Autodesk Labs is one of my favorite places to go. If you have never been there, or it’s been a long time, then go back. There are many projects there to take a look at.
The most recently added project is Project Snap. According to the Labs website, Project Snap is a “unified browse and search platform” for Autodesk products. Right now it is only working for AutoCAD 2010 and AutoCAD 2011. They have plans to eventually extend it Revit and Inventor. It might work on AutoCAD Verticals (Like Map, and Mechanical) but the site doesn’t say. I’ve downloaded it and will be trying it out.
Snap is meant to search through the meta data that is already stored in CAD files. You can search for files created by certain users, by date, and by other information. It works similar to the Design Center tool in AutoCAD, only it can index the objects and you can search for them. Once installed, users add project folders to Snap’s list of places to browse. Once added, users can search for items and load them into their current file. You can also save searches for later use.
In order for the search abilities to work well, users are going to have enter more meta data into their files. Autodesk wants us to add such data to the drawing properties. You might be doing this already, but if you want to implement Snap, you are going to have to add more. It is easy enough to do, but some sort of standard for your company may have to be worked out.
Not only can you search and insert objects form other files, but you can take a Snapshot of your current file while you work in it. This keeps a milestone record of your design. The Snapshot is saved as a sort of transmittal. This allows you to go back and view the milestone. It’s unclear what you can do with that snap shot at this moment. Can I revert the file to that state? I don’t know. Once we try it out I can tell you.
Project Snap has a lot of promise. We all know how difficult it is to find what you need in other CAD files. Many companies have resorted to creating and maintaining large block libraries over the years. You can still do that with Snap, but maybe it will help us a bit. Time will tell. Are you going to try it out?
Here is an overview video of the application:
Here is a demonstration video of some of the key features in Project Snap: