store of Autodesk Exchange Apps, lets you easily keep track of the store’s latest apps.
Figure 4: The Featured Apps plug-in.
With Autodesk Exchange Apps built into many Autodesk products, and also available on the Web, you are just a few clicks away from a world of new features, shortcuts, and possibilities. Please take advantage of Autodesk Exchange Apps and let us know what you think.
Setu Upadhya is a civil engineer and member of the AutoCAD product management team. He is currently working on Autodesk Exchange Apps, as well as the latest version of AutoCAD. You can contact the Autodesk Exchange Apps team at appsinfo@Autodesk.com